September 30, 2004

IT'S ALL ABOUT MARK

Sounds like Matt Price is becoming a little bored with Mark Latham's raging sense of self:

Remove the perpendicular pronoun from Latham's impeccably delivered 41-minute speech and it might have finished under half an hour ... I say. I will. I want. My life. My home. In Latham's view, Labor's campaign is the extension of his life story where he, Janine and the boys live happily ever after at The Lodge.


"It is I, come to rescue you all. Do not be afraid, little ones."

Latham’s still at it today:

"I'm not a choker, I don't get the wobbles, I'm advancing good policies for the benefit of the Australian people ... At my age, 43, I'm in the prime of my life, I've got a lot to offer the country ... I'm giving the Australian people the guarantee (that) Mr Howard won't, that I'll serve a full term ... I'm there for the long haul fight against terrorism, to build up our health and education systems."

Please stop talking! In other election news:

• An insane telephone retailer is threatening to sue Mr. I,I,I, Me, Me, Me.

• John Howard’s often-mocked fondness for white picket fences is shared by one of his musical heroes.

• The new Jeebus party wants to charge all Internet users $7 to $10 every year so it can reduce the amount of material you can access.

• Professor Bunyip is not impressed by Medicare Old.

UPDATE. ABC election nerd Antony Green calls it for Howard:

John Howard will lose seats, win the election narrowly and announce his retirement at the first sign of economic downturn.

Mark Latham will keep surging in popularity and lead Labor to victory - in three years.

I’m still leaning to Latham, although his weakness on Ivan Milat-Molloy is damaging:

On Brisbane radio 4BC today Mr Latham denied he had anything to do with Dr Molloy cancelling at the last minute an interview he had agreed to with the radio station today.

Mr Latham said he was not aware of any contact between Dr Molloy and the ALP about the interview, after being told that Dr Molloy had told the program's producer that the party did not want him to talk.

Pressed on the issue of whether he believed Dr Molloy should be disendorsed and whether he found him an embarrassment to Labor, Mr Latham again shied away.

Wimp. Perhaps Latham is spooked by this comment:

Molloy doesn't want to talk, is waiting for a call from head office, promises to "unload" if they dump him.

Greg Sheridan has lots more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:47 PM | Comments (33)

INNOVATIVE TRUTH-TELLING PLAN FOR TV

The Sydney Morning Herald's furiously negative Paul McGeough:

In another of those blood-curdling tapes released by the hostage-takers this week, Bigley addressed the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as he pleaded for his life: "I think this is possibly my last chance to speak to someone who will listen."

Sadly, the truth of the Bush and Blair adventure in Iraq is that the two leaders never listen.

Sadly, the likes of McGeough never listen to Steven Moore. He emails:

You may recall a blog about six months back, "The View from Baghdad," written by an anonymous guy working with budding democrats in Baghdad, that disappeared suddenly in April. It posted a lot of photos and gave personal accounts of what was going on with every day Iraqis. Well, I am back and no longer anonymous.  

I came back from Iraq in May, and got disgusted with how the media was portraying events in Iraq, and thoroughly nauseated by Michael Moore (who has never been to Iraq) and the lies he is propagating, so I started The Truth About Iraq. I've decided to use the polling information from Iraq to debunk some of the myths that have been created by the media.

Domestically, our organization also did a poll of swing state media markets - Columbus, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philly - and found out that a lot of the messages we have on our site about how life is improving for Iraqis move voters. Given that more than 7 million people watched Dan Rather last night, and Fahrenheit 9/11 has sold some 13 million tickets, I figure the only way to counter such massive disinformation is through paid television commercials.

Sounds like a plan. Go visit the site for more information.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:13 PM | Comments (16)

KERRY IN FRONT

Attention, Bush babes! You’re needed at this not work safe poll where John Kerry is beating your man 95 to 57!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:55 PM | Comments (6)

KNOWING WHAT HE DOES NOW

John Kerry in August:

Kerry said he would have voted to authorize the war knowing what he does now ... "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have."

John Kerry today on Good Morning America:

"We should not have gone to war knowing the information we have today."

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:27 AM | Comments (44)

120YAY!

All hail the Datsun 120Y, the finest automobile ever. Sure, the 120Y may have endangered thousands due to its lack of brakes, power, and traction, and some aesthetes possibly were made suicidal simply by looking at it, but the noble Datsun has subsequently served a higher purpose. During 2002, one of them set in train events that undermined Victoria’s speed-camera madness:

The camera crisis emerged in the middle of last year when a fixed camera on the Western Ring Road recorded a 1975 Datsun 120Y travelling at 158 km/h. Independent mechanical testing showed that the car could reach only 117 km/h.

Almost 165,000 motorists caught by fixed speed cameras will have their fines waived or be paid compensation, costing the State Government $26 million.

I’m one of those 165,000. In your face, Steve Bracks! Here’s the letter from Victoria’s Department of Justice:

The Victorian State Government recently announced that all motorists who received a speeding infringement detected by a fixed digital speed camera on the Western Ring Road would have those infringements withdrawn and associated fines refunded and demerit points cancelled. I refer to the above infringement notice, which you have paid.

Can’t remember the amount; a couple of hundred bucks, probably. Thank you, Datsun! Your sublime engineering has returned food to my table.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:49 AM | Comments (22)

VOTE IVAN

Labor hardheads, writes Emma-Kate Symons, are "still trying to work out how to deal with the pesky Ivan Milat/Molloy factor". Hey, why not treat it as a positive?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:38 AM | Comments (12)

HOW TO ...

Today’s New York Times runs a piece entitled "How to Debate George Bush" ... written by Al Gore.

Next week in the New York Times:

How to Be a Journalist, by Dan Rather

How to Lead a Low-Key Lifestyle, by Paris Hilton

How to Compress Quotes, by Maureen Dowd

How to Peacefully Advance the Muslim Cause, by Osama Bin Laden

How to Barbecue Fucking Huge Steaks, by Karen Carpenter

How to Bowl, by Mutiah Muralitharan

How to Romance Poor White Trash, by John Kerry

Offer further NYT article ideas in comments.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:35 AM | Comments (77)

SLAGTIME

Ever read E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime? It's terrific. But Doctorow, writing about George W. Bush, reminds us of the old adage: "Trust the art, not the artist":

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it ... He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn ... you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it ... He is the president who does not feel.

Study him, Doctorow. Look into his eyes.

UPDATE. The director of the French Center on the United States -- who knew? -- also senses Bush badness:

"If foreigners could vote, there's no question what the result would be," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States. "Bush's image, even before the war in Iraq, was not good. The way he comports himself, the vocabulary he uses -- good versus evil, God and all that -- even his body language, most people think is not presidential." He added, "I've never seen such hostility."

Never seen such hostility, Guillaume? Check out a Michael Moore movie. Or read Doctorow's article.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:38 AM | Comments (32)

SPONTANEOUS SUNTAN SELF-ORGANIZATION

Rathergate exposed the power of the Internet, writes Frederick Turner:

What we saw was an extraordinary example of what chaos and complexity theorists call spontaneous self-organization. Out of a highly communicative but apparently chaotic medium an ordered, sensitively responsive, but robust order emerges, acting as an organism of its own. Suddenly a perfectly-matched team of specialists had self-assembled out of the ether.

And this doesn’t happen only over fonts and Microsoft Word documents. Consider the reaction of sunless-tanning experts to John Kerry’s searing new suntan:

He looks pretty orange to me. He needs to use the Brent method I think!

looks very pumpkinfied to me...and hideous!

Way to dark and fake looking.

Well, HEY...I'll take an orange president anyday if he's supporting sunless!!

I would be ready to give Kerry credit for a nice wind-surfing tan here, too, if he weren't so dang orange. As it is, it looks like he got into some TBT with the solution a few percentage points too strong. I'd sure hate to be the tech who sprayed him...by all accounts, John-o doesn't treat his underlings well, especially when they net him as much grief as he's gotten today about his Florida citrus-y complexion.

I've never seen a real tan look like that.

So harsh! The tan is fake but real, okay?

UPDATE. Dan Rather just can’t resist those fake documents:

Three weeks after he denounced the internet as being "filled with rumors," the embattled CBS anchor ran a story on his Tuesday "Evening News" program hoping to stir up fear of an impending military draft. In a story that was a textbook example of slipshod reporting, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger used debunked internet hoax emails and an unlabeled interest group member to scare elderly "Evening" viewers into believing that the U.S. government is poised to resume the draft.

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

AL-JEFFERSON

Those brave Iraqi insurgents ... are they Minutemen, as Michael Moore claims, or are they Confederates?

Iraqi security forces captured a suspected terrorist operating on Baghdad’s blood-soaked Haifa street – cornering him today in a cupboard as he was disguising himself with his wife’s underwear.

Five other suspected insurgents were also taken into custody as US and Iraqi forces clashed with rebels on the main street, said Colonel Mohammed Abdullah.

Acting on tips by local residents, Abdullah said Iraqi security troops backed by Us forces caught Kadhim al-Dafan as he hid out in his home. The suspected terrorist reportedly told Abdullah he was hurriedly trying to disguise himself with his wife’s underclothing.

Whoa! Shades of Jefferson Davis.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:52 AM | Comments (10)

AVERTING NUCLEAR IRAQ

Mahdi Obeidi, the former head of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear centifuge program, on the wisdom of pre-emption:

Our nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam's fingers. The sanctions and the lucrative oil-for-food program had served as powerful deterrents, but world events - like Iran's current efforts to step up its nuclear ambitions - might well have changed the situation.

Iraqi scientists had the knowledge and the designs needed to jumpstart the program if necessary. And there is no question that we could have done so very quickly. In the late 1980s, we put together the most efficient covert nuclear program the world has ever seen. In about three years, we gained the ability to enrich uranium and nearly become a nuclear threat; we built an effective centrifuge from scratch, even though we started with no knowledge of centrifuge technology. Had Saddam ordered it and the world looked the other way, we might have shaved months if not years off our previous efforts.

Read the whole thing. There are sections that might be easily excerpted by anti-war bloggers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:33 AM | Comments (4)

NO TO AMERICAN TEETH - YES TO AMERICAN MONEY

Cartoon faces with big sharp teeth on American airplanes offend sensitive European types -- especially sensitive European types headed to America for lucrative book tours.

Also from the OmbudsGod: a fun look at the phenomenon that is Tina Brown. And in other media news:

• Hugh Hewitt dissects Newsweek’s Steven Levy.

• The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon, claims to have been misrepresented:

Sen. John Kerry's campaign is running a new series of ads that feature newspaper headlines to suggest that all is not well in President George Bush's America. One of those headlines is from The Register-Guard. It's flattering to make the big time in this fashion, but Kerry's ad makes the headline look like something other than what it was.

• Mark Steyn questions the priorities of blow-dried network poseurs covering Ayad Allawi’s US visit.

• George W. Bush’s hometown newspaper endorses John Kerry.

• Tonight’s (Australian) ABC news report on the release of two Italian hostages in Iraq began: "In a rare piece of good news from Iraq ..." In a rare piece of good news reported by the ABC, perhaps. (This is the network, you’ll recall, that within twelve hours of Baghdad’s de-Saddamisation ran with this: "Well, dawn has broken over Baghdad, welcoming day one of the new freedom, but if this is liberty, then it's far from perfect.") Rumours abound of a ransom payment:

Ali al-Roz, publisher of Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai al-Aam, told Italian public television Rai 3 said a $US1 million ($A1.4 million) ransom had been handed over.

"The sum, as we had written, was one million dollars. A well-informed source in Baghdad told us," Roz said.

The Italian government denies any payment.

• During 2004's third quarter, Fox News beat the combined forces of everybody: "According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 1.8 million viewers, while CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Headline News averaged a combined total of 1.7 million."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:22 AM | Comments (13)

HIATUS PROMISED

Chris Sheil threatens a blogging strike if Mark Latham loses:

If the ALP goes down, I imagine a decent hiatus will be in order - if only to escape the RWDBs who I know will be all over me like the thugees they are.

Thugees? Whatever, Chris. This happy site will be here on October 10 regardless of the result. The Left is election-obsessed; I fear for their well-being if Howard is returned. In the US, Andrew "can't vote for Bush" Sullivan is going wobbly on John Kerry:

I don't believe Iraq is a "diversion" from the war on terror; I believe it's the central front. If you share this view, Blair's view, it's extremely hard to support Kerry.

Yes. Yes, it is. Back in Australia, the Daily Telegraph’s David Penberthy meets a conflicted voter

"If the election were held today, which party would you vote for?"

"Definitely Labor. I've always voted Labor."

"And what do you think of John Howard?"

"Oh, I love him. He's doing a great job."

"OK, what do you think of Mark Latham?"

"Ugh! Can't stand him!"

"So, you're voting Labor and you love John Howard."

"Yeah, always have. I just love the guy."

UPDATE. Chris Sheil, myself, and several others are mentioned in this Melbourne Age piece on bloggers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 AM | Comments (16)

September 29, 2004

PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP

"It's always the children's fault, isn't it, Seymour?" John Kerry continues his compelling impersonation of excuse-prone fellow Vietnam veteran Seymour Skinner.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn:

If it weren’t for the small matter of the war for civilization, I’d find it hard to resist a Kerry Presidency. Groucho Marx once observed that an audience will laugh at an actress playing an old lady pretending to fall downstairs, but, for a professional comic to laugh, it has to be a real old lady. That’s how I feel about the Kerry campaign. For the professional political analyst, watching Mondale or Dukakis or Howard Dean stuck in the part of the guy who falls downstairs is never very satisfying: they’re average, unexceptional fellows whom circumstances have conspired to transform into walking disasters. But Senator Kerry was made for the role, a vain thin-skinned droning blueblood with an indestructible sense of his own status but none at all of his own ridiculousness. If Karl Rove had labored for a decade to produce a walking parody of the contemporary Democratic Party’s remoteness, condescension, sense of entitlement, public evasiveness and tortured relationship with military matters, he couldn’t have improved on John F Kerry.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:59 PM | Comments (12)

APOLITICAL ANTONY

Sydney Morning Herald bandwidth filler Antony Loewenstein isn’t happy about Alan Anderson joining the SMH’s online team:

He's a member of the Liberal Party in the Victorian branch. His coverage in "no way purports to represent the views of the Party." That's OK, then. Balance is assured. All bases are covered.

His personal blog supports Fox News and Israel's targeted assassinations. For the record, I am not a member of any political party or group.

Give me a break, Antony. If Not Happy John isn’t a political group, what the hell is it? A jazzercise class? Meanwhile Margo Kingston, the unhappiest little Not Happy Johnster of them all, is still bravely trying rescue Australia:

I tell ya, if Howard wins - and even if he doesn't - we've got to transform this site into an Australian moveon to protect what's left of our democracy.

But Margo -- if Howard wins, democracy will be dead! There won’t be anything left to protect! Maybe George Soros can help.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:50 PM | Comments (23)

UNPOPULAR NEWSPAPER RAILS AT POPULARITY

In the wake of a brilliant AFL Grand Final, Melbourne’s Age continues its proud tradition of sour negativity:

Just 1.215 million Melburnians tuned into the game, the lowest recorded for a grand final under OZTAM, the ratings system introduced in 2001.

This compared with 1.324 million last year and 1.244 million in 2002, which both featured Brisbane and Collingwood.

So 29,000 fewer people watched this year’s match than tuned in two years ago - a decline of 2.3%. Even on the 2003 figure, the drop is still only 8.2%. The Age’s front-page headline for this piece? "How Melbourne tuned out of the grand final".

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:25 PM | Comments (5)

LATHAM FLIP-FLOPS ON HATE

Janine Lacy says her husband cares for all Australians:

"It's Mark's personal commitment to give all Australians a fair go in life."

I wonder if that includes all the Australians he hates?

Two years ago, he told Maxine McKew in The Bulletin that he was a "hater" who disliked "the other side with intensity". Five years before that, Latham told Craig McGregor in Good Weekend that he "grew up thinking" that Sydney's North Shore "is the enemy" and added: "I still think that."

Sheesh. And people call John Howard a divider. At least Latham is sticking by his troubled Queensland candidate Ivan Milat; I guess that’s because Ivan (shown here ... or maybe here) isn’t from the hated North Shore:

"Milat was once a constituent of mine," he explained. "He's now in Goulburn jail."

Meanwhile, this quote from Molloy/Milat hasn't received much attention:

In December 2002, Dr Molloy blamed Australia and the US for terrorism.

"If the West in general and the US in particular are really serious about stamping out terrorism and state promoters of this activity, we would be turning our guns not only on the Russians, Chinese, Irish, Spanish, French, virtually all our allies and even back on ourselves, but most importantly also on the US itself," he said in a public speech.

I'm glad Latham hasn't disendorsed him. We need more people like Molloy in the ALP.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:07 PM | Comments (14)

ART FAILS TO IMITATE LIFE

James Wolcott: the illustration.

James Wolcott: the reality.

Aaron at Free Will has more on this hugely influential figure.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:55 PM | Comments (5)

LATEST LATHAMISM

"All in all," writes the Wall Street Journal, "this is one Aussie election that the world will be watching."

It sure will, especially now that a convicted serial killer has been named as a Labor candidate:

Opposition Leader Mark Latham is standing by the Labor Party's gun-toting Queensland candidate Dr Ivan Molloy despite new concerns about his past.

Mr Latham continues to defend Dr Malloy, despite confusing claims about the academic's past associations with an Asian guerilla organisation ...

Mr Latham inadvertently referred to Dr Molloy as notorious serial killer Ivan Milat when first addressing reporters, but he laughed off the mistake.

So did the Sydney Morning Herald. When George W. Bush blundered during a speech, the SMH ran it on the front page, provided video, and launched a reader poll. When Latham blunders ... well, just try to find any mention of it. It’s hidden in there somewhere.

Who else from Australia’s criminal elite might Latham next mistakenly enlist to the Labor cause? Mark Brandon "Chopper" Rudd, perhaps?

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:00 AM | Comments (48)

NO NEGOTIATION

David Aaronovitch in The Guardian:

If it is the objective of terrorists to drive people mad, then the Jordanian serial killer who kidnapped Kenneth Bigley and his two US colleagues, is doing a fantastic job on us. The media and large sections of public opinion currently seem to be intent on rewarding him for his extraordinary brutality. He calls, we lean towards him. He makes impossible demands and we indulge in recriminations about whether they can be fulfilled ...

Suppose, for a moment, that we in Britain faced a fascist insurgency, which kidnapped a few Jews and black people. Should we negotiate for their lives by releasing Neo-Nazi bombers and racist murderers? Or would we calculate how many more Jews and black people would, as a result, wind up in cellars with knives to their throats?

No. Negotiations. With. Terrorists.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:23 AM | Comments (18)

FEAT PRECEDENTED

The Sydney Sun-Herald’s Alex Brown needs to consult his Australian football history books:

Pencils sharpened and erasers at the ready, AFL historians prepared for Brisbane's ascension to ethereal realms.

Four consecutive premierships. An unprecedented feat.

Well, apart from the fact that it isn't.

(Via reader Ben H.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:00 AM | Comments (7)

'GREAT DETAIL' ALLEGED

Canada's Antonia Zerbisias is a lone voice supporting Paul McGeough’s strange tale of the murderous rampage embarked upon by Ayad Allawi:

Did he, or did he not, as was reported in great detail by Australia's Sydney Morning Herald in July, pull a pistol and execute "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 reporter Paul McGeough's witnesses, Allawi told onlookers that the hand-cuffed and blindfolded prisoners "had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they 'deserved worse than death.'"

While the Star reprinted the story, almost no U.S. media outlets picked it up.

The story was bogus. Which, to be fair to Antonia, makes it even more surprising that no US media outlets picked it up.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:50 AM | Comments (12)

September 28, 2004

BUSY

Apologies for the lack of recent posts. I’ve been in Melbourne writing a Bulletin piece on the Grand Final, and Melbourne during Grand Final weekend is all-consuming. Did you catch that second-quarter Byron Pickett run? Man! Left-handed bounce-and-grab. Beautiful.

