July 31, 2004


"My name is John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty!"

Thus Kerry began his big-deal speech last night, apparently alluding to some long-forgotten military role in his past. The speech never really recovered after that clunky, sappy intro -- although Kerry, sweating like Margo Kingston at a spelling bee, did manage a passable impression of a Swift Boat cruising through the steamy, enemy-infested Vietnamese delta.

More on this later, maybe. I'm back in New York. Time to go out somewhere.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:21 PM | Comments (95)

July 29, 2004


It’s all happening at the Convention Blog. We’ve got Dave Barry, Ethel Kennedy, Sean Hannity, Jerry Brown, and a special cameo appearance from … Michael Moore!

In other convention news, my feet are blistered to bits. Please post any foot-related medical advice in comments. Especially advice like: "Get the hell out of that convention hall, Tim, and go get a drink."

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:44 AM | Comments (112)


Americans are being vilified by Australian boat-owners:

[John Kerry} attended a public meeting in Florida today and was asked how he would heal division around the world.

The woman who posed the question said she had just flown back from Australia where she had seen a sign on a boat reading "Improve world order, kill an American today".

Senator Kerry said: "Never in 35 years have I seen the United States as much the target, as much sort of derided and disrespected as we are today, where Americans when they travel abroad are at risk."

Kerry’s new campaign slogan has just been announced here in Boston: Make People on Boats in Australia Love Us! It’s Very Important, For Some Reason!

(Via the excellent new Currency Lad site)

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:41 AM | Comments (50)


"Bawdy arma." That's Bosto-speak for "body armour", as told to me by a cop yesterday. For the best Boston accents, you can't beat the police. It must be part of their training.

Yesterday was kinda slow, with the whole convention developing Infomercial Inertia. Teresa Heinz Kerry? A nightmare. Just as well for the Democrats that non-cable networks are avoiding this event, otherwise they'd have shed 10 points overnight.

More here, of course.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:56 AM | Comments (21)


Margo Kingston's "statement of fact" continues to amuse. Now the ridiculous woman claims to be "inexperienced in this debate" and describes her "statement" as "a throwaway line that I deeply regret".

Zionist controllers no doubt forced that retraction. But that's not the only comment Margo needs to address; The Australian has evidence of Margo rewriting history in a bid to dodge further trouble:

After commenting in her online "Webdiary" last Thursday that "the fundamentalist Zionist lobby controls politics and the media in the US and Australia", online journalist Margo Kingston went into damage control on Monday, apologising to those she'd offended. However, Diary understands Kingston posted the following even more incendiary remark on her website on Friday night: "Far from protecting Jewish people against future atrocities, the Fundamentalist Zionist lobby is actually promoting anti-Semitism by its actions and tactics. Neither major party in either country is game to protest, because the power of the lobby is such that careers can be ruined. It is becoming increasingly obvious that John Howard is the lobby's strong choice to win the election, and that means big money and big power will be behind him." Mysteriously, as Kingston confronted claims of anti-Semitism over her earlier remark, the later comment disappeared from her website. We're waiting to see how this squares with Webdiary's own code of ethics, which states: "I will let you know when archives have been changed except when changes do not alter their substance, for example corrections to spelling or grammar." Pretty rich from someone who frequently attacks the ethical standards of other media outlets.

Margo should fire herself. Meanwhile, Jack Robertson launches a passionate defense of the indefensible that has the added benefit of being unreadable.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:37 AM | Comments (68)

July 27, 2004


More DNC coverage from Matt Welch and me at Reason’s Convention Blog. Check for new posts this afternoon and tonight, once this carnival actually gets underway.

I’m heading into town now to set a trap for Michael Moore. I can't reveal too much, but it involves a long piece of string, an empty cardboard box (extra large), a stick, and a cheeseburger.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:56 AM | Comments (100)


An innocent, off-hand remark from Margo Kingston – "the fundamentalist Zionist lobby controls politics and the media in the US and Australia" – has somehow got the crusading truth-teller in trouble. Margo is mystified:

Obviously, I did not mean what many people believed I meant. I am not anti-semitic, and I thought what I wrote was a statement of fact. Is there a language problem here?

A language problem? In Webdiary? What are the odds? Responding to one reader, Margo writes:

I admit I'm at a loss to understand the anti-semetic charge.

She’s also at a loss to spell it.

I'd really appreciate your advice on this - it seemed so uncontroversial when I wrote it - I suppose because I mix largely with left wing Jewish Australians. Is there another form of words which won't offend people but makes the same point?

Let’s help. Please supply your alternative version of "the fundamentalist Zionist lobby controls politics and the media in the US and Australia" in comments.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:41 AM | Comments (230)

July 26, 2004


About 45 miles out of Boston, on a bridge high above I-93, stood a lone, elderly Democrat, waving a Kerry-Edwards banner. The excitement of this campaign is unbelievable!

Sorry for lack of NYC posts; turns out there's lots to do in that city besides write. (Or read. Or sleep.) I'll be back there after Boston is dealt with; stay tuned for festive gathering information.

Boston is allegedly swarming with police, Navy SEALS, massed infantry divisions and elite plain-clothes operatives, yet within minutes of arriving I performed several illegal U-turns, drove into a taxi-only zone, and phoned Matt Welch. All of these are felonies under Homeland Security legislation, yet my crimes went undetected.

Clearly, everybody is blinded by the magical appeal of the Double Johns. It's like a freakin' charismathon going on here! So far there are no protesters at all; the wonderful cage prepared for the Complainy-American community is totally empty.

Okay. More posts tomorrow, once the actual DemFest action begins. Must now prepare disguise to sneak into clambake at Ted Kennedy's place. I'm going as a Designated Driver.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:30 AM | Comments (49)

July 24, 2004


I'm in New York. More information soon, once I'm relocated to the first of several secure locations.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:35 AM | Comments (101)

July 22, 2004


This story mentions multiple unnamed sources, so the Sydney Morning Herald is bound to consider it believable:

Iraqi security reportedly discovered three missiles carrying nuclear heads concealed in a concrete trench northwest of Baghdad, official sources said Wednesday.

The official daily al-Sabah quoted the sources as saying the missiles were discovered in trenches near the city of Tikrit, the hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Round up the witnesses! Get those stat decs signed!

UPDATE. Professor Bunyip has more on that earlier dubious story out of Iraq.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:49 AM | Comments (31)


Australia’s vote against the IJC ruling on Israel’s idiot-proof fence has angered a local fence opponent:

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ameer Ali said the vote sent the message to the Muslim community that the government had no sympathy for Palestine.

"It is disheartening," Dr Ali said.

"Israel, America and Australia - these are three important countries that have voted against it."

Whoa there, Dr Ali. Micronesia might be little, but it isn’t unimportant. For a start, unlike some places I could name, Micronesia is an actual country. Please continue:

"Of course I expected that to happen because the present government goes all the way with what the Americans say. We don't have independent foreign policy at the moment," he said.

"The government has not said anything in favour or in sympathy with the Palestinian people.

"That is the most troubling issue in the Muslim world and as long as that problem remains boiling, the governments that support this American foreign policy will be looked at with disfavour."

Turn away, mortals, lest Ameer Ali’s look of disfavour melt your bones! Sydney Morning Herald readers -- 48% of whom, according to an earlier poll, think the US should "try to negotiate" with Osama bin Laden -- agree with Ali, 68% of them voting to pull the wall down.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 AM | Comments (92)

July 21, 2004


Great timing from Ben & Jerry's founder Ben Cohen, who's just launched a Pants on Fire campaign intended to humiliate ... George W. Bush:

The co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is on the road, towing a 12-foot-tall effigy of President Bush with fake flames shooting out of the pants.

Ben Cohen believes it is an acceptable way to point out what he calls the president's lies.

The Pants on Fire Tour rolled into Spokane on Tuesday.

Flame pants! Just what Sandy Berger needs. Much safer than those old-fashioned document-shredder pants. Yeee-ouch!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:55 PM | Comments (27)


The Perth Sunday Times reports:

A Perth abortion clinic objected to plans for a childcare centre on a neighbouring property because the sight of children might upset its patients.

In an objection lodged with the City of Swan, the clinic operators said the sight and sound of children playing in a neighbouring property might cause emotional strain for women considering terminating a pregnancy.

Here’s a compromise: the childcare centre is allowed to be built, but all children attending it must be dead.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:52 PM | Comments (51)


Australia was one of only six countries to vote against the ICJ ruling on Israel's security barrier at the UN General Assembly a few hours ago. Writes Andre Stein: "I think we can all be proud of the stance the Australian Federal Government has taken."

Here’s the voting list, not including absentees and abstainers:

IN FAVOUR: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

AGAINST: Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States.

As Israeli UN ambassador Dan Gillerman said following the vote: "Mr President, allow me to start with a vote of thanks. Thank God that the fate of Israel and of the Jewish people is not decided in this hall."

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:57 PM | Comments (110)


Did Sandy Berger stuff socks? Fox News says yes:

Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks.

But ex-White House flack Lanny Davis says no:

"I suggest that person is lying," he said. "And if that person has the guts, let's see who it is who made the comment that Sandy Berger stuffed something into socks."

Only Socks himself knows for sure.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:13 PM | Comments (19)


Mark Latham -- who complained only a day or so ago about the Howard government running out of "things to say about Australia's future" and wanting to "talk about things that are 10, 20, 25 years past" -- reaches back 30 years for a fund-raising slogan:

Opposition Leader Mark Latham is stepping back to the past by adopting the iconic "It's Time" slogan from his mentor Gough Whitlam.

Mr Latham's back-to-the-past move is revealed in ALP election fundraising material which is a direct copy of Mr Whitlam's celebrated 1972 campaign.

Naturally, oldtimers who remember the Whitlam era are abandoning Latham’s cause.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:55 AM | Comments (29)


I tried a microdot of this once. On an oyster. A friend had given me the substance on account of the name.

Nearly killed me.

I’m no heat judge -- just ask Ken Layne, who tried to murder me last year in Reno with evasively-named "hot carrots" -- so I gave some of the frightening liquid to a British friend familiar with the very hottest of curries. He reported that an entire meal was subsequently weaponised by a single drop. Another friend, Hong Kong Chinese and able to eat actual flames, was led home in tears by his wife after tasting an amount so tiny as to be undetectable.

So. Hot sauces. Your most appalling experiences, please.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:25 AM | Comments (97)


Alert SteynOnline correspondent David Hallstrom writes:

Have you seen that on Joe Wilson's website restorehonesty.com (Paid for by John Kerry for President) the link to "What I Didn't Find in Africa" no longer works?

I'm certain Cheney is behind this somehow.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:00 AM | Comments (13)


Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger is in a whole pantsload of trouble:

Mr Berger and his lawyer said yesterday that he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had made while reading classified anti-terror documents at the archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants.

Stealthy, Bond-like Berger was somehow caught carrying out this daring gusset-based mission despite an abundance of pantage in which to conceal his secret notes. Now his crime is exposed in ... well, in this list of Associated Press newsbriefs. Third item down. Possibly Berger’s panty raid will achieve greater prominence over coming weeks.

Leading pants authority Stephen Green has more on the trousered marauder.

UPDATE. Among other sharp comments is this, from For Now:

Inadvertently placed secret documents in his socks.

Former National Security Advisor.

In his fucking socks.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:40 AM | Comments (37)


On its 40th anniversary, Myron Magnet re-examines the War on Poverty:

It played such a decisive role in the formation of the underclass because it was one of the principal channels through which the new worldview got transmitted to the worst-off Americans who fell into that class. At the heart of the War on Poverty was the utterly debilitating message that the worst-off were victims: that the larger society, "the system," rather than their own behavior, was to blame for their poverty, their crime, their failure. Either, as War on Poverty architects Lloyd Ohlin and Richard Cloward implausibly argued, there really was no opportunity in the inner city, or, as the much subtler Michael Harrington contended—in a book that greatly influenced President Kennedy to devise the War on Poverty—the vast gulf between the worst-off and the prosperous causes the poor to lose heart, to become too demoralized to grasp the opportunity that lies all around them, even to become self-destructive. In the view of President Johnson, the black poor found themselves so “crippled” by three centuries of racism that they required special help and a different set of standards. As he put it in a speech a year after he launched the War on Poverty on a much more grandiose scale than President Kennedy ever contemplated: "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair."

As Gore Vidal knows, you can't wage war on an abstract noun.

(From the latest edition of City Journal)

UPDATE. Tony Blair is also dissing the ‘60s:

Tony Blair yesterday put a tough new stance on law and order at the heart of Labour’s agenda for the next election, publicly denouncing the 1960s-style liberalism still cherished by many of his own party.

"We are shifting from tackling the offence to targeting the offender," Mr Blair said in a speech in London.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:36 AM | Comments (10)


John Kerry loses support whenever voters are exposed to that colossal Edvard Munch head of his. As Mark Steyn wrote last month:

[Kerry]'s such a terrible candidate people like him more the less they see of him. He took a week off as a mark of respect for the late President Reagan and his numbers inched up. If he had taken another week off as a mark of respect for the late Ray Charles, he could have opened up a clear lead. If he took the summer off as a mark of respect for the late Sir Peter Ustinov and the late Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, he would be heading for a landslide.

So what is the Bush campaign doing about it?

President Bush has ceded the national media spotlight to Sen. John Kerry for the rest of the month, resigning himself to nonstop press coverage of the political opposition that will climax in next week's Democratic National Convention.

"It's kind of their month," Bush campaign spokesman Nicolle Devenish said of the Democrats. "They are going to, for most of the month, dominate the news ... "

Evil. Pure evil.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:17 AM | Comments (8)


Sydney Morning Herald reader Lee Duncan is convinced by Paul McGeough’s Allawi-the-assassin story:

I saw Paul McGeough's account of the Allawi allegations on ABC Lateline last Friday night. Then I read the comprehensive report on Saturday. The integrity of his reporting shone through in both accounts. I would trust McGeough's "intelligence" over Bush or Howard's any day.

His intelligence is undisputed. It’s Paul’s eyesight you’ve got to worry about. Znet’s Tom Engelhardt believes a media conspiracy is denying McGeough’s story to US citizens:

Neither the Los Angeles Times, nor the New York Times, nor the Washington Post has yet mentioned it. Perhaps as part of the "truce" our media seems to have struck with the Bush administration since the "transition," no one seems to be rushing to report such stories.

Roger L. Simon and Winds of Change won’t be silenced, however. Especially on the crucial Alice Cooper angle.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:39 AM | Comments (4)


Michael Moore’s problem isn’t merely with facts, writes Cathy Young. It’s with basic decency:

In his 2003 book "Dude, Where's My Country," Moore expresses sympathy with the Palestinians who danced in the streets to celebrate the fall of the World Trade Center: after all, America supports Israel, which kills innocent Palestinian children. Then, he makes a statement so mind-boggling that when I saw it on an anti-Moore website, I thought it might be distorted. It was not:

"Of course many Israeli children have died too, at the hands of the Palestinians. You would think that would make every Israeli want to wipe out the Arab world, but the average Israeli does not have that response. Why? Because in their hearts, they know they are wrong, and they know they would be doing just what the Palestinians are doing if the sandal were on the other foot."

Moore has such a poisoned notion of humanity that his respect for Israelis would increase if they vowed to kill all Arabs. Meanwhile, Young also reports, David Hardy and Jason Clarke’s book is "soaring to the best-seller lists."

UPDATE. In other loudmouth news:

Just six weeks ago, Al Franken boasted that the new liberal radio network, Air America, was beating conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh in the ratings in the nation's largest media market, New York City. "We beat him," the host of The Al Franken Show told CNBC's Tina Brown in early June. "The period we're opposite Rush, we — we beat WABC, so we think we beat Rush."

Now, however, Arbitron, the audience-research firm, has released final ratings for Spring 2004 — the April/May/June time period that coincides precisely with Air America's first months on the air. And the news is not nearly as good for Air America as Franken and others had led the public to believe.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:49 AM | Comments (20)

July 20, 2004


Lenin’s brain explained:

For decades it was no more than a whispered rumour in the corridors of Soviet medicine but now a team of doctors claim to have proved that Lenin, communism's greatest icon, died of syphilis.

The team says Lenin's syphilis caused brain damage and later dementia in the last two years of his life.

Commie dementia must’ve been hella infectious. People are still suffering from it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:15 PM | Comments (11)


When you get your teeth knocked out, the best thing to do is stuff them right back in your head.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:35 PM | Comments (11)


Seventies musical identity and former gubernatorial love toy Linda Ronstadt wows 'em in Vegas:

Singer Linda Ronstadt not only got booed, she got the boot after lauding filmmaker Michael Moore and his new movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" during a performance at the Aladdin hotel-casino.

Before singing "Desperado" for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker called Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is spreading the truth." She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary about President Bush.

Ronstadt's comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

"It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin President Bill Timmins told The Associated Press. "She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose."

Timmins, who is British, had Ronstadt escorted from the premises and vowed she’ll never perform at the Aladdin again. The British seem to have a particular dislike of Moore.

This is the second time Ronstadt’s dissent has provoked crushing. Her upcoming shows in Fort Worth (September 14/15) should be something to see.

(Via reader Andre Stein)

UPDATE. Apparently the hate wasn’t so great:

My wife & I were at the Linda Ronstadt performance in question, at the Aladdin in Las Vegas, and quite frankly, Aladdin President Bill Timmins' account of what happened is complete crap. There was mixed booing and cheering at Ronstadt's pro-Michael Moore comment, and that was about the extent of the "bedlam" that supposedly broke out. I saw no posters being torn down or cocktails being thrown in the air, and if people stomped out of the theatre unhappy, it was because 1) that was the last song Ronstadt performed; it was her encore; and 2) she mainly sang her standards repertoire, with the Nelson Riddle orchestrations, and a large part of the crowd wanted to hear more of her rock-'n'-roll stuff; she got the biggest round of applause for doing a lackadaisical run-through of her version of "Blue Bayou."

UPDATE II. The Publicity Desperado sends an open letter to Bill Timmins:

For you to throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in support of me and my film, is simply stupid and Un-American. Frankly, I have never heard of such a thing happening. I read that you wouldn't even let her go back up to her room at your hotel! Are you crazy? For crying out loud, it was a song DEDICATION! To "Desperado!" Every American loves that song! Sure, some people didn't like the dedication, and that's their right. But neither they nor you have the right to remove her from your building when all she did was exercise her AMERICAN right to speak her mind.

I think you owe Ms. Ronstadt an apology. And I have an idea how you can make it up to her -- and to the millions of Americans you have offended. Invite her back and I'll join her in singing "America the Beautiful" on your stage. Then I will show "Fahrenheit 9/11" free of charge to all your guests and anyone else in Las Vegas who wants to see it.

UPDATE III. Ms Ronstadt is such a nice lady:

It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know.

Ronstadt also claims that the US "looks like (Germany's) Weimar Republic to me." She’s old enough to know.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:24 PM | Comments (40)


You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. You just need Phillip Adams, who unfailingly blows counter to prevailing trends. Back when Mark Latham was a popular new Labor leader, Adams trashed him:

Latham's economic rationalism and ridicule of the Left's "rights agenda" would preserve the domestic status quo. Forget the refugees. Forget reconciliation ... Instead we'd have more of Howard's picket fence, razor wire politics.

But now, with Latham sagging, Adams (hesitantly) jumps aboard an emptying bandwagon:

From the outset I feared the worst and, from time to time, we've glimpsed it. What I didn't expect was that, for all his wrong notes, Latham would strike a chord.