And how nice a guy did Alastair Lynch turn out to be? Having decided before the match that it would be his last, thus erasing any threat of suspension in 2005, Lynch launched a vicious, if unco-ordinated, attack on Port Adelaide defender Darryl Wakelin. Wakelin bravely held his ground and got in a couple of sharp blows; Lynch was the more bloodied of the pair when they eventually separated. It’s probably wrong to judge a 306-game veteran on a single bad match, but Lynch should be made to eat his own weight in sarin-laced dog meat.

Other distractions: after the Grand Final I caught an 8am flight to Sydney for a Sunday election discussion (scroll down) with Paddy McGuinness and Mike Carlton. Reviews were positive:

16 dead on Australian roads this weekend Tim, and you weren't one of them? Not even injured? What a shame. All those innocent lives lost and an asshole like you makes it across 600 kilometres.

There ain't no justice.

Loved your shouting on the tele this morning. typical oafish, right-wing media manners.

Did I shout at Carlton? I don’t think so. Not that Carlton doesn’t deserve to be shouted at, constantly, by a 3,000-strong squadron of expert shouters. Originally, by the way, the panel was meant to include me, Carlton, and Margo Kingston, but Kingston ran for her life as soon as she discovered I was involved. This is the third time Margo has dodged a debate with me.

Oh, who cares. Margo has enough problems without reality adding to them. Program host Jana Wendt was professional, friendly, and -- this you might not expect -- incredibly funny off-camera. Like, hilarious. I predict a long and lucrative television career for this attractive newcomer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:35 AM | Comments (57)

September 27, 2004

OZHAMMER

Many readers have forwarded this excellent Charles Krauthammer column. Krauthammer has an advantage over most US pundits when discussing Australian issues; he's married to an Australian.

I met Krauthammer, briefly, at the Republican convention. Charming fellow, as you'd expect. He was amused to learn that Phillip Adams still has a job.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:51 PM | Comments (27)

GET OUT THE (INTERNATIONAL) VOTE

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland feels left out:

Who could honestly describe the 2004 contest of George Bush and John Kerry as a domestic affair? There's a reason why every newspaper in the world will have the same story on its front page on November 3. This election will be decisive not just for the United States but for the future of the world.

So perhaps it's time to make a modest proposal. If everyone in the world will be affected by this election, shouldn't everyone in the world have a vote?

It ain’t gonna happen. But here’s a way Freedland and his fellow meddlers can still have their say in the USA: each could simply identify and adopt a random individual living in one of the battleground states and target that person with emails, letters, and telephone calls begging them to vote against Bush. I’m sure average Americans will be pleased to receive whiny 3am calls from people called "Jonathan", and will alter their vote accordingly.

UPDATE. Time magazine’s Simon Robinson beat Freedland to this idea.

UPDATE II. Norm Geras mauls the hapless Guardian columnist.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:49 PM | Comments (69)

September 23, 2004

INVADERS CONFRONTED

I celebrated World Car-Free Day by driving 600 kilometres across NSW (by the way, how come there’s no World No Terrorism Day? Just asking.) I’m on my way to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final. Much traffic is headed in the opposite direction.

Blogging will be light while I confront the invasion of my home state by occupying forces.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:03 AM | Comments (134)

CLEAN GLASS FOR ALL!

Scroll down to the end of the list. Note the candidate's occupation. This man must be elected.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:52 AM | Comments (53)

MARY, MARY, QUITE PRO-KERRY

You think Rathergate is going to fade just because Duped Dan issued a semi-apology? Think again:

''60 Minutes'' producer Mary Mapes put its source, Mr. Burkett, in touch with a ranking leader in the John Kerry campaign ... even passed on his telephone number with the notation that he had been ''very helpful'' in the memo story.

Why would any journalist, even a television journalist, do such a thing? The only possible reason would be to favor one political campaign over another. No ethical breach could be more serious. If anyone at CBS is to become unemployed over the faked memos, it should be Ms. Mapes.

"Even a television journalist." Zing! More on this, from Elizabeth Jensen and James Rainey in the LA Times:

The network's missteps were compounded, in the eyes of many media analysts, when it was revealed that Mapes had agreed to a request from Burkett to pass his name along to one of Kerry's top aides, Lockhart.

"There's clearly a conflict of interest when [Mapes] plays both the role of the journalist and the role of an intermediary between a source and somebody in a political campaign," said Bob Steele, a professor of journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

You don’t need to be an ethics expert to see the problem here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:48 AM | Comments (36)

MARGIN OF ERROR MARGINALISED

Terry McCrann identifies a major flaw in opinion poll reporting:

The sheer, breathtaking and fundamental incompetence of the Canberra Press Gallery - and in particular its supposed 'leading lights' - is once again on public display.

Indeed, that incompetence is splashed almost proudly but almost certainly ignorantly across the front pages of their very own newspapers and on the network nightly news.

An equal share of the blame has to be taken by their editors and the media organisations they work for. And the opinion pollsters.

The generous interpretation is that, in the words of a former preacher: "They know not what they do." I suggest, stunningly, most of them really don't.

But that merges with a more basic reality: they don't want to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Even if it's just to footnote it.

There is almost no margin of error in this criticism. Because that's exactly the point -- you are almost never told about the margin of error in opinion polls.

McCrann is right. Unlike in the US, where margin of error is a feature of poll reporting, in Australia this is rarely mentioned. Read the whole thing. (And scope out all of McCrann's Herald Sun copy, now available online.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:37 AM | Comments (21)

ATTENTION, SYDNEY NEWS DESKS

The Reverend Fred Nile just claimed on Network Ten religious program Face to Face that some of his fellow NSW politicians have asked him: "What should I do, Fred? My child’s on heroin."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:21 AM | Comments (50)

September 22, 2004

COME ON DOWN

Remember how US Immigration and Naturalization Service officials approved Mohamed Atta's and Marwan al-Shehhi's student visas six months after September 11? Well, Australian authorities were ahead of the curve:

The mastermind behind September 11 was granted a visa to visit Australia one month before the al-Qaeda strikes on New York and Washington but authorities realised their error only after the attacks.

The tourist visa was granted to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after he made an application using an alias through the Australian high commission in Islamabad in August 2001.

However, at that stage Australian authorities had not entered any of the aliases used by Khalid - al-Qaeda figurehead Osama bin Laden's military commander - on their alert lists.

Hooray for authorities. This is worth pondering, however:

Revelations of Khalid's attempted visit offer the clearest insight yet into al-Qaeda's designs on Australia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:32 AM | Comments (52)

NEWS BRIEFLETS

• Why is the Sydney Morning Herald running Hugh Mackay’s column four days after it first appeared in the Melbourne Age?

• They don’t call him the man of steel for nothing:

The catamaran didn't so much cut through the waves as bounce off them, lurching from nauseating peak to stomach-twisting trough on the ride out to Green Island.

John Howard, no doubt fortified by some cutting-edge, anti-seasickness pill unavailable on the general market, declared himself fine.

But after 50 minutes, the travelling media, there to cover Mr Howard's latest "green" policy were looking a little ... well, green.

• Pat O‘Shane will be hoping for a friendly magistrate.

•The Australian’s Roy Ecclestone chances upon a familiar construction:

John Kerry has ramped up his rhetoric on Iraq only to find that some of his best attacks are being blunted by ... John Kerry.

From this site a day earlier:

A possible explanation for John Kerry’s low support is ... John Kerry.

Which is one reason Bush is leading. Another reason being ... John Kerry.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:30 AM | Comments (34)

STEPMOTHER TERESA

The Boston Herald's Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa reveal the frosty relationship between Teresa Heinz Kerry and her step-daughters:

In fact, we hear the gals refer to Heinz as their "step-money."

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:14 AM | Comments (16)

HELP THE HELPERS

Project Mercury Hope, run by Canadian soldier Russell D. Storring, has collected seven tons of goods to be delivered to Afghan orphans. Problem is, they have nobody to do the delivering.

Perhaps you work with, or know somebody who works with, an international transport or distribution firm. Hit the above links for details; global blogosphere publicity is guaranteed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:55 AM | Comments (7)

TRAINED OBSERVERS

Reuters, the newsagency that won't call terrorists terrorists, is now yanking bylines from rewritten stories:

Having their bylines appear in newspapers is an unexpected bonus for news agency reporters. But now Reuters has asked Canada's largest newspaper chain to remove its writers' names from some articles.

The dispute centers on a policy adopted earlier this year by CanWest Global Communications - the publisher of 13 daily newspapers including The National Post in Toronto and The Calgary Herald, which both use Reuters dispatches - to substitute the word "terrorist" in articles for terms like "insurgents" and "rebels."

The insurgent rebel organisation known as the New York Post has been inserting "terrorist" in Reuters copy for some time. Sleepy Reuters bosses don’t seem to have noticed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:47 AM | Comments (2)

MOORE SECURES THE SWING STATES

As if the Kerry campaign didn’t have enough problems:

Documentarian and liberal rabble-rouser Michael Moore kicked off a 62-speech, pre-election tour Monday. His tour, which he calls the Slacker Uprising Tour, will go to college campuses and arenas and will concentrate on 20 swing states.

And it will drive even more voters away from Kerry. Moore looked so damn happy during the Republican convention that I can only conclude he’s an undercover Bush operative employed to undermine the Left from within. He sure acts like a Republican; consider the amount CalState "slackers" have ponied up to hear Moore speak:

They've raised $46,000 to cover Moore's appearance fee and the rental of an undisclosed hall.

UPDATE. Already distracted by the the Swift Veterans for Truth, Kerry now faces another fact-checking menace:

John Kerry has called the frozen tundra in Green Bay "Lambert Field," hailed the dreaded Buckeyes while standing in a state of Wolverines and praised the slugging of a Sox star named "Manny Ortiz."

Now Kerry's sportsmen gaffes will live in infamy - thanks to the Web.

Launched last week, Football Fans for Truth was the brainchild of two Bush backers.

In addition to the Lambeau Field, Ohio State vs. Michigan and Manny Ramirez (or David Ortiz) gaffes, the Web site highlights Kerry saying Eddie Yost is his favorite Red Sox player - though Yost never played for the Sox.

It also chides Kerry for hunting doves, for blaming Secret Service agents for a skiing fall and for "throwing like a girl."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:19 AM | Comments (20)

DANGATE LATEST

Who to believe? The White House says the Kerry campaign’s crack 3,624-strong advisory team may be responsible for Dangate:

Anchor Dan Rather admitted he was duped on documents used to assail President Bush's military service - shattering CBS' credibility and sparking White House charges John Kerry's campaign may be behind the hoax.

But Duncan Black -- it’s so cute how he keeps calling himself Atrios -- believes Dark Lord Rove is a more likely candidate:

I'm not yet ready to accuse Rove of a masterful 5 cushion bank shot, but if I were, say, writing a political thriller about one President Smush who had an advisor name Snarl Stove who had a history of doing exactly that kind of thing, I would pat myself on the head for thinking of such a brilliant plot device.

Slam Duncan is no stranger to patting himself on the head. Or elsewhere. Antonia Zerbisias is just bitter that Dan Rather has undermined the honest efforts of principled leftists like Antonia Zerbisias:

Way to go, CBS.

Thanks to your rush to kick off a new season of 60 Minutes II on Sept. 8 with big ratings, your bungling of what the pro-war blogosphere has dubbed "Memogate," your hesitation to admit the error of your ways and your blinkered eye on the bottom line, you carpet-bombed the U.S. presidential race with bluster and blather about proportional spacing, nuking what little remains of serious political discourse in the U.S. and making the Kerry-Edwards campaign collateral damage.

Zerbisias is a fascinating writer. Here’s an additional sample paragraph:

How much did you heard about that in this 'liberal media' fuss over IBM Selectrics?

I don'ts no! Why I knot heer bout this? Angry Antonia ends: "So thanks CBS. Thanks for being 'liberal' and all your good investigative work. Now please don't do us any more favours." Which is what CBS might be thinking about Bill Burkett, their trusted Dangate memo source. USA Today has lately conducted a series of interviews with the man who supplied CBS (and USA Today) with those forgeries. Does he seem trustworthy? You be the judge:

Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez.

Burkett's own doubts about the authenticity of the memos and his inability to supply evidence to show that Ramirez exists also raise questions about his credibility.

Burkett's emotions varied widely in the interviews. One session ended when Burkett suffered a violent seizure and collapsed in his chair.

As Burkett told his story, he appeared overwrought, fatigued and unsure of how to deal with what he characterized as the extreme pressure of national attention. He spoke of being under a severe strain.

At one point Thursday, as he spoke on a cellphone to his San Antonio lawyer, David Van Os, Burkett's voice froze in midsentence and his body convulsed in a violent seizure. He was helped to the floor and then to a couch. He has had such bouts sporadically over the past several months, but this one was worse, his wife said.

The next day, Burkett resumed the interview. He lay on the couch with a wet cloth on his forehead.

Dan Rather feels his pain.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:01 AM | Comments (30)

September 21, 2004

FLY ON, SUPERBIRD

Plastic turkey sightings have been scarce recently. Left-wing opinion columns -- the rare bird’s native habitat -- no longer contain the nutritious anti-Bush triumphalism needed to maintain turkey viability. But just as I was about to call the World Wildlife Fund (polymer division) to demand an endangered-species listing, Michael Moore has launched a turkey revival program:

Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in the "service" he might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize an immoral war that cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was that plasticized turkey last Thanksgiving.

Kudos to Moore for ignoring the New York Times’ premature extinction announcement. And good luck with Moore’s other project -- keeping the myth of Devastating Dan alive:

Later today (Wed.), the Boston Globe, the A.P. and Dan Rather all present new and damning information about how George W. Bush got moved to the front of the line to get in the Texas Air National Guard, and how he then went AWOL. I am putting every ounce of trust I have in my fellow Americans that a majority of them get this, get the injustice of it all, and get the sad, sick twisted irony of how it relates very, very much to our precious Election 2004.

That’s still the current entry (one of only three) at Moore’s blog. He updates it every time his body mass index drops below 100.

(Via reader dc)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:58 PM | Comments (18)

NEWS BRIEFLETS

• AP reports: "Staking out new ground on Iraq, Sen. John Kerry said Monday he would not have overthrown Saddam Hussein had he been in the White House ..." (Via LGF)

• The creator of one of the world's most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, has launched another weapon in Britain -- Kalashnikov vodka.

• More from Kerry, this time on conditions in Iraq: "Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees." Humvees have hubcaps? (Via Spartacus)

• Spectator editor Boris Johnson is blogging. Go tell him he’s an idiot for hiring Andrew Gilligan.

• A cashed-up and confident Sam Ward challenges Laborites: "Any of you lefties who really, honestly believe that Labor will win are welcome to put your bills up against mine - at even money. I’ll take bets up to and including $1000 AUD. So - any takers?"

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 PM | Comments (15)

KILLING FOR THE SAKE OF GOD

The non-human who murdered Eugene Armstrong helpfully points out the differences between us and them:

"Now, you have people who love death just like you love life. Killing for the sake of God is their best wish, getting to your soldiers and allies are their happiest moments, and cutting the heads of the criminal infidels is implementing the orders of our Lord."

They love death. We love life.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:01 PM | Comments (26)

SETTING DIANA STRAIGHT

Former Australian diplomat Amanda Sokolski smites John Kerry’s sister:

To support her claim that Australians are in greater danger, Ms. Kerry refers to the Bali nightclub bombings two years ago, which killed 88 young Australians, and the September 9, 2004, attack by Jemiah Islamiah (JI) on the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Such loose play with facts is in keeping with the Kerry campaign's lack of seriousness on issues of Iraq and terrorism. The Bali bombings took place in October 2002 well before the Iraq war and Australia's involvement in it. It is also well recognized that JI had been targeting Australian interests in the Southeast Asia region since long before Australia's involvement in Iraq. Take for example the foiled plot by JI terrorists to bomb the Australian embassy in Singapore in January 2002.

Australia is a target for terrorists because of the ideals and beliefs that Australia shares with the United States and other Western countries. Would Ms. Kerry have Australians give those up to remain safe?

Another former Australian diplomat probably thinks that’s a very good idea.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:13 PM | Comments (24)

SHOVE IT

When George W. Bush misspeaks, it’s because he’s an idiot. But when Teresa Heinz Kerry says something stupid ...

Despite her linguistic prowess and her worldliness, Heinz Kerry has, at times, a deaf ear for the nuances of slang, code, condescension, and vulgarity in English—for the emotion of the language. “There are these bizarre moments that make you shudder,” the Kerry adviser said. “Like calling herself African-American to black audiences.” She dismissed voters skeptical of her husband’s health-care proposals as “idiots,” and, in a television interview with a Pittsburgh anchorwoman, employed the word “scumbags” to describe some of her detractors.

Thank you, New Yorker, for investigating the Teresa Paradox.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:51 PM | Comments (22)

'AUTHENTICITY NOT PROVED'

60 Minutes -- so named for the length of time it takes somebody to disprove its stories -- got it wrong. CBS now apologises, in a mealy, hopeless kind of way:

CBS News said Monday it cannot prove the authenticity of documents used in a 60 Minutes story about President Bush's National Guard service and that airing the story was a "mistake" that CBS regretted.

A "mistake"? Glad to learn CBS "regretted" it.

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, the reporter of the original story, apologized.

That sentence lacks the conclusion: "and resigned". Might be an early draft.

CBS claimed a source had misled the network on the documents' origins.

The network never researched the documents’ origins.

In a statement, CBS said former Texas Guard official Bill Burkett "has acknowledged that he provided the now-disputed documents" and "admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents' origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source."

He promised the kids at Kinko’s he wouldn’t tell?

The network did not say the memoranda — purportedly written by one of Mr. Bush's National Guard commanders — were forgeries.

The network is now more than a week behind the curve.

But the network did say it could not authenticate the documents and that it should not have reported them.

Because the documents are ... (nine letters, beginning with 'f')?

"Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report," said the statement by CBS News President Andrew Heyward. "We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret.

If the documents aren’t authentic, what are they?

"Nothing is more important to us than our credibility and keeping faith with the millions of people who count on us for fair, accurate, reliable, and independent reporting," Heyward continued. "We will continue to work tirelessly to be worthy of that trust."

Heyward mistakenly speaks in the present tense.

Additional reporting on the documents will air on Monday's CBS Evening News, including the interview of Burkett by Rather. CBS News pledged "an independent review of the process by which the report was prepared and broadcast to help determine what actions need to be taken."

Buy some pyjamas!

In a separate statement, Rather said that "after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically."

The guy requires extensive additional interviews to confirm what most people see right in front of them. "Hey, Dan, has the pizza arrived?" "I'll tell you in a few days, honey, after I've finished conducting extensive additional inteviews."

"I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers," he said.

Not the issue, old man. How many bogus sources must approach 60 Minutes each year? How come this one made it to air?

"We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry," Rather added.

Your mistake wasn’t one of judgment. It was one of research. Of journalism.

In the statement, CBS said: "Burkett originally said he obtained the documents from another former Guardsman. Now he says he got them from a different source whose connection to the documents and identity CBS News has been unable to verify to this point."

These people have got more sources than Teresa Heinz Kerry. For the last time: no matter who the source might be, these documents are forgeries!

Questions about the president's National Guard service have lingered for years. Some critics question how Mr. Bush got into the Guard when there were waiting lists of young men hoping to join it to escape the draft and possible service in Vietnam.

If only some memos existed that could flesh that story out.

In the Sept. 8 60 Minutes report, former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes — a Democrat — claimed that, at the behest of a friend of the Bush family, he pulled strings to get young George W. Bush into the Guard.

Yay for Ben. Who’s pulling strings to keep Dan Rather on the CBS payroll?

Other questions concern why Mr. Bush missed a physical in 1972, and why there are scant records of any service by Mr. Bush during the latter part of 1972, a period during which he transferred to an Alabama guard unit so he could work on a campaign there.

Voters care.

The CBS documents suggested that Mr. Bush had disobeyed a direct order to attend the physical, and that there were other lapses in his performance. One memo also indicated that powerful allies of the Bush family were pressuring the guard to "sugar coat" any investigation of Lt. Bush's service.

These "memos" you speak of ... their current status is what, exactly?

Skeptics immediately seized on the typing in the memos, which included a superscripted "th" not found on all 1970s-era typewriters. As the controversy raged, CBS broadcast interviews with experts who said that some typewriters from that period could have produced the markings in question.