Well, Latham sure has struck something:

The personal satisfaction rating of the Opposition Leader has dropped to its lowest this year after hitting a record high in March.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, the Coalition's primary vote was steady on 43per cent and Labor's dipped slightly to 40per cent.

The latest ACNielsen Herald poll tells a similar story:

Support for Labor has dropped to its lowest point since Mark Latham won the party's federal leadership, with the Coalition clearly ahead on the primary vote and the ALP relying heavily on Greens preferences to scrape together an election victory.

Free-trader Latham crawling to victory on protectionist Greens preferences? That’d be fun to see.

UPDATE: "It is not the raw numbers in today's AgePoll that will give Mark Latham cause for concern. It's the trend."

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


Available on eBay: an acrylic Philippe by Achewood creator Chris Onstad, who writes:

This is the first-ever public sale of an original Achewood painting, painted by Achewood creator Chris Onstad (me) in his fancy studio (couch, watching Monk). Acrylic paint on sturdy canvas board, Gesso sealed. Imagine if I ever become famous, you can say that you own the first painting I ever offered for public sale, and come back to eBay and hock it for large beans. Or, keep it, because it is a nice painting of a nice boy. Lots of art is mad and weird, but this is pretty happy on the whole. I kind of think it represents all of the hope I have for the Universe.

Current top bid: $US330, and destined for way higher.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:24 AM | Comments (6)


Cute. Check the Sydney Morning Herald’s photo selection for its latest piece on claims Iyad Allawi used a pistol to execute six prisoners:

Bang! Bang! I kill you, pistol style! Despite such fine picture editing, the ABC reports that the SMH’s claims have so far "had no impact on Mr Allawi."

Wonder why. Meanwhile, SMH reader Craig Sheppard takes on his fellow SMH consumers and Iraq-fleeing Allawi exposer Paul McGeough:

I can't help but think some Herald readers actually want the new regime in Iraq to fail, I presume just so they can say "I told you so". They rail against the flawed intelligence on which the invasion was based and how our Government signed us on, based on the reports of the CIA, British military intelligence, Mossad, ASIO and others. Of course they knew it was wrong all along.

Yet two people tell a newspaper reporter a story with holes big enough to drive a truck through and it has all the credibility they need to convict Iraq's Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, and shout down any attempt at democracy in Iraq.

Vincent Zankin, Eddie Raggett, et al, (Letters, July 19) need to think about their motivations for condemning the entire exercise based on a report that, while disturbing, doesn't begin to meet any burden of proof.

Those letters are worth reading. Discover how great is the lust for this story to be true.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:14 AM | Comments (21)


The Democrats think they’ve got it won, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matthew Miller:

Look at the lines at the Michael Moore movie! Look at Bush's approval rating slip below 50 percent! Listen to the respected Democratic congressman who, when I asked how he thought the election was shaping up, said: "It's over."

It's scary but true: Democrats have entered the Gloating Zone. And this is before the convention gives the ticket a bump that will really go to its head.

UPDATE. Speaking of tickets ... in the tradition of Billy Carter and Roger Clinton:

The brother of Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards pleaded innocent Monday to a 10-year-old charge of driving under the influence and was released on $5,000 bail pending trial.

Wesley Blake Edwards was allowed to return to his home in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., said Mike Knight, spokesman for the Arapahoe County district attorney's office.

Edwards had three misdemeanor drunken-driving convictions in 1985, 1987 and 1990 in North Carolina, and his license was permanently revoked in 1990. He spent a week in jail on one of the convictions, records show.

This is also in the tradition of George W. Bush, who at least had the excuse of being led astray by an Australian. Curious how few people remember that Fox News broke the Bush drink-driving story.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:53 AM | Comments (30)


Who are the drinkiest Olympians?

That award - based on an informal athlete poll - is split between the Canadians and the Australians. "The Aussies truly know how to party," says Dick Roth, an American who set a world swimming record in Tokyo in 1964. "The main reason I hung out with them is that their coach didn’t mind them drinking beer. It was fun - lots of drinking. They were more relaxed than everybody else."

Rennae Stubbs, an Australian Olympic tennis player who competed in Atlanta and Sydney, does not dispute the characterisation. "We’re a free-loving, fun-loving group of people," she says. "We’re not as worried as some countries about repercussions."

Edith Thys, an American skier at Calgary and Albertville, agrees that the partying gold should probably go to the Canadians, but she awards the licentiousness medal to the French. "They are by far the most promiscuous," says Thys, "but only with each other. I’m not sure if that’s because they wouldn’t sleep with anybody else, or because nobody else would sleep with them."

Speaking of which, check the opening par. And people say Americans don’t believe in international coalitions ...

UPDATE. Even if our frozen Northern cousins fluke a drinking gold in Athens, they'll still miss out on Fox News:

The CRTC does not think it wise to allow such stuff on Canadian television.

It might threaten "the Canadian way," disturb our "distinct Canadian viewpoint," imperil the whole Canadian psyche, causing voters in metro Toronto to do strange things -- like vote Tory.

So we are being sheltered from subversive conservatism.

However, not everything is kept pending by the CRTC.

Last week, we discovered that the application of the violently anti-Israel Al Jazeera news channel got swift approval, and was hardly kept pending at all.

David Marr would approve.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:59 AM | Comments (17)

July 19, 2004


Arthur Chrenkoff’s excellent Good News from Iraq makes it to the Wall Street Journal!

And here’s the blog-hosted version of the same piece -- with links to previous Good News instalments.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:33 PM | Comments (7)


AAP reports:

It was one of the first signs that the intelligence used to go to war in Iraq was wrong: White House repudiation of 16 words in last year's State of the Union speech that had suggested Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium in Africa.

Yet even as two recent reports sharply criticized prewar intelligence, they also suggested President Bush's claim may not have been totally off-base.

If Bush isn’t off-base, who is? Crazy Joe Wilson, that’s who. And all his media groupies, writes Mark Steyn:

It turns out JOE WILSON LIED! PEOPLE DIED. Of embarrassment mostly. At least I'm assuming that's why the New York Times, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, PBS drone Bill Moyers and all the other media bigwigs Joseph C. Wilson IV suckered have fallen silent on the subject of the white knight of integrity they've previously given the hold-the-front-page treatment, too.

Contrary to what Wilson wrote in the New York Times, Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire uranium from Niger. In support of that proposition are a Senate report in Washington, Lord Butler's report in London, MI6, French intelligence, other European agencies -- and, as we now know, the CIA report, based on Joe Wilson's original briefing to them. Against that proposition is Joe Wilson's revised version of events for the Times.

Poor Joe. William Safire notes that the White House reacted prematurely following a forgery "firestorm" by claiming that Bush’s 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address":

That apology was a mistake; Bush had spoken the plain truth. Did Saddam seek uranium from Africa, evidence of his continuing illegal interest in a nuclear weapon? Here is Lord Butler's nonpartisan panel, which closely examined the basis of the British intelligence:

" ... we conclude that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that 'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded."

Much more on this, in much greater detail, may be found here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE. And still more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:55 PM | Comments (10)


It’s all happening on Norfolk Island. Until 2002, nobody on the island had been murdered for 150 years; now the place has seen its second homicide in 26 months.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:21 PM | Comments (5)


To whom does this land belong? Bush and Kerry argue their respective cases.

(Via Jeff Jarvis)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:41 PM | Comments (15)


Omar at Iraq the Model:

You cannot tell a man that saving him and his family from torture, humiliation and death was a mistake and it should’ve not been done because it’s illegal. This is almost an insult to Iraqis to hear someone saying that this war was illegal. It means that our suffering for decades meant nothing and that formalities and the stupid rules of the UN (that rarely function) are more important than the lives of 25 million people.

And here are some extracts, translated by Omar, from comments posted at the BBC's Arabic forum:  

The soldiers who died in Iraq gave their lives as tributes for freedom. Thanks to all the soldiers who risked and lost their lives for the sake of others’ freedom.
Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, Baghdad

All the debates and the investigations in these two countries are motivated by political ambitions and jealousy rather than the protection of the country and constitution. Bush and Blair deserve a Noble Prize for peace.
Abdulrahman Al-Alwani, Syria

Saddam had the money, the scientists and the programs and if he had remained in power he would’ve continued producing WMDs. A world without Saddam in power is safer.
Abu Mohammed Al-Shammary, Denmark

If the British and American Intelligence have made a mistake and this mistake lead to the decision of the war on Saddam and liberation of Iraq from the hands of what was probably the worst tyranny ever, then what a wonderful mistake!
Fakherlddine Sharif, Iraq

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:02 PM | Comments (27)


NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark is building powerful international partnerships:

New Zealand has an unexpected friend in Hamas, a terror group feared in the Western world, which has thanked this country for its diplomatic slap to Israel over the spy passport scandal.

Citing a statement from the Hamas stronghold of Gaza, the Islamic resistance movement's website says Hamas "has highly appreciated the daring position of the New Zealand Government against the Zionist entity".

Besides stalling Zionism’s cruel advance, Wellington academic Jim Veitch sees other benefits in this happy new alliance. Click the above link.

UPDATE. Jewish New Zealander Andrew Blitz writes:

Prime Minister Helen Clark had been waiting for an ideal opportunity to chastise the Israeli government, and last week she was given the chance she needed to deliver a scathing diplomatic rebuke.

The affair was prompted by the much-publicized conviction of Eli Cara and Uri Kelman, two Israelis who fraudulently attempted to obtain New Zealand passports. The men are assumed to be Mossad agents.

Although this allegation has neither been confirmed nor denied by the Israeli government, no pretense has been entertained on the part of Clark. She has clearly branded Cara and Kelman as Israeli intelligence agents, though their conviction was not on charges of espionage. In this regard Clark clearly overstepped the mark; however, that is of no consequence now. Domestically she has gained a significant political victory from a well-calculated move, designed over three months.

New Zealand's disgraceful record of recent animosity toward Israel has been boosted by the Cara/Kelman affair. Moreover, it has been far too easy for Clark to impose diplomatic sanctions against Israel and bask in the glory of her principled stance.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:43 PM | Comments (70)


Has Iyad Allawi gamed Paul McGeough? Newsweek reports:

U.S. officials say privately he may actually have planted the stories about summary executions as part of a psychological smoke-and-mirrors game. "He wants to project that dual role -- to the West as a committed democrat, and to the Iraqis as a tough guy who got things done," says one diplomat.

Via Professor Bunyip, who had this to say earlier, and who points to a time and motion study of Allawi’s alleged execution schedule.

UPDATE. Iraqi Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin, interviewed by the ABC’s Geoff Thompson, seems a little surprised by the allegations against Allawi:

BAKHTIAR AMIN: It's shocking news to me and I haven't heard about it, and I have strong doubts about it. Doctor Iyad Allawi has shot six people personally?
GEOFF THOMPSON: Yeah, I could show you the story (sounds of papers rustling).
BAKHTIAR AMIN: I must be uh …
GEOFF THOMPSON: This ran on the front page of an Australian newspaper on the weekend …
BAKHTIAR AMIN: I'll check this information, but I have strong doubts about it. It would be …
GEOFF THOMPSON: You haven't heard anything about this?

No, he apparently hasn’t. Amin says that McGeough’s report may be tested in court. Meanwhile, McGeough is sticking to his story:

In an environment like Iraq it's very difficult to separate out what people are telling you from what they are hearing.

In these two cases, these two men sat before me. They spoke reluctantly, they spoke carefully and considerately.

When I tested parts of their story they didn't suddenly provide information where none was available.

They seem to me to be telling what they had seen, they were believable too.

I had an independent set of Iraqi eyes and ears (of an interpreter) listening and watching on these interviews and that person, whom I have worked with for some time and who I trust, he found the stories believable.

The claims haven’t received much traction outside of Australia, however. Pakistan’s Daily Times wonders why:

The US media has surprisingly failed to pick up the shocking disclosure by Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s leading newspaper, that the Irqai Prime Minister Iyad Allawi personally executed six suspected insurgents in a Baghdad police station.

Kim Beazley is among the dubious:

Opposition defence spokesman Kim Beazley expressed doubt about the story.

"If there were an allegation in this country, two anonymous sources would be regarded as rather thin to go to print," he said.

"The Middle East is a giant bazaar of rumours."

UPDATE II. Another threat to Iraq has been exposed by a credible source:

A former federal Liberal Party president says Prime Minister John Howard should be tried and punished for war crimes over the Iraq conflict.

John Valder told a peace forum in Sydney today the invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition was one of the great military atrocities of our time.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:44 AM | Comments (33)


The Left’s mania for organisation is its most charming quality. No idea, no matter how inconsequential, is allowed to evolve without meetings and committees and campaigns and branches and development. And active involvement at a grass roots level:

I've been doing some work on developing the liarsforhoward website, which is up (but still needs some work) and getting other people interested - organising a campaign committee etc.

What I envisage is that this should be a grass-roots media type campaign - the idea of which is to remind people that this is the most deceptive and unaccountable government in our history. We can turn up at events staged by the Liberals (or Labor for that matter), where we will have banners and chants such as 'rich schools need more pools', 'Invading Iraq DID NOT increase our terrorist threat!' etc. Our central message is that we support the Howard Government's right to lie to the Australian people - after all, they know what is best for us! It's in the good old Aussie tradition of taking the piss.

The thing about the campaign is that it will be open to anyone to join and create their own branch. The message is that if you're a Greenie in Hobart, Labor in Launceston, a Democrat in Darwin, or unaligned in Adelaide and you too have had enough of the lies and lack of accountability of this government, the "Liars for Howard" campaign and website will enable you to start up your own branch.

The site will eventually have downloadable material and I envisage that we will be able to provide some centralised support for others to tip them off to where Liberal and Labor events are going to be staged. So, I'm hoping in the next few months, this thing will grow in an organic type of way and in the next week or so we intend to hold our campaign launch (perhaps a mock protest at Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11. I can see the banner now... "No Moore Truth!")

What would be most valuable to me as organiser of this thing is to have someone in the media who could tip us off to where the Liberals and Labor will be holding events on any particular day. Failing that, how can we find out this information?

By asking the Liberal/Labor Events Alert Committee, of course. I believe they’re associated with a sub-set of the Branch Co-ordination Campaign (National), which is currently locked in factional disputes with the Delusions of Influence Strategy Council and the Nationwide Collective of Organisational Organs.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:43 AM | Comments (25)


Jonathan Agnew and the late Brian Johnston giggle like drugged children during a famous 1991 cricket call. And listen to the chilling conclusion to this radio banter between Ian Payne and Louise Minchin.

More BBC audio fun here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:09 AM | Comments (3)


Created In Darkness By Troubled Americans: Best of McSweeney's will be on sale August 10 throughout the US. Features a piece by me. And funnier pieces by others.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:07 AM | Comments (0)


I made the obvious point last week that Fahrenheit 9/11 was unlikely to change the minds of anyone not already in thrall to Michael Moore:

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted July 8-11 found that only 4 percent of Republicans surveyed had seen the movie, compared with 10 percent of Democrats and independents. What's more, almost two-thirds of Republicans said they didn't want to see the movie.

Maybe Gunner Palace would have more crossover appeal, if it ever gets a US release. Or a release in Germany, for that matter.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:04 AM | Comments (7)


The Guardian’s Paul Harris joins the Kerry circus for a day, "and finds that the Democrats' strategy of inspiring their core supporters is driving a powerful campaign":

For a moment the grey curtain parted. From behind stepped John Kerry, smiling and startling the posse of journalists at the back of his plush campaign plane.

Aieeee! It’s alive!

'How is everybody?' Kerry grinned, walking forward and prompting a quick scramble for ...

Parachutes? Wooden stakes? Nuance repellent?

Kerry was clearly feeling on top of the world. 'How are you, senator?', one journalist asked. 'Fabulous,' Kerry said, and then repeated: 'Fabulous.'

Kerry’s limited word skills are compensated by Harris’s PR talents:

His campaign is growing and evolving, seeking to turn itself into a winning machine. It is flush with cash, overflowing with volunteers and scoring regular hits on President George Bush. Kerry leads in the polls and basks in the afterglow of naming charismatic Southerner John Edwards as running mate. After a lifetime devoted to politics, this is Kerry's moment.

He knows it, too. With one foot on the arm of a chair, Kerry stood like a cowboy leaning on a gate. 'I am doing great. I have never been better. I am energised, back in shape, good and strong,' he enthused.

So now cowboy is good. But how does one adopt a cowboy lean when your only prop is an aircraft chair? And does the reverse also apply; has anybody ever mentioned that a fence-leaning cowboy resembles a bike-riding junior Senator from Boston posing on a jet?

Last week Kerry was keen to talk ... But he avoided anything with the merest hint of controversy. He was asked to name his favourite sporting fantasy. Would he rather win the Superbowl or the World Series? Kerry glanced at an aide and shook his head. 'Too many. I can't really list one,' he said.

Kerry can’t give a direct answer to a simple question about sport. Shades of Al Gore. Later, Harris is entranced as Kerry works the room -- or, more accurately, the porch -- during a stopover in Pennsylvania:

He cannot afford to be seen as an elitist or taking himself too seriously. It is working, too. Pressured by aides to keep on schedule, he wrapped up with an anti-Washington tirade. 'I am frustrated and tired of a Washington that throws words around like they don't mean anything and plays with your lives. Let's reclaim our own democracy.'

That line -- so broad, so vague, so arrogant; it implicitly defines the only legitimate democracy as one which Kerry leads -- is the chant of the doomed. Meanwhile, InstaPundit writes:

The "anybody but Bush" constituency will evaporate as soon as he's sworn in, leaving him weak and subject to attacks from within his own party ... note this comment on Kerry from Garry Trudeau: "Like most Americans, I've been forced to unambiguously take sides, and I'm not particularly happy about it."

Not exactly a strong base of support, but it's what happens when you nominate a weak candidate, and unify your party around hatred for the incumbent.

To Trudeau and the rest of the Kerry-by-default brigade, add actor Stanley Tucci:

Yesterday at the Film & Music Global Fest on the Italian island of Ischia, Tucci was talking about his ambitions to make a movie about sculptor Alberto Giacometti when he confided to the news media: "I do hope the administration changes in November, and I don't care who is in office as long as it's not this one."

Maybe that’s what Harris meant by Kerry "inspiring core supporters".

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:41 AM | Comments (15)


Sorry for lack of posts. Been in Melbourne for work. Returning to Sydney yesterday was fun; we landed in 25-50 knot winds, which pitched the 767 all over the place. Sitting next to me was a Qantas pilot, who happily explained high-turbulence landing techniques as we were actually landing. The key: consistent momentum. My guess, that the pilot was using near full-throttle at some points on approach to "drive through" the turbulence, was corrected: he was sometimes running as high as three-quarter throttle, but only because the jet was maximum loaded and a high-drag landing set-up becomes even draggier with cross-winds and the like.

Perfect landing, by the way.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:44 AM | Comments (15)

July 17, 2004


Zeyad at Healing Iraq reported on July 1:

Another widespread and preposterous rumour is that Ayad Allawi has been showing up at IP stations and executing criminals himself, and I have heard this one from a very large number of people.

This rumour has now reached the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.M

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The ABC has more:

Two unnamed people, who are alleged to have witnessed the shootings, told Australian journalist Paul McGeough that Iyad Allawi allegedly shot the insurgents in a courtyard adjacent to a maximum security cell in Baghdad.

Dr Allawi's office has denied the claims.

A written statement to Mr McGeough says that Dr Allawi has not visited the prison and does not carry a gun.

But Mr McGeough stands by his claims.

He says he cannot name the witnesses, but describes what the two Iraqis allege they saw.

Strong enough for a major SMH piece.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:49 AM | Comments (247)


Frank Devine takes on the New York Times:

The cunning American decision to hand sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days ahead of the June 30 schedule frustrated plans for a massive offensive The New York Times may have had for that day.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:41 AM | Comments (28)


Mark Latham collects one sector of the sporting electorate:

Mr Latham supported Mr Howard's view of champion Sri Lanka spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan as a chucker. "If I was an umpire at square leg I'd be no-balling him a fair bit," he said.

And Latham sheds another:

Labor may struggle for the rev-head vote after Mr Latham revealed an indifference to all motor sports. "I just don't get much out of it, I'm sorry," he said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:28 AM | Comments (17)


Catherine Keenan profiles Margo Kingston. Take the Keenan/Kingston multiple choice quiz:

She worked in this newspaper's Canberra bureau from 1994 to 2001, and since July 2000 has edited Webdiary at smh.com.au, which now she runs as a contributing editor/columnist. She has become famous for ------

a) earning money for this
b) the vastness of her illiteracy
c) the strength of her convictions

Even those who don't know her well, like me, know that arguments about politics or her profession make her ------

a) confused
b) thirsty
c) shake with anger

There is a rawness about her, as if she doesn't have a skin, that makes her both vulnerable and explosive. "People think I'm ------," she says.

a) unreadable
b) Paris Hilton
c) mad

Not for the first time, I think how exhausting it must be to be Margo. Conversely, it must be hard for her to understand how the rest of us can remain so little moved by issues that make her ------.

a) redundant
b) Australia’s greatest intellectual
c) burn

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:21 AM | Comments (20)


My unpaid promotional work for Michael Moore’s new movie continues. Fat bastard owes me thousands.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:15 AM | Comments (20)


No comment? I'd bet on that:

Former ATSIC deputy chairman Ray Robinson allegedly gambled nearly $5million - or the equivalent of more than $5300 a day - at Queensland casinos over a 30-month period.

Mr Robinson's gambling records were obtained by Federal Police after search warrants were executed as part of an ongoing investigation into the serving ATSIC commissioner, who has been under scrutiny over his management of taxpayer-funded Aboriginal corporations in Queensland.

Yesterday when contacted by The Australian on his mobile phone at Charleville in Queensland and asked about the gambling records, Mr Robinson paused and then said: "I've got no comment."

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:11 AM | Comments (27)

July 16, 2004


Further to this, The Australian reports:

Labor and the coalition are at odds over a mystery website which lists what it calls Howard Government lies.

The website, johnhowardlies.com, is falsely registered by a group or person going by the name "ABC DEF".

Well, it was. Here’s how the registration read yesterday:

ABC DEF (ID00124517)
123 Fourfive St
Surfers Paradise, TAS 7003
Phone: +61.123456789

And here it is today:

Tim Grau (ID00124517)
GPO Box 1600
Surfers Paradise, NSW 2001
Phone: +61.299766693

That address is bogus, obviously. The site -- now back online -- has been changed, too, and now claims to be "authorised by Springboard Australia Pty Ltd, 11-25 Wentworth Street, Manly NSW 2095." Tim Grau is the founding Director of Springboard Australia, a PR company. Let’s learn a little more about Tim:

He played a key role as a strategy and policy adviser in the small team that saw Wayne Goss elected as Queensland Premier after more than 32 years of conservative government in 1989.

Becoming a senior adviser to Premier Goss after that election, Tim provided strategic advice in key public policy areas, including in economic development, health, education, welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and the environment. Tim also served as the Chief of Staff to the Education Minister during the second term of the Goss Government.

Joining the Federal Government in early 1994, he was a senior political and communications adviser to the Australian Attorney-General, Michael Lavarch, before moving to Washington DC to observe communications, issues management and policy strategies during the 1996 Presidential election campaign.

Upon his return to Australia, Tim was recruited to be Communications Director for a senior NSW Government Minister where he successfully used his skills to provide a strong positive focus for the government in the lead-up to the 1999 State election. Following that election he was appointed Chief of Staff.

Tim is a regular commentator on ABC Radio and frequently addresses forums and conferences on Australian politics, the media and issues management.

Mark Latham says the website "has got nothing to do with the Labor Party whatsoever". Maybe so. But the guy running it has.

(Via reader BB)

UPDATE. This SMH item on the mystery website quotes "website conveners" claiming that "no one involved in creating johnhowardlies.com was a member of a political party."

A phone call to the ALP confirms that a Timothy Grau was a member of the party in 1997 and 1998, and currently describes him as a "non-financial member".


A former Labor Party adviser is the creator of the johnhowardlies.com website, an investigation by The Age reveals.

A company search shows former Labor party adviser Tim Grau is the founding director of the public relations company, Springboard Australia Pty Ltd, that authorised the website.

They needed a company search to find that out?

UPDATE III. Tim Grau is not the site’s creator, he tells Sydney ABC’s David Hardacre. He doesn’t say much else, however. A lightly-edited transcript (no link available as yet) follows:

Grau: What I can tell you is that my consulting company which is a public affairs consulting company of Springboard Australia was approached by a group of people who wanted to, to do the site and one of the services that I do provide is communications strategy and website and internet strategy development so I’ve assisted them to do that.

Hardacre: OK, so let’s clear this then, clear it up off the top. You, yourself have not designed and posted the content johnhowardlies.com - you’re saying that you were approached by a group of people who wanted to post johnhowardlies.com?

Grau: Yes, well I mean I, as, as part of the service that my company provides is obviously helping in design and, and layout and content and so forth, I mean we are a communication company and do do internet strategy. We’ve done websites for other, other clients as well so we have been involved in the, in the development of it but what’s become clear in actual fact is much to the surprise of the original handful of people who talked to us about it is that this has now become a massive movement. We have been receiving, in fact one of the reasons the site was down yesterday was nothing to do with, with the federal government’s announcements but it was in actual fact, the site was not built to receive the number of hits and the volume of emails that it’s getting.

Hardacre: Yeah fine but the point being though that if it’s a political website …

Grau: Yep.

Hardacre: It may be deregistered if the group behind it isn’t properly identified.

Grau: No, no, well, well the site does have an authorisation on it now and it’s been authorised by Springboard Australia Pty Ltd.

Hardacre: So is Springboard Australia Pty Ltd simply fronting for a political group? I mean that’s the question isn’t it?

Grau: Well it’s, I suppose the way I now see it really in fact and its clear this thing will evolve because it’s become like the moveon.org organisation in the United States which as you know two million subscribers to it and we’re, we’re now receiving about three emails, three to five emails every minute of people wanting to subscribe to the site.

Hardacre: Right.

Grau: But it’s, it’s, it’s like a lot of the sites that are now in the US and that are around, it has become a communications tool amongst a whole group of people there is no one, one person necessarily who, who owns and runs it.


Hardacre: The point here though is who is paying the bill? Who’s paying the bill? Who is paying for the site? Who’s paid you to post it? To design it?

Grau: That’s, that’s a relationship between me and the clients.

Hardacre: Right well the question today is whether or not its paid by the Labor Party or whether it’s, or if it’s not paid by them…it’s a very simple question to answer.

Grau: (inaudible) I can absolutely rule that out right from the start David. I have, the Labor Party has no involvement in the site, I have not had any discussions with anybody in any political party about the site at a staffer’s level or an official’s level. We were as surprised as anybody that the ALP sent it out in their newsletter as we were that the Greens have linked it on their site and if you actually do a search, a google search it’s been linked to a whole range of chat rooms and bloggs sites so there is definitely no involvement of the Labor Party at all. I’ve, I myself am not a member of Labor Party and have not been for many years so there’s, the suggestion that Mark Latham is behind this or the Labor Party is behind this is completely untrue. There has been no discussion with them or any political party in relation to this at all.


Hardacre: Now correct me if I’m wrong here but according to reports the administrator of the site was listed as ABCDEF address at 12345 Street, Surfers Paradise?

Grau: (inaudible) …

Hardacre: Now is that you?

Grau: No, no I’m not sure how that happened, I …

Hardacre: 'Cause that looks quite fishy doesn’t it?

Grau: Yeah well I registered the site as I do for other clients, I have got a number of clients I’ve registered through global net saver as a, as a internet hosting company and I’d indicated to them, in fact I’ve spoken to them again today because of this concern and I said look there is no, there’s no big secret here I’m happy to put …

Hardacre: Well that makes it look absolutely like you’ve got something to hide.

Grau: But as I said, but we, I had nothing to do or I don’t even know how that happened, how that works, that level of technical detail is not something that I deal with but I’ve spoken to global net saver this morning and said that, that, that if they need to or it should be changed to Springboard Australia Pty Ltd in the interim, you know, in the interim until in fact you know, what’s now happening as I said is this has become such a movement that it may be set up as a community group or something or other, I don’t know where this is going to go because it certainly has taken off much faster than anyone expected.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:27 AM | Comments (54)


Credit Michael Moore with this: he knows how to make a film. Specifically, one film. Throw him a topic -- any topic -- and he’ll add some voiceovers, a few slabs of archival cheese, way-obvious song selections, buncha clips of his ideological foes looking dumb, and come up with the same film every time.

Fahrenheit 9/11 (I saw it last night, thanks to tickets from the Today Show) follows the same cheap, cynical, disingenuous formula as Bowling for Columbine. Moore’s only got one set of tricks, and he works 'em like a thrice-divorced carny trying to keep up with the alimony payments.

A longer piece on Moore's latest atrocity will follow. Meanwhile, because this was the film’s Sydney premiere, lots of prominent folk turned up. Here are their instant reviews:

• ABC newsreader Tony Eastley rated Fahrenheit 9/11 as "pretty good" and said he hoped "lots of non-Democrats in the US watch it." He noted several cheap shots, however, and admitted Moore’s attempts to link Bush to a widespread Saudi conspiracy were "tenuous". Eastley was also uncomfortable with Moore’s lampooning of several nations that joined the Coalition of the Willing: "They didn’t deserve to be lampooned."

60 Minutes reporter Richard Carleton declared the film to be "pure propaganda, and I fully support it because I oppose the war." Carleton excused Fahrenheit 9/11’s hamfisted style on the grounds that "propaganda has to make strong points."

• "It preys on the prejudices of the bleeding hearts," said former One Nation puppetmaster and NSW Parliamentarian David Oldfield. "It isn’t difficult to make war look terrible."

• Actor John Howard said it was "the best movie I’ve seen in ten years, non-fiction or otherwise", but allowed, following questioning on some of the film’s more obviously dubious aspects, that Moore had "manipulated things a little." Then he referred me to a George Bernard Shaw line which I’ve forgotten.

• Comedian Peter Berner declined to offer an opinion: "I need more time to come up with an off-the-cuff response."

• Activist Andrew Wilkie thought Australians should see Moore’s movie because it will force them to question "the Australian Prime Minister’s obsessive relationship with the US President." Asked about Moore’s blank-screen presentation of the September 11 attacks compared with his graphic depiction of fatalities in Iraq, Wilkie said that this was "just filmmaker’s art." He also called me Jim.

• Author Thomas Keneally was in the audience, but a female reporter from the Daily Telegraph warned me off approaching him: "It’s not a good idea."

• Outgoing ALP member for Kingsford Smith Laurie Brereton didn’t want to talk about the film at all, preferring to discuss the upcoming Australian election and New York Post editor Col Allan. Laurie looks years younger after quitting politics.

• And the CNNNN gang argued with me for a couple of hours; I hope the cars I keyed in the carpark afterwards were theirs. The Today Show will run a few minutes with me after the 7.30am news update.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:15 AM | Comments (103)


The OmbudsGod reports:

Joseph C. Wilson IV's ironically-named website, RestoreHonesty.com, where he proclaims, "George Bush's Administration has betrayed our trust," and "I wasn't ready to keep quiet when this President misled the nation in his State of the Union Address" – is paid for by (drum roll please) John Kerry for President, Inc.

Oh, and not only is Joe "not a political partisan," he hopes you "will join [him] in doing all you can to make John Kerry our next President."

And in Australian non-partisan website news:

Federal Labor leader Mark Latham has distanced himself and his party from an anti-Government website which may have broken the law by not naming its publisher.

The Government has asked the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to investigate the website - johnhowardlies.com.

The latest edition of Labor's official email newsletter refers voters to the site, which is now being revamped and is temporarily offline.

But Mr Latham says despite the referral, Labor is not behind the web address.

UPDATE. InstaPundit has loads more on the Wilson/Kerry site.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:48 AM | Comments (14)


Garry Trudeau recalls his time at Yale with George W. Bush:

"Even then he had clearly awesome social skills," Trudeau said. "He could also make you feel extremely uncomfortable ... He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation."

And Trudeau has forever after attempted to do the same thing. Envy has destroyed him. Check the bitterness:

"Bush has created more harm to this country’s standing and security than any president in history," Trudeau said. "What a shame the world has to suffer the consequences of Dubya not getting enough approval from Dad."

It’s been decades, Garry. Get over it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:40 AM | Comments (30)

July 15, 2004


Professor Peter Singer praises the Howard government for putting Australia first:

Its global stance has been one, quite explicitly, of advancing Australia's national interests.

Excellent! And in other context-challenged news, Mark Latham has conceded the upcoming election to John Howard:

Opposition leader Mark Latham says the Government has scrapped its plan for a [nuclear] dump in South Australia because of the looming election.

"As soon as the election is out of the way, they'll be trying as they have been for 80 years to get that dump into South Australia," Mr Latham said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:38 AM | Comments (50)


Claudia Rosett continues her epic solo run at the UN:

Another stack of secret United Nations Oil for Food documents has now reached the press, this batch procured by congressional sources and providing--at long last--a better view of Saddam Hussein's entire U.N.-approved shopping list. This huge roster of Oil for Food relief contracts fills in a few more of the vital details about Saddam's "humanitarian" partnership with the U.N., spelling out the names of all his U.N.-approved relief suppliers and the price of every deal.

This gigantic scandal has received barely any notice in Australia. Whoever among local op-ed folks is the first to gain rights to Rosett’s copy will steal a huge lead on other papers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:35 AM | Comments (25)


Indonesia is overrun with bogus journalists:

News hounds this week rallied in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta to protest against the proliferation of fraudsters masquerading as working journalists.

They declared a "No to bogus journalists day" and handed out bumper stickers warning "Stop. We do not accept or serve bogus journalists".

Most of the sham newsmen carry counterfeit press cards identifying them as members of the media.

How does anybody tell the difference?

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:32 AM | Comments (9)


The discovery of penicillin was accidental. Vulcanized rubber? Another blunder. And if the removal of Saddam Hussein was also a mistake, well, I can live with it. So can Christopher Hitchens:

Everywhere I have been in Iraq, I have noticed that the bravest person betrays a slight change of expression when the name Saddam Hussein is mentioned. Just a flicker in the eye, perhaps, but pure fear. The sort of fear you can bottle. And a hint of humiliation, too. Years and years of compulsory applause and hysterical adulation: the systematic humiliation of an entire people.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:21 AM | Comments (13)


No, but in England they're barging:

Hand in hand with the arrival in Britain of supersize containers of food and drink has come ... the Big American Fridge. Last year, John Lewis alone sold £2m of them.

As these gargantuan cold-storage systems barge their way into kitchens across the country it seems a good moment to ask: have they come as a result of our expanded eating habits? Or do they play a more active part in affecting the amount we eat, encouraging us to crave and consume more?

Or are they just places to keep food cold? The Guardian aims to find out.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:58 AM | Comments (60)


Blur bassist Alex James reviews Fahrenheit 9/11:

The genius of this most American of films is that it has turned politics into a blockbuster subject. It's the first punk rock movie: it must have cost less to make than The Blair Witch Project, and yet he's managed to distil reality and come up with something more powerful.

Wrong, rock boy. It only looks as though it cost less than The Blair Witch Project, which apparently ran to about $40,000. (That figure may be low, but still.) By contrast, Fahrenheit 9/11 spent $12,000,000 on prints and advertising -- and half as much again on production.

(Via Rob at SemiSkimmed, who writes: "Blur's bassist has distilled reality and come up with something even more compelling: a heady mix of fiction and wild-arsed guesswork.")

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:45 AM | Comments (20)


Behold, the Mosque de Triomphe!

UPDATE. Mark Steyn:

France is admirably upfront in its unilateralism: It reserves the right to treat French Africa as its colonies, Middle Eastern dictators as its clients, the European Union as a Greater France and the UN as a kind of global condom to prevent the spread of Americanization. All this it does shamelessly and relatively effectively. It’s time the rest of us were so clear-sighted.

In other news brieflet developments ...

• I’ve always wondered what that meant.

• Reader Davo assists the needy. Shortly after his helpful comment, the blue background vanished.

• Dave Barry will be in Boston for Kerrypalooza 2004. I’m pretty sure he once insulted Australia, so I’m bringing knives.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:08 AM | Comments (12)


Franklin Foer reveals John Kerry’s deep, dark secret:

He distinguished himself as a soccer star. At Yale, he made the varsity squad and even scored a hat trick against Harvard. So, why isn't Kerry juggling soccer balls or practicing penalty kicks for the cameras? Mr. Kerry, why are you running from your record?

One possible explanation is characterological. Four Four Two, a British soccer magazine, has investigated Kerry's soccer career. Unfortunately, it confirmed the worst stereotype about Kerry: He isn't very decisive.

According to classmates, Kerry preferred dribbling around defenders, rather than using passes to advance the ball. His school team's Scottish manager would urge him not to "diddle with the ball." Apparently, this exhortation stuck as a nickname, "the Diddler."

Others teammates, mostly Democrats, are more sympathetic. They describe Kerry as a good team player, but they still poke fun at his loping stride. His other soccer nickname is "the Camel."

George W. Bush played rugby.

UPDATE. The Diddler isn’t a team player:

All of John Kerry's primary rivals - and potential future contender Hillary Clinton - were snubbed yesterday when the Democrats announced their prime-time convention speakers.

Shut out were Howard Dean, who still commands legions of passionate followers, running-mate runnerup Dick Gephardt, Joseph Lieberman, Wesley Clark, Bob Graham, Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun.

Apparently Hillary Clinton’s role will only involve standing on stage "for a first-night photo op with other female senators." Great. Guess I can miss the first night, then.

UPDATE. Grrrrrr! The sisterhood is steamed:

The former chairwoman of New York's state Democratic Party said Wednesday it was "a total outrage" that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has not been offered a prominent speaking role at the Democratic National Convention.

"It's a slap in the face, not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America," said Judith Hope, a major party fund-raiser.

"Hillary Clinton has been a team player for this ticket from Day One," Hope said.

Asked by The New York Times for its Wednesday editions why Sen. Clinton was not invited to speak at the convention, Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said: "She never asked."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:54 AM | Comments (30)


Those geniuses at Air America don’t miss a thing. The Houston Chronicle’s Ken Hoffman received a phone call last week from American Airhead Mike Papantonio:

Papantonio challenged me about why the Houston Chronicle "ignored the Jon Matthews story."

Matthews, a former conservative talk show host, pleaded guilty last month to indecency with a child.

Papantonio said, "We're doing a story on the coverage of Matthews. First of all, the story was pulled from the Chronicle's archives, and you covered the story exactly one time since it happened.

"There was no mention that he was the most conservative, right-wing talk host in Texas.

"We're taking the angle that the Houston Chronicle just looked the other way. It looks like you ignored the story, and I'm really interested in why you pulled it from your archives."

Why was this terrible injustice committed? For what reason did the Chronicle ignore this story? Read the whole story.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:43 AM | Comments (14)


As Jeff Jarvis reports, Michael Moore has apparently abandoned blogging after only two posts. He must’ve discovered there wasn’t any money in it.