As the controversy raged, CBS defined as "experts" former typewriter repairmen who declared themselves to be "not experts".

The Bush campaign has alleged that their Democratic rivals were somehow involved in the story. John Kerry's campaign denies it.

No mention of the fact that the Democrat campaign alleged that Karl Rove was behind it.

Meanwhile ...

Oh, please ... not a "meanwhile". Don’t disgrace yourselves with a "meanwhile" ...

... a federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to find and make public by next week any unreleased files about Mr. Bush's Vietnam-era Air National Guard service to resolve a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Associated Press.

And all those files will be in pristine Microsoft Word.

UPDATE. Dan Rather has always been strange.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:42 AM | Comments (74)

AT LEAST HE'S VICTORIAN

Congratulations to West Coast Eagle Chris Judd for winning Australian football’s greatest ... er ... best ... um ... finest ... well, I mean ... most hottest award.

Yes. Congratulations.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:33 AM | Comments (13)

DISSIDENT DIPLOMADS DEFY DIANA

Diana Kerry may think little of us, but a group of US Foreign Service officers hails everything Australian:

Let us all get down on our knees and thank the Lord for the Aussies. Take an Aussie to lunch; buy a bottle of Australian wine; get some Aussie beer; send a fan letter to Nicole Kidman; visit the Aussie bloggers and drop them a note of appreciation; thank Australia for sending us Rupert Murdoch to save the American media. Compare the Aussies to the Canadians and you'll soon see there is no comparison. Australia is a vibrant, proud, confident country. And we Diplomads are proud to call them our friends.

Those Diplomads won’t be buying a single drink if they ever get to Australia. Thanks, friends.

(Via the no-longer-blogging Steven Den Beste. Return soon, SDB.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:49 AM | Comments (37)

NEUTRALITY COMPROMISED

Oh no! The neutrality of Australia's defence forces is being compromised! I hate when that happens.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:03 AM | Comments (6)

W STANDS FOR WISCONSIN

The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg wigs out in Democrat-friendly Wisconsin:

After weeks of intense campaigning, a CNN/USA Today poll last week showed Mr Kerry falling behind George Bush in Wisconsin by eight percentage points.

That seems unthinkable at first in a state which has a strong independent streak and a history of political activism.

Why? Why does this happen? It’s not as if George W. Bush's death-dealing RoveSquads -- invisible to police research due to Halliburton-altered DNA; implanted with devices enabling them to decode the President’s speeches; chanting "fair and balanced!" -- have successfully liquidated dissent:

"In Wisconsin, there is an anti-war base larger and more organised than any other state," said John Nichols, editorial page editor at the Capital Times in Madison. "I don't think there is a town in the state where you have to hide the fact that you were against the war."

A possible explanation for John Kerry’s low support is ... John Kerry:

"Unless John Kerry opens a serious dialogue about the war - and how he is going to end it - he is going to have a problem capitalising on the vote in Wisconsin from people who are sceptical of the war, and anti-war," Mr Nichols said.

Frustration with Mr Kerry's incoherence on the issue is now openly acknowledged among his colleagues in the Senate, who say it is time for him to take a stand. In effect, they are longing for Mr Kerry to return to the persona he inhabited during the Vietnam war when, as a returning navy lieutenant, he delivered a speech against America's military misadventure.

If only Kerry could re-write the intro to his convention speech: "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting ... the serial atrocities committed by myself and other American servicemen during the war in Vietnam! Where, by the way, I won several medals."

The votes are there for the Democrats; [Democrat activist] Mr Ziesler is convinced of it. "If he could at least come out and say, 'I am going to stop the war,' that would be a resounding message for the people," he said. "We still need a single message."

Which is one reason Bush is leading. Another reason being ... John Kerry:

This week, Kerry will also take steps to address what advisers call "the likability factor" -- trying to raise voters' comfort level with Kerry on a personal level.

In related news, advisors to the Oily Kyoto Water Scorpion That Shoots Puke From Its Eyes are taking similar steps. Good luck, advisors.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:00 AM | Comments (22)

FIVE COUGARS, THANKS

Shelly Horton, a friend of this site, appeared on the ABC’s Glasshouse program last week wearing a dress that, if Shelly wasn’t already a friend of this site, would make her a sordid focus of leering, degenerate perversion of this site.

Viewers liked it too:

"i loved Shelly's dress and would like to know where to get one. was really nice and had good effect on the men"

"Shelly Horton, what a babe !!! Where has she been hiding?"

"WOW! How good did Shelly Horton look on last night's show? SHWING!!"

"is there any reason Dave spent most of the episode staring at Shelly's tits?"

"Just wanted to say that I think the guest Shelly Horton on this evening's show is really gorgeous!"

"I want to know where Shelley Horton got that killer dress"

I happen to know from whom Shelly borrowed that dress, and I would like to remind the owner of that dress that she is forbidden to wear that dress in public. Now put your burqa back on and make me some tabouli!

(By the way, if you scroll far enough through the viewer comments, you’ll find this: "You guys should replace that boffin from the media watch program.")

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:14 AM | Comments (19)

September 20, 2004

BARGSHOON BOMBSHELL

A former Labor member now running as an independent against Mark Latham claims that Latham asked him to stack two Sydney ALP branches:

Sam Bargshoon was a member of the ALP for 18 years and has admitted to extensive branch stacking during that time.

"Mark Latham asked me to wait until everyone had left the meeting of the Austral branch," Mr Bargshoon said.

"He wanted me to help him find some new members to put in Austral branch and his electoral branch."

Bargshoon says he found 49 new members whose memberships were paid by the ALP's head office; Latham says "nobody joined that branch in 2003, so the whole proposition is just a fantasy." Should be easy enough to discover who’s telling the truth; open the relevant membership accounts.

UPDATE. Via AAP:

Austral branch secretary Tony Beuk today refused to confirm or deny Mr Bargshoon's allegations.

"Whatever comments I made to the inquiry, I made to the inquiry, so I mean, that question wasn't asked of me so I've got no particular comment in relation to that," Mr Beuk said.

"I can't confirm any version of events.

"I'm not prepared to make any comment in relation to those particular allegations."

Interesting. And here’s more from branchy Bargshoon:

"He wanted me to help him find some new members to put into Austral branch because [left-winger] Paul Lynch put in 20 members," Mr Bargshoon told the inquiry.

"Mark hated Paul Lynch and Paul hated Mark ..."

UPDATE II. It’s a double bombshell day:

The federal Labor Party says it is extremely concerned about allegations that a sitting Independent MP had been offered a diplomatic posting if he agreed not to stand again.

Tony Windsor, the Independent Member for New England in northern New South Wales, says people connected with the Liberal and National parties have been involved in making the offers.

Labor's Nicola Roxon says it is a serious criminal offence to offer inducements to someone to persuade them not to run for Parliament.
Ms Roxon says the maximum punishment for the offence is two years jail or a $5,000 fine.

"Clearly this is an outrageous attack on our democracy, something that we don't expect the government to be involved in, in any way," she said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:35 PM | Comments (26)

CBS FACES FACTS

It’s almost D-Day for Dan, according to Drudge:

After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a 60 MINUTES report that raised new questions about President Bush's National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material, network officials said last night, the NEW YORK TIMES is reporting in Monday runs. Developing...

How much of the blame will Rather and CBS accept, and how much will be pinned on the Burkett fellow? An interview with the Kinko konnection is forthcoming:

CBS News anchor Dan Rather has interviewed the retired lieutenant colonel widely believed to have helped provide "60 Minutes" with the disputed National Guard documents about President Bush that have created a credibility crisis for the network, and CBS plans to air the interview in the coming days.

The on-camera sit-down with Bill Burkett, who has urged Democratic activists to wage "war" against Republican "dirty tricks," could help resolve whether CBS continues to stand by its story or concedes the purported 30-year-old memos are forgeries, as numerous document experts have contended.

UPDATE. The New York Times:

[CBS] officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins.

Mr. Rather interviewed Mr. Burkett on camera this weekend, and several people close to the reporting process said his answers to Mr. Rather's questions led officials to conclude that their initial confidence that the memos had come from Mr. Killian's own files was not warranted. These people indicated that Mr. Burkett had previously led the producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, to have the utmost confidence in the material.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:24 PM | Comments (13)

THE LAUGHING ASSASSIN

Ha! Ayad Allawi is making fun of Sydney Morning Herald rumour-monger Paul McGeough. The New York Times reports:

Ayad Allawi will have his right wrist in a cast when he arrives in the United States this week for his first visit as Iraq's interim prime minister, and it will provide the 59-year-old neurosurgeon with a powerful talking point. Asked about the wrist in an interview here as he prepared to leave for London, New York and Washington, Dr. Allawi joshed: "I've been shooting people, didn't you know?"

This should please McGeough, who was earlier miffed that his Ayad the Slayer story didn’t get any attention. Not even from CBS! More from the NYT’s Allawi piece:

Shortly after he took office in June, stories circulated of Dr. Allawi visiting a detention center in the Baghdad suburb and shooting several detained insurgents dead. The story quickly faded, with American officials saying they had no information to confirm it, and Dr. Allawi dismissing it as a "ridiculous" fiction. But a curious thing happened: many Iraqis who heard the story told friends they would not be unhappy if it were true, because it would show that Iraq finally had a strongman at its helm again, one who might restore order.

Hmm. Sounds like the Iraqis are down with this whole "fake but true" concept.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:16 PM | Comments (6)

LATHAM DETONATION WATCH

"The tropical heat of the Top End has brought back the real Mark Latham," writes Sue Dunlevy:

Channel 9 correspondent Laurie Oakes was attacked for making "smart alec commentary" as the Opposition Leader went troppo.

Mr Latham was still trying to sustain the bizarre argument the families would be better off on a weekly basis and only worse off annually.

"If journalists don't get it, well bad luck, the Australian people do and Labor is going to solve the problem for them," he told Channel 9's Sunday.

Oh, thank you Uncle Mark! You can tell when Latham is trying to control his temper; he begins uptalking like an indignant teenager. Inflections were rising all over the place when this happened:

Mark Latham yesterday demanded his three-year-old son Oliver be left out of the campaign and turned on journalists covering his election bid.

The extraordinary outburst followed one question about whether the Labor leader might send his children to a private school.

"I'm a supporter of the public education system. The truth of this matter is that we've put Oliver's name down for a couple of pre-schools next year.

"And we've picked one [private pre-school] out that we hope he will go to, if we're still in Sydney."

Note to Mark: if the question is about what school you’re sending your kid to, it’s a question about schools. You might have a legitimate cause for grievance if the question was about your kid having no friends or if he’d learned to walk yet or if other pre-schoolers called him "Ollie Ollie Oxen Face".

What was I saying about schools a couple of weeks ago? Oh, here it is: "Raise the cost of private education and some of Mark Latham’s beloved aspirational class won’t be able to afford it. The gap between rich and poor will increase!" Scarily, Robert Manne agrees:

The reduction of public funds from private schools is not only dubious politics; it is a policy mistake. Parents most affected by this will be those struggling to pay their private school fees. As a result such schools will become even more exclusive than is the case.

Manne is on-side with the single-parent families, too:

When Labor's family and tax policy was released, it immediately became clear that low-to-middle, dual-income-earning families would benefit quite handsomely from the package. It also became clear that once the Coalition's recent offer of $600 a year a child was taken into account, many single-income families would suffer financial loss, especially if the income of the sole breadwinner was low and the family had a number of children to support.

The single income family is, in general, the type where severe economic difficulties are now found. Nevertheless Labor was now going to the election promising many single income families that if it were elected they would be noticeably less well off.

Meanwhile, at the serious end of politics:

Prime Minister John Howard is today expected to launch a $98.7 million assault on terrorism with plans for specialist counter-terrorism flying squads to be dispatched in the region to help Australia's neighbours guard against terror attacks.

News of the planned announcement last night came after Mr Howard flexed his muscles on national security yesterday by restating his readiness to launch a pre-emptive strike if a terrorist threat emerged against Australia.

Mr Howard reaffirmed his position after Opposition Leader Mark Latham ruled out taking similar military action, suggesting it was best to use diplomatic channels.

UPDATE. An article from last week’s Herald Sun (no link available) by Dr Kevin Donnelly, a staffer with Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews:

The first thing to be said about the ALP’s schools policy is that it represents a grubby and cynical political exercise that destroys any promise about trust and openness in government.

How else do you explain why voter-sensitive Jewish schools in marginal ALP seats like Melbourne Ports are excluded from funding cuts?

The Australian Education Union (AEU) last week launched a $1.5 million campaign across 28 marginal seats in an attempt to unseat the Howard Government. The very next week, surprise, surprise, Mark Latham announces an additional $1.9 billion for AEU-dominated government schools.

Forget that the AEU’s curriculum policy - one which refuses to hold teachers or schools publicly accountable, that is anti-family and that promotes the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people and that applauds PC fads like black armband history – is one reason why parents are deserting government schools.

Of course, Mark Latham is smart enough to know, given that 32% of students attend non-government schools (in Victoria the figure grows to 41% at years 11 and 12), that it would be political suicide to stop funding non-government schools altogether.

The answer, engage in the politics of envy and establish a hit list of 67 so-called wealthy, elite schools and freeze the funding at a further 111.

Ignored is that the current SES formula used to fund non-government schools is already needs based. The average student government recurrent funding (2001-2002) is just under $9,000, students at Scotch College only receive $1,713 in government funding and students at The Kings School in Sydney receive $1,905.

By cutting funding and forcing schools to increase fees, all the ALP will achieve is to financially penalise those parents who wish to choose what is best for their children. Worse still, every student that is forced back into the government system represents an additional burden on government spending.

The fact is that that 47.9% of independent school families earn less than $78,000 a year and, according to figures released by the Productivity Commission, such parents save Australian governments $4.2 billion a year. Such parents not only pay for their children’s education, their taxes also fund government schools.

Take our family as an example. Julia and I both went to government schools and ended up teaching in them as well. Such was our experience of the state system that we sent James to Camberwell Grammar and Amelia to Ryton – both independent schools are on the ALP’s hit list.

The only way we paid schools fees was by Julia taking on part time work and by increasing the mortgage. Of course, we did not expect governments to cover the cost. At the same time we certainly felt, as parents, that we had the right to choose and that some of our taxes should support our children’s education.

Not only is the ALP schools policy guilty of the tall poppy syndrome - let’s attack those schools that achieve the best academic results and that promote values that parents want - but the policy also gives greater control to state and federal left-leaning bureaucracies and teacher unions.

The ALP policy released this week calls for a nationally consistent curriculum, including teaching Australian values and common approaches to reporting and literacy and numeracy. Those parents who remember Joan Kirner’s VCE and Paul Keating’s national curriculum will understand that dangers in such an approach.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:57 PM | Comments (14)

NEWS BRIEFLETS

• "He advanced on her, his tousled hair looking great."

• Daily Kos is unhappy about being listed as a satire site by Google: "Someone should look into this. It might send a wrong message to newcomers."

• The Australian’s Patrick Smith demands that Victorians go to the Grand Final, whether they want to or not:

If Victorians do not pack the MCG then they are as small-minded and insular as the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun believes them to be. And Melbourne could hardly continue to brag that it is the sporting capital of the world. That would just be drivel.

Sydney is the gay capital of Australia. I order Smith to hang out at an Oxford Street leather bar for the rest of the month.

• George W. Bush is getting hammered in this international poll, which asks: "What if the whole world could vote in the U.S. presidential election?" It’s not exactly reliable (maybe to CBS!) but check the results for Afghanistan and Iraq relative to France, the UK, and Germany ...

• So Bernie Slattery reckons I know nothing about politics, eh? Well, check out this horrible poll, then! (Of course, Bernie is probably right. I hope so, anyway.)

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

KERRY TO AUSTRALIA: SHUN US

Remember when Greens senator Bob Brown demanded that George W. Bush stop interfering in Australian politics? Let’s see what Bob has to say about this:

John Kerry's campaign has warned Australians that the Howard Government's support for the US in Iraq has made them a bigger target for international terrorists.

Diana Kerry, younger sister of the Democrat presidential candidate, told The Weekend Australian that the Bali bombing and the recent attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta clearly showed the danger to Australians had increased.

"Australia has kept faith with the US and we are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels," she said, referring to the invasion of Iraq.

By the way, the Bali bombing took place before the invasion of Iraq. Intriguing message Kerry is sending; is this her way of (as John Kerry promised in his convention speech) restoring "America's respect and leadership -- so we don't have to go it alone in the world”? As Brown might say, were he capable of consistency: "Pull your head in, hideous replicant sister!"

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:15 AM | Comments (34)

September 19, 2004

JUICED-UP 'NAM VET THREATENS VIOLENCE

Run, everybody! Run for your lives! John Kerry is in a fighting mood:

"Let me tell you something, these folks have got me in fighting mood," Kerry said of rival President Bush's campaign. "When I get in a fighting mood towards the end of September and towards the beginning of October, I think you know what happens here in Massachusetts."

Yes; the Red Sox lose. Brawlin' John seems to have inspired his fellow Democrats:

Politics in Gainesville turned rough and tumble Thursday night when, police say, a social behavior sciences instructor - a Democrat - punched the chairman of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee in the face.

David Philip McCally, 55, of Gainesville faces misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief charges after he was accused of hitting both committee chairman Travis Horn, 32, and a life-sized, cardboard cutout of President George Bush.

Via reader Scott S. Here’s more tough talk from juicy John:

"I feel those October juices flowing," Kerry said. "And I've been at this for a while and when those juices get flowing, I feel good. Let me tell you, we feel it happening."

We are left to wonder, along with Don Imus ... what the hell is Kerry talking about?

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:04 PM | Comments (32)

"I'VE NEVER BEEN MORE CONFIDENT IN MY LIFE"

Massive Washington Post piece on Rathergate. It includes a major concession from CBS producer Josh Howard, who says the network stopped fact-checking the documents when they weren’t immediately challenged by the White House:

"Obviously, looking back on it, that was a mistake. We stopped questioning ourselves. I suppose you could say we let our guard down."

Yes, you could say that. (White House communications director Dan Bartlett’s explanation for his no-challenge: "How am I supposed to verify something that came from a dead man in three hours?") It turns out Rather has actually met the source:

In mid-August, [CBS producer Mary] Mapes told her bosses that she had finally tracked down a source who claimed to have access to memos written in 1972 and 1973 by the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Bush's squadron commander in the Texas Air National Guard. The memos, she was told, revealed how the young pilot from a famous family had received favorable treatment, even after refusing an order to report for a physical. Rather and his producer met the source at an out-of-the-way location.

An out-of-the-way location near Abilene, perhaps? Maybe we should feel sorry for 60 Minutes, running on a tiny budget and all:

"The show is not so lavishly budgeted that we have tons of people doing this," said Harry Moses, a "60 Minutes" producer not connected to the story. "You do the pre-interviews yourself and then bring in the correspondent."

At which point the budget suddenly increases:

The next stop was Texas. Rather was in Florida, so CBS chartered a plane to get him to Austin.

Priorities, people. CBS News President Andrew Heyward says "all of us asked questions" during a pre-broadcast meeting:

"We asked core questions -- about reliability, authenticity, motivation, could the source have had access to the documents."

Too bad nobody thought to type up the memos in Microsoft Word. Too bad Dan Rather -- who must have reams of ‘70s-era memos lying around in his files -- didn’t recognise elemental differences (superscript, no hyphens, etc) between modern and 30-year-old documents.

After the show, one colleague asked an elated Rather whether he was sure the documents were real. "I have never been more confident of a story in my life," he said.

That line is going to get some play in the next week or so. Marshall, earlier admitting "we let our guard down", later retreats into Ratheresque denial:

Rather said that if the memos were indeed faked, "I'd like to break that story." But whatever the verdict on the memos, he said, critics "can't deny the story."

As the days begin to blur for Josh Howard, he embraces the same logic: "So much of this debate has focused on the documents, and no one has really challenged the story. It's been frustrating to us to see all this reduced to a debate over little 'th's."

A debate CBS has lost, by the way. And the reason critics "can't deny the story"? There isn't a story to deny.

UPDATE. Impressive document-hunting work from Allah and Daily Recycler. What did CBS know, and when did they not want us to know it?