The ABC is happy to help old Mikey out:

Win tickets to an exclusive 612 ABC Brisbane screening of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11", winner of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Afterwards, attend an ABC forum discussing the film. Is Michael Moore exposing the Bush administration or a biased film-maker attempting to influence American and global politics? To win tickets to the movie and forum, listen to Steve Austin weekdays from 8.30am.

If you’re a lucky Steve Austin listener, you might want to print this out so that you may read it aloud during the ABC forum.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:31 AM | Comments (9)


This week's Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Toyota's new Prius, Steve Bracks, George W. Bush, Peter Garrett, Mark Latham, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Kofi Annan, Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock, Cheryl Kernot, Saddam Hussein and his charming offspring, and John Kerry.

Also in the Bulletin: Bettina Arndt, and this killer intro from Paul Toohey:

The old courthouses in Darwin and Alice Springs are long gone. The kids have grown. Lindy and Michael are no longer together. Lawyers have turned into judges, judges have turned to ash. Ayers Rock is now called Uluru. And that skulking dingo is still getting away with murder.

Toohey was working off an open brief on this story, and that intro is as it appeared in his first draft. The man can write.

UPDATE. George Monbiot recently wrote:

Officially, the biggest 4x4s can manage 12 or 13 miles to the gallon in urban areas. Unofficially, US journalists found that the Ford Excursion was doing 3.7.

Sure, George. Here’s the report upon which Monbiot based his claim:

As we approach the hill, I hit the gas. The great vehicle pauses for a moment, as the massive torque is transmitted through its four tons, then lunges forward. We begin to climb. The engine is maxed out. Above my head, the fuel-consumption meter indicates that we're getting 3.7 miles to the gallon.

George might be interested to learn that I briefly observed a figure of 28 litres per 100 kilometres on the Prius’s computer. That converts to 8.1 mpg (US gallons). It’s easy to get ultra-bad economy figures, from any engine; all you need do is dump a whole ton of fuel in there under load at high revs. Incidentally, the Prius wasn’t under a great deal of load at the time.

More on the Prius: because at low speed it jinks between its regenerative electric motor and conventional petrol engine (which cuts out entirely at stops) the Prius is more economical in town than it is on the freeway. I averaged 51 mpg (imperial gallons; 43 mpg US) at a steady 125 kmh (75 mph) on the open road, but ramped it up to 100 mpg (imp.; 84 mpg US) during a few five-minute periods in city traffic. Freak show.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:41 AM | Comments (20)

July 14, 2004


The Sydney Morning Herald:

Margo is still sick and will be back on Monday, July 19.

Margo Kingston's new crapsite:

In fact MK is still busy with radio and other [media] commitments.

UPDATE. Lots more in the archives. Click and scroll.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:38 AM | Comments (38)


Pete Townshend hits a familiar note:

Michael Moore has been making some claims – mentioning me by name - which I believe distort the truth ... I greatly resent being bullied and slurred by him in interviews just because he didn’t get what he wanted from me. It seems to me that this aspect of his nature is not unlike that of the powerful and wilful man at the centre of his new documentary.

More on this from The Independent and the Washington Post.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:37 AM | Comments (30)


Only a few weeks ago someone was seriously telling me that Peter Fray, The Age’s Europe correspondent, could be the paper’s next editor. Just as well that bullet’s been dodged. Here’s Fray’s latest report:

"What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons... I am in no doubt that the threat is serious and current." - Tony Blair, foreword to the British Iraq dossier, September 2002.

How tragically empty these words now sound. No one in their right mind - not their official author or the spooks and minders who fed him the lines - would dare repeat them today. At least 11,000 dead Iraqi civilians deserve that much respect. After all is said and done, this wasn't a war we had to have.

What to do about such a fatal mistake? Surely someone is to blame? Surely someone has to pay?

Don't bank on it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:30 AM | Comments (14)


Oh, ha ha ha, Mr Sydney Morning Herald headline writer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:20 AM | Comments (17)


A press release arrives from Checker Books:

Checker Book Publishing Group and cartoonist Chris Onstad have reached an agreement under which the publisher will collect Onstad's Achewood comic strip in a series of three trade paperbacks beginning in November.

Checker's first Achewood collection (ISBN 0-9753808-6-9, $19.95, 180 pp. tpb), is as yet untitled, but is slated for November publication, and will collect Achewood strips from its debut in October 2001 through June 2002.

Onstad began posting his on-line comic strip chronicling life at 62 Achewood Court, home to a dysfunctional and riotously funny menagerie of anthropomorphs and robots, on a daily schedule in late 2001 (he later launched a subscription-only Sunday installment in color on Serializer.net) . It quickly became a favorite of on-line and print opinion-makers - fans include syndicated columnists Dave Barry and James Lileks, cartoonists Tony Millionaire (Maakies), Jim Woodring (Frank) and James Kochalka (Sketchbook Diaries), and a vast and varied array of prominent webloggers. In just over two years, the strip has grown to a daily readership of over 10,000 and drives a merchandising mini-empire that has allowed Onstad to leave his day job and pursue Achewood as his sole vocation.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:18 AM | Comments (24)

July 13, 2004


The Guardian urges its creepy readers to boycott, among other things, Budweiser ("Why? Keeping orcas in captivity"), Adidas ("Mistreating kangaroos"), Bacardi ("Counter-revolutionary activities"), Lonely Planet ("Producing a travel guide to Burma"), and George W. Bush ("Kyoto, farm subsidies, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay ...").

List in comments reasons to boycott The Guardian. Bandwidth has been expanded to cope.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck, who boycotts Budweiser due to taste issues)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:34 AM | Comments (77)


Antony Loewenstein -- co-author of Margo Kingston’s Not Sane, John -- hails people power:

We're reaching really encouraging numbers for a book that has, tellingly, received little mainstream press coverage. In other words, the message has entirely bypassed the old ways of communicating and succeeded in getting people excited and active. We reckon the mainstream press are a little scared that something, anything, can sell without their promotions, so maybe NHJ is a taste of much to come.

Here’s an abbreviated list of Margo’s non-mainstream non-promotions that have bypassed old ways of communicating:


7.40am - RADIO 2CC Canberra, interviewer Mike Jeffreys

9.40am - STEREO 974 Melbourne, interviewer Bob Taylor

10.20am - COMMERCIAL RADIO 2UE Sydney, interviewer George Moore

10.40am - COMMERCIAL RADIO 2GB Sydney, interviewer Tim Webster

4pm - 702 ABC RADIO Sydney, interviewer Richard Glover

6.20pm - COMMERCIAL RADIO 4BC Brisbane, interviewer Tony Johnston

TUESDAY 22 June 2004, SYDNEY

10.10am EST, 9.40AM SA - RADIO 5DN Adelaide, interviewer Jeremy Cordeaux

Noon EST, 11.30AM SA - 5UV RADIO Adelaide, interviewer Cath Keneally

12.30pm - BAY FM Byron Bay, interviewer Terrie Wells

12.45pm EST, 10.15 Perth - RADIO 6PR Perth, interviewers Mario Dorazio and Deb Kennedy

5.30pm - ABC RADIO TRIPLE J Nationally, 'Hack', interviewer Steve Cannane

5.45pm - 666 ABC RADIO Canberra, interviewer Ross Sully

10pm - ABC RADIO NATIONAL, interviewer Phillip Adams


10am - 936 ABC RADIO Hobart, interviewer Tim Cox

11.30am EST, 11am NT - 105.7 ABC RADIO Darwin, interviewer Annie Gastin

12.30pm - RADIO 927 Melbourne, interviewer Trevor Himstedt


10am - RADIO 3AW Melbourne, interviewer Ross Warnecke

11.00am - 774 ABC RADIO Melbourne, interviewers Jon Faine and Terry Lane


10.30am - 612 ABC RADIO Brisbane, interviewer Steve Austin

11am - ABC RADIO NORTH WEST Queensland, interviewer Jemma Schweikert

1.10pm EST, 11.10am Perth - 720 ABC RADIO Perth Chat Room Media Section, interviewer Jo McManus

Keep it real, kids.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:27 AM | Comments (28)


John Leo on Paul Bremer’s forgotten farewell:

The Washington Post said Bremer left without giving a talk. The Los Angeles Times did worse. It missed the speech, then insulted Bremer for not giving it. A July 4 Times "news analysis" said: "L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country--almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year." This is a good one-sentence example of what readers object to in much Iraq reporting -- dubious or wrong information combined with a heavy load of attitude from the reporter.

The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran has his say here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:00 AM | Comments (5)


The Globe and Mail’s Simon Houpt attends a Michael Moore press conference:

Most of the foreign journalists love Moore. Many of them, like the Australian woman wearing jeans with a flowery pattern snaking down each leg, were there to throw him softballs about their own country's complicity in the war. Over the course of more than 90 minutes, Moore called on the people of Australia, Italy, England, Japan and the other countries that formed the "coalition of the willing" to exercise "regime change" against their leaders for backing Bush.

Who was that Australian journalist? Some floral clown from the ABC, most likely. Houpt continues:

While some of the journalists nodded their heads in keen agreement, his request got under my skin. It reflected a typically American arrogance -- his assumption that the war should be the primary issue for foreign voters simply because it's the primary issue for him. After all, Australian Prime Minister John Howard's approval rating is still very high, despite his commitment of troops to Iraq, since most Australians support his policies in other areas.

Remarkable. A foreign journalist with a broader, and more accurate, view of Australian politics than is possessed by most Australian journalists. Finally, unhappy at the docile questions presented to Moore, Houpt fires in his own:

I wanted to know why [Fahrenheit 9/11] didn't address the dangers of armed Islamic fundamentalism, obsessive anti-Westernism, suicide terrorists, and what Moore thinks would be the proper approach for the U.S. government to legitimately conduct itself in a fight against terrorism. After all, if you're going to criticize measures like the Patriot Act, wouldn't you want to offer an alternative?

Moore took a moment to compose his answer. "Night after night, we are hammered on our television networks and our cable news channels about the Islamic fundamentalists. We've seen it all, we've heard it all," he began, speaking unusually slowly and deliberately. "My job is to say: Maybe there's something else going on, maybe there's another piece of information you should have before making up your mind. Maybe you should see an opposing viewpoint once in a while in this country. The corporate media in this country, they've got control of it 24/7, 365 days of the year. My film is our humble plea: Can we have just two hours for our side?

"The second part of your question is: How do you fight a war against religious fundamentalists? Well, that's what we're doing in this country, and I hope we're successful on November 2."

It was a funny quip, and many of the journalists laughed and applauded Moore's response.

Journalists applauded Robert Mugabe, too. Journalists make excellent focus groups for lumpy, white-baiting bigots. Moore dodged the question, so here’s a reminder for him of actual religious fundamentalists:

Suspected Muslim guerillas sliced off the nose, ears and tongue of a 14-year-old girl in Indian Kashmir today, believing her to be an informer for the Indian army, police said.

Via Steven Den Beste.

UPDATE. In other Moore-related news, The Economist runs a way negative review of Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man:

Of the 18 repetitive essays that make up the book, five were written by outside contributors, seemingly chosen at random. Of these, one is a review of Bowling for Columbine, a previous Moore film, taken from an Australian newspaper. It ends on the intellectual high note, Go to hell, Mikey! This level of argument is hardly the sort of thing to sway anyone who does not already share the authors' maniacal dislike of Mr Moore. Indeed, their loathing leads them not only to ad hominem attacks but also to exaggerate Mr Moore's influence. After all, his audience is no bigger than those of his demagogic counterparts on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh.

A team of ex-Clinton spin monsters is currently issuing legal threats to The Economist on behalf of the authors.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:31 AM | Comments (39)


Where did the Mark Latham wedding-eve video rumour begin? At Crikey.com.au, dragging down the reputation of Internet news sources since 2000. As Media Watch reports, "the rumour leapt effortlessly from Crikey to the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald":

The Labor leader is yet to respond to other revelations - reports of a raunchy video taken at his bucks' night before his second marriage.

According to Media Watch -- who’ve done good work on this; see how rapidly the program identifies SMH misreporting when it involves a Labor leader? -- Crikey sent this note out to subscribers on July 2, sparking wider media interest:

Now there are rumours of a potentially embarrassing videotape of Latham's bucks’ party ahead of his last wedding.

Here’s something Media Watch missed. That July 2 update didn’t rate a mention in Crikey’s July 7 summary of Latham’s rumour-filled week:

Mark Latham's colourful background has kept the media very busy over the last few days and Crikey has been watching the whole sorry affair from the safety of our bunker.

Oh, please.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:25 AM | Comments (12)

July 12, 2004


The Age’s unerring ability to detect the clouds corroding every silver lining is expertly displayed in Saturday’s front-page lead:

Australia's six-year property boom has opened a huge financial gap between the richest and poorest Australians, and a seemingly permanent divide between home owners and renters.

The headline? "Property boom splits nation". The piece is co-written by James Button, who bought his first house when he was, I think, in his late 20s. Divider! Nation splitter!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:32 PM | Comments (29)


To the wealth of Joseph Wilson links collected by InstaPundit here, add this from Jeff Jacoby ("Worrying too much -- if that's what happened -- resulted in the toppling of one of the planet's most murderous tyrants. Worrying too little resulted in 9/11") and this from Tim Dunlop ("It seems to me that if you call your book The politics of Truth: Inside the lies that led to war and betrayed my wife's CIA identity then you set yourself a pretty high standard for, well, telling the truth").

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:59 PM | Comments (2)

July 11, 2004


In an historic media first, the New York Times has published a fake turkey correction:

An article last Sunday about surprises in politics referred incorrectly to the turkey carried by President Bush during his unannounced visit to American troops in Baghdad over Thanksgiving. It was real, not fake.

Let's see if this diminishes the bird's powerful hold over the gullible and sad.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:19 PM | Comments (64)


Indians are outraged over George W. Bush’s controversial cat-naming policy:

Thiruvananthapuram, July 2: Angry youths in this Kerala capital Friday burnt an effigy of US President George W. Bush, not because they are anti-American but because he has named his cat India.

"This is a disgrace to our great country and this has come from none other than US President George W. Bush. This is nothing but an insult to India because there are hundreds of thousands of Indians in US, and many who occupy key posts in the White House," said M.A. Latheef, president of the group.

"He should make amends," Latheef added.

How will the protesters react when they learn about this place? Meanwhile, to repair the hurt feelings of Thiruvananthapuram’s seething youth, a sensitive new name must be found for Bush’s cat. Suggestions:

a) Thiruvananthapuram
b) Vishnu, Sacred Cat of Old Calcutta
c) Mahatma
d) Tandoori Kitten
e) Fat Buddha Cat

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:28 PM | Comments (94)


The UK Daily Telegraph reports:

Under new Government proposals, creatures such as insects, worms and slugs will be protected from mistreatment if it can be proved that they suffer pain and distress ... A spokesman for Peta, the animal welfare group, has welcomed the proposals, saying: "Compassion must be extended to all living beings. Stamping on a slug sets an example to children that 'might makes right'."

And before you know it, they’ll be dragging harmless woodland creatures from their cosy spider-holes. Ban stamping!

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:08 PM | Comments (35)


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Adele Horin helps some European sophisticates understand Australia:

Visitors from Europe have arrived and, after having marvelled at the winter sunshine and extolled the harbour, they ushered me into a cafe, ordered espressos all round, coughed politely, and asked me the question I had been dreading. Would I be so kind as to explain my country's foreign policy?

Being your typical multilingual European sophisticates, they had quickly grasped Australia's sycophantic attachment to the US.

Australians struck them as a refreshingly irreverent lot. Yet as a nation we were America's ... They waved their hands about, grasping for the right word. "Lap-dog?" I suggested.

If they’re so multilingually sophisticated, why do they "wave their hands around grasping for the right word" like common hand-waving word-graspers? These scammers have obviously tricked Adele by using devious accent skills.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:01 PM | Comments (50)


New mother Gianna reflects on feminism and children:

Quitting work and having a baby was the best decision I've ever made. It's not that I don't want to work ever again; I will, of course. It's just that having a career doesn't seem nearly as important anymore. Some feminist I turned out to be ... I wish I'd done this in my twenties. All that partying, all those nightclubs, all those years at uni, all those years kissing ass working in offices, it seems like such a waste of time now.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:54 PM | Comments (19)


Another Michael Moore book is riding high in the NYT bestseller list. Good!

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:51 PM | Comments (5)

July 10, 2004


The Melbourne Age (via the New York Times) catches up on some old news:

When the New York Post tore up its front page on Monday night to trumpet an apparent exclusive that Dick Gephardt would be Senator John Kerry's vice-presidential running mate, the newspaper based its decision on a seemingly unimpeachable source: Rupert Murdoch, the man who controls the company that owns the Post, an employee said on Thursday.


Rupert Murdoch, chief of News Corp, has denied he was the source for a front page "exclusive" story in his New York Post that wrongly named US Representative Dick Gephardt as Democrat John Kerry's choice as his No. 2 in the November US presidential election.

Mr Murdoch yesterday told reporters at the Allen & Co. annual retreat for media executives in Sun Valley, Idaho, that he was not the one who telephoned in the tip, adding that he had occasionally called in items for its page six gossip column.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:09 AM | Comments (27)


The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran emails:

For those of you who have been interested in the subject of why The Washington Post reported that U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer did not deliver a "farewell address" before departing Iraq on June 28, let me provide some detail and context. I am The Post's bureau chief in Baghdad and the author of the article in question.

First off, The Post published a correction on July 9. It reads: "An article June 29 on the departure from Iraq of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer stated that Bremer did not deliver a farewell address to the Iraqi people. Although he did not deliver prepared remarks to an audience on the day he left, a U.S. funded television station in Iraq broadcast remarks he had taped two days earlier, his spokesman said."

What happened here? According to Dan Senor, Bremer's spokesman, with whom I spoke on July 8, Bremer taped a brief address on June 26 that would be broadcast on Al-Iraqiya, the U.S.-funded television station in Iraq, upon
his departure. Senor called it an "address for the Iraqi people." I asked Senor for a transcript of the address, but he has not yet sent me one. Similar requests to two other press officers with the former Coalition Provisional Authority have gone unanswered.

Unlike most other addresses given by Bremer during his tenure as CPA administrator, there was no notice provided to Western print journalists indicating that a speech would be broadcast. There also was no transcript of the address sent out later in the day, as was typical for the CPA to do after Bremer's speeches. (There may have been a CPA media advisory provided to television networks specifying satellite feed information for the broadcast, but I have not been able to obtain a copy of that advisory.) When asked about why there was no general advisory, Senor told me: "It wasn’t a big announcement. It wasn’t for the Western press. It was not a policy speech."

The broadcast was not widely known within the CPA. Two press officers I spoke with that day did not mention it. Other CPA officials I talked to said they had no knowledge of Bremer delivering a farewell address.

Our office in Baghdad does monitor television broadcasts, but we generally pay little attention to Iraqiya because it does not have continuous news coverage. We have stopped keeping one of our three televisions permanently tuned to the station because it broadcasts children's' shows and other non-news programming during most workdays.

It is impossible to know how many Iraqis saw Bremer's remarks. Iraqiya is watched my many Iraqis, but many others tune into Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and other Arab satellite news channels. I understand Jazeera may have broadcast some of the remarks but I have not been able to verify that. Needless to say, the speech was not resonating among the score of people my Iraqi translators talked to that day to gauge public reaction to the handover. Most people wanted to discuss the speech made by the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi. Nobody said anything about seeing Bremer on television.

I know some people have noted that CNN's domestic service and Fox News broadcast at least part of the address. I was watching CNN International (the version available in Iraq) throughout the day and did not see the speech. I certainly could have missed it if it was broadcast just once. But I can safely say that the address certainly was not given much prominence on CNN International in the hours after the initial broadcast on Iraqiya.

Whether Bremer's taped address should be deemed a farewell speech is something I will leave to others to debate. It was not spoken on the day political authority was transferred, nor was it delivered before an audience. Obviously there were security and scheduling concerns that factored into that decision. Had I known about his televised remarks, however, I would not have written that he did not deliver a farewell address. I even would have quoted what he said. According to a transcript of Bremer's remarks that were broadcast on CNN's domestic service, he said: "I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers with its fertile
valleys, it's majestic mountains and its wonderful people." That's good stuff and I
certainly would have included it in one of the two stories I wrote that day.

The bottom line here is that I did not know anything about the taped remarks when I wrote that Bremer did not deliver a farewell address. Knowing what I now do, thanks in part to media watchdog bloggers, The Post has corrected the record. It's too bad, though, that the CPA did not do a better job in informing the Western and Arab press about the broadcast. Had we all known about it, I'm sure Bremer's comments would have received wider exposure inside Iraq and beyond.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:07 AM | Comments (90)


The fish are grinning! Richard Neville has written a poem. It mentions fish. Tex offers a delicate critique. (Say what you will about the left’s literary and lyrical wing; there’s no doubting their love of fish.)

• Frank Devine continues his line-by-line examination of ABC news.

• Here’s an unusual criticism of John Edwards, from former Loyola University School of Law instructor Sarah Whalen: "In Edwards’ bulldog eyes, Bin Laden is just a simple crook. To Edwards, Israel is "our vital ally.'"

• Rajan Rishyakaran posts a 16-link roundup on the Sudan genocide in Darfur.

• More toner, please! John Kerry supporter Whoopi Goldberg gets freaky with the photocopying: "I Xeroxed my behind and I folded it up in an envelope and I sent it back with a big kiss mark on because we're Democrats - we're not afraid to laugh."

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:57 AM | Comments (14)

July 09, 2004


This may be the quickest about-face in Australian political history:

Labor's star recruit Peter Garrett has condemned the federal government for approving joint training facilities in Australia without consultation.

"The thing that I object to more than anything else is the fact that we've got Australian foreign policy being determined by officials, and senior Australian officials, in Washington, and then Australians get told about it," he told the Nine network.

"The merits or otherwise of those issues need to be fully discussed by people, not simply unilaterally announced and then dumped on people in the middle of an election campaign, following on from comments from American foreign policy or defence officials, which actually end up increasing the tempo of the debate."

Garrett was then informed by his Today Show interviewers that Mark Latham supported the joint training facilities:

"Well, if Mark Latham thinks it's a good idea and that's what the party view is, then there's merit in it. We'd accept it," he said.

"The point is that if Mr Latham thinks that that's a positive thing to happen, he will have given it some opportunity, and considered it.

"People in the Labor Party will respect his views and follow them. So will I as a Labor Party member. No question marks about that whatsoever."

UPDATE. Here’s the Today Show transcript, with a more complete (and hilarious) identification of Garrett’s whiplash moment -- and his weird attempt to change the subject:

INTERVIEWER: What about this news we’ll have more US troops training on Australian bases?

GARRETT: We need to have a full and thorough discussion about these issues. The thing I object to more than anything else is that we've got Australian foreign policy being determined by senior officials in Washington. The merits or otherwise of those issues need to be fully discussed by people, not unilaterally enounced and dumped on people in the middle of an election campaign, following in on from American defence officials.

INTERVIEWER: In the past, you have described US bases in Australia as the biggest pimples on the face of adolescent Australia. Is that what these new bases will be?

GARRETT: I don't know. I haven't seen the details. I don't know that much about it and that's the point. We need to have an open, generous and considered discussion about these issues so Australians themselves can weigh up the merits. It's been conducted in a fevered atmosphere. This is something for Australians to think through and Australians to discuss.

INTERVIEWER: Mark Latham thinks it's a good idea.

GARRETT: Well, if Mark Latham thinks it's a good idea and that's what the party view is, there's merit in it and we'd accept it.

INTERVIEWER: You turned around quickly there. That was a quick turnaround.

GARRETT: That's not the point. If Mr Latham thinks that's a good thing to happen, he will have considered it properly and everyone in the Labor Party will respect it. No question marks about it.

INTERVIEWER: You sound like a good party man.

GARRETT: I hope so. Haven't seen the detail of Son Of Star Wars. That's the difficulty.

Well, it would be the difficulty, if Son Of Stars Wars was what you were actually talking about. Peter Garrett is seven feet of pure liability.

UPDATE II. The ABC dodges Garrett’s mid-interview reversal of opinion, noting only that Garrett "accepts the Labor Party's support for the joint training facilities."

UPDATE III. On PM, the ABC continues dodging the moment of Garrett’s humiliating opinion-switch. Punks. AAP quotes happy Alexander Downer.

UPDATE IV. Chris Jones in the Courier-Mail doesn’t let Garrett off the hook:

When told that his comments were in conflict with the publicly stated views of Opposition Leader Mark Latham, Mr Garrett did a swift about-face, saying: "Well, if Mark Latham thinks it's a good idea and that's what the party view is, then there's merit in it.

An issue none have addressed so far: Garrett didn’t know his party’s policy -- and it’s on a subject he’s allegedly "passionate" about. Hasn't he been reading the papers?

UPDATE V. The Courier-Mail editorial notes Garrett’s ignorance, and writes:

Mr Garrett's scripts are likely to be more closely edited between now and the election.

So much for the "high-profile candidate".

UPDATE VI. More, from The Australian ("Mark Latham was yesterday forced to hose down comments from Labor star recruit Peter Garrett") and the Daily Telegraph ("If Peter Garrett achieves nothing else in politics he is unlikely ever to be pipped for the title of world's fastest backflip").

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 PM | Comments (50)


Omar at Iraq the Model on the Bremer speech controversy:

It seems that some people in the major media still think they’re the only ones who have eyes and ears and cameras and that ordinary people cannot have access to the information except from the major media outlets. They underestimated the prevalence and the effect of the internet in connecting people to each other and making the readers in direct contact with real eyewitnesses at the scene of events. I hope this will serve to make them more careful in the future on what to report ...

Don’t bet on it. Remember clean-shaven Saddam?

UPDATE. Paul Bremer’s little-known farewell speech, as broadcast by renegade underground media outfit "CNN" on June 28:

The future of Iraq belongs to you, the Iraqi people. We and your other friends will help, but we can only help. You must do the real work.

The Iraq your children and their children inherit will depend on your actions in the months and years ahead. You Iraqis must now take responsibility for your future of hope. You can create that future of hope by standing fast against those who kill your police and soldiers, who kill your women and children, who wreck Iraq's pipelines and power lines, and then claim to be your champions.

You can create that future of hope by supporting your government and the elections they are pledged to bring you. You can create that future of hope in a thousand different ways by sharing through your words and deeds a personal commitment to a stable and peaceful Iraq.

You, Iraq's Kurds and Arabs, Shi'a and Sunni, Turkomen and Christian, you are more like each other than you are different from one another. You have a shared vision of how a united Iraq can, again, be a beacon of hope to the region. You have a shared hatred of the violence inflicted on you by those who abhor your vision. And you have a shared love of this wonderful, rich land.

Let no one pit you against each other. For when Iraqis fight Iraqis, only Iraqis suffer.

I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers with its fertile valleys, it's majestic mountains and its wonderful people.

(Via reader Michael Jinks)

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:14 AM | Comments (17)


"I ask people whenever I can if they have heard of the oil-for-food scandal," writes Guy from Ohio. "I have yet to find one. Seriously, I've probably asked dozens and not a hint of recognition ... That's one of the problems of reading blogs a lot, you really start to assume that people have heard about major events, at least in passing."

They’ve heard all about Enron, though -- even in Australia, right down to the detail that Kenneth Lay was a Bush friend referred to by the President as "Kenny Boy". Imagine what such obsessive reporting might turn up in the oil-for-food case.

Margo Kingston was all over Enron way back in early 2002 (in the same way a truck-smooshed kitty is all over a freeway). Career-wise, however, the trembling, self-obsessed saviour of democracy is now all over at the SMH, at least in any major capacity. Amanda Meade in The Australian reports (no link available) that Margo has accepted the SMH’s redundancy offer -- although the glory that is Webdiary remains:

Margo Kingston also took the package, but will continue her online column for the f2 Network for several years.

Or until senility. Whichever comes first.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:45 AM | Comments (15)


"Latham has a ball," reports the Sydney Morning Herald, striving as always for accuracy. Mark Forbes and Michelle Grattan in The Age, however, strive for the opposite. Here they cover Mark Latham’s request that everybody butt out of Australian domestic issues:

He noted that left-wing US filmmaker Michael Moore had also stepped into Australian politics. Moore said this week that Prime Minister John Howard "appears to have half a brain" in supporting Mr Bush on Iraq.

What we’ve got here is a unique case of a left-wing newspaper misrepresenting Michael Moore. Moore said that Howard supported the war despite being somewhat intelligent; The Age implies he supported it because, in Moore’s estimation, Howard was deficient. Here’s Moore’s full quote:

"What's confusing to me is how someone like John Howard can get in bed with George W. Bush," Moore said. "He at least appears to have half a brain ... It's really disgraceful."

Yes, Mike. Yes, it is. The Age piece continues:

Mr Latham, campaigning on the NSW central coast, said: "I'd ask these commentators overseas to respect Australia's democratic processes just as we respect theirs."

When Latham said "Bush himself is the most incompetent and dangerous President in living memory", he meant it respectfully.

UPDATE. "Beating up on friendly foreign political parties is not only unsightly," says attention-starved former PM Paul Keating, "it is also dumb and counter productive in the longer term." After which Keating dumbly beats up on a friendly foreign political party:

"A modicum of self regard might have taken Richard Armitage and his secretary, Colin Powell, out of this administration over its policy in Iraq," he said.

"I can understand both men seeing it as their duty to stay on to fight the fight within the administration for America's sake.

"But I should have thought a little humility might have been appropriate or at least some contrition."

It’s always entertaining when Keating lectures people about humility and contrition.

UPDATE II. John Howard on Latham’s double standard:

Mr Howard described the Opposition Leader's indignation over comments made by US Deputy Head of State Richard Armitage as "an extraordinary double standard".

"Mr Latham says it's perfectly OK for him to call George Bush the most dangerous and incompetent President in living memory," Mr Howard said. "Yet when a member of Bush's Administration states what many people believe to be a fact, there's something wrong."

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:57 AM | Comments (15)


Here’s Michael Moore back in May, just before Fahrenheit 9/11’s premier screening:

"When you see the movie you will see things you have never seen before, you will learn things you have never known before. Half the movie is about Iraq - we were able to get film crews embedded with American troops without them knowing that it was Michael Moore. They are totally fucked."

Add this to Moore’s bulging collection of accurate predictions. Why do I write these unpleasant things about Mike? It's because, as reader Jen Clark correctly identifies, he "threatens my way of life":

I have to say this - I pulled up your article to give me someone else's perspective on Michael Moore, and found myself only disgusted by your "reporting". What a load of crap on paper. Easy to say, and not very imaginative on my part, but I have to say that it is clear that Moore threatens you and your way of life, not only by the way you write, but by the way you try to manipulate genuine responses to direct questions.

Ridiculous, misleading - I am left feeling like you have tried to convince me of something that is not there. You are upset, and being revealed, as another
actor playing a writer/reporter in this (Moore) "fiction" based society. Shame, shame, shame. You insult anyone with any intelligence and ...

Silence, crazy woman! Back in the realm of the unspazzed, James Lileks posts a review of Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man:

It unpacks the assertions made by his books and movies. It’s not a flame-throwing rant. It’s the brief for the defense - the client in the dock being America.

UPDATE. Jonah Goldberg presents a statement for discussion:

If the new Moore-standard says you can be a force for good even if you argue through half-truths, guilt-by-association and innuendo, then the case against Joe McCarthy evaporates entirely. He did, after all, have the larger truths on his side.

UPDATE II. Jim Treacher: "If Michael Moore were capable of shame, his toes would be curling up into his shins right now." Contains news of Moore’s bizarre The Daily Show smugfest.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:11 AM | Comments (19)


Patterico reports that the LA Times has finally corrected its "Paul Bremer gave no farewell speech" story:

A news analysis about the new Iraqi government in Sunday's Section A stated that outgoing administrator L. Paul Bremer III did not give a farewell speech to the country. His spokesman has since said that Bremer taped an address that was given to Iraqi broadcast media. The spokesman said the address was not publicized to the Western news media.

Not publicized to the Western news media, eh? A whole bunch of bloggers knew about Bremer's speech days in advance of the Times' bitchy front-page piece:

L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country — almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.

Still afraid to look anybody in the eye is the Washington Post, which is yet to apologise for its own no-speech claim. As Patterico writes, these guys need professional help:

Someone at every major paper should be reading blogs. If they did, the papers might learn different points of view. They might pick up stories that are "not publicized to the Western news media."

And they might make fewer errors on their front pages.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:59 AM | Comments (22)

July 08, 2004


John Edwards -- war profiteer!

During the buildup and aftermath of the Iraq war, Edwards bought and sold stock in several defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, General Electric, British Petroleum, and General Dynamics.

Over to you, Michael Moore.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:42 PM | Comments (13)


Currently scrolling across the MEMRI news ticker:


Sovereignty is paying off already!

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:42 PM | Comments (19)


Good to see that our old pal Uli Schmetzer isn’t over-reacting to his dismissal and subsequent investigation by the Chicago Tribune:

The rush into action, my public identification and vilification as an apparent "serial liar" bore an uncanny similarity with Washington’s unholy rush into the Iraqi War, without allowing the U.N. inspectors to first verify if the suspected presence in Iraq of WMDs and Al Qaeda links really existed.

Was it ethical or was it hypocritical for the Tribune to launch an apparently open-ended inquiry into one journalist’s one-time "so far" peccadillo (which did no harm to anyone) while the paper published, without verification, part of the New York Times series on the presence of WMDs in Iraq ... ?

Did no harm to anyone? Uli, man, you libelled a whole country.

(Via Bill Herbert)

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:09 PM | Comments (10)


Only those with the most highly-developed media sensibilities will be able to locate any trace of bias in this Marian Wilkinson report:

On hearing the news that the good-looking, charismatic Senator John Edwards had been named as his Democrat challenger, Vice-President Dick Cheney got on the phone to welcome him to the battle for the White House.

These will probably be the last warm words Mr Cheney has for his Democrat rival until election day in November. With unfavourable comparisons already being drawn between the silver-tongued, vigorous senator and Mr Cheney, the aloof, heart-attack-prone Washington insider, the Republican machine has gone into overdrive.

Drab, scaly Marian is the United States correspondent for the aloof, error-prone Fairfax newspaper group.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:43 PM | Comments (12)


Not since Jacques Tati have the French so delighted in the antics of a bumbling idiot:

"Fahrenheit 9/11", Michael Moore's film bashing US President George W. Bush and the Iraq war, started its march around the world Wednesday by opening in cinemas across France - where not surprisingly its box office success looks guaranteed.

Cinema-goers who scrambled to get into one of the packed screenings applauded, laughed and sat stunned as the movie spelled out Moore's views that Bush was an incapable dolt whose family has an overly cosy relationship with rich Saudis.

Amused head-shaking and a sort of collective smugness punctuated the film's two hours, with the issues and images presented being carried off into city cafes afterwards for heated discussions.

Others were less impressed:

The daily newspaper Le Monde wrote: "To affirm ... that it was crowned (in Cannes) for its cinemagraphic qualities is either proof of incompetence, a pure lie or a cynical joke."

Even less kind was France's superstar philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levy, who dismissed "Fahrenheit 9/11" as dishonest.

Levy noted that he opposed the war and considers Bush a "catastrophe for America." But, he added: "Saddam Hussein was also a horrible dictator. And that is not in the film of Michael Moore."

Moore faced criticism at home, too, where a cineplex appearance at Battery Park brought him in contact with an unsympathetic Spider-Man 2 fan:

A Lowdown spy reports that Moore droned on, oblivious to his own personal safety until a Spidey loyalist yelled, "Not everyone thinks you're God, Moore!"

The director hastily wrapped things up and wandered away dejectedly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:37 PM | Comments (14)


What kind of perverse abuse is Mark Latham dishing out now?

The Labor leader has been ruthless in his character assessments, generally provided under parliamentary privilege, of all sorts of people in pubic life.

For shame, Mr. Latham! Certain limits must be drawn, and not just to protect your own family:

Mark Latham has refused to apologise for his vitriolic character attacks on non-parliamentarians in the past, despite his insistence that his own family is off-limits.

(Via reader Paul H.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:17 PM | Comments (3)


How did the New York Post get it so wrong? The tabloid yesterday led with news that John Kerry was poised to name Dick Gephardt as his running mate -- only to be embarrassed when, within hours, Kerry named that lawyer kid instead.

Blame the boss.

Word among local News Corp. execs is that Rupert Murdoch himself was the source of the Gephardt scoop.

A Post desk editor’s chronology of events apparently records a call from Murdoch at 9.58pm insisting that Gephardt would be named. Maintaining that chronology turns out to have been a smart move -- the following morning, so rumour has it, Lachlan Murdoch demanded to know who was responsible for the Gephardt blunder.

He was shown the desk editor’s notes. No further questions were asked.

UPDATE. The New York Daily News hammers on Post ed-in-chief Col Allan:

Though Allan was said to have personally approved the Gephardt front page, he pinned the error on the supposed source or sources, which the unbylined account did not attribute.

Allan "made the decision after the Post received information it believed to be correct," according to a statement from the Post.

The Post's first edition yesterday led with a Long Island fire. However, about 10 p.m. Monday, Allan apparently put the goof on the front page for later editions.

Hmm. I’m told Col wasn’t in New York while this edition was being put together.

UPDATE II. Also from the Daily News:

The glaring absence of a byline on the story suggested no reporter wanted to be connected to Allan's Hail Mary headline, "KERRY'S CHOICE: Dem picks Gephardt as VP candidate."

This may be more a clue to Murdoch's involvement. One of the many Murdoch biographies tells the story of Murdoch phoning in a front-page lead, possibly to The Australian. It ran under the byline: "By a special correspondent", or something similar. I'll try to find it.

UPDATE. Here it is, from page 172 of William Shawcross’s biography:

In February 1976 Murdoch himself wrote an extraordinary scoop in The Australian. He reported that just before the election, Whitlam had met in Sydney with two Iraqi officials from whom the Labor Party was soliciting funds. Many Labor Party supporters saw Murdoch as such a Satanic figure that they instantly dismissed the revelation as a lie. However, the meeting had taken place and the Sun News Pictorial, a rival paper, carried it also.

Describing the same event, Richard Belfield, Christopher Hird, and Sharon Kelly in Murdoch: The Great Escape write (page 52):

Murdoch [took] personal control over the story, checking the facts and writing the copy. The byline when the first instalment appeared in the Daily Telegraph and The Australian was 'a special correspondent.'

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:31 AM | Comments (14)


At this rate, we'll see Mark Latham in tears again by the end of the week:

Senior Government ministers yesterday attacked Mark Latham as a hypocrite over his history of personal abuse as the Labor leader publicly named two journalists he accused of asking questions about his family that sickened and disgusted him.