UPDATE II. Mark Steyn:

You'd think CBS would be mad as hell to find whoever it was who stitched them up and made them look idiots.

They could start with Rather.

UPDATE III. It’s all Bush’s fault:

"If we had gotten back from the White House any kind of red flag, raised eyebrow, anything that said, 'Are you sure about this stuff?' we would have gone back to square one," Josh Howard, the program's executive producer, said Friday.

But the White House lies! John Kerry says so!

UPDATE IV. Blaming the White House doesn’t cut any ice with the Independent’s Rupert Cornwell:

If CBS, however, has been duped, the network appears the author of its own misfortune, having ignored warnings even from its own forensic specialists that the memos might be dodgy.

UPDATE V. Dan Rather, a few weeks before the memo broadcast:

In the end, what difference does it make what one candidate or the other did or didn't do during the Vietnam War? In some ways, that war is as distant as the Napoleonic campaigns.

UPDATE VI. Bill 'Kinko' Burkett, probable source of the memos, can count on Dan:

Burkett told a visitor that after the story ran, Rather phoned him and expressed his and the network's "full support."

And it turns out Michael Moore did end up influencing this election, albeit indirectly:

A biographical sketch appended to another anti- Bush essay Burkett posted on an Internet site in late August describes him as "one of the sources" for Michael Moore's anti-Bush film "Fahrenheit 9/11."

UPDATE VII. Stop calling him Burkett!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:54 PM | Comments (37)

LATHAM, AGAINST THE ODDS

Chatting with David Marr before a Radio National forum Friday night, he’s surprised that lately I’m thinking Mark Latham will win. I’m just as surprised he believes Howard is a certainty. Onlookers are surprised we’re talking instead of smashing chairs over each other’s heads.

Anyway, I’m not exactly sure why I think Latham will win. The polls certainly don’t support me:

And even Hugh Mackay -- returned to The Age for the duration of the campaign, may it please end quickly -- believes Howard will be re-elected:

At the mid-point of this election campaign, it's hard to see how the result will be close. No doubt there will be some surprises in closely contested marginal seats but the overall mood of the electorate, tracked by my own qualitative research throughout the year, strongly favours maintenance of the status quo.

Lord knows, it’s not as though I want Latham to win; and, in fact, the Labor leader seems to be doing his best to sabotage his own campaign:

The Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, today promised to serve as prime minister until the war on terrorism was won.

Speaking at the Labor Party's West Australian campaign launch, Mr Latham said he was the only prime ministerial candidate to undertake to see out the war on terrorism to its end.

"If you elect me as prime minister, I will see the fight against terror through to the end, securing the safety of the Australian people."

A few more of these Superman outbursts and I might have to re-think. One reason for a Latham win: the economy has been so good for so long that any relationship between it and the Howard government is dulled. Howard seemed to be making a huge reach during the debate when he mentioned the economy his government inherited waaaaaay back in 1996; first-time voters in this election were then only ten years old, and -- like many of their elders -- have come to think that a zippy economy is as elemental a fact of Australian life as a Brisbane Lions appearance in the Grand Final. If Howard loses, it might not be due to the Not Happy John! factor, but the opposite: happy Australians up for a gamble on Latham. Fear of terrorism? Australians have demonstrated an admirable resistance to fear. Terror may not be as much of an election issue as many suppose.

I do have a poor hunch history; for example, I was convinced until one week before the 1996 election that Keating would win. Maybe I’m just pessimistic. Or optimistic, considering the wealth of conserva-pundit items that a Latham government would deliver. Brian Toohey was also at the Radio National thing. We spoke for an hour or so afterwards; I won’t give exact details of what he said, because I think he was musing out loud on future column ideas, but he predicted some especially entertaining Latham-in-government possibilities.

More on the forum later. The ABC will broadcast edited highlights this Wednesday.

UPDATE. I sure can pick ‘em. A few hours after I posted this, Latham turned into a thrashing microphone-knocker during an interview with Laurie Oakes. The trouble began with this question: “You say they're better off on a weekly basis, but acknowledge they're worse off on an annual basis. Do you understand how silly that makes you sound?

LAURIE OAKES: Mr Latham, I think you've knocked your microphone off there, would you be able to sort of stick it back on the coat, if that's all right?

MARK LATHAM: I was getting stuck into the debate about the benefits of our tax and families, so the mic's gone flying, but I'll whack it back on the tie. There we go.

LAURIE OAKES: That's the trouble with passionate political debate, has those effects.

MARK LATHAM: Well, it's...

LAURIE OAKES: Could I ...

MARK LATHAM: ... it's the problem with clips that fall off, too. So how's that?

LAURIE OAKES: That's pretty good.

MARK LATHAM: Okay.

LAURIE OAKES: You should be a technician in television.

Not great under pressure, is he? Laborite Chris Sheil will be alarmed:

Above all, I think Latho has to stay cool, reasonable, civilised ... When you have truth and reason on your side, as I feel sure the ALP has in this case, civilised and reasonable debate must always be the way to go.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:46 AM | Comments (35)

"EMINENT" "WRITERS" SPEAK

Attention Sydney readers! If you’re bored or mentally ill today, why not visit the Bennelong Writers Festival?

Come, hear what these eminent writers have to say that might impact on the outcome of the next election. They speak to you from within the heart of Bennelong, the electorate of Prime Minister John Howard. This will be a stimulating and at times controversial day, with a chance to meet the authors over a coffee during book sales and signings. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Session One 10.15am - 11.15am: Tony Kevin discusses his book, A Certain Maritime Incident: the sinking of the SIEV X, with journalist and author Margo Kingston. Question time followed by booksigning.

Followed by medication hour. Things get super-diverse in Session Three, where opinions ranging from I Hate John Howard to John Howard: Hate Him! will be explored:

Session Three: 2pm - 3.30pm Chaired by David Salter
Margo Kingston: Not Happy, John!
Andrew Wilkie: Axis of Deceit
Dr Alison Broinowski: Howard’s War
Margaret Simons: Latham’s World
Includes question time from the floor

Suggested question: "Margo, can you name one of the Zionist fundamentalists who control politics and the media in Australia and the US?"

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:36 AM | Comments (16)

September 18, 2004

VICIOUS KITTIES

Whoa! Luke Power just got knocked out. This Geelong/Brisbane preliminary final is excellent. Cats up by four points with eleven minutes to go in the second quarter (on delayed telecast).

UPDATE. Power is back, but now Shaun Hart has been taken out of the game by team-mate Daniel Bradley ... er, Bradshaw. Haven't seen that much blood since Francis Bourke.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:50 PM | Comments (18)

BUCKHEAD UNMASKED

Late to the party on all this Memogate business? Well, put on your pyjamas and let Roger Franklin, Jonathan Last, and Ernest Miller bring you up to speed.

Meanwhile, the New York Times publishes some fascinating comments from memo suspect Bill Burkett:

"I spent some time on the phone with the Kerry campaign seniors yesterday," Mr. Burkett wrote on Aug. 21 in an e-mail letter circulated to a list of about 600 Texas Democrats.

"I talked with Max Cleland," Mr. Burkett continued, referring to the former senator from Georgia who has been supporting Senator John Kerry's Democratic presidential bid.

Alluding to advertisements by a veterans group that deprecates Mr. Kerry's Vietnam service, Mr. Burkett continued, "I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. He said counterattack."

"So I gave them the information to do it with."

Hmmm. And in a stunning breakthrough, Peter Wallsten of the LA Times has discovered that the person who first drew attention to the memo bogusness is -- wait for it -- a conservative:

It was the work of Harry W. MacDougald, an Atlanta lawyer with strong ties to conservative Republican causes who helped draft the petition urging the Arkansas Supreme Court to disbar President Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Times has found.

The identity of "Buckhead," a blogger known previously only by his screen name on the site freerepublic.com and lifted to folk hero status in the conservative blogosphere since last week's posting, is likely to fuel speculation among Democrats that the efforts to discredit the CBS memos were engineered by Republicans eager to undermine reports that Bush received preferential treatment in the National Guard more than 30 years ago.

Imagine; a Republican posting on a conservative website! An awed Wallsten writes that Buckhead/MacDougald’s “highly technical” suspicions appeared “less than four hours after the CBS report was aired”. Presumably Wallsten needs a week or so to work out whether a Microsoft Word document is, in fact, a Microsoft Word document.

Highlights from the rest of Wallsten’s report:

Until The Times identified him by piecing together information from his postings over the past two years, MacDougald had taken pains to remain in the shadows.

MacDougald is a lawyer in the Atlanta office of the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice and is affiliated with two prominent conservative legal groups.

MacDougald is also a Republican appointee to the Fulton County Board of Registration and Election.

Operating as "Buckhead," which is also the name of an upscale Atlanta neighborhood ...

Some Democrats and even some conservative bloggers have marveled at Buckhead's detailed knowledge of the memos ...

MacDougald is an outspoken conservative and a Republican active in local politics.

UPDATE. The Imam has some stern advice for Dan Rather.

UPDATE II. Ken Layne:

Why must the L.A. Times refer to the Buckhead as a "blogger," when he in fact is a participant on a bulletin board system? (Maybe he has a blog, too. If so, it's not part of this little story, is it?) It is easy to tell a blog from a bulletin board system ... Get it together, or I'll start calling the L.A. Times "a cable-access show."

UPDATE III. Even Google thinks memo-defender Daily Kos is a joke.

UPDATE IV. "See, Dan Rather?" writes Barcepundit. "It's better when you apologize!" John Sanchez has more on the same subject.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:10 PM | Comments (35)

REPORTING FOR VIRTUAL DUTY

It's the John Kerry video game! Track down your enemies and shoot them in the back to win a Magic Hat.

UPDATE. Massive crowds turn out to marvel at Kerry's soccer skills.

UPDATE II. Kerry masters the hyperextended pointing gesture.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:06 PM | Comments (7)

REDNECK WOMEN MISUNDERESTIMATED

"The political impact of Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9-11 on this year's presidential election appears to be overestimated," according to McLaughlinOnline. Indeed. While everyone was obsessing over Multichin Mike, the crucial Gretchen Wilson factor was entirely ignored.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:59 PM | Comments (7)

AL-AQSA REUTERS BRIGADE

Reuters is upset that a Canadian newspaper chain is recklessly improving its copy:

One of the world's leading news agencies, Reuters, said CanWest newspapers have been altering words and phrases in stories dealing with the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reuters told CBC News it would complain to CanWest about the issue.

The global managing editor for Reuters, David Schlesinger, called such changes unacceptable.

As an example, Schlesinger cited a recent Reuters story, in which the original copy read: "...the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank."

In the National Post version of the story, printed Tuesday, it became: "...the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel."

You can see why Reuters would be annoyed. Their reputation is at stake.

UPDATE. Ken Summers locates another example of accurate reporting.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:55 PM | Comments (9)

September 17, 2004

MEMO CONTENTS NOTICED

An email to The Corner:

I am a disgruntled democrat who will be voting for Bush. I voted for Gore in 2000 and paid very little attention to the Republican primaries in 2000. I had a vague idea that Bush had partied and accomplished nothing well into his 30’s. I didn’t know he was a pilot until he landed on that aircraft carrier and I didn’t really absorb that he was a fighter pilot until this memo scandal. Now I discover that Bush only managed to successfully fly fighter planes for 4 years when he should have done it for 6. Guess what? My opinion of Bush’s misspent youth just went up.

And Bush is meant to be the dumb guy. Way to go, CBS!

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:48 AM | Comments (86)

HANDS-ON JASPAN

The Melbourne Age’s next editor-in-chief isn’t exactly up to speed on all of this Dan Rather business:

The real cause for concern is that three full days after the CBS Rathergate fraud regarding Bush's military records was revealed, two days after it was confirmed, and one day after CBS itself had started to hedge and fudge just a little bit ("Yeah, well you know, we stand by the story, but we might have been fooled, too"), Andrew Jaspan's paper repeated in explicit detail every single, discredited charge and dismantled piece of evidence that CBS had broadcast.

Fairfax scoured the globe for three months to find a replacement Age czar. Wonder how long he’ll last.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:37 AM | Comments (11)

DAN'S FUTURE

Let’s say Dan Rather rides out CBS-is-stupider-than-Bush-gate and continues in his role as hard-hitting oldtimer network newsman. How might Rather’s future interrogations of corrupt business types and devious politicians be compromised?

RATHER: Tonight on 60 Minutes II - the case of the Satanic child-raping cult that took over a daycare centre and demanded toddlers pledge allegiance to the Dark Lord and kill their parents. We’re joined in the studio by self-confessed cult leader Peter Cropes ...

CROPES: Self-confessed? Where’d you get that from?

RATHER: Why, from these documents you faxed to our office this morning.

CROPES: (snickering) Don’t look like no documents I’d send. Look like something from Abilene. Heh!

RATHER: Mr. Cropes, are you denying that you sent us this material, in which you confess to the murder and consumption of more than 100 pre-schoolers?

CROPES: Could be from me. Could be from Karl Rove! Could be fake but true, you know?

RATHER: (sighs) In the first of these documents, you state that you’ve perfected a whole-body immersion technique for boiling the skin off of ...

CROPES: Check out that font, Dan! You like that? Bet you ain’t seen the likes of that since ... let’s think now ... 1973?

RATHER: Mr. Cropes, are these documents genuine?

CROPES: You tell me, Daniel.

And so on. Memogate allows anyone cornered by Rather to sarcasm their way out of it. Even the guiltiest CBS target could derail an interview with a few mocking references to Microsoft Word or Times New Roman. (Note to future guilty CBS targets: always demand a live interview, so they can’t edit your Memogate-inspired derailing attempts.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:22 AM | Comments (12)

NEWS BRIEFLETS

• Emerson College professor Jeffrey Seglin is frightened by blogger exposure of Memogate:

"The mainstream press is having to follow them," said Jeffrey Seglin, a professor at Emerson College in Boston. "The fear I have is: How do you know who's doing the Web logs?"

Beats me. Read them? Would that work?

"And what happens when this stuff gets into the mainstream, and it eventually turns out that the '60 Minutes' documents were perfectly legitimate, but because there's been so much reporting about what's being reported, it has already taken on a life of its own?"

I guess we’ll find out ... when the documents are revealed to be perfectly legitimate.

• Reader Ernie G. writes: "I just read that Ivan, now just a Category 1 storm, is due to be downgraded to Tropical Storm in a few hours. James Wolcott must be so disappointed."
 
• Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) doesn’t care about fairness and accuracy in reporting:

Instead of asking the White House tough questions about the well-documented information contained in these reports, media have focused almost exclusively on the claims and counter-claims made about the Killian memos-- as if the discrepancies over Bush's service record stand or fall based on this one set of disputed documents. It's the equivalent of covering the sideshow and ignoring the center ring.

• Read and laugh as hopeless Guardian journalist Tim Dowling attempts to infiltrate the "crazy rightwing nerds at freerepublic.com", only to be sussed out and booted within two minutes.

• Same paper, same day: Economic growth to accelerate in 04/05 and Economic growth tipped to slow in 2005.

• Jim Treacher is all over the Rather/Space Unicorn story. Here’s a stunning update that the MSM seems to have completely missed.

• Maureen Dowd is deeply puzzled:

John Kerry can't seem to take advantage of any of the Bush administration's increasingly calamitous blunders.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:06 AM | Comments (24)

September 16, 2004

NEW, IMPROVED KERRY EVEN MORE INCOHERENT

It’s day two of John Kerry’s New Toughness. Feel the wrath as this raging alpha rabbit vows bloody vengeance on his enemies during an interview with Don Imus:

In the radio interview, Kerry vowed to take on his rival in other ways. "We are punching back. I am absolutely taking the gloves off," Kerry said.

And he immediately scored a brutal hit -- on Imus, a Kerry supporter, who had this to say after the punchy, gloveless bunny angrily hopped away:

"I was just back in my office banging my head on the jukebox," Mr. Imus said. "This is my candidate, and ... I don't know what he's talking about."

Here’s the entire interview. The Imus-breaking moment might be in this exchange:

KERRY: I mean, what you ought to be doing and what everybody in America ought to be doing today is not asking me; they ought to be asking the president, What is your plan? What's your plan, Mr. President, to stop these kids from being killed?  What's your plan, Mr. President, to get the other countries in there?  What's your plan to have 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of the cost being carried by America?

IMUS: We're asking you because you want to be president.

Er, yes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:48 PM | Comments (35)

JUNGLE MONSTER EMERGES FROM WOODLAND HABITAT

Howard defies Annan! That should please the Left, who are always urging the Prime Minister to stand firm against malicious foreign powers. After staring down Kofi, the PM then faced a local opponent:

A topless protester today tried to flash Prime Minister John Howard as he arrived at a business lunch while campaigning in Perth today.

The woman, smeared in fake blood and wearing a black scarf on her head, concealed her modesty with a large placard reading "blood of Iraqi children" until Mr Howard and his wife Janette arrived at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.

The woman was later cornered and told media she had been camping in a forest for six weeks and wanted to shock and horrify the prime minister.

Then she was tagged and released back into the wild.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:39 PM | Comments (13)

TERROR LATEST

Good news:

Indonesian police have made their first arrests in connection with last week's Australian embassy bombing, nabbing a man and his wife suspected of being linked to the attack's masterminds.

More good news:

Two female suicide bombers gave themselves up to soldiers stationed at the Beit Iba roadblock near Nablus, Israel Radio reported Thursday morning.

And weird news:

A Sydney Shi'ite Muslim leader kidnapped at gunpoint in Iraq was released after his captors robbed him of $35,000, family and friends said today.

Sheik Naji, also known as Mohammad Sumyani, was reportedly driving in an area south of the capital Baghdad when a gang stopped his car, beat him and other passengers and kidnapped them.

Maybe they thought he was Robert Fisk. The Sheik was eventually freed after his captors relieved him of $35,000 he just happened to be carrying at the time:

Lebanese Muslim Association director Keysar Trad, a friend of the sheik, said he had spoken with Shi'ite leaders and Sheik Naji's brother in Sydney, Salem, who said the money was not a ransom.

"He didn't pay a ransom," Mr Trad said.

"That was money he had on his person that was taken from him."

Relatives say the sheik, who left Sydney last year to live in Iraq, now wants to return to Australia.

UPDATE. Terrible news:

Two Americans and a Briton were kidnapped from their smart Baghdad home today, as the two main powers behind last year's invasion became the latest victims of a five-month-old hostage crisis.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:31 PM | Comments (6)

COMPANIES AREN'T JUST PROFIT-MAKING THINGS

Miranda Devine in the SMH:

The more we see of Mark Latham the more it seems that underneath some admirable qualities seethes the heart of a hater, consumed with a clotted class envy that will be his downfall ... The Opposition Leader's driving passion is not to create a ladder of opportunity for all but to smash the rungs out from under people as they climb. It is the politics of vengeance.

And right on cue, Mark delivers:

Mark Latham has complained that a proposed 66 per cent pay rise for Qantas directors was "pretty crook", and said a Labor government would urge restraint in executive pay.

The Opposition Leader also promised to announce new measures during the campaign to promote greater "social responsibility" among Australian companies.

He said Labor would urge companies to exercise restraint in paying executives, and take steps to encourage social responsibility. "You've got the principle of decency - that companies aren't just profit-making things, they're part of society ... and how they behave and how they discharge their responsibilities has an impact on the community in which we live. We'll be talking about that as part of the Labor campaign."

Please do.

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

DRUM BEATEN

Lefty blogger Kevin Drum is a smart, genial type. Here’s his take on the Bush memo fiasco:

I think it's time for everyone to give up on this. The memos are almost certainly fakes, they're sucking up media bandwidth that could be better used elsewhere, and Dan Rather is toast. Besides, there was really nothing in them that told us anything new.

Time to move on.

And here are some of the reactions from Drum’s furious readers:

• "Kevin, why have you accepted the right-wing reframing of this as a forgery story?"

• "What goddamn good are you, Kevin, if you fuck up this bad?"

• "What a joke! You are a sorry excuse for a liberal blogger."

• "you sure as hell aren't going to make any of us on the left happy with your regurgitation of Rove's talking points"

• "Kevin, you ought to delete this post, or retract your conclusion. You want to screw Kerry, fine. Go collect your money from the RNC."

• "you have damaged your credibility with this reader"

• "Kevin likes that Whitehouse Koolaid"

• "what can I say for someone with lunches with a one-party fascist like Hugh Hewitt."

• "GOd, you're a tool Kevin"

• "move on, there you go Drum, lets just forget any of this ever happened. how pathetic"

• "We Democrats deserve another four years of Bush, because we tolerate the likes of you. I hope you are happy continuously bleating into the wind, and never, ever committing yourself to anything unsafe."

• "Thanks for showing your true colors for all to see, asshole. Hasta la vista"

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:07 PM | Comments (58)

DESTINED FOR THE SMITHSONIAN

Frank J.’s superb depiction of Dan's last stand is now available in digitally-enhanced form.

In other image-related developments, here’s John Kerry performing with his Band of Brothers.

UPDATE. Iowahawk:

NEW YORK - Veteran anchorman Dan Rather implicated White House Political Director Karl Rove as "the mastermind behind the so-called Acme Group" after his rocket-powered roller skates exploded during a Wednesday CBS Evening News investigative report.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:30 PM | Comments (11)

PEOPLE THERE DON'T TREAT YOU MEAN

Talk show host Kevin McCullough reports:

JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH ABILENE KINKOS: Bill Burkett has a standing account with the Kinkos in Abilene Texas, and while the lady who answered the phone would not be more specific she did say Burkett was in there last week....

Meanwhile, Dan Rather muses about a new career as a blogger:

"If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story," Rather said in an interview last night.

If that doesn’t work out, he can always move to Australia. In the interview linked above, Rather continues his journey towards madness:

"This is not about me," Rather said before anchoring last night's newscast. "I recognize that those who didn't want the information out and tried to discredit the story are trying to make it about me, and I accept that."

Rather said he was "relieved and pleased" by Knox's comments that the disputed memos reflected Killian's view of the favorable treatment that Bush received in the military unit. But he said, "I take very seriously her belief that the documents are not authentic." If Knox is right, Rather said, the public "won't hear about it from a spokesman. They'll learn it from me."

But he also delivered a message to "our journalistic competitors," including The Washington Post and rival networks: "Instead of asking President Bush and his staff questions about what is true and not true about the president's military service, they ask me questions: 'How do you know this and that about the documents?' "

Life is so unfair. Dan tries to bring down a President with some fake documents, and all these stupid people want to do is talk about the fake documents when the real story is the crucial information contained ... in the fake documents.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:21 PM | Comments (17)

JOHNNY RAMONE

Associated Press reports:

Johnny Ramone, guitarist and co-founder of the seminal punk band "The Ramones," has died. He was 55.

Ramone died in his sleep Wednesday afternoon at his Los Angeles home surrounded by friends and family, his publicist said. He had battled prostate cancer for five years, and was hospitalized in June at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The band's singer, Joey Ramone, whose real name was Jeff Hyman, died in 2001 of lymphatic cancer. Bassist Dee Dee Ramone, who was born Douglas Colvin, died from a drug overdose in 2002.

Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee ... good times.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:56 PM | Comments (13)

YET MORE PROOF, IF PROOF WERE NEEDED

Oops! Looks like the entire blogosphere was wrong about those memos:

On last night's "CBS Evening News," Rather said "60 Minutes" had done a "content analysis" of the memos and found, for example, that the date that Bush was suspended from flying -- Aug. 1, 1972 -- matched information in the documents.

Stand by for the next cache of killer memos -- in which the exact year (1977! Look it up!) of A.J. Foyt's fourth Indianapolis 500 victory matches information in the documents! Therefore proving that everything is real!

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:49 AM | Comments (29)

THE WORLD WOULD BE SAFER IF ...

Joshua Micah Marshall issues a request:

Kerry needs a catch phrase or catch question about the Iraq war, one that provides offense against President Bush's oft-stated, extremely lame, but also somewhat effective line that the world is safer with Saddam Hussein out of power.

Suggestions:

• The world would be safer if Saddam Hussein was President of the United States!

• The world would be safer if Uday and Qusay were still alive and raping!

• The world would be safer if it was a Nerf ball!

• The world would be safer if John Kerry activated his Magic Hat!

• The world would be safer if Teresa didn’t keep finding the keys to the medicine cabinet!

• The world would be safer if everybody was friendly!

• The world would be safer if I wasn’t so brooding and sad!

UPDATE. More, from LGF:

• The world would be safer if ... Osama bin Laden had been born a woman!

• The world would be safer if ... John Kerry stayed off the bike path!

• The world would be safer if ... there weren’t so many asteroids!

UPDATE II. And yet more suggested Kerry slogans from Iowahawk in comments:

• The Thinking Man's Self-Confessed War Criminal

• Vote For Me or My Running Mate Will Sue

• Those Atrocity Stories? Man, I Was Just Shitting You

• I Will Do For You the Many Things I Did For Massachusetts

• Fear Not, America, I Have Deigned to Lead You

• I Will Never Recuse My UN Ambassador from the Decision to Ask for a Permission Slip to Defend This Country

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:32 AM | Comments (67)

LOADS OF UNLOADED BIAS

Bush-hating Sydney Morning Herald US correspondent Marian Wilkinson cheers for John Kerry beneath the headline: "Fired-up Kerry gives President a pounding."

Yeah, right. (Check out Kerry’s "new tough-guy stance".) Wilkinson’s job essentially involves deciding what readers in Australia shouldn’t be told. She hasn’t filed a single word on Memogate, for example (leave that to bloggers). And on the night Howard Dean went into high-decible meltdown ... nothing from Marian.

You’d think Wilkinson’s selectivity would be fine material for a site like SMH’s Counterspin, which claims to "unload the bias":

As the Australian Federal Election campaign heats up, Antony Loewenstein counter-spins the news. Looking at the views, thoughts and insights expressed by political parties and the media, he'll scrutinise the policies and pronouncements, and deliver in-depth analysis of the coverage. It's time to unload the bias.

Loewenstein would do well to unload his own bias. He’s one of Margo Kingston's brave tellers of truth assisting those who’ve chosen denial as a lifestyle over at No Thappy John. Sounds like the ideal candidate to run a bias-hunting website, don’t he?

Oh, and considering his illiterate, incompetent mentor, it’s entertaining to read Loewenstein criticising the online skills of Wentworth candidate Peter King:

King should really get somebody to edit his website, however, for allowing something like this to be published to the masses:

"Voting Early: Headed overseas or interstate and won't be here for election day then from September 20th you will be vote early at a number of locations yet to be advised, check back to http://www.peterking.com.au/ for more updates."

Antony, mate ... compared to the usual standard at Margo’s Webdiary, Peter King is Shakespeare.

UPDATE. Loewenstein and Kingston clearly breach the SMH code of ethics:

Herald staff shall avoid any prominent activity in partisan public causes that compromises, or appears to compromise, the journalist or the newspaper.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:30 AM | Comments (21)

YOU CAN KILL A LOT OF PEOPLE IN A SINGLE DAY

Words fail. Take a look at this advertisement for Madrid newspaper El Pais.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:54 AM | Comments (34)

SCREW THE SOURCE

LGF commenter Maria makes a good point:

CBS is trying to discredit those who question their forged memo as just 'bloggers' yet they go out [and] get a blogger poster as their expert.

That is sooo crazy.

Correction, Maria; it’s sooo CBS. By now, about the only person who still believes Dan Rather’s typewriter tale was born in 1931, lives on the Upper West Side, works at CBS, and is named Dan Rather. But CBS news boss Bob Schieffer seems to think we’d all be convinced if only the network could reveal its sources:

"I think we have to find some way to show our viewers they are not forgeries,'' Schieffer, CBS' chief Washington correspondent and host of the network's "Face the Nation,'' said at a news conference in Sioux City. "I don't know how we're going to do that without violating the confidentiality of sources.''

CBS has stood by its story, with Rather saying there is "no definitive evidence'' that has emeged to prove the documents are fake.

"He is very confident of his sources,'' said Schieffer, who has talked to Rather daily during the flap. "He says he is absolutely convinced these documents are real.''

We know that the source isn’t the alleged author of the memos, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984. Who might the source be, then, who would somehow make us all believe that the memos are genuine? Let’s assume it's Wally J. Unimpeachable, the world’s most loved and trusted man, with a history of decency and honour unmatched in global history. Imagine him appearing at a press conference to vouch for the memos:

Mr. Unimpeachable: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for the opportunity to finally put to rest this terrible Memogate business. Let me assure you, as the source of these documents, that they are genuine; that they were written in 1972 and 1973 by Jerry Killian; and that they are wholly accurate and true.

Journalist: Then how come they’re written in Microsoft Word, you lying bastard?

At which point a ravening press horde, clad in pajamas as a symbol of solidarity with the unjustly-maligned blogging community, advances on Unimpeachable and beats him comatose. Memo (genuine) to Schieffer: no matter what source CBS throws up, you can’t avoid the central issue here. The Killian memos are fake. Sources are useless when you’re defending something that doesn’t pass the eyeball test.

Sources are deeply fascinating, however, when you consider the political implications. See below.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:51 AM | Comments (12)

WHO KNEW WHAT, WHEN?

When things get mysterious, turn to a mystery writer. Here’s Roger L. Simon:

The question at the top of my list right now, given this latest report from ABC that the producers at CBS were not very interested in the warnings of their own experts, is the obvious ... Was CBS working alone?

Nathan Moore might be able to help with that, via his alert Tennessee radio-monitoring friend Bob Krumm:

Veteran Nashville broadcaster, Teddy Bart on his daily radio show, “Teddy Bart’s Roundtable” may have given us a clue about who knew about the documents nearly a month ago. It appears that Bob Tuke, who was a guest on the show on August 11th knew that something was about to happen with regard to President Bush’s alleged failure to show up for a physical examination.

Teddy referenced the episode yesterday (September 9th) when 42:13 seconds into the show he said, “Listeners to the Roundtable will note that something was going to come because Bob Tuke, who is a Nashville attorney and significant in the Kerry campaign in Tennessee, told us about three weeks ago that um there was going to be some document, or implied that there will be a document about Bush’s missing time in the Alabama National Guard, in the National Guard, and that somebody was going to come forward with a document. So it did happen, and uh 60 Minutes had it.”

Nathan, who has an audio link to the Teddy Bart episode in question, writes:

What was obvious to Teddy Bart even a month ago was that Bob Tuke was aware of a pending document that would shed a damaging light on President Bush’s time in the National Guard. But how would Bob Tuke know? Sure, he’s well-known in Tennessee Democrat circles, but he’s not that high up in the Kerry organization. If I were a budding journalist wanting to make a name for myself, I’d sure like to ask Bob Tuke, what did you know and when did you know it?

And then there’s this, from John Ellis:

If you traveled in certain circles on the East Coast this past summer, the one story you heard over and over again was that Ben Barnes had the goods on George W. Bush's National Guard record and that CBS News was going to break the story on "60 Minutes." I must have heard this story four or five times, including once from an investment banker who claimed to have heard it from Barnes himself.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports:

An opposition research staffer for the Democratic National Committee is said to have received the documents from a retired military officer six weeks ago. Senior DNC and Kerry staff members are said to have reviewed them, the latter supposedly passing them on to "60 Minutes."

Should these memos prove to be the forgeries some think they are, John Kerry will have dug his political grave. So, too, the Democratic Party.

The "retired military officer" mention ties neatly with Bill Burkett, whose connection to the memos was overnight firmed up by the New York Times:

One person at CBS, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed a report in Newsweek that Bill Burkett, a retired National Guard officer who has charged that senior aides to then-Gov. Bush had ordered Guard officials to remove damaging information from Mr. Bush's military personnel files, had been a source of the report. This person did not know the exact role he played.

Nothing confirmed at present, but this is all creeping closer and closer to the DNC. Or, if you believe Dan Rather -- and nobody will, ever again, about anything -- it’s the devious work of those amazing Bush geniuses:

According to a CBS News producer operating out of the network's 57th Street facilities, Rather and his supporters now believe the controversy surrounding the four discredited Texas National Guard memos has been engineered by the Bush campaign.

"In the end, it probably doesn't matter," says the CBS News producer. "We're sunk. Our reputations have been impugned, and if we didn't look like we were shilling for Kerry a week ago, we look like we're trying to at least protect a source who gave us these documents who might be supportive of Kerry or at least the Democratic Party."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:44 AM | Comments (37)

RATHER ROUNDUP

What the peoples is saying:

James Lileks: "Remember when you believed what they said on the evening news?"

Hugh Hewitt: "Solzhenitsyn wrote about the Soviet Union --in 1975-- that '[y]es, yes, of course --we all know that you cannot poke a stick through the walls of a concrete tower, but here's something to think about: what if those walls are only a painted backdrop?' CBS has proven to be a painted backdrop. It really is over."

Tony Blankley: "I hate to see a noble creature in its death agony. Yet that is what we are observing. This week, it is Dan Rather and CBS News, through their failed effort to prove the legitimacy of their forged Bush National Guard documents, who are being revealed as hapless, helpless victims of an anarchic, swarming, overwhelming Internet blog technology. Soon, other great news institutions inevitably will be revealed for their inadequate capacity to fully report the news."

• The Arizona Republic: "Rather shrugs off attacks on the story as the work of 'partisans.' A network executive denigrates those people raising questions on the Internet as 'a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas.' The network couldn't announce its indifference to public opinion more clearly than if Rather himself began concluding his newscasts with the declaration, 'Arrogance!'"

Jonah Goldberg: "I don't want to overstate the extent of my glee over the Dan Rather imbroglio now known as 'Memogate.' But, it may well be the Greatest. Story. Ever (apologies to the Comic Book Guy from 'The Simpsons'). If this story were a street urchin, I would take into my home, give it my name, and raise it as if it were my flesh and blood. If Monty Hall gave me the choice of picking this story or the coolest thing ever to reside behind Door No. 2, I would pick this story without a moment's hesitation. Cancel Christmas, suspend Hanukkah, blot out the sun with copies of the forged memos, and I will be perfectly happy."

Jennifer Harper: "Critics have gone beyond questioning the credibility of CBS anchorman Dan Rather. Some are now calling for his resignation, a boycott of CBS and a federal investigation just a week after Mr. Rather stepped before '60 Minutes II' cameras, claiming he had damaging memos that proved President Bush shirked his National Guard duty three decades ago."

Michelle Malkin: "Rather and his geriatric empire are combating these powerfully persuasive blogs with anemic smears and sneers. And they are losing so very, very badly that they can't keep on top of their own spin."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:32 AM | Comments (3)

MIKE MOORE AND AIR AMERICA SLIGHTED

James Wolcott wails about the shortage of Democrat assault operatives:

Unlike Bush, Kerry can't delegate his aggression to Cheney, Fox News, and a yapping band of attack poodles; the Democratic party doesn't have that same threshing infrastructure.

Well, you used to have Dan Rather. Fat lot of good it did.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:19 AM | Comments (10)

ALIVE PERSON MAKES NON-DOCUMENT CLAIM

This might be believable it was presented in a memo:

A veteran who testified to John Kerry about atrocities he committed in the Vietnam War is now claiming that the Democratic presidential candidate coerced him to tell tales.

Steven Pitkin, an Army combat veteran, told FOX News that Kerry coached him and others to say they had witnessed war crimes, even after Pitkin told Kerry that he had not.

Put this away for thirty years, reproduce it in hologram technology available in 2034, and CBS might cover it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:09 AM | Comments (2)

BOOGATE

Hey, remember this guy?

An Associated Press reporter who filed a story that former President Clinton was 'booed' at a Wisconsin rally when President George W. Bush announced that his predecessor had been hospitalized for heart surgery is standing by his claim. Scott Lindlaw, a White House correspondent who was among the reporters traveling with President Bush during the campaign swing to several battleground states, provided the information for the story that appeared under the byline of Tom Hays.

No other news agency reported any booing and none is audible on network television clips, but the AP sent out the article with the statement, "Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them."

Talon News confronted Lindlaw on Friday about the discrepancy in his reporting of the event.

When asked if he heard booing as he reported, he replied, "I did."

Lindlaw, pal ... it doesn’t count when you hear yourself booing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:02 AM | Comments (2)

30-MINUTE FREQUENCY

Dan Rather, asked by Larry King in April 2000 if he was concerned about the Internet:

"No. I think it's a great new addition. I don't think it's going to replace radio, television or newspapers, but it will increase the flow of information ... I'm so excited about it I have a 3,000-calorie attack about every half hour thinking about its potential."

Those 3,000-calorie attacks are occuring more often these days.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:24 AM | Comments (4)

September 15, 2004

CAMPAIGN SCRAPS

• The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey points out that Mark Latham was "easily the youngest" contender in Sunday’s election debate. It’s just a hunch, but I believe Latham will remain younger than Howard right throughout this entire campaign.

• It's fun being an inner-city Labor member:

Federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese was campaigning at Hurlstone Park railway station in Sydney's inner west one morning last week when he was tackled by a voter who demanded to know what he was going to do about globalisation. "What do you want us to do about it?" asked Albanese. "Stop it," said the voter.

• Mark Latham wins the coveted endorsement of crazy Abu Bakar Bashir (who at first mistook the Labor leader for John Kerry):

He should be able to fix John Howard. He [Howard] is on the slide because he has been cheated and lied to by George W. Bush. I hope this person [Latham] can fix him and he does not return again to fight "terrorism" as defined by Bush. I agree to fight against terrorism but it should be a true terrorism and not in accordance with Bush's definition. Bush is being used by the Jews. The Jews are the most evil men in the world.

• Speaking of our Shylock overlords, Margo Kingston is hosting a tipping competition:

Please advise which party will win and how many more seats the winning party (the Coalition includes Liberal, National and the NT CLP) will have than the loser - that way we avoid the complications of minor parties and independents. I'll close the competitition on Wednesday, October 6. Just put your pick in the comments box.

Will do, Margo, as soon as the Zionist lobby that controls politics in Australia informs me of the planned result.

• The Age has a large Spanish readership.

• Maybe Abu the Magnificent was a little hasty with that endorsement:

Labor's Michael Moore brigade will get the shock of their lives if Latham wins this election. It will get a hardline pro-military force Labor prime minister on national security. Latham will resurrect John Curtin's legacy to legitimise this position. His language reveals a leader getting used to the idea of using military force when and where necessary.

• Step forward, John Howard, to collect your prize for the most hilarious gaffe of the campaign thus far.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:22 PM | Comments (19)

MODIFIER PLAGUE SWEEPS BOSTON

The Botson Globe’s Anne E. Kornblut seems reluctant to face certain realities:

Strategists on both sides of the presidential campaign are increasingly looking northward toward the Great Lakes region, eyeing three states -- Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan -- as crucial in a race that for now at least appears to be trending toward President Bush.

Can’t wait for her election day report: "For now at least it appears that George W. Bush has been re-elected". Meanwhile, for now at least it appears that Democrat volunteers should steer clear of the scary Lileks mansion:

Had another DNC canvasser the other night. Very young. She read from a piece of paper. She wanted my help to defeat Bush, and said that with only 55 days until the election it was clear that the Republicans would stop at nothing and we are out tonight to (squint, doublecheck word) encourage your support. Then she handed the board for me to sign.

"Why?" I asked.

She stared at me. "Tell me why I should vote for John Kerry," I said.

"I’m - new at this? And I –" she looked over her shoulder for the other canvasser. "I had some paper, but I gave it away."

"Tell me what you believe," I said. "Tell me what you feel in your head and heart about John Kerry."

Whereupon she said that the War in Iraq was wrong and was "killing all those innocent soldiers," and someone the other day said that if we didn’t elect him Bush would have another 9/11, but she didn’t know who said it.

"But tell me why I should vote for John Kerry," I said. Gently, mind you. With a smile.

"I don’t know," she said.

For now at least it appears that not many people do.

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

INDEPENDENT "SUSPICIOUS"

The Independent explains Rathergate to its Bush-hating audience:

America's presidential campaign has moved from the furious to the near farcical, amid a "dirty tricks" controversy over the authenticity of 30-year-old documents dealing with George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.

A CBS news report last week featured previously unpublished memos purporting to be from Bush's commander of the day, suggesting the well-connected future president received special treatment in gaining a slot in the guard in 1968 to avoid being sent to Vietnam, and benefited from political pressure to have his assessments presented favourably.

But within 24 hours the documents were being challenged - raising suspicions that CBS had fallen victim to a hoax by Bush supporters to discredit critics of the President's military record.

If there’s evil afoot, you just know Bush and his wicked minions are somehow involved. Speaking of feet:

You've heard the phrase "waiting for the other shoe to drop." Well, usually once the second shoe drops, it's over. But there are so many shoes dropping in the CBS forged documents scandal, Dan Rather has to be wondering whether the guy dropping the shoes is a millipede.

And the OmbudsGod reports that newly-anointed "documents expert" Bill Glennon wasn’t allowed to test his expertise on any actual documents:

If you have any doubt but that the Rathergate memos are forgeries, read this piece in the Washington Post. Oh, and as for CBS’s reliance on typewriter "expert" Bill Glannon, CBS wouldn’t even let him look at the actual documents: “Glennon said he is not a document expert, could not vouch for the memos' authenticity and only examined them online because CBS did not give him copies when asked to visit the network's offices."

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:29 PM | Comments (23)

PASTA WERRIWA

Mark Latham -- enemy of the weak!

Opposition Leader Mark Latham today conceded a mother of three who embarrassed a Labor MP on talkback radio would be worse off under the ALP's family and tax package.

Mr Latham said the woman, who phoned a Perth radio station complaining about Labor's policies, would be $461 a year worse off under the ALP.

That talkback caller turned out to be a Liberal Party member, as it happens. At least Latham is honest; but one thing Latham isn’t is articulate. He often sounds like a catch-phrase generator jammed on repeat. And those phrases sometimes make no sense at all. Consider, for example, Latham’s ongoing obsession with spaghetti bowls:

"It's like a spaghetti bowl of complexity and debt."

"It's a confusing spaghetti bowl."

"If the world's economies go down the Howard Government's preferred path of bilateralism, it will produce a spaghetti bowl of confusing and often conflicting trade agreements."

"Well, you have got to look at them on their merits one by one. You do run the risk if you have 1,000 of them, it ends up like a spaghetti bowl of different and conflicting arrangements around the world."

"What [Howard] needs to do is acknowledge that he had it wrong in the Budget, he had it wrong in terms of his spaghetti bowl system of family payments that he's developed and there's a better way forward."

Mr Latham said Labor's package would "straighten out the spaghetti bowl" of the complex Howard Government's three family assistance measure.

The Coalition used the spaghetti line during the last election, referring to Barry Jones’ Knowledge Nation sketch, but that made sense because Barry’s idiot plan actually looked like spaghetti. There’s nothing complicated about a spaghetti bowl, however; it’s just a bowl with pasta in it. Most Australians can figure out a spaghetti bowl without resorting to a set-square or a team of Italian accountants.

(Incidentally, just like Latham’s other phrase-obsession -- "ease the squeeze", which he’s lifted from Joe Lieberman -- "spaghetti bowl" is borrowed, in this case from Jagdish Bhagwati, who was using the term in reference to international trade agreements at least eight years ago.)

UPDATE. Currency Lad has more on Latham's catch-phrase kleptomania, and Robert Corr continues tracking disputes between the minor parties (ie, the ALP and Greens).

UPDATE II. Media Watch accuses John Anderson of stealing his "greens are like watermelons" line from John Laws:

Lawsie's been pushing that line and playing his ditty for over a year, so it would be nice of John Anderson to give him some credit.

Does David Marr think the watermelon gag is only one year old? Man ... I think I first heard it at least a decade ago. And it was old then.

UPDATE III. Former Liberal minister Michael Wooldridge accuses Labor of having its own spaghettified policy:

A complex policy that leaves 30 per cent of people worse off reminded me of 1991 and Fightback! When the Government is finished with Labor's policy, half the population will be convinced they are among the 30 per cent who will lose. No self-respecting political consultant would have ever allowed such a policy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:55 AM | Comments (30)

MOVEON URGED TO MOVE OUT

Crushkerry.com claims awareness of DNC frustration with the likes of MoveOn.org:

Just this morning we spoke to one such source who told us the Kerry campaign is furious with how incredibly out-of-control the whole Rather-gate scandal has gotten.

Our source assures us the Kerry campaign had nothing to do with the memo itself. But they strongly suggested that the pro-Kerry 527 group MoveOn.org is directly responsible for handing the document over to CBS.

And possibly even for manufacturing the forged document itself.

It’s important to bear in mind our source could not state with certainty that MoveOn.org was the source of the fraudulent document.

"I don’t know if it was them. I don’t know anything about it, first hand. But I can tell you everyone here [at Kerry HQ] thinks they gave it to CBS. And lots of people here think they created the damn thing," our source told us.

Our source also expressed deep frustration at what she called the “hijacking of our campaign and our party by the amateurs at MoveOn.org.”

Amateurs? At MoveOn.org? The very idea is ridiculous.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn:

Hardly a day goes by without some featurette or other on "how the Internet is changing the way we do politics" or some such, with seemingly obligatory references to the spectacular success of MoveOn.org. But, in all the stories about the spectacular success, nobody ever seems to point to any examples of what they're spectacularly successful at. They've certainly raised and spent a lot of money, but what do they have to show for it other than their own hype?

"MoveOn.org Becomes Anti-Bush Powerhouse," says CNN. But have they knocked the Bush campaign off course? Have they peeled away voters in key states? The only critical wobbly "red" state has been Florida, and that's a result more of demographic trends than anything else: Those incoming oldsters aren't voting Democrat because MoveOn.org is the talk of their gated community.

By comparison, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth raised very little money and spent even less. According to the IRS records up to September 5, MoveOn.org had total "527" receipts of $9,086,102 and total expenditures of $17,435,782; the Swift Vets had total "527" receipts of $158,750 and total expenditures of $60,403. Who would you say got a bigger bang for their buck?

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:47 AM | Comments (25)

BAGHDAD CHAOS

Hideous attacks in Baghdad:

At least 47 people died when a giant car bomb exploded outside Baghdad's main police headquarters yesterday, leaving a trail of mayhem. It was the most lethal attack on Iraq's fledging security services in two months.

And in a roadside shooting north of the capital 13 people, all but one of them a policemen, were killed, amid a sharp resurgence of violence across Iraq.

In previous years the killings were carried out by policemen. The same people are targeted: those who opposed/oppose Saddam's regime. It's going to be a long, bloody crawl to complete liberation.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:38 AM | Comments (14)

BUSH NOT WHOLLY EVIL

Michael Caputo, an assistant in the 1992 bid to re-elect George H. W. Bush, reveals George W. Bush’s zipperless campaign strategy:

In the last days of that doomed 1992 Bush reelection effort, we knew we were losing. James Baker and other close Bush friends and family moved in to keep a close eye on all our work. In particular, they were looking for mistakes that would embarrass the family. At the time, dubious documents about the Arkansas governor's alleged "zipper problem" were floating temptingly around campaign headquarters. Wrong-headed whispers among junior staff about "saving the campaign" could be heard if you listened closely.

Finally, we were called into a meeting and given a simple instruction: Anyone caught trafficking in this information would be summarily fired. The Bush family did not want to "win this way." Because we were almost sure to lose anyway, they made a further promise that violators would never work in Washington again. Any doubts were laid to rest when we were told who sent this message: the president's son, George W. Bush.

Belief in this will likely divide along party lines. Nice to think it was true, however.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:26 AM | Comments (7)

GUN DUDE

This is the image used online by the Sydney Morning Herald to illustrate the expiration of the multi-round-per-second weapon ban in the US. Because that’s, like, your typical gun-owner.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:44 AM | Comments (39)

URBAN RUNABOUT DEBUTS

HumVees are for girly men! Manly men drive the Navistar CXT:

At 258 inches, or 21-1/2 feet long, the CXT is about 4-1/2 feet longer than the new Hummer H2 pickup, and about 2 inches longer than the F-350 Crew Cab.

But the way it really towers over what's on the road now is in height. At 108 inches, or 9 feet, the CXT stands only a foot below a basketball rim and more than two feet above the Hummer or the F-350.

Hmmm. Think I'll hold out for the larger version.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:49 AM | Comments (15)

September 14, 2004

ANOTHER ULI?

Remember Uli Schmetzer, the Chicago Tribune reporter who invented a racist Australian psychiatrist?

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

Uli lost his job for that little flight of creativity. Now The Guardian’s Bill Condie claims to have met a bigoted Australian cardiologist:

A cardiac surgeon, during Australia's 'friendly' Olympics, told me in a Sydney bar that if it was up to him he'd 'drop the big one and turn the Middle East into a glass car park - that'd stop the bastards coming'.

I don’t buy it. Who the hell combines "turn into glass" with "turn into a car park" to create "turn the Middle East into a glass car park"?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:35 PM | Comments (53)

EXPERT BILL

(**UPDATE** Now CBS itself is using Glennon in its defence, although the network describes him not as a mere typewriter mechanic but as a - get this - "document expert".)

Bill Glennon could scarcely have known, back in the days when he roamed Manhattan's mean streets searching for typewriters to fix, that one day he would become the go-to guy for Dan Rather's defence. The New York technology consultant and former IBM typewriter mechanic ('73-'85) first entered the Rather debate with this comment at Kevin Drum's Washington Monthly site:

Kevin, I worked in the IBM Office Products Division field service area fixing typewriters in NYC for over 13 years in the 70s. I can tell you that the Model D can produce those documents, not only did it do proportional spacing, you could order any font that IBM produced AND order keys that had the aftmentioned superscripted "th." Also you could order the platen, thats the roller that grabs the paper, in a 54 tooth configuration that produced space, space and a half and double spacing on the line indexing, this BTW was popular in legal offices. The Model D had to be ordered from a IBM salesmen and was not something that was a off the shelf item, typical delivery time were 4-6 weeks. Also, typewriter keys were changed in the field all the time, its not that hard to do. I wish I had saved my service and parts replacement manuals to backup this claim but I'm guessing a call to IBM with a request for a copy of their font and parts replacement manuals would put this to rest ASAP.

This was quickly picked up by Dan disciples Daily Kos and George Paine, leading to a Glennon appearance in the New York Times:

Bill Glennon, a technology consultant in New York who worked for I.B.M. in Midtown Manhattan for 14 years and repaired typewriters throughout that time, said that the Executive had proportional spacing and that its typebar could be fitted with superscript characters.

Way to go, Bill! All that so-called evidence pointing at Microsoft Word is as nothing compared with your gritty, hands-on mechanical expertise:

I don’t claim to be a typewriter expert but after working on IBM typewriters for IBM for over 13 years in a high call area like NYC I can tell you without a doubt that the Model D can produce those documents. That sample which comes from a typewriter from the guys’ basement doesn't mean a damm thing. Let me repeat what I said before, you could order the model D with any font IBM produced, have custom keys like the "th" have customized line spacing to fit the forms used at your location.

In further comments at Drum’s site, Bill even explained how Lt. Col. Jerry Killian achieved perfect centering on his documents:

The Model D had a lever that when pushed put a rubber stopper in front of the keys so they did not strike the paper. You centered the paper using the paper scale, put the carriage on the middle mark of the front index scale, typed your heading and then made note of the number it stopped on. You then moved the carriage back to the corresponding number on the left side of the index scale and retyped your heading and it was centered perfectly.

It's so easy to imagine Lt. Col. Killian following exactly that procedure. You always want your secret memos to look just perfect. His bona fides now established, Glennon next turned up in Time as the only authority that magazine believed was worth quoting on the Killian memos:

Some insist it would have been nearly impossible for a 1970s-era typewriter to produce the memos because of the letter spacing in the documents and the use of a raised and compact th symbol. But Bill Glennon, a technology consultant in New York City who worked for IBM repairing typewriters from 1973 to 1985, says those experts "are full of crap. They just don't know." Glennon says there were IBM machines capable of producing the spacing, and a customized key — the likes of which he says were not unusual — could have created the superscript th.

Time didn't need to speak to anyone from IBM or any of the people convincingly debunking the memos. They had Bill, who 19 years ago could get your ribbon replaced. This impressed Duncan Black. (Others were presumably unmoved.) It would be interesting to learn what form of technology "technology consultant" Glennon is involved in; he might be Mr Typewriter, but complicated modern things -- like HTML coding -- somehow elude him:

Can someone tell me how to italicize a quote from a previous post

Well, Bill, first you order the IBM model D with special bendy font keys handcrafted by blind Bavarian elves and then you put a rubber stopper in front of every third letter making sure to hold the typewriter at a precise 47º angle so as to enable engagement of the front index scale tabulator. Making a note of Chastity Bono's birth date, move the sheet of paper three inches to the right and sell your house. Put the carriage on the middle mark of the front index scale, sacrifice your first-born, and walk around your desk three times backwards. Retype the entire document in Gaelic. Wait for reporters to call.

(Via comments at Little Green Footballs)

UPDATE. What you need to believe.

UPDATE II. Are you people at CBS frigging insane?

UPDATE III. Stonewall Jackson’s rollerblades.

UPDATE IV. Self-selected reinforcements are rushing to the front.

UPDATE V. Official blogger dress code.

UPDATE VI. They heart Halliburton! (Nothing to do with Dan Rather. But still cool.)

UPDATE VII. The first time he saw one of the memos it was a roll-on-the-floor-laughing situation.

UPDATE VIII. Give your forged documents that original look by using the original equipment.

UPDATE IX. "Everything that's in those documents, that people are saying can't be done, as you said, 32 years ago, is just totally false. Not true. Proportional spacing was available. Superscripts were available as a custom feature. Proportional spacing between lines was available. You can order that any way you'd like," said document expert Bill Glennon.

UPDATE X. Marcel Matley in the Washington Post: "There’s no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them." And Joseph M. Newcomer: "I am personally 100 percent sure that they are fake."

UPDATE XI. The New York Times: "Last night, CBS did not present any of the other experts who originally helped it authenticate the documents, beyond mentioning Mr. Matley, who was interviewed on the Friday broadcast. Instead it featured computer and typewriter specialists who had called or posted defenses of CBS on Internet blogs ... Bill Glennon, a technology consultant and I.B.M. typewriter specialist who had posted his thoughts on the memos on a blog and was quoted over the weekend in publications including The New York Times, said CBS called him Monday morning. The producer asked him to come in and look at the memorandums and say whether he thought that an I.B.M. typewriter could have produced the documents. He said he was initially leery of talking. 'Because quite honestly there's some people out there, they're scary,' he said. 'You don't agree with them, you offer opinions that don't jibe with theirs and you get a target on your back.'"

UPDATE XII. CONSUMER ALERT: Know of a scam that needs investigating? Tell us about it! Email us at scams@cbsnews.com.

UPDATE XIII. John Podhoretz: "I'm going to be blunt here: Anybody who spends an hour reviewing the evidence and the expert testimony knows they're forgeries ... And I will say this even more bluntly: If you do spend that hour and at the end say you're not convinced, you're either stupid or blind or insanely partisan."

UPDATE XIX. CBS never saw the blog-lash coming.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:05 AM | Comments (104)

NO NEED TO VOTE

Forget the polls, forget the pundits, forget most everything you’ve ever learned. Robert Bosler, the Sydney Morning Herald's Mark Latham specialist, has decided who will win the election:

The winning energy is not on Howard. It is on Mark Latham.

The energy, it is on him! Take that to the bank, people.

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

MORE FACTS ALLEGED

This week on 60 Minutes II: special reporter Kazem Al-Qurayshi Rather lifts the lid on the real story behind September 11:

Al-Zaraqawi, bin-Laden, and Mulla 'Omar, and all the leaders of the Salafi movement are tools created by the British Freemason movement 200 years ago. With these tools they wanted to create a new religion for us, to confront Islam. They filled this new religion with Jewish poison, the Masonic poison. Their religion is manifested by a long beard, a short garment, and killing Muslims.

Do you think that the CIA participated in the events of 9/11, that they attacked the US, killed Americans and humiliated the US in front of the whole world? The explosions of September… It has been three decades since plans to bomb these buildings, the Twins, were made. But they wanted to do it so it would not be in vain. I noticed that the planes hit the upper part of the buildings, but the buildings exploded from the bottom, which proves that they were booby-trapped.

Well, I don't believe it. Not until Bill Glennon tells me so.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:52 AM | Comments (8)

PEACENIKS ON THE MARCH

Uh-oh! The peaceful are acting all militant again:

The bombing at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta was a consequence of government policy, Greens candidate Andrew Wilkie said yesterday. Mr Wilkie was addressing the Greens' national campaign launch in Melbourne yesterday.

"The terrorist outrage of last Thursday may please John Howard, particularly given his track record to try and play up national security for his own cynical political advantage.

"Unfortunately for John Howard though, he is part of the problem, not part of the solution," he said.

Wilkie is part of a maladjusted peacenik fringe that also includes our pals at WarbloggerWatch:

Thank God we're beating the terrorists, except for this of course. Then again, who cares what happens to Australians? Isn't that near France? So what if we're inflaming a generation of moslem extremists near their borders? Suck it up Australia. Suck it up.

You Aussies should adopt the Russian model like America has done. It's worked so well for The Russians. I have no doubt it will work equally well for us one day. Your schoolkids are a dime a dozen anyways...

Thanks, friend! And Adelaide intellectual -- that phrase looks so wrong -- Gary Sauer-Thompson is at it again:

The tragedy is that it is innocent Indonesians who were killed not Australian military personnel.

Gary works for Senator Meg Lees. Let’s see what she has to say about his bold views:

From: Tim Blair
To: Meg Lees
Subject: peace is good

Dear Senator,

Hi! Like you, I love peace. And I hate death! So I was very upset to read the following comments by Gary Sauer-Thompson on his “web log” about how he wants Australian troops to die:

"The tragedy is that it is innocent Indonesians who were killed not Australian military personnel."

I understand that Gary works for you, maybe helping you decide what you should say and think. But this isn’t right! He is thinking violent ideas. Is he violent in your office? It would be wrong if he disrupted afternoon Quiet Time with violence.

Please tell me what you think, and punch Gary hard in the face for me.

Yours in peace and love,

Tim

The Senator's reply is awaited.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:42 AM | Comments (22)

WE WERE WRONG TO FEAR THE MARTIANS

Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali offers his distinctive take on global (and interglobal) issues:

Saturday was the third anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks that targeted the biggest cities in the US. Every thing was well organized, and the use of civilian planes to reach the targets surprised the Americans and the rest of the world.

The world’s only superpower was stunned into silence because before Sept. 11 it was all geared up for an enemy from the outer space, not from planet Earth.

Mr. Al Zedjali is editor-in-chief of The Times of Oman.

(Via space-based contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:00 AM | Comments (22)

AUSTRALIAN 'INFIDELS' KIDNAPPED

No word yet on the authenticity of this. More reports to follow, no doubt:

Two Australians and two East Asians have been kidnapped in Iraq, said a statement purportedly from the Islamic Secret Army handed out in the Sunni Muslim insurgent bastion of Samarra on Monday.

"One of our brave brigades ambushed civilian cars belonging to the American army on the motorway from Baghdad to (the main northern city of) Mosul," said the statement dated Monday.

"It took four prisoners, two Australians and two East Asian nationals who were working as security contractors for important people," it said.

"We tell the infidels of Australia that they have 24 hours to leave Iraq or the two Australians will be killed without a second chance."

UPDATE. As of five minutes ago, still no confirmation.

UPDATE II. Still no confirmation:

Australia said Tuesday it was "moving heaven and earth" to investigate claims that two Australians had been kidnapped in Iraq in a bid to force the government to withdraw its troops from the country.

UPDATE III. What’s the world coming to when you can’t even trust the Horror Brigades of the Islamic Secret Army?

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says all of the Australians working in Iraq have been accounted for, despite claims by a militant group that it has taken two Australians hostage.

A group calling itself the 'Horror Brigades of the Islamic Secret Army' says it has captured two Australians, along with two Asians, on the highway from Baghdad to the main northern city of Mosul.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:16 AM | Comments (18)

BUSH LIED, PLANES FLIED

The Nation’s David Corn revisits a George W. Bush military service exaggeration:

In 1978, Bush, while running for Congress in West Texas, produced campaign literature that claimed he had served in the US Air Force. According to a 1999 Associated Press report, Bush's congressional campaign ran a pullout ad in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that declared he had served "in the US Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard where he piloted the F-102 aircraft."

Bush lost that congressional race, but twenty-one years later, the AP questioned him about the ad. The news outlet had a good reason to do so. Bush had never served in the Air Force. He had only been in the Air National Guard. But when AP asked Bush if he had been justified in claiming service in the Air Force, Bush, then the governor of Texas and a presidential candidate, said, "I think so, yes. I was in the Air Force for over 600 days." Karen Hughes, his spokeswoman, maintained that when Bush attended flight school for the Air National Guard from 1968 to 1969 he was considered to be on active duty for the Air Force and that several times afterward he had been placed on alert, which also qualified as active duty for the Air Force. All told, she said, Bush had logged 607 days of training and alerts. "As an officer [in the Air National Guard]," she told the AP, "he was serving on active duty in the Air Force."

But this explanation was wrong. Says who? The Air Force.

Seems legit. Won’t do Bush much damage, however, unless he suddenly starts claiming to have flown into Cambodia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:10 AM | Comments (19)

TERRORISM AND HOWARD

Alan Anderson in the Sydney Morning Herald:

While John Howard and Mark Latham scrupulously avoided politicising the Jakarta bombing, the usual suspects emerged to condemn anyone but the terrorists. Mike Carlton suggested Alexander Downer should apologise to the Australian Federal Police commissioner, Mick Keelty, for arguing that our involvement in Iraq did not increase the terrorist threat. Brian Deegan insisted on immediate negotiations with the terrorists. Even Mem Fox, author of Possum Magic, sheeted home the blame to Liberal foreign policy.

Despite this, the Howard Government will not be another victim of the attack.

Read the whole thing. And here’s Paul Sheehan, also in the SMH, on a similar theme.

This is the paradox of Australian politics: John Howard remains politically strong on the issue of national security despite antagonising Muslims in three theatres - Indonesia (East Timor), Afghanistan and Iraq - with political decisions which, collectively, have made Australia a higher target to the murderous jihadists now intent on so-called holy war. Howard captured the essence of this paradox on Friday when he told reporters: "We will not have our foreign policy or our security policy determined by terrorist threats. Once a country starts doing that, it's handing over control of its future."

This is exactly why two French journalists were left to die by the same nation that led opposition to the invasion of Iraq. It is the same in Australia, where the public's resentment of moral blackmail trumps every other issue. It is the bedrock of Howard's success with the electorate, something his most vociferous detractors have never cared to understand.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:02 AM | Comments (6)

RACIAL PROFILING IN IRAQ

Michael Moore’s brave Iraqi Minutemen could use some sensitivity training:

Black soldiers are a particular target. 'To have Negroes occupying us is a particular humiliation,' Abu Mujahed said, echoing the profound racism prevalent in much of the Middle East. 'Sometimes we aborted a mission because there were no Negroes.'

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:40 AM | Comments (14)

WAGGA WAGGA BURNING

The Australian election is heating up:

A Labor Party candidate whose car was firebombed in south-western NSW said she and her daughter were lucky to have escaped uninjured.

Victoria Brooks, the ALP candidate for the Riverina, said her campaign car was parked in the garage of her Wagga Wagga house about 1.20am (AEST) yesterday when she heard an explosion.

I blame the Greens. This is clearly revenge.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

NOT OVER YET

Hard to believe the Democrats were so confident only two months ago:

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.

The convention was more of a smack to the head for the Kerry gang. Still, it’s worth remembering how quickly were their fortunes reversed now that the Republicans are leading:

There is a certain cockiness (what do they call that in Texas?) beginning to creep into some corners of the Bush camp as the president's campaign suddenly has the Big Mo (Big Mo as in Momentum, Big Mo as in Missouri). The president was gaining rapidly in August, took a slight lead just before the opening of the Republican National Convention, and is now beginning to pull away from John Kerry in battleground states like Missouri and Ohio.

UPDATE. The Guardian’s Peter Preston tries to work out what went wrong, and fears Bush will win:

This, Bush says, is his last election. This is his last chance to show us how it's done. With soft-money ads and surrogate slurs and grotesque simplifications cooked in political hothouses? Is that the way? Is that what Cuba and Libya, not to mention the rest of us, have to look forward to? It isn't entirely arrogant to hope for something a bit less scummy than that.

Poor Cuba and Libya.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:24 AM | Comments (11)

September 13, 2004

UNBELIEVABLE

"With critics of Democratic challenger John Kerry raising unsubstantiated claims that he exaggerated his heroism as a swift-boat commander in Vietnam," writes Time magazine’s Amanda Ripley, "the matter of Bush's own service is back in the spotlight."

Ripley’s piece is possibly the most grotesque example of evasive, disingenuous, smoke-and-mirrors journalism committed this year. A warning comes early, as Ripley characterises reaction to CBS’s Bush memo claims as simply a whole lot of unfocussed bedlam:

Various search dogs, partisan and not, barked madly up and down the hills of people's memories last week, sometimes scenting truth and other times falling off the cliff entirely. CBS released several damning new memos, which may or may not be authentic (more on that later), that sent forensic experts researching the history of the type font Times New Roman and bloggers dusting off their old IBM typewriters. Welcome to the final stage of a tight race. Now let's pause for a few reality checks.

Several paragraphs later, having awarded a few free kicks to the anti-Bush team, Ripley gets to work on those CBS memos. Unsubstantiated or not, she’s quite happy to recite their contents:

New egregious claims about Bush's service are made in four memos released by CBS last Wednesday dating from 1972 and 1973. The network has not revealed how it obtained the documents but says they are from the personal files of Lieut. Colonel Jerry Killian, Bush's squadron commander in Texas, now deceased. If authentic, they demonstrate more favoritism toward Bush than previously indicated. In one document, Killian states that he and his superior, Major General Bobby Hodges, were pressured by Walter Staudt, the Texas National Guard commander, to "sugar coat" an evaluation of Bush. Hodges, who initially thought the memos were handwritten and authentic, now says he thinks they are fake. He told TIME last week, "There was no political pressure that I can remember." And Staudt's military records show that he had left the Guard by the time the memo was written, according to the Dallas Morning News. A TIME reporter called and visited Staudt's home but got no response. Killian's son Gary, who served in the Guard alongside his father from 1971 to 1979, says he believes the documents are fake, in part because he remembers that his father admired Bush.

A pretence of balance is still evident. But now things get seriously weird:

So far, forensic and typewriter experts consulted by TIME and other major media organizations have not reached a consensus on the authenticity of the memos.

A consensus? Does everyone have to agree that the documents are fake for them to be so proved? (Incidentally, according to Slate: "The typography experts quoted by major media organizations are nearly unanimous in their doubts that the Killian memos are genuine.") Next, Ripley produces compelling evidence that crushes the document-doubters:

Some insist it would have been nearly impossible for a 1970s-era typewriter to produce the memos because of the letter spacing in the documents and the use of a raised and compact th symbol. But Bill Glennon, a technology consultant in New York City who worked for IBM repairing typewriters from 1973 to 1985, says those experts "are full of crap. They just don't know." Glennon says there were IBM machines capable of producing the spacing, and a customized key — the likes of which he says were not unusual — could have created the superscript th.

And that’s all you need to know. Forget the detailed, near-microscopic examination of the CBS documents carried out here and here, among many other sites (and reviewed here); these people are "full of crap", says the one guy to whom Time gives any space. Hey, Glennon -- go here to collect your $37,900!

Another memo released by CBS, if real, indicates that when Bush missed his physical, he was disobeying a direct order from Killian to get one. But Hodges, who is now retired, says missing the physical was "no big deal." CBS broadcast a special segment wholeheartedly defending its report two days after it aired.

Which proves the documents were genuine, I guess. Well, Ripley seems convinced.

Will any of this matter come Election Day? The truth is, while Kerry may have taken a hit in the polls as a result of the largely bogus criticism of his war record, Bush, as the incumbent, is not as vulnerable — even if the accusations are more credible. Americans have spent four years watching Bush as President. Kerry is the unknown, and as with any stranger at the gate, people are wary. What's more, the breathless debate over typewriter fonts last week shifted the debate away from Bush's questionable record.

That’s all this debate was about -- silly typewriter fonts! All of you people should grow up. In a sidebar, Time offers an in-depth analysis (0.03mm is still a "depth") of the claims made by CBS’s critics and the network’s piss-poor responses:

1 TYPEFACE
The shape is similar to Times New Roman, which is popular on today's computer. CBS counters that the font was first available in the 1930s

2 SPACING
The words have proportional spacing; some letters take up more space than others across the line. Some typewriters had this feature in the early 1970s

3 SUPER-SCRIPT
Experts say only customized typewriters had a key for the small th. Other typewritten Bush records show a similar — but not identical — feature

4 SIGNATURE
CBS insists that Lieut. Colonel Jerry Killian's signature matches those on other documents, proving authenticity

What term doesn’t appear anywhere in Ripley’s report? Microsoft Word. Believe it or not.

UPDATE. Curse those right-wing nuts:

On Friday, according to CBS News sources, Rather spent the day on the phone and dealing with CBS suits who were nervous about the fall out from the story. "All Dan could say was that this was an attack from the right-wing nuts, and that we should have expected this, given the stakes," says a CBS News producer. "He was terribly defensive and nervous. You could tell."

Meanwhile, over the weekend journalists from around the country were attempting to track down the original source of the documents. "We're having a hard time tracking how we got the documents," says the CBS News producer. "There are at least two people in this building who have insisted we got copies of these memos from the Kerry campaign by way of an additional source. We do not have the originals, and our sources have indicated to us that we will not be getting the originals. How that is possible I don't know."

UPDATE II. Dan goes wobbly:

Dan Rather told B&C Friday he believes documents used in a controversial 60 Minutes story were "authentic," but did open the door to the possibility he’d been duped.

UPDATE III. USA Today has six Bush memos -- the same four as 60 Minutes plus two others. The paper explains:

USA Today obtained copies of the documents independently soon after the 60 Minutes segment aired Wednesday, from a person with knowledge of Texas Air National Guard operations. The person refused to be identified out of fear of retaliation. It is unclear where the documents, if they are real, had been kept in the intervening three decades.

Knowledge of TANG operations, eh? Looks like Newsweek is on the right path:

A principal source for the CBS story about President Bush's National Guard duty was Bill Burkett, a disgruntled former Guard officer who lives in Baird, Texas, who says he was present at Guard headquarters in Austin in 1997 when a top aide to then Governor Bush ordered records sanitized to protect the Boss, Newsweek reports in the current issue. Typed memos from the early '70s suggesting officers were pressured to give Bush special treatment and "sugarcoat" increasingly negative evaluations were a central part of the CBS report.

Other Guard officials disputed Burkett's account and the Bush aide involved, Joe Allbaugh, called it "absolute garbage." Burkett may have a motive to make trouble for the powers that be. In 1998, he grew gravely ill on a Guard mission to Panama, causing him to be hospitalized, and he suffered two nervous breakdowns. He unsuccessfully sued for medical expenses.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:13 PM | Comments (131)

September 12, 2004

WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KERNETH?

Here’s a fine study of kerning as it applies to the Rather/CBS documents.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:00 PM | Comments (31)

BATTLE IS JOINED

Don’t miss the Great Talking Competition tonight between John "Six Gun" Howard and Mark "Six Year Plan" Latham. Winner to be carried through the streets on a gilded ladder of opportunity; loser to face the medieval horror of a squeeze-easing.

Keep score in comments.

UPDATE. I mentioned in comments that the multi-journo format drained momentum because each new questioner had to re-start the debate. Reader BT points out that one of the journalists involved, Neil Mitchell, apparently agrees. Overall, I’m inclined to William Laing’s view: the debate was "an hour of mental death".

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:28 PM | Comments (159)

CLOUD OVER NORTH KOREA

This doesn’t sound good:

A reliable source in Seoul's diplomatic community says Sunday a mushroom cloud with a radius of 3.5 to 4 kilometers was spotted in Kimhyongjik County in North Korea's northernmost inland province of Yanggang on Sept. 9.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:32 PM | Comments (37)

CBS CITES THE MISINFORMED

CBS is spinning at 19,000 rpm and beyond in its attempts to defend Dan’s deception. Here’s the most recent BS from CBS:

On Saturday, there were reports that retired National Guard Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges - who corroborated the CBS News account - now says he believes the documents were not real, in part because of recent statements of Jerry Killian's relatives.

CBS News responded Saturday, saying, "We believed General Hodges the first time we spoke with him. We believe the documents to be genuine. We stand by our story and will continue to report on it.”

Of course, Hodges hadn’t even seen the documents when CBS first spoke to him. His view subsequently changed:

According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were "handwritten" and after CBS read him excerpts he said, "well if he wrote them that's what he felt." ... His personal belief is that the documents have been "computer generated" and are a "fraud".

Interesting that CBS should prefer the account of someone whose awareness of the facts was so limited (and distorted). And then there’s the matter of Phillip Bouffard, about whom the Boston Globe writes:

Philip D. Bouffard, a forensic document examiner in Ohio who has analyzed typewritten samples for 30 years, had expressed suspicions about the documents in an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, one in a wave of similar media reports. But Bouffard told the Globe yesterday that after further study, he now believes the documents could have been prepared on an IBM Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time.

Not so. Bouffard complains convincingly here that he’s been misrepresented. Naturally, CBS repeated the Globe’s ... well, we can’t really call it an error at this point, can we?

(Via InstaPundit, who has a whole bunch of further comments/links. Also, take a look at the latest from LGF.)

UPDATE. More from Hodges:

A former Texas Air National Guard colonel relied upon by CBS News to support the authenticity of memos about President Bush's military service said he never saw the memos before the show aired, and that he doesn't now believe they are authentic.

Retired Col. Bobby Hodges of Arlington, Texas, also said that one of the memos' references to undue pressure to "sugar coat" Bush's evaluations rings false. He said the colonel that supposedly applied that pressure did not interfere in Guard affairs after his retirement, 18 months before the date on the disputed memo.

Hodges, who retired from the Guard in 1989, said that after he saw the typewritten memos on Friday morning, he believed Killian did not, in fact, write them. "I don't think Killian wrote them - official or unofficial," he said.

By relying on Hodges’ earlier view, even in light of his increased knowledge and changed opinion, CBS is practicing the opposite of journalism. By the way, if you haven’t already, read Mark Steyn.

UPDATE II. In addition to the four Bush documents held by CBS, USA Today has two more. What’s up with that?

UPDATE III. The Washington Post:

On Friday, CBS News anchor Dan Rather named one of Killian's superiors, Hodges, as a key source in CBS's authentication of the documents. He said that Hodges -- whom he described as "an avid Bush supporter" -- had told CBS that he was "familiar" with the documents.

"It took a lot for him to speak the truth," Rather said.

But in an interview yesterday from his Texas home, Hodges contested Rather's account. He said that he was called on Monday night by a CBS reporter who read him extracts from documents purportedly written by Killian. Hodges said that he may have told CBS that he had conversations with Killian about Bush, but he denied confirming the authenticity of the documents in any way.

"Now that I have had a chance to see them, I think they are fake," Hodges said.

A CBS spokeswoman, Sandy Genelius, said the network "believed General Hodges the first time we talked to him."

Yes. Back when he was bravely telling the truth, at least so far as CBS defines it.

UPDATE IV. The Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Lt. Col. Jerry Killian’s son claiming the memos are bogus, and that his father "couldn’t type to begin with." Gary Killian, who also served in the National Guard, said he and his late father discussed the future President:

"We spoke about him only in terms that he was a pretty good pilot and that, on a couple of occasions, he tried to volunteer for operation 'Palace Alert,' " Killian said. "Palace Alert" was a program that dispatched Guard members in Texas to the Vietnam War.

I bet CBS never expected that news to leak out as a result of their "investigations". Killian turns out to be quite a source:

Gary Killian said that he was interviewed last week by a Dallas-based producer for CBS and that he tried to pass on the name of another person who knew Bush well when both were in the Guard. He said the producer told him the network had already talked to the individual.

"She told me point-blank, 'We don't want to use his commentary because we think he's too pro-Bush,' " Killian said.

There's a shock.

UPDATE V. Michael Moore was so looking forward to the Bush revelations:

Later today (Wed.), the Boston Globe, the A.P. and Dan Rather all present new and damning information about how George W. Bush got moved to the front of the line to get in the Texas Air National Guard, and how he then went AWOL. I am putting every ounce of trust I have in my fellow Americans that a majority of them get this, get the injustice of it all, and get the sad, sick twisted irony of how it relates very, very much to our precious Election 2004.

Oh, they get it, Mike.

(Via Lurker in comments)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:39 PM | Comments (22)

POLEY POLEY

Chicks and oldsters don’t dig Mark Latham:

Women and voters over 50 have deserted Mark Latham in his bid to become Prime Minister, exclusive polling [] reveals.

When voters in the Coalition's 12 most marginal seats were asked who would make the better Prime Minister, 53 per cent of women and 56 per cent of those aged over 50 supported Mr Howard.

Just 32 per cent of women and 31 per cent of voters aged over 50 backed Mr Latham.

These crazy polls! They’re all over the place. Not like big old wooden poles, which remain reliably located, although the political decorations on them keep changing. Labor supporter Robert Corr is amused.

UPDATE. Communists for Kerry for Latham! Complete with helpful "How to Speak Australian" guide.

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

BEAST OF BURDEN OF PROOF

Re the Dan Rather bogusness, Jim Treacher writes: "Okay, I'm no Howard Kurtz or anything, but I've seen one or two episodes of Law & Order in my day, and ... isn't the burden of proof on the accuser? It is? Okay. And isn't this crewcutted septuagenarian fadebrain the one who made the really big serious accusation? He is? Check. So ... isn't he sort of, you know, under the obligation to verify his claims? And not in a position to sit back and demand that everybody else prove to his satisfaction that it's not clearly bullshit? Is it out of line for me to ask this stuff? Sorry. Sorry. But I mean, if these memos were scribbled in burnt sienna crayon on the back of a Denny's placemat and somebody had the unmitigated gall to say something about it, would that be part of the 'professional rumor mill'? I'm just asking here, no big deal."

More Treacher observations here, here, and here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:06 AM | Comments (21)

SELECT YOUR TEAM

Apparently we’re in danger due to being part of "Bush’s team". What team would Sheikh Taj el-Den Al-Hilaly prefer us to be on?

The bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta has prompted Australia's leading Muslim cleric to warn of the dangers of being a member of "Bush's team".

Speaking after midday prayers at Sydney's largest mosque in Lakemba, Sheikh Taj el-Den Al-Hilaly expressed his "sorrow and shock" at the attack.

"It's not in the interests of Australia for us to be in [President George] Bush's team because that team has expressed and proven its animosity to the world," he warned. "The Bush team is known now to rely on deception and has goals that are not all open. He is leading a push for American imperialism and he doesn't care for Australian interests or those of any sovereign nation other than his own."

The Sheikh's team is well known for proving its friendliness to the world.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:54 AM | Comments (10)

PREPARE FOR NUANCE

Via the Weekly Standard, a selection of John Kerry’s Iraq flip-flops:

I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him. - May 3, 2003

Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president. - December 16, 2003

Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it's the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. - August 9, 2004

Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." - September 6, 2004

We should not send more American troops. That would be the worst thing. - September 4, 2003

If it requires more troops ... that's what you have to do. - April 18, 2004

I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops. - August 1, 2004

We're going to get our troops home where they belong. - August 6, 2004

We should increase funding [for the war in Iraq] by whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win. - August 31, 2003

$200 billion [for Iraq] that we're not investing in education and health care, and job creation here at home ... That's the wrong choice. - September 8, 2004

Vote for Kerry! Or don’t vote for him. Either way, he’ll be equally happy.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:46 AM | Comments (3)

SEPTEMBER 11

Something I wrote after visiting New York shortly after the attacks. Read to the end to see mention of Tom Kaade, who for me summed up the spirit of post-9/11 America.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:36 AM | Comments (9)

September 11, 2004

RATHER ROUNDUP

• CBS "fact-checker" Retired Maj. General Hodges -- someone from 60 Minutes read the memos to him over the phone -- is now convinced the documents are fake:

According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were "handwritten" and after CBS read him excerpts he said, "well if he wrote them that's what he felt."

Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70's and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been "computer generated" and are a "fraud".

• Terry McAuliffe, crowing the other day about "new military documents", "serious charges", and "documents from the personal files of Col. Jerry Killian", now directs reporters to the genuine source:

"I can unequivocally say that no one involved here at the Democratic National Committee had anything at all to do with any of those documents. If I were an aspiring young journalist, I think I would ask Karl Rove that question."

It’s always Karl Rove’s fault, isn’t it, McAuliffe? Yes, Superintendent Chalmers. Yes, it is.

• Blame the vast right-wing conspiracy! So hint NPR and Media Matters, whose bewilderment over an incorrect time stamp leads to their standard conclusion.

• Could an IBM Selectric Composer produce a document identical to the disputed 60 Minutes memos? Here’s an impressive investigation.

• Via the Dallas Morning News:

The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugar coat" President Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written, his own service record shows.

An order obtained by the Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter (Buck) Staudt was honorably discharged on March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of Bush's service was dated Aug. 18, 1973.

• You can practically see the scars in this Roy Eccleston piece following surgery to remove previous references to the 60 Minutes claims.

• RatherBiased is, as you’d expect, all over this.

• More memos keep turning up. Wriggle out of this one, Bu$hitler!

• Paul Grabowitz, professor of new media at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism:

"Blogs have been characterized as places where people just go to mouth off, but what this brings out is the ability of blogs to actually help report a story."

As ilibcc notes: "How would we know anything without academics?"

• Dan Rather politely requests that you ignore the evidence and instead look at the sinister entities behind these malicious ... er ... truths:

CBS News anchor Dan Rather on Friday vigorously defended his "60 Minutes" story on President Bush's National Guard service, saying the 30-year-old memos he disclosed on the show this week "were and remain authentic" despite questions raised by some handwriting and document experts.

"Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not, I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill," Rather said. "My colleagues and I at '60 Minutes' made great efforts to authenticate these documents and to corroborate the story as best we could. ... I think the public is smart enough to see from whom some of this criticism is coming and draw judgments about what the motivations are."

Breathtaking.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:21 PM | Comments (60)

RAMSEY: ALL HATE, ALL THE TIME

Mark Latham's outraged, dignified response to the Jakarta attack has upset Sydney Morning Herald ghoul Alan Ramsey, who complains about "Mark Latham's gushing rush the instant the Jakarta car bomb exploded" and bitches about how "cringing and limp-wristed Labor has become these days at the mere mention of anything to do with 'the war'".

Memo to SMH editors: if you’re selling newspapers to human beings, it’s probably a good idea to employ human columnists. You know, instead of whatever the hell Ramsey is.

Also in today’s SMH -- profiles of several bombing victims:

Mughofir worked for a construction company and lived in Jakarta. He was originally from Klaten in central Java, where his body was returned yesterday for burial. He was married to Nurhayati, 39, and had two children - a daughter, Tuti Alawiyah, 19, and a son, Ichsan Assegaf, 10. He had recently returned from Medan, in Sumatra, where he was doing construction work, and had brought back his son a video cartoon.

Kompas newspaper reported that Nurhayati and Tuti were watching the bombing on TV when they saw Mughofir's name appear. Nurhayati said she rang and rang his mobile phone, to prove the TV wrong, but no one answered. It was only when his colleague picked up and told her the news that the tragedy struck home.

Meanwhile:

A five-year-old Australian girl critically injured in the bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta has undergone further surgery in a Singapore hospital and is in a stable condition.

Doctors operated on Elisabeth Manuela ''Manny'' Bambina Musu's head injuries last night, soon after she was airlifted to Singapore.

Grace Ngoh, a spokeswoman for SOS International, which evacuated Manny from Jakarta, said the child was in an intensive care unit in a stable condition at the Mount Elizabeth private hospital.

Manny's Indonesian mother, 27-year-old Maria Eva Kumalawati, was among the nine people killed in Thursday's explosion.

When the blast occurred, Manny had been heading to the embassy with her mother to pick up her new Australian passport after becoming a citizen on September 1.

UPDATE. Keep on sliding, Paul McGeough.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:49 PM | Comments (14)

THIS POST WRITTEN IN 1973

Via the Associated Press: "Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin had a strong reaction to newly released records about President George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard."

Harkin wasn’t alone. Following a day of brilliant forgery revelations, last night Powerline wrote:

Tomorrow morning, dinosaur media across the country will be headlining the 60 Minutes "scoop" as a blow to the Bush campaign.

Sure got that right, although much of the dinosauratariat did, in fact, end up paying attention. More on media reaction later; for now, back to Powerline:

Before their newspapers are even printed, not only is the story obsolete, but CBS is in full retreat. As Stephen Hayes reported earlier today, Power Line "led the charge" against the 60 Minutes hoax today. But the credit really goes to the incredible power of the internet. We knew nothing; all of our information came from our readers. Many thousands of smart, well-informed people who only a few years ago would have had no recourse but perhaps to write a letter to their local newspaper, now can communicate and share their expertise in real time, through sites like this one. The power of the medium is incredible, as we've seen over the last fourteen hours.

Just fourteen hours. In which time this Guardian headline, above a piece by Sidney Blumenthal on the faked-up Bush documents, became a modern classic in the tradition of "Dewey Defeats Truman":

Now it's Bush's turn to squirm

Imagine the squirming currently underway at Sid’s place. Imagine him recalling lines like these -- "Evidence of the president's fudged war record emerged in time to undermine the Republicans' triumphal march" -- and writhing like a sack of stupid eels. Yo, eely Sid! Enjoy John Podhoretz:

From the lies of Ben Barnes to the apparent forgeries of who-knows-who-did-it — why has "60 Minutes" exposed itself in this way?

We all know why. Its producers and others in the media think George Bush deserves to be beaten up now because of the beating administered to John Kerry in August. In some weird way, the editors and producers believe this is fairness at work.

Instead, they have unmasked themselves. Or rather, they have been unmasked by ordinary people who can see what they and their hired experts evidently could not.

As Paul Krugman says: "It's the dishonesty, stupid." Except Krugman isn’t talking about 60 Minutes or the rest of the reliably incompetent media; he’s talking about Bush. Assume he’s hammering on the press, however, and Krugman almost sounds reasonable:

It's the same pattern of dishonesty, this time involving personal matters that the public can easily understand.

Indeed. Them common peoples, they knows their fonts and such! The LA Times decided -- maybe it was an in-joke -- to invoke memories of last week’s Bush-didn’t-stop-the-booing lie:

The president's representatives did not join in the complaints that the Killian memos were faked, but did not discourage such speculation by the media.

Consider the mentality of someone who imagines that the "president’s representatives" have the power to "discourage speculation". Meanwhile the Sherlocks at Democrats.com were engaging in some expert counter-speculation:

The media is buzzing with the possibility that the Killian memos broadcast on 60 Minutes are forgeries. The truth hangs on whether any commonly-used typewriters in the 60's-70's had proportional spacing. If you HAVE a typewriter like that, please type out a replica of Killian's first memo and see if your typewriter matches his.

While you’re at it, go look in the attic for John Kerry’s Magic Hat (note to Dave Barry: great name for a band or what?). Is it possible to feel sorry for Terry McAuliffe? No, of course not, not even after this:

Responding to breaking news regarding George W. Bush's military record, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe issued this statement:

"George W. Bush's cover story on his National Guard service is rapidly unraveling."

Take a look, Terry. Scroll down to post 47. That’s where your unraveling began. And it continues here, here, here, here, here, and here. Last word to James Lileks:

Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. Put it this way: you’ve see films of old buildings detonated by precision demolitionists. First you see the puffs of smoke – then the building just hangs there for a second, even though every column that held it up has been severed. We’ve been living in that second for years, waiting for the next frame. Well, here it is. Roll tape. Down she goes.

UPDATE. Dan makes his stand:

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn't have gone to air if they would not have been. There isn't going to be -- there's no -- what you're saying apology?

QUESTION: Apology or any kind of retraction or...

RATHER: Not even discussed, nor should it be. I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who don't like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is what are the answers to the questions raised in the story, which I just gave you earlier.

Squirm on, squirmboy.

UPDATE II. “Rather is more nervous than a rented mule on Arbor Day,” writes Jim Treacher. Which makes as much sense as the counter-arguments emerging from Daily Kos. The OmbudsGod presents an overview of their doomed position:

The Daily Kos asserts “TANG Typewriter Follies; Wingnuts Wrong.” Implicit in their argument is that LTC Killian was using a highly specialized IBM "Selectric" Composer to type his memos.

Right. Like you'd use such a device to write memos to yourself. Former IBM engineer Bill Rouse e-mails:

Tim, I worked for IBM from 1967 to 2003 in Field Engineering -- we maintained Computers and their associated input/output devices. Modified Selectric typewriters were used by operators to enter commands and respond to system messages and Selectrics were also used on communication terminals. These typewriters were never intended to have pretty fonts and typesetting qualities. Office Products Division worked on office machines -- typewriters (typebar and Selectrics) and dictation equipment. There was a Selectric model called a Composer. It was used to prepare text for photo typesetting, it had all the bells and whistles: propotional spacing, justified right margin etc -- very expensive machine for its time. Regular Selectrics were mechanically complex, but the Composer was orders of magnitude fiendishly complex ( I am thankful I didn't have to work on that monster.)

LGF, et al. has it right -- those "documents" are a fraud.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (40)

SHAMEFUL FACT FACED

Muslims cannot clear their names unless they own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women. Hey, don’t get angry at me; send your hate mail to Abdel Rahman al-Rashed at the Arab News:

It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims.

Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.

Osama bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim.

What a pathetic record. What an abominable "achievement." Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?

Just to repeat: Abdel Rahman al-Rashed. In the Arab News.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:51 AM | Comments (16)

THE BOY AIN'T RIGHT

"Why dismiss what Jemaah Islamiah says?" writes Meg Lees staffer Gary Sauer-Thompson. "What they say is rational." Compared to the rest of GST's vile nonsense, he has a point:

The consequences of blowback this time is that it is the Indonesians rather than Australians who have suffered the most. That is the tragedy.

Nice bloke. Maybe he’ll go on a local killing spree to correct that international suffering imbalance. (To cheer yourself up after reading Gary, check out Currency Lad’s examination of the minor party war and Professor Bunyip’s superb guide to terror reactions.)

Still on the subject of tragedy and the irrational, here’s Matt Welch:

I haven't written about the two French journalists being held hostage in Iraq, partly because the story affects us very personally -- they are colleagues and e-mail correspondents of Emmanuelle's, belonging to an online group of global French freelancers she founded a couple of years back. Emmanuelle has been anguished about their fate for weeks.

So why not write about it here? Because, unlike in November 2001, when her colleague Johanne Sutton was murdered by the Taliban, the whole us vs. them solidarity, where the Western world was square against the savages trying to kill us, has eroded to the point where you can be reliably sure that as soon as you write the word "French" the kowardly keyboard warriors are gonna come out and type "good riddance" and worse anonymously in the comments section of personal websites of the victims' personal relations. And sure enough, that's exactly what's happened.

To adapt a phrase, these people aren't pro-war, they're on the other side. Of basic human decency.

He’s right. Rail against the French government all you like (and I will), but calling for the deaths of French journalists in Iraq is as sickening as any blood-lusting howl from Jemaah Islamiah.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:35 AM | Comments (13)

September 10, 2004

CBS SCANDAL LATEST

Damning proof!

And yet more proof, double-plus-extra-damning!

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:58 PM | Comments (29)

SO, DIRTY ANIMALS, WHAT HAVE YOU TO SAY?

Brian Deegan is wrong:

Brian Deegan, whose son Joshua died in the 2002 Bali bombings, today said the Jakarta embassy bombing showed Australia must negotiate with the terrorist organisation, Jemaah Islamiah.

Mr Deegan said [Foreign Minister] Mr Downer should meet with the leaders of JI while he was in Indonesia.

"He is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it's his portfolio. If we are at some kind of war, then we should negotiate," Mr Deegan said.

"He (Mr Downer) should speak to the head of JI and ask him: 'Why? What's the problem?'

We don’t need to ask. They’ve already told us what the problem is: we are dirty animals and insects that need to be wiped out, and regardless of whether we’re Australians, Americans, whatever, we are all white people.

You know, it might just be my reading of things, but these don’t sound like particularly promising opening points for negotiation. Deegan expanded on his views during an appearance this morning on ABC radio:

Mr Deegan believes the link between the bombing and Australia's foreign policy is clear.

"I don't think one can deny it, because we weren't a terrorist target before the Howard Government came into power," he said.

Oh, but agitation over East Timor - led by the Left, to their credit - began many years before Howard took office. And what do our friends on the opposite side of the negotiating table have to say about that?

"Australia has taken part in efforts to separate East Timor from Indonesia which was an international conspiracy by followers of the (Christian) Cross."

Speaking of negotiation, check out the SMH’s latest online poll:

Should Australia try to negotiate?

This replaces an earlier question ("Who will benefit more from the terror attack?") that was apparently ditched and is now safely tucked away beneath the results of an old Howard Dean poll. Nice try, SMH.

UPDATE. Deegan has lost the whining noodlehead vote.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:23 PM | Comments (43)

MICROSOFT WORD: VERSION PREHISTORIC

Well, this sure is interesting.

UPDATE. Powerline has a complete wrap-up of forgery stuff so far. The original (ie, anti-Bush) story has already run in all the local papers and everywhere else worldwide, so the impact of retracting it will be massive. This could turn out to be one excellent media self-damage scandal.

UPDATE II. This is incredible; it seems the documents were only fact-checked over the phone:

A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network's sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone and Hodges replied that "these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time."

"These documents represent what Killian not only was putting in memoranda, but was telling other people," the CBS News official said. "Journalistically, we've gone several extra miles."

You sure have. Straight down.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:26 AM | Comments (138)

JAKARTA ATTACK LATEST

The Australian: "A massive car bomb was detonated outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta yesterday, killing at least 11 people, including children, and wounding hundreds just weeks from the federal election and days before the third anniversary of the September 11 US terrorist attacks."

The Sydney Morning Herald: "Indonesia's national police chief has accused the man who built the Bali and Marriott hotel bombs of carrying out the huge blast that killed at least 11 people and wounded as many as 139 at Australia's embassy in Jakarta yesterday."

• Former head of the Defence Department's international policy and strategy division Allan Behm: "There are more people with more anger seeking to direct their anger at us for what they think is a war against Islam. We know it's not but that's how it's represented in much of the Islamic press."

AAP: "A five-year-old Australian girl was critically injured and her Indonesian mother killed in the bomb blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta."

Meru: "I'm looking for my family."

The Australian's Greg Sheridan: "It is time to accept that we are a high priority target for radical Islamist terrorism. It is also clear that JI knows all about the Australian election timetable and that the timing of this bombing is no accident."

• Australian National University's director of terrorism studies Clive Williams: "I think (the embassy was a target) probably because of our pressure on the Indonesians to keep (Abu Bakar) Bashir in jail; the fact that we have been co-operating very closely with the Indonesian police in terms of pursuing JI."

• Labor leader Mark Latham: "These were people - some of them, it seems, security guards - there trying to defend our interests in Jakarta. It is time to pay our respects. Others were just passers-by. That is the horror, the blatant stupidity of terrorism ... As I said a few days ago in response to the tragedy in Russia, it does shake your faith in human nature, but it also doubles your resolve and strength to deal with evil, so that you can build a world that has freedom and the basic decency of respecting each other as human beings."

• Jakarta housewife Ibu Martono: "We're beyond angry. I want to kill those who did this."

The Age's Tony Parkinson: "After each atrocity, a similar pattern of argument emerges: that Spanish commuters paid for their government's folly in Iraq; that holiday-makers in Bali were violating Muslim sensitivities; that office workers in New York were legitimate targets, as proxies for US policy in the Middle East. This business of attributing culpability to the targets of terror, directly or indirectly, is obnoxious. Worse, it leads into a metaphysical funk: paralysis via analysis."

• Indonesian guard Siti Riani: "My friend Anton just died, my friend Anton just died. He was a security guard."

• Jakarta Man in comments: "My house is 500m from the bomb site. My son is at the Aussie school in Jakarta. To the fellow saying 'our government must start to understand why islamic extremists hate us so much', I say 'fuck you and all your kind.'"

• Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa: "The victims here are ordinary Indonesians. We cannot reduce the nature of the threat only to foreign envoys or foreign governments. We are all potential victims."

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:32 AM | Comments (33)

OTHER VIEWS

The Sydney Morning Herald's Louise Dodson: "This is good news for the Government."

• Poll question in The Sydney Morning Herald: "Who will benefit more from the terror attack?"

• Former Australian ambassador Richard Woolcott: "By deciding to join the invasion of Iraq, Howard raised our profile in the eyes of terrorists."

• Academic Scott Burchill: "All of the attacks on Western targets since 9/11 have taken place on Howard's watch. How does this make him the strongest candidate on national security? Mr Downer might also like to start thinking about 'root causes.'" Simon deals with him.

Christopher Sheil: "Bugger! Just when [John Howard] needed a circuit-breaker, along comes JI. Among the shocking things about terrorists, I include their timing."

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:26 AM | Comments (28)

September 09, 2004

BLAST KILLS THREE

Three people are reported dead following a bomb blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Updates to follow.

UPDATE. The toll now stands at five:

There are now reports of at least five people dead and more than 50 wounded.

The explosion in Rasuna Said Street was heard five kilometres away and thought to be on a scale with the blast that killed 12 at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta in August 2003.

Metro TV in Jakarta reported that the plume from the blast was seen to go high into the air, blowing out windows in the 15-storey Wasma 89 Graha Sampoerna building next to the Australian embassy, and damaging other buildings in the area.

UPDATE II. Both Australia and the US recently issued travel warnings:

September 7, 2004

This Travel Warning updates security threat information for Indonesia, alerts American citizens to security concerns regarding identifiably western hotels and reminds travelers of the ongoing terrorist threat for Indonesia. The Department of State continues to recommend that Americans defer all non-essential travel to Indonesia. This supercedes the June 16, 2004 Travel Warning for Indonesia.

UPDATE III. Toll now increased to six. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is on his way to Jakarta. Only minor injuries reported among embassy staff.

UPDATE IV. Via Fairfax, the first photographs. This appears to show embassy staff helping evacuate the injured.

UPDATE V. Alexander Downer: "It is clearly a terrorist attack, it was outside the Australian embassy, you would have to conclude that it was directed towards Australia."

UPDATE VI. The Jakarta Post claims eight dead. News Ltd reports 99 injured.

UPDATE VII. Hanyu in comments: "I live in Hong Kong and I've already had several Indonesian friends on the phone to apologise. One was crying, asking why people would target Australia. Australia, she said, why Australia?! This is madness! She is, by the way, a human rights activist in Aceh and knows more than a little about atrocities, bomb blasts and death. I'm also getting text messages from Indonesia that express complete and utter disbelief."

UPDATE VIII. Location of the blast.

UPDATE IX. Opposition leader Mark Latham will receive a full briefing on the attack, at John Howard’s invitation. Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd will travel with Alexander Downer to Jakarta.

UPDATE X. Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri has cancelled engagements and is returning from Brunei.

UPDATE XI. Two of the dead were security guards.

UPDATE XII. Expert's view: The attack aimed to disprupt Indonesian elections.

UPDATE XIII. Police officer Katmadi: "This bomb seems to be bigger than the Marriott one. There are so many victims."

UPDATE XIV. A Reuters chronology of major bomb attacks in Indonesia since 2000. Total dead (not including today’s atrocity): 255.

UPDATE XV. Jakarta-based Australian journalist Chris Holm, interviewed by the Ten Network, summarises local reaction: "These people are terrorists. We must kill them."

UPDATE XVI. The Department of Foreign Affairs provides this number for anyone with concerns for Australians in Jakarta: 1300 555 135

UPDATE XVII. Malaysian authorities believe Azahari Husin, a British-trained engineer suspected of earlier attacks, may be responsible: "He has the expertise to manufacture the explosives