Poor little Mark. Janet Albrechtsen, a target of Latham’s abuse, has this to say:

Remember that Latham told The Bulletin back in 2002 that "this idea that politics can be too rough and too personal is a bit rich ... It's part of the Australian way. We're not a namby-pamby nation." When, in response to that comment, I argued, on this page, for more civility in public life, I copped a serve from Latham, "for trying to take the passion and commitment out of life ... [for trying] to take the irreverence and spark out of the Australian character". Then, a little later, he lobbed the "skanky-ho" sobriquet at me.

Perhaps it's time for Latham to show how serious he is about making amends, about convincing voters how genuine the change in him is. An apology will be gladly accepted, Mr Latham. Short of that, dry your eyes, Princess.

Good call.

UPDATE. Because Mark is sad, here’s the Morrissey Dance.

(Via Molly’s Blog.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:18 AM | Comments (24)


Supplied with a list of states from which US residents have requested Vegemite, Evil Pundit has composed a VegeMap of the United States. We’ve claimed the entire west coast, established control of the Gulf of Mexico, and -- with the exception of Indiana -- built an imposing Yeast Curtain across the nation.

Delaware and Rhode Island are holdouts on the east, although North Carolina fell only hours ago following the capture of reader Robert W. Baxley. Minnesota? It’s owned, thanks to John Wilson. The VegeReich’s ambition isn’t limited to the US, however. Manitoba and Ottawa are now under Vegemite occupation. So is Hungary.

Deliveries will commence shortly, although mail-outs may be delayed if customs gets upset. In which case I’ll send the Vegemite from within the US when I’m there later this month. Either way, the process of liberation will not be denied.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:49 AM | Comments (39)


The Guardian’s David Fickling -- Dickens himself couldn’t have devised a finer name -- delivers some moral instruction to lowly Australians:

Australian racists hate to be told they are racists. When an Australian recommends the forced eviction of Aborigines from their own land, it is presented as social welfare. When an Australian advocates imprisoning Iraqi and Afghan refugees in secretive detention camps, it is presented as border control.

When Fickling looks at Australia, he sees evil.

So when Australian racists first raised objections to the building of a small Muslim prayer hall in the Sydney suburb of Annangrove last year, they used a typically weaselly complaint. The problem with the hall, objectors argued, was that 80 men and women turning up to pray twice a week would irrevocably change the purportedly semi-rural character of the area.

To reinforce the non-racist point, last month attackers desecrated the building site with a bucket of blood and three pig's heads on sticks. Abbas Aly, the developer of the site, it used to such responses and takes it on the chin. When a planning application for the hall first came before the local council in late 2002, it was turned down by a vote of 10 to two. Baulkham Hills council had received 5,180 letters objecting to the prayer hall - an average of around 10 letters from each of the 530 addresses which submitted complaints, although one diligent household managed to mail out 260.

Fickling blends the reasonable objections of many with the clearly racist actions of a few. Such is his way.

Councillors might normally be expected to stand up for rational clearheadedness in the face of such hysteria, but after Australia's 2001 federal election the views of a racist minority have acquired a new sanctity.

It’s all John Howard’s fault.

There is an important point here. In the wake of September 11 and the Bali bombings, Islamophobic attacks in Australia have a particular resonance and importance, but they are far from unique. Indeed, what is often most striking in Australia is how common such racism is and how little it is remarked upon.

You know what is little remarked-upon? The rise in Australia of anti-Semitism. Fickling doesn’t mention it, possibly because this rise is driven by the Left.

It is hard to know what to make of this, especially since Australians are for the most part a pretty tolerant bunch.

Patronising scum. Fickling -- previously examined here -- should be skinned, boiled in spider venom, then deported.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:08 AM | Comments (27)


Reader Chris Murphy has cancelled his subscription to The Australian. For no known reason, he shares his cancellation email here:

We have decided to move to NSW, just so that we can get morning delivery of The Sydney Morning Herald. No newspaper is perfect, but the Herald does at least try to be editorially professional.

I just don't think I could handle any more stories about High Court junkets (yeah, right!) amidst Big Brother reports and gratuitous page three flesh ... or Thorpie in his budgie smugglers. Or read yet another column from some Yank fanatic from The Weekly Standard or other such trashy American rag. Not to mention our very own Skanky Ho.

And I'm certainly not about to punish myself, either, with Michael Stutchbury's push for fascism, especially as a federal election approaches.

In other mailbox news, reader Jennifer M. Lynch writes:

people like you make me sick.

You now most obviouisly smack of DESPERATION.
Trying any way possible to tear apart Michael Moore.
Credit the public with some intelligence, please.

You are panicking because your greedy, corrupt,
controlling, manipulating regime is over.

enjoy your time in those hot fires of hell !!!

Reap as you shall sow.


Posted by Tim Blair at 12:57 AM | Comments (30)

July 07, 2004


"How dare this popinjay of a president interfere in Australian affairs?" Bob Brown raged last month. "He should pull his head in. We don't need President Bush, from his biased and quite small-minded point of view in Washington, telling the Australian people what they should think or what they should do."

So it'll be interesting to hear what Bob thinks about this:

US filmmaker Michael Moore hopes the global release of his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" will usher in "regime change" in Australia and Japan, and fan freedom of speech in more repressive nations like China.

The combative director was especially scathing about the Australian and British prime ministers, John Howard and Tony Blair, along with the leaders of countries like Japan and Italy, for allying themselves with the Bush administration.

"What's confusing to me is how someone like John Howard can get in bed with George W. Bush," Moore said. "He at least appears to have half a brain ... It's really disgraceful."

Australia was a staunch US ally in its war in Iraq, committing some 2,000 troops to the offensive, 850 of whom remain in the region.

"I hope that Australians that see this film will say to themselves, we need some regime change here in our country," Moore said.

How dare this Poppin' Fresh of a picture-maker interfere in Australian affairs!

UPDATE. The SMH’s Caroline Overington has more:

"I get a lot of mail from Australia," Moore said. "I probably get per capita more mail from Australia than from any other country. A lot of angry Australians. I never realised how angry and I don't think just because they are living in Australia, right?

"No, I mean, I realise, it's like, you're living on an island, but you're also a country, but you're also a continent. So I know there's a lot of confusion there, right?"

What the hell is the fat bastard talking about?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:54 PM | Comments (31)


Angry Iraqis warn foreign invaders to leave or die:

An armed group calling itself the "Salvation Movement" has threatened on video to kill al-Qaeda-linked Jordanian militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi if he does not leave Iraq immediately.

"The apostate, criminal Zarqawi and his henchmen must leave Iraq immediately," said a statement read by a masked gunman on the tape, who had a clear Iraqi accent.

Five men, their faces covered with Arab headscarves, were flanked by rocket-propelled grenades, pistols, rifles and an Iraqi flag.

"We swear to Allah that we have started preparing ... to capture him and his allies or kill them and present them as gift to our people," he said.

"This is the last warning. If you don't stop, we will do to you what the coalition forces have failed to do."

I like their attitude. How long before someone describes this as part of a new "cycle of violence"?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:31 PM | Comments (23)


Not wishing to confuse its audience, the ABC keeps it simple:

The United States and Britain launched their war against Iraq in March 2003 on the basis that Saddam possessed WMD stockpiles.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:15 PM | Comments (14)


Unbalanced ALP leader Mark Latham used to keep a picture of Richard Nixon in his Sydney office. Maybe that’s the cause of Latham’s Nixon-like paranoia:

Mark Latham today called on Prime Minister John Howard to sack ministerial staffer and alleged dirt-digger Ian Hanke.

The opposition leader renewed an appeal to his political enemies to lay off his family and also made it clear he did not believe Mr Howard's denial of the existence of a government dirt unit digging into Mr Latham's past.

Mr Latham said he wanted Mr Howard to disband the unit and sack Ian Hanke, who worked for Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews.

Tony Abbott responds:

"It seems to me the only person that has been spreading rumours about Mark Latham recently is Mark Latham.

"He goes into a press conference and starts talking about rumours - well, I hadn't heard most of them before."

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:13 PM | Comments (8)


When Sheila O'Malley lists her top five kisses -- in ascending order of greatness, with parental advisory warning -- you know you’ve got to read.

To offset the affection, Sheila also links to Andrea Harris's announcement of her most-hated online phrase: "hat tip".

UPDATE. Dawn Eden lists her five best food experiences with men -- including "eel hand rolls with Vince Miller, fall 1997".

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:17 AM | Comments (15)


This week's Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Glenn Milne, Brian Loughnane, Bob McMullan, Peter Garrett, Toni Collette, Julia Gillard, Mark Latham, David Kilby, and Chris Uhlmann, and includes this image from The Observation Deck.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:55 AM | Comments (20)


Got a call a couple of days ago from a senior -- way senior -- News Corp identity. I braced myself for thrilling insider gossip and the latest election information, but the first question he asked was: "Where is the Wog Blogger? Why hasn’t she posted since May?"

So, being a former Murdoch slave, I made a few calls. Rattled a few cages. Shot a few dissidents. And the Wog Blogger is blogging anew:

Hey, Fox News is reporting John Edwards as Kerry's Veep. That is not good news for Oz. Edwards is an isolationist "fair trader" by which he means no breaks for Non-US folks like Oz folks.

Still, he is way better looking and more engaing than Kerry, who is a horse-faced showman of the ol' somnambulist narcolepsy school.

More from the Wog -- on the Iraqi interim government, Euro Cup soccer, Manboobs Al Sadr, David Marr, Emma Tom, and Robert Fisk -- here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:43 AM | Comments (4)


The Great Vegemite Airlift offer closes today. Vegemite samples are so far destined for multiple US zones from New York to San Francisco, and throughout Asia, with a special bulk sample addressed to US Army ordnance corps in Bagram, Afghanistan. Want in on this tasty Australian treat? Simply forward your postal details and wait apprehensively.

UPDATE. New Vegemite shipment zones include Canada, Texas, Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Ohio, and Florida. Thanks to Vegehegemonolopolism, America and Canada will soon be the seventh and eighth Australian states!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:19 AM | Comments (59)


Thanks to "unique Australian tools", Australians "could solve some of their society's deepest problems by next year", writes Julian Ninio:

I became an Australian citizen a month ago. In the US, I will vote for Kerry holding my nose, knowing that Kerry won't fix the deep problems of which George Bush is a symptom, such as the trailer parks where America's social policies force one family in thirteen. In Australia, I will vote knowing that a single election can produce change.

One of Julian’s unique tools is ethically-challenged Sydney Morning Herald Webdiarist Margo Kingston, who is currently promoting her partisan anti-Howard campaign on the SMH’s dime and via absurd ABC promotions.

UPDATE. A couple of years ago I pitched a right-wing book idea to various local publishers; one told me to forget it, because "only insane lefty books get any publicity." Looks like he was correct. Margo’s screeching nonsense has just burst in to the top ten.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:09 AM | Comments (29)


GreenMeat, a US serviceman in Iraq, sends a detailed account of recent events to website Something Awful:

We’ve been on convoys that have been hit with IEDs, RPG and small arms fire, but nothing especially serious. Iraqi insurgents are terrible shots, and their IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] don’t detonate over half the time. A lot of the incoming we take here are dud rounds as well. Either old ordnance, or the fuses aren’t rigged right. Still …a Katyusha rocket will leave a heck of a bruise. The CHUs have been hit a couple of times, with loss of limbs and other serious injuries.

Hit the above link for all GreenMeat’s photographs, including this ("I had bumper stickers done up at makestickers.com for all of our trucks. The brigade commander made us take ‘em all off") and this ("We have, out at our detention facility, Qusay Hussein’s Jaguar. We drove it around, even though it’s stuck in 3rd gear. The brigade commander made us stop").

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:08 AM | Comments (5)


This ABC report, on the inquest into the death of Thomas Hickey in Redfern four months ago, ends on a strange note:

The court is full of Hickey family members and other community members and all people are being scanned as they enter the court.

There may have been a better way to put that.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:57 AM | Comments (4)


"We must tackle the environmental nightmare of 4x4s by taxing them off the road," writes The Guardian's George Monbiot:

Officially, the biggest 4x4s can manage 12 or 13 miles to the gallon in urban areas. Unofficially, US journalists found that the Ford Excursion was doing 3.7.

A Ford Excursion achieved 3.7 miles per gallon? Bullshit. Meanwhile, Monbiot happily chewed through thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying to Australia in order to promote his book.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:19 AM | Comments (56)

July 06, 2004


The New York Post reports:

John Kerry has chosen Rep. Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri, to be his running mate, The Post has learned.

Gephardt, 63, a 28-year veteran of the House of Representatives, could be named by the presumptive Democratic nominee as the party's vice-presidential candidate as soon as today.

Back in January, Dave Barry noted the powerful forces driving Gephardt’s campaign:

At the rally for Dick "Dick" Gephardt, his supporters chanted this chant:


It's very catchy. The Miami Herald's political writer, Peter Wallsten, was with me at the rally, and we both find that we cannot get this chant out of our heads. We'll be driving somewhere in Iowa, and one of us will suddenly shout: "WE ARE THE GEPHARDTS!" And the other one will respond: "MIGHTY MIGHTY GEPHARDTS!"

UPDATE. The above-linked Post item has been deleted -- and anti-Australian trade bigot John Edwards is Kerry’s VP pick.


The tabloid New York Post was wiping egg from its face yesterday after identifying the wrong man in a front-page "exclusive" on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's choice of running mate.

"Kerry's Choice" ran the banner headline in the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, over a file photo of Kerry shaking hands with Congressman Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

The accompanying story analysed the "stunning" choice of Gephardt, stressing how the 63-year-old had managed to beat out the strong challenge of the youthful Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:42 PM | Comments (40)


Phillip Adams -- who is, as usual, completely in tune with American voters -- notes a crucial election omen:

When William F. Buckley Jr, who is to American conservatism what the Pope is to Rome, joins in the growing unease about the war in Iraq, you know that Bush is whacked.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:01 PM | Comments (31)


The BBC just can't get a break these days:

The government has ordered the BBC to redefine the remit of its online services after an independent report into its internet activities said many of the corporation's websites were too commercial and should be closed.

Even those within the organisation condemn it:

A significant number of BBC news reports are untrustworthy and littered with errors because the corporation's journalists fail to check their facts, according to e-mails sent by one of the BBC's most senior news managers.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck, who is, like, really concerned about this ongoing assault on the public broadcaster.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:56 PM | Comments (6)


"Hey, my first blog entry!" writes a newcomer to the medium:

Welcome fellow bloggers and blog readers! Blog doggers and blog loggers. Blogging away for the common good or just to keep from watching whatever crap is on TV right now. What is on TV right now? No new 6 Feet Under tonight. The Practice has been bounced. Can't Jon Stewart do a Sunday show?

Let’s hope Michael Moore improves as he continues. I prefer this new site, and this one, and especially this one:

When in the course of events it arises that hugs are needed, the H.U.G. S.Q.U.A.D. is an elite group of Master Huggers who will spring into action. For information on joining the H.U.G. S.Q.U.A.D., please contact Philippe, MH.

And here’s a Hug Squad in Iraq, featuring Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:28 PM | Comments (27)


Saddam Hussein is perp-walked in fine style by Florida Cracker. Robert Fisk, your new screen-saver collection is here!

Meanwhile, it was a multicultural Fourth of July fun-fest over at the old Hussein place:

In Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit, soldiers watched fireworks light the night sky as they held a joint celebration with Iraqi National Guard soldiers on a bank overlooking theTigris. Thousands of troops celebrated at one of Saddam's old palaces with a buffet featuring hamburgers and hot dogs and traditional Iraqi dishes.

UPDATE. In other hot perp news, Cleveland police have compiled a Crime Stoppers Swimsuit Edition. "I was personally always of the opinion that felons only looked this good on CSI," reports forensic examiner Mike Jericho.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:01 PM | Comments (18)


Leigh Hanlon writes:

In the new Warner Home Video release of the 1964 classic animated TV series "Jonny Quest," there appears to be some politically-correct editing afoot -- but although they cut a Race Bannon reference to "ignorant savages" and "heathen monkeys," they forgot to delete the closed caption version of the dialog!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:57 PM | Comments (7)


The former Mrs Latham knows where to hit her ex:

Ms Gwyther said last night that she had done the right thing by her ex-husband. But, she added, if "he wants to play ball, I will -- all gloves are off".

Please, Ms Gwyther! He’s only got one left.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:36 AM | Comments (30)


These Clinton book signings are getting out of control.

UPDATE. An opponent of Clinton's successor remembers too late the old i before e except after c rule. Check the sign for evidence of hasty fixing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:21 AM | Comments (15)


New Yorker Evan Izer writes:

After reading the Vegemite crisis thread , I got a powerful urge to try it. So I went to five different stores and came up with nothing but blank stares. I couldn't even find Marmite, which I vaguely remember my Kiwi studio mate eating years ago.

I am awestruck by your generous offer to spread the good news of Vegemite to the deprived of the world! If your offer is still open, I would love to take you up on it.

The offer remains open. Simply email me your postal address, and an SMU (Standard Mitey Unit) of Vegemite will be sent your way. There is one condition: a review must be supplied within 24 hours of delivery, otherwise Vegemite the Cat will smother you to death while you sleep.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:19 AM | Comments (28)


Anti-army actress Rebecca Romijn-Stamos visits Iraq and changes her mind:

It was unbelievable and I'll never forget it. I grew up in Berkeley, California, which is the most liberal, left-leaning place you could ever find and I had zero contact with our military.

So I had a pre-conceived notion they would all be rednecks who were only there because their daddies had been in the army. But I was wrong and I met the most amazing people over there.

It was 130 degrees [Fahrenheit] and they were walking around in full fatigues and we'd get there to find out they'd been waiting in that heat for three or four hours. And they had so much perspective on it, they were really deep and smart and had a lot of opinions.

Visitors to Berkeley are unlikely to report similar findings.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:49 AM | Comments (37)


Midway through a press conference at a Wisconsin dairy farm, John Kerry suddenly remembers -- hey, I used to live on a farm!

"Let me tell you something: When I was a kid, this 'kid from the East' had an aunt and uncle who had a dairy farm, and one of my greatest joys in life -- in fact, I lived on a farm as a young kid. My parents, when we lived in Massachusetts, we lived on a farm, and I learned my first cuss word sitting on a tractor with the guy who was driving it."

Watch for Kerry’s freshly-implanted InstantMemory™ program to kick in during future press stunts. Here’s John at a NASCAR track:

"Let me tell you something: When I was a kid, this 'kid from the East' had an aunt and uncle who had a NASCAR team, and one of my greatest joys in life -- in fact, I raced in NASCAR as a young kid. My parents, when we lived in Massachusetts, we owned Chrysler, and I won my first race sitting in a Charger with the guy who was driving it."

Here’s John in Muscle Shoals, Ala.:

"Let me tell you something: When I was a kid, this 'kid from the East' had an aunt and uncle who crewed for Lynyrd Skynyrd, and one of my greatest joys in life -- in fact, I was a member of Skynyrd. My parents, when we lived in Massachusetts, we were in the band, and I learned my first guitar solo sitting on a stage with the guy who was playing it."

And here’s John at Caltech:

"Let me tell you something: When I was a kid, this 'kid from the East' had an aunt and uncle who had a department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and one of my greatest joys in life -- in fact, I lived in the lab as a young DNA sequence. My parents, when we lived in Massachusetts, we lived in a community of neurons and lymphocytes, and I performed my first cellular division sitting on an electron microscope with the guy who was dividing it."

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:42 AM | Comments (27)


This story -- published last week in London’s Financial Times and the NYT’s business section -- has received no notice at all in Australia, at least that I’m aware of:

Illicit sales of uranium from Niger were being negotiated with five states including Iraq at least three years before the US-led invasion, senior European intelligence officials have told the Financial Times.

Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that uranium smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Iraq.

The claim that the illicit export of uranium was under discussion was widely dismissed when letters referring to the sales - apparently sent by a Nigerien official to a senior official in Saddam Hussein's regime - were proved by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be forgeries. This embarrassed the US and led the administration to reverse its earlier claim.

But European intelligence officials have for the first time confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation mounted in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.

Interesting. Belgravia Dispatch has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:13 AM | Comments (10)

July 05, 2004


Mark Latham is cracking up:

Opposition Leader Mark Latham today choked back tears as he urged the media to lay off his family and called on Prime Minister John Howard to disband an alleged government dirt unit.

Amid intense scrutiny over his personal life, Mr Latham today called a press conference in Canberra to try to clear the air.

"Some time over the next couple of months we're going to have an election campaign and I believe it should be about the positive things we should be doing about Australia's future rather than the old politics of fear and smear," he said.

This is the same man who said in 2002: "Look, this idea that politics can be too rough and too personal is a bit rich. I can take you to any sports field any Saturday morning and show you parents getting stuck into it. Having a go at the ref, yelling abuse. It's part of the Australian way. We're not a namby-pamby nation that hides our feelings. I think we're a nation that's willing to call a spade a spade and, if need be, to pick up the spade and whack someone over the head with it." But when he cops a few whacks himself, Latham starts to cry:

Red-faced and choking back tears, Mr Latham asked the media to lay off his family.

"The only request I make ... is as these rumours are circulated by my first wife and some people in the media repeat them, would you lay off my family," he said.

"Things have been put to me about my sisters, my mother, my father that are not true and they don't deserve it.

"Say what you like about me but leave them out of it please."

What’s he talking about? There haven’t been any attacks on Latham’s sisters or mother. And the only person saying anything bad about Latham’s father (who died 23 years ago) is Latham himself, who last year described his father as a problem gambler.

Mr Latham accused Ms Gwyther of being one of three sources who were smearing him in the media.

"I refuse to relive a marriage break-up publicly, it was hard enough the first time, I'm not going to go through it a second time in the public arena," he said.

If only she’d agreed to be a good girl.

Other sources of rumours were aggrieved former Liverpool councillors and a government dirt unit, Mr Latham said.

Mr Latham urged Mr Howard to disband the unit, the existence of which Mr Howard today denied.

Really, Mr Bully-Boy Howard, big cruel meanie who makes Mark sad? How do you explain this then? The Government Dirt Unit operates in plain sight! Disband the GDU!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:56 PM | Comments (67)


Those who judge Saddam Hussein must face the wrath of his friends:

Downing Street blasted The Independent yesterday for naming the judge in Saddam’s trial — putting his life at risk.

It accused journalist Robert Fisk of breaking an agreement with the Iraqi Special Tribunal not to identify anyone in the court other than the defendants.

The Daily Telegraph has more:

Iraq's justice minister says that even the life of the trial judge is now under threat after Robert Fisk of the Independent, together with other anti-war newspapers from the Arab world, blithely published his name, having ignored an explicit request not to do so.

(Via reader David P.)

UPDATE. Fisk’s July 1 column:

Now it is time for bread and circuses. Keep the people distracted. Show them Saddam. Remind them what it used to be like. Make them grateful. Make Saddam pay. Show his face once more across the world so that his victims will think about the past, not the present. Charge him. Before the full majesty of Iraq's new "democratic" law. And may George Bush win the next American election.

The column’s headline focusses on an obvious injustice: during Saddam’s trial, there will be "no mention of power cuts". Throats, maybe. But Fisk is more concerned with the present than the past.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:13 AM | Comments (56)


From The Age:

Labor leader Mark Latham was an economic "dunce" whose "reckless spending spree" led to a $15.9 million deficit at the Liverpool City Council in western Sydney, five former Liverpool mayors and one deputy have claimed.

From News Ltd:

A report by a respected economic body proved that Labor's workplace relations policies would have devastating consequences to the Australian labour market, Prime Minister John Howard said today.

"This report, carried out by a firm that the Labor Party itself has used to cost its tax and economic policies, draws attention to the devastating economic consequences to this country if our labour market were re-regulated," Mr Howard said in Melbourne.

From Glen Alpine resident Tomina Brown:

"At least he's got balls."

Err ... yes. And from Paul Sheehan in the SMH:

We're told that the most recent full Morgan Poll projected an election-winning lead for Labor over the Coalition of 54 per cent to 46 per cent. But that was taken before last week's handover of qualified sovereignty to Iraq from the United States. Immediately after the handover, Morgan conducted a special telephone poll to test voter reactions. The result was a political jolt:

"A clear majority of electors now believe Mr Howard (55 per cent) would make a better prime minister than Mr Latham (34 per cent)," said the Morgan analysis.

Well, polls -- as Sheehan notes -- are fairly pointless during such a volatile pre-election period. But the negative trend for Latham is building. He may yet be forced to endure some of those in-depth media profiles his handlers are so keen on avoiding.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:02 AM | Comments (22)


I have no idea why this is currently the most-viewed article at the Sydney Morning Herald's website. Why aren’t readers more fascinated by an examination of Tuscan architecture's declining influence in local design?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:59 AM | Comments (19)

Administrative message

In order to cut down on spam and trolling, I have implemented Comment Throttling.* The delay is 20 seconds. If you get a message, count (slowly!) to twenty and try your post again.

Update: Okay, I guess enough of you have understood the message so I can close the comments now. Also, that gives me the last word! Bwahahahaha!

*Don't you just love that name?

Posted by Andrea Harris at 01:48 AM | Comments (12)

July 04, 2004


Our beloved bird of legend finally makes it into the pages of the New York Times, courtesy of Richard L. Berke and the NYT's expert fact-checkers:

There are also the manufactured surprises, like Mr. Bush's cloak-and-dagger Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad, which drew praise even from Democrats. (The public relations bonanza fizzled after the press reported that Mr. Bush had posed with a mouth-watering - but fake - turkey.)

Will this bird fly all the way to next Thanksgiving?

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:38 PM | Comments (36)


You don't know Tiger Hand?

(Via Andrew Lloyd)

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

July 03, 2004


"Viewers may come away from Moore's movie believing some things that probably aren't true," writes Paul Krugman. But that doesn’t matter, because they’re essentially true:

Someday, when the crisis of American democracy is over, I'll probably find myself berating Moore, who supported Ralph Nader in 2000, for his simplistic antiglobalization views. But not now. "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a tendentious, flawed movie, but it tells essential truths ...

Here’s another essential truth for you, Paully. And here, as an antidote to all these Krugman/Moore essential lies, is one of the finest photographs ever taken.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:34 PM | Comments (58)


Robert Fisk tries to get "alert, cynical, defiant, abusive, proud" Saddam Hussein off the hook:

Could it be this awful man -- albeit given less chance to be heard than the Nazis at the first Nuremberg hearings -- actually knew less than we thought? Could it be that his apparatchiks and grovelling generals, even his own sons, kept from this man the iniquities of his regime?

Helpfully, US authorities have been bringing Saddam up to speed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:32 PM | Comments (28)


Charles Krauthammer celebrates the deuce:

The deuce is the preferred usage when time is short and concision is of the essence. Enjoying the benefits of economy, it is especially useful in emergencies. This is why it is a favorite of major league managers going nose-to-nose with umpires. They have only a few seconds before getting tossed out of the game, and as a result television viewers have for years delighted in the  moment when the two-worder is hurled, right on camera. No need for sound. The deuce was made for lip reading.

Favourite examples of deuce-use are invited in comments.

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


Some folks'll never lose a toe, but then again some folks'll ... Farm Accident Digest reflects on an explosive life:

When I was little, all the residents in the cul-de-sac across the street would gather all their fireworks for the night. The firing was led by someone's crazy uncle who always showed up in his beat-up truck, the bed filled with fireworks. One year, he lit a Roman candle, but it didn't fire. So he actually walked up to it and looked down the barrel. Seeing nothing amiss, he stood up just as it started firing away. That's still the closest I've ever seen someone come to taking one of those in the face.

Speaking of explosive lives, a Palestinian legal group makes a solid claim for statehood with this eloquent demonstration of their capacity for self-rule.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:48 PM | Comments (6)


Wasn’t Salon supposed to be an alternative to mainstream media?

Dear Salon reader:

As the country celebrates its independence, Salon is celebrating our own, by joining forces with another great voice of independence, the Guardian. Starting on Wednesday, July 7, look for special Guardian stories each day in Salon.

Many American readers have come to appreciate the rigorous integrity of the Guardian's reporting on the war in Iraq and the Bush administration ...

They’ll sure appreciate the rigorous integrity of Steve Bell’s cartoons. Send Steve a note; welcome him aboard.

(Via Jim Treacher and Wardytron)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:38 PM | Comments (14)


Take back America, Americans! Take it back by having lots of money taken from you!

Please join Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
To celebrate Independence Day and help Take Back America!

Wednesday, July 7, 2004; poolside at Bambuddha Lounge, 601 Eddy St., San Francisco (between Polk & Larkin; take Bart to Hyde & Market or parking available across the street)

Private Reception 5:00 p.m.
Give $250/person or Raise $1000

General Reception 6:00-7:30 p.m.
No-host bar
DJ Alexis spins Bardot Pop

Yo, DJ Alexis -- spin this.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:26 PM | Comments (3)


Conflicting accounts exist of the 1989 Blunderweight World Championship bout between Mark Latham and Don Nelson. Compare and decide ...

In the red corner, weighing a hundred pounds or so less than he does these days: Mark "Civilising Global Capital -- With My Fists!" Latham, then 28, a promising young scrapper who’d fought his way up from living in a hollowed-out cabbage on western Sydney’s mean streets:

"He got a bit stroppy, he took a half swing at me, we grabbed him and got him out of the campaign rooms.

"He wasn't in any state to do any real harm, but we just got hold of him, got him out of the campaign room, it's a bit of crowd control and that was the end of that."

And in the blue corner: Don "Azumah" Nelson, then 59, a second-generation journeyman pugilist and sales rep who’d wandered over from a nearby bar:

"He was standing back listening and took umbrage to my comment. That's when Latham king-hit me. I instinctively threw my head to the left and did what they call, 'rode the punch'," Mr Nelson said. He then feinted with a left and crossed with a right. "He came off second best. He went down like the Titanic."

Latham defeated by an older opponent? Could start a trend.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:35 AM | Comments (16)


Remember Uli Schmetzer? Since the Chicago Tribune booted Uli in March for inventing an Australian source, Tribune public editor Don Wycliff and colleague Margaret Holt have been searching his earlier stories for further evidence of wrongdoing. No other fake quotes have turned up, but they have found this:

In a Dec. 10, 2003, story about the entry of movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. into the race for president of the Philippines, Schmetzer used two substantial quotes from a Randy David, whom he identified merely as a sociologist.

Most readers probably thought the quotations were the result of an interview Schmetzer conducted with David. The story certainly read that way.

In fact, the quotes were drawn from a newspaper column David wrote and the Philippine Daily Inquirer published on Nov. 30, 2003.

This journalistic device, known as Adamsing, is popular locally. In his latest column, by the way, Phillip looks forward to John Howard’s death.

UPDATE. Gerome S. Cervantes sends a note to Fox News (copied to me):

I take insult when foreigners feel the need to constantly take shots at my country. I think Tim Blair and others from Australia should keep their hands out of my journalism. My grandfather told me that Australians were just as bad as the French and we shouldn’t trust them.

He had part of his nose bitten off by a Australian ship merchant who often spent time America. My grandpa said he even SMELLED worse than a Frenchman. Now that I think about it, this guy could have been Scottish, but you get the point. I want only US flag pins on lapels. Not little flags with alligators or whatever Australia uses as a flag.

A 'gator flag! That would rule so hard.

UPDATE II. You want to read this.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:31 AM | Comments (18)


UK chat-show host and cricket obsessive Michael Parkinson says Tony Blair should target the anti-Muralitharan vote:

When John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, said Muttiah Muralitharan was a chucker, he was only saying what the rest of us were thinking – but it did the job. Murali withdrew from the present Sri Lanka tour of Australia.

In the meantime, by judiciously avoiding trouble, Muchichuckalot should go on taking wickets, putting his record further out of reach of more scrupulous bowlers. If he wants my vote, Tony Blair should stop wasting his breath praising our poor lads in Portugal. Instead, he should denounce Muralitharan, thus guaranteeing one less chucker in the forthcoming ICC Champions Trophy.

It won't happen. The Prime Minister of Australia knows about sport. Ours neither knows nor cares.

(Via Tony the Teacher)

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:25 AM | Comments (5)


He may be big in Cannes, but Mike Moore isn’t welcome at home:

The blue-collar city of 125,000, the backdrop for Moore's 1989 documentary ''Roger & Me,'' is preparing for its inaugural Flint Film Festival.

But Moore, who now lives in New York, was not invited and his latest film, the anti-Bush documentary ''Fahrenheit 9/11,'' will not be shown, [festival chairman Greg] Fiedler said.

Organizers ''wanted this to be about local filmmakers and not about one famous one who has a way of bringing all the attention on himself,'' Fiedler said.

Not to mention the blowout in catering expenses. In DC, concluding a sad-sounding concert, Linda Ronstadt has provoked another round of Oscars-style Moore-booing:

The biggest excitement of the night, by a long shot, came when Ronstadt then dedicated her encore of "Desperado" to filmmaker Michael Moore, kick-starting a boo-cheer competition throughout the venue that drowned out her singing and left grown-ups in tuxes and evening gowns yelling at each other on their way to the parking lot.

Moore is dividing America! But anti-Moore book Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man continues to surprise and delight:

I went to the local Borders (Oakland CA) today - asked if they had it - the manager almost lost it when I told him the title - he was amazed when it showed up on the computer. They had 12 on order (for a month). So I ordered an additional copy.

UPDATE. A happy review.

UPDATE II Mark Steyn:

The war on terror’s a bit of a joke on the Left these days. In Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore says Bush is deliberately keeping the population in a state of fear, and he gets some of his biggest laughs with clips of solemn announcers announcing upgraded terrorism alerts.

I suppose it is pretty funny. Until it happens. And then Moore and the Democrats will switch to arguing that Bush knew it was going to happen all along and didn’t do anything about it.

UPDATE III. Jim Treacher:

I was going to write a review of Fahrenheit 9/11, but I got stuck deciding between "fact-raping planetoid" and "gravy-retaining blamethrower" and never finished.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:21 AM | Comments (40)


The latest poll of Iraqi opinion is notable for its optimism:

What is your expectation for how things overall in your life will be in a year from now? Will they be much better, somewhat better, about the same, somewhat worse or much worse?

Much better
Somewhat better
About the same
Somewhat worse
Much worse

Nice numbers. Bet it doesn’t get the attention an earlier poll received. Meanwhile, The Guardian editorialises about Saddam in court:

The real trial lies ahead

Well, yes. Saddam's appearance was a pre-trial charges hearing. The Guardian has finally got something right.

(Poll via the OmbudsGod)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:41 AM | Comments (7)


• Evil Fox News must be defeated! (UPDATE: More Fox evil. Not work safe. Via Dave Barry, who has only a partial work safety rating himself).

• Don’t miss out on the global Vegemite airlift. Eat it, and become as one with us.

• Lamborghini for sale. Only 121 miles. Interior: black. Exterior: black. Asking just $2500. (Via Bargarz.)

• Fans of Spinal Tap might be distressed to read this. So might a lot of people, actually.

• Your Normblog profile this week is Scott Wickstein.

• "He's known as 'Dirty Harry,'" reports the Daily Mirror. "This guy has got one of the worst jobs in the world."

• John Podhoretz on the Bush-haters: "They're full of vim and vigor. They can taste victory in November, and they're practically bubbling over. And they're in danger of burning out big-time."

• Saddam Hussein: defiant anti-hero!

• Margo Kingston has lost her Sun-Herald column.

• Webber in a Williams at Silverstone? Excellent.

• A reader writes: "Check out John Howard’s latest devious ploy: he wants to give Labor MPs in marginal seats a leg-up against their coalition opponents! Do the machinations of this evil genius know no end?"

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:51 AM | Comments (18)

July 02, 2004


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough observes Saddam:

He was clean-shaven - the fugitive's beard of December had been sculpted back to his customary moustache.

Hmm. McGeough must have been looking at somebody else.

UPDATE. McGeough implies that he witnessed events inside the court ("Just to see Saddam in the dock was a stark new image ..."). But according to The Guardian:

CNN and the Arabic TV station al-Jazeera were the only two TV stations to be allowed into the court room, while only one print journalist - the New York Times' chief foreign correspondent John Burns - was given access.


The good news is that Saddam Hussein is gonna face the death penalty.
The bad news is that David Beckham is gonna take it.


Saddam guilty as hell: Iraqis

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:11 PM | Comments (24)


Frank Devine runs a red pen through the ABC News:

ABC: "An Islamic website proclaimed [the beheading of Paul Johnson] as a lesson to Westerners who dare venture to Saudi Arabia."

Rephrase or delete. Certainly cut "lesson" and "dare". The ABC shouldn't act as a mouthpiece for murderers.

"Mr Johnson's family and friends in New Jersey are devastated. [Unidentified man]: 'They've won one thing: my hatred. I've never been a racist a day in my life but today I'm finding myself very racist'."

Delete quote. Irresponsible to imply that (1) it's okay to be racist if a friend has been murdered or (2) New Jersey people turn racist when bad things happen or (3) Johnson's murder was the act of a race of people. Highlighting statements of individuals when distraught is unfair and often misleading.

"Russian President has revealed new intelligence claiming that Saddam Hussein's regime was planning to strike the United States ... For President George Bush the revelation may come as a relief."

Delete second sentence. Unsupported, not to say air-head, speculation.

"Just hours after the Russian President's statements [Bush] made a campaign stop to again tell troops Saddam was a threat."

Delete "campaign". The Democratic Party hasn't even chosen its nominee yet. Anyway, commanders-in-chief have other reasons to visit troops than to canvass their votes. Replace "was a threat" with "had been a threat". Saddam is in prison.

"[Quoting President Bush]: 'This is a regime that sheltered terrorist groups. This is a regime that hated America. And so we saw a threat and it was a real threat.' That claim is being disputed by the commission into the September 11 attacks."

Delete last sentence. The commission disputes nothing in this Bush statement. An ABC concoction. Sack scriptwriter and segment producer.

"Analysts believe Putin was trying to help the American president [with his statement that Russian intelligence showed Saddam planned to attack the US], hoping one day the favour might be returned."

Amazing speculation! Where is there an "analyst" so unhinged as to make it? If possible, shoot scriptwriter and segment producer while attempting to escape.

"[Quoting Opposition spokesman Kevin Rudd]: 'John Howard wants to run a cheap and nasty election campaign based exclusively on national security. Well, this is his national diversion strategy.' But it's a campaign the Government won't be easily diverted from."

Delete news-reader's ditzy comment. What won't the Government be diverted from? Cheapness and nastiness? Or will it refuse to be diverted from diversion?

"Al-Qa'ida is vowing to continue its holy war in Saudi Arabia."

Delete "holy".

Privatise ABC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:37 PM | Comments (34)


Blogger Royce Dunbar attends his 25th college reunion in Wisconsin -- and discovers that his old friends have become Berkleyite Moore followers:

Unjust war ... international law ... unilateral aggression ... no WMDs ... Afghanistan was bad enough, but Iraq ... blahdee, blahdee, blah ...

These are good people. These are smart people. On many levels, these are very thoughtful people. And, it seems to me that they are very much like a group of folks that most of them despise.

They are very much like fundamentalist Christians.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:25 PM | Comments (42)



Delay in Hicks trial 'an injustice': Pentagon-cleared lawyer


Lawyers for David Hicks have accused the Bush administration of trying to rush the alleged Australian terrorist to trial.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:15 PM | Comments (3)


Kosher Vegemite, on the market for 20 years, has been scrapped:

Hundreds of families have been scouring supermarkets for the last kosher jars of the famous spread. One mum bought 75 jars in one shop.

Dad Mark Chaskiel said the family have run out of kosher Vegemite after panic-buying 35 jars. "I was brought up on Vegemite," Mr Chaskiel said.

"I can sacrifice lobster and prawns for kosher but I can't give up Vegemite. It's an Australian birthright."

If I were denied Vegemite for religious reasons, I would give up religion.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:12 PM | Comments (49)


"Where is Mark Latham?" asks the SMH’s Louise Dodson. "And why has he become so media shy?" Well, here’s one possible reason:

The Labor Party is bracing for fresh claims of physical violence by Mark Latham, potentially delivering John Howard a big incentive to call a snap election for August.

Former friends and political rivals have alleged Mr Latham assaulted an older man in the lead-up to a state by-election for the seat of Liverpool in March 1989.

Mr Latham was alleged to have punched the man to the ground after he walked into the Labor campaign office and made a remark that the future Opposition leader objected to.

Latham has been dodging serious coverage for weeks, and seems determined to keep doing so. Declining involvement in this weekend’s Sunday program, Latham’s unbelievably clumsy ex-ABC advisor Vivienne Schenker said: "We don't want anything in depth before the election." So a small-target strategy -- maybe like that adopted by the old bloke in Liverpool 15 years ago -- is now official.

The small-target plan ties neatly into this:

Labor candidates' views on important economic and social issues are significantly to the left of what those who voted for them thought, according to research that says Labor risks a "hollowing out" of its support base.

Coalition candidates were much more likely to hold views similar to their supporters, compared with Labor candidates and voters.

So, the Coalition. A year or so ago I wrote that if John Howard threw $50 notes to people in the street, he’d be attacked in the press for littering. Claim proved:

Rather than welcoming the government's payments to families, the media and the ALP have had a carefree, fun-filled week, playing with the Howard Government's evil Baby Bonuses. The consensus of the ALP, and the educated middle class in general, is that ignorant poor families just can't be trusted with $600 let alone $3000. Media reports indicate that the family payment is wreaking havoc: causing teenage pregnancy, child abuse, gambling addiction, alcoholism and violence in indigenous communities, and even a new stolen generation.

Visit Gnu Hunter for all the links.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:01 AM | Comments (30)


Does Michael Moore eat so much because if he loses weight he’ll resemble the photo-fit of some guy in Michigan who maybe kidnapped Girl Guides back in the '60s and, like, sold them to Charles Manson? For slavery purposes? I’m just posing a question:

Mr. Moore hints that the real reason Mr. Bush invaded Afghanistan was to give his cronies a chance to profit by building an oil pipeline there.

"I'm just raising what I think is a legitimate question," Mr. Moore told me, a touch defensively, adding, "I'm just posing a question."

Moore also likes to pose questions arising from alleged Carlyle Group connections to the Bush family. Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball investigate:

The idea that the Carlyle Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of some loosely defined "Bush Inc." concern seems hard to defend. Like many similar entities, Carlyle boasts a roster of bipartisan Washington power figures. Its founding and still managing partner is Howard Rubenstein, a former top domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. Among the firm’s senior advisors is Thomas "Mack" McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and Arthur Levitt, Clinton’s former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of its other managing partners is William Cannard,Clinton’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Spokesman Ullman was the Clinton-era spokesman for the SEC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:03 AM | Comments (28)


Idealistic Republicans, aiming to build a stronger democracy, are actively encouraging dissent:

Billionaire Richard J. Egan built his reputation in politics as a major donor and fund-raiser for the Bush campaign, steering hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican coffers in recent years. But now it appears Egan and his relatives are bankrolling a new candidate: independent presidential contender Ralph Nader.

I applaud this development. Hey, where’s John Kerry lately? The prospective Democrat nominee and former Triple Crown winner has been all but invisible. Turns out he’s busy arguing with Boston Democrats:

In an unusual rebuke of his party's nominee, Menino told the Boston Herald that he found the Kerry campaign small-minded and incompetent, and expressed frustration over a report that he had hung up on Kerry during a phone conversation about the canceled speech.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:20 AM | Comments (11)


"Nothing will persuade the president to drop his mentor from the team," thunders The Guardian, "not even an explosion of expletives."

That’s the line above a stunning piece by Sidney Blumenthal, who seems to think Dick Cheney’s commonplace putdown is evidence of a psychotic collapse:

In Washington, political identities cultivated over decades can crumble in a minute ... The self-control that had served [Dick Cheney] so long broke down in public on June 22 on the floor of the Senate during a photo session. As Cheney was posing with members, Senator Patrick Leahy ambled over. Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the judiciary committee, had recently been critical, along with other Democrats, of no-bid contracts in Iraq granted to Halliburton, the company Cheney had run and in which he still holds stock options and receives deferred compensation (despite his prior claims to the contrary). "Go fuck yourself," the vice president greeted him ... Even before his outburst, Cheney had come to stand for special interests, secrecy and political coercion. Under the stress of Bush's falling polls, he cracked.

What will mad Cheney do next? Boil orphans for soup live on the internet? Further on, Blumenthal condemns a recent Republican campaign ad:

Bush still strains to project optimism and cast the Democrats as demagogic pessimists. His campaign this week produced a commercial, "John Kerry's coalition of the wild-eyed", that featured snippets of Al Gore, Howard Dean, Michael Moore and Kerry criticising Bush. Interspersed among the Democrats was a frothing and saluting Adolf Hitler.

Take a look at the ad. That Hitler image Blumenthal complains about? It’s from a MoveOn.org commercial attacking George W. Bush.

(Via contributor J. F. Beck. The "F" does not stand for anything unpleasant.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:46 AM | Comments (45)


Saddam Hussein enjoys his day in court. Would it kill him to smile once or twice? Nobody likes a frowny dictator.

Meanwhile, Saddam’s former victims -- normal Iraqis -- are speaking out in the wake of kidnappings and beheadings:

"This is a terrible thing," said Ali Hashim, 33, a shoe salesman in downtown Baghdad. "Hostage-taking, beheading . . . it's not our tradition. We have a tradition of hospitality. This hurts the image of the Iraqi people."

"These beheadings destroy the image of the Iraqi people and shows them as uncivilized," said Saad Abdel Ali, 54, an electrical supply salesman. "It is being done by outsiders," he said.

And some, as ever, blame the Americans:

"Beheading and hostage-taking are not legitimate in Islamic law," said Riyadh Hussein, the white-turbaned imam of a soaring new mosque in downtown Baghdad. He suggested that the hostage-takings were the result of some unspecified conspiracy. "I have no doubt some of our people gloat over it. But this is being done to destroy the image of the resistance and the image of Muslims in the rest of the world. I feel there are some pockets of extremists in the Islamic world who are motivated and manipulated by Americans or others."

UPDATE. Perhaps Firas Adnan should be called during Saddam's trial:

Firas Adnan need only open his mouth to give evidence of Saddam Hussein's legacy.

Just before the regime fell, the 24-year-old labourer quarrelled with a Saddam loyalist, who punished him by excising his tongue with a box-cutter.

That was March 5, two weeks before the start of the war on Iraq. He was not released until mid-April. "Had the regime not fallen, they would have executed me," he says.

"Had the regime not fallen." How those words must annoy Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:09 AM | Comments (33)

July 01, 2004


The Guardian’s Seumas Milne, writing in December 2001, mourns civilians killed during a coward’s war:

Champions of the war insist that such casualties are an unfortunate, but necessary, byproduct of a just campaign to root out global terror networks. They are a world apart, they argue, from the civilian victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centre because, in the case of the Afghan civilians, the US did not intend to kill them ... what has been cruelly demonstrated is that the US and its camp followers are prepared to sacrifice thousands of innocents in a coward's war.

The Guardian’s Seumas Milne, writing today, rationalises civilian deaths during a real war of liberation:

The resistance war can of course be cruel, but the innocent deaths it has been responsible for pale next to the toll inflicted by the occupiers. Its political strength lies precisely in the fact that it has no programme except the expulsion of the occupying forces. Jack Straw said this week that the resistance was "opposed to a free Iraq" - but its campaign is in fact Iraq's real war of liberation.

UPDATE. Here’s another anti-war Brit, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:

I am ashamed to admit that there have been times when I wanted more chaos, more shocks, more disorder to teach our side a lesson. On Monday I found myself again hoping that this handover proves a failure because it has been orchestrated by the Americans.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:36 PM | Comments (32)


You think Western media is weak? Take a look at China’s People’s Daily Online:

Michael Moore's provocative anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" is likely to become the first imported documentary in China.

The film slamming US President George W. Bush was banned in the United States, but its release was authorized by the government after it won the Gold Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Curse that pesky 28th Amendment: "Treasonous materials shall only be permitted upon approval by a foreign assembly of conjurers, jugglers, and minstrels, long may they caper, fair and true."

UPDATE. Speaking of Amendments, the New York Times wants to deny a speedy trial to Saddam Hussein and his co-accused:

The actual trials should not begin until an elected government takes power, a step planned for next January. Starting them sooner might produce political dividends for the appointed Iraqi interim government or the Bush re-election campaign.

Stand by for tomorrow's NYT, which will argue for the return of Saddam to his spider hole ahead of a January re-capture: "Arresting him sooner might produce political dividends for the appointed Iraqi interim government or the Bush re-election campaign."

UPDATE II. People's Daily has cut the paragraph mentioning banning from the above-linked item. Guess it’s been banned.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:41 PM | Comments (13)


Helen's War - Portrait of an Idiot screens tonight on SBS. The SMH’s Greg Hassall describes the documentary, about A-list basketcase Helen Caldicott, as fabulous. So everybody watch. You may as well; your taxes have already paid for it. Canadians helped out, too:

Produced in association with SBS Independent and CBC Newsworld. Produced with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund created by the Government of Canada and the Canadian cable industry. Produced with the financial participation of The Government of Canada, Canadian Film or Video, Production Tax Credit Program And with the assistance of The Government of Ontario, The Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit. Developed in association with Film Australia and the Australian Film Commission. Developed and produced with the assistance from The New South Wales Film and Television Office.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:14 PM | Comments (26)


Antony Loewenstein, one of Margo Kingston’s democracy militants, has sent a rousing email to his fellow Margonistas:

Dear all, last week saw the Australia-wide launch of NOT HAPPY JOHN - DEFENDING OUR DEMOCRACY. It was a big success everywhere, from Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane to Melbourne. Capacity crowds everywhere, Tony Fitzgerald, Julia Gillard, Bob Brown and other assorted types spoke with passion about reasserting our democracy and taking back the power.

For Margo Kingston, Jack Robertson and myself, the book is just the beginning. We've created an interactive website designed to get people involved.

Sounds like a duplicate Webdiary. Margo's bosses will not be happy.

We'd love you to write comments, thoughts and ideas. Form groups around issues which you feel passionately about. Engage with the issues that frequently get ignored by the mainstream press. A daily blog will update the newest views on relevant issues. We hope this is the beginning of something bigger. We love MoveOn.org in the US. We have similar visions here.

Australians are imitating Americans! Somebody alert Phillip Adams.

This is an experiment and indeed, as far as we know, it hasn't really be done anywhere before in the world (feel free to correct me!) we want to hold politicians, journalists and big business accountable for the decisions that affect us all and having a bloody good time in the process.

It’s a world first! Hail Australian innovation. Sadly, however, the Sydney Morning Herald will now be forced to fire Margo for obvious ethics violations:

Herald staff shall avoid any prominent activity in partisan public causes that compromises, or appears to compromise, the journalist or the newspaper.

(Via Stephen Mayne)

UPDATE. Be dazzled by the competence of this first-time-anywhere-on-earth interactive online political experiment.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:01 PM | Comments (47)


Mike Moore in February 2002:

Two months ago, it looked like 50,000 copies of Stupid White Men might head straight from the printing press and into the pulper. Now the wizards at Amazon.com say it's one of the bestsellers in America.

Times change, Mike. Check out this current Amazon bestseller.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:37 PM | Comments (10)


Television tapeworm Merlin Luck has joined the cashed-up compassion circus:

After speaking alongside former prime minister Malcolm Fraser on asylum seekers yesterday, Big Brother evictee Merlin Luck said he now felt recognised as "a valid voice" on the issue.

He spoke at a breakfast function for the AM Club, a regular speakers' forum organised by businesses including the Hilton Hotel and 3AW held at Hilton on the Park in East Melbourne.

"Today helped to assert me as someone who can discuss these issues and can be seen as, not a spokesperson, but as a valid voice on the issue rather than some punk who put some tape on his mouth and held up a sign and said 'Yeah, dude, free the refugees'."

Which is exactly what Merlin did. Anxious to present Concernin' Merlin in the best possible light, The Age's Andra Jackson rewrites his family history:

Luck, whose family came to Australia as migrants from Germany when he was four ...

Wrong. As Merlin himself told Green Left Weekly:

I came to this country from Germany when I was four years old and then we overstayed our tourist visa – as so many people do – so we lived illegally in Australia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:19 PM | Comments (15)


Paul Gardiner was the partner of Liz Feizkhah, a gifted writer whose shyness and modesty is rare among people of her ability. Liz is a dear friend.

But despite our friendship (we met at Time a decade ago) the closest I ever got to Paul was via Liz telling me of his latest one-liners. Gardiner had a particular talent for mock self-aggrandisement:

I am a man of infinite knowledge, and I will not be calumnied by a woman.

I am the most fantastic host there ever was.

Look at those arms! I’m the Apollo of my generation.

I’m trying to make the best roast lamb in the history of the world.

It’s funny about my smell, isn’t it? It’s an angel-like smell.

Besides his obvious verbal skills, Gardiner was a journalist, editor, and businessman of considerable achievement. He began his career as a researcher with the ABC in 1969, then worked for two years as the Australian Financial Review’s London correspondent, and in 1973 became publisher/editor of the Australian edition of Rolling Stone. In the mid-90s, Gardiner launched into IT; here’s a piece he wrote for Salon on Australian internet censorship plans. And here are some more of his one-liners, from a list compiled by Liz:

TV turns every day into a day out.

Mango is the clown of fruits.

A four-hour documentary about polar bears: that’s my idea of heaven.

When it comes to sorting socks, the gift of recognition is the main thing.

I want a canned peach! I detest the real peach.

(On being told that "no one in the world uses a lemon as an incense holder"):
Well, they’re fuckin’ idiots.

Last Thursday, after falling into a crushing, two-week depression, Paul Gardiner killed himself. His funeral was held yesterday morning. Liz’s tribute, delivered quietly and clearly to a church full of media and music industry heavyweights, was in equal parts heartbreaking and (because Liz knows how to tell a joke) hilarious.

As people were leaving, I heard somebody say, through sobs: "I miss somebody I never knew."

UPDATE. This is sweet. An identical lemony tribute was seen at the church.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:28 AM | Comments (31)


Does the UK Daily Telegraph’s John Keegan know how his copy is being treated by the Sydney Morning Herald? First Keegan was crudely abridged, and now his latest column runs under this heading:

The ideological certainties that drove the US into Iraq now seem naive and vainglorious, writes John Keegan.

Trouble is, as Professor Bunyip points out, Keegan’s column doesn’t match the SMH’s summary:

What Keegan actually wrote is that the war was "honest", "astonishingly successful", and inspired by "purity of political motives". He notes that some US assumptions about post-war Iraq reflected attitudes left over from the Cold War and that these failed to take the role of religion into account, so maybe, at a stretch, an editor with a limited vocabulary might be excused for using "naive".

But vainglorious? What phrase, clause, or sentence in Keegan's article suggests that?

None, so far as I can see. Also from the Bunyip: the thrilling evening escapades of a Michael Moore fan.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:09 AM | Comments (8)


Margo Kingston -- whose press gallery power-grab has been successfully repulsed -- hit Melbourne last week to hawk her "book". Blogger Ari Sharp was on the scene:

The event was scheduled to start at 6:30, got under way at about 6:32, and the Israel-bashing had commenced in earnest by 6:44. It was courtesy of Antony Lowenstein, one of Kingston's contributers, who informed us of how brave he was to be challenging Israel (a room full of true believing lefties and an attack on Israel ... real brave, Antony, real brave).

Once her warm-up act had slithered away, Margo commenced to speak. Among Ari’s highlights:

Penguin, the publishers, initially wanted to present Kingston as the Michael Moore of Australia and build a profile for her in that way. Kingston rejected the offer, arguing that "she didn't have a sense of humour."

On the contrary. Margo is much funnier than Michael Moore.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:05 AM | Comments (12)


An Australian filmmaker is missing, feared kidnapped, in Afghanistan:

On Monday, Carmela Baranowska, 35, left Kandahar for Zabul province, 100 kilometres north. Neither she, nor her Afghan fixer, Mohibullah, have been heard from since.

Tim McGirk, the regional correspondent for Time, said he was extremely concerned for both Ms Baranowska, and Mohibullah - an experienced and reliable fixer who worked for the magazine.

Mohibullah may be the same fixer who’s worked with Australia’s Michael Ware. If so, you’d think he and Baranowska might get out of this; Ware’s stories of his fixers’ ingenuity are staggering.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:46 AM | Comments (5)


So, did Paul Bremer deliver a farewell speech to Iraq or not? Here’s Ali at Iraq the Model:

Suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,”A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq”! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

And here’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the Washington Post (as noted by commenters):

When [Bremer] left Iraq on Monday after surrendering authority to an interim government, it was with a somber air of exhaustion. There was no farewell address to the Iraqi people, no celebratory airport sendoff.

Ali says there was a speech; the Washington Post says there wasn’t. Who to believe? A professional journalist, with access to every information stream on the planet and supported by a massive number of editors and researchers -- or Ali, watching TV at a Baghdad hospital?

My money’s on Ali.

UPDATE. Ali wins! The Washington Post loses! Lebanon’s Daily Star reports "a televised speech by former occupation administrator Paul Bremer" and the SF Chronicle’s Robert Collier mentions the former administrator’s "short speech". An extract:

You are ready now for sovereignty, and we think it's an important part of our obligation as temporary custodian to return the sovereignty to you. I have confidence that the Iraqi government is ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

No wonder Omar is no longer surprised by the attitude of major media: "It only disgusts me."

UPDATE II. Marine Corps reservist Eric M. Johnson cites Chandrasekaran’s prior form (via Sullivan):

Before major combat operations were over, Chandrasekaran was already quoting Iraqis proclaiming the American operation a failure. Reading his dispatches from April 2003, you can already see his meta-narrative take shape: basically, that the Americans are clumsy fools who don’t know what they’re doing, and Iraqis hate them. This meta-narrative informs his coverage and the coverage of the reporters he supervises, who rotate in and out of Iraq.

How do I know this? Because my fellow Marines and I witnessed it with our own eyes. Chandrasekaran showed up in the city of Al Kut last April, talked to a few of our officers, and toured the city for a few hours. He then got back into his air-conditioned car and drove back to Baghdad to write about the local unrest.

Since I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran's integrity up close, I haven't believed a word he writes, or any story coming out of the bureau he runs. You shouldn't, either.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:55 AM | Comments (33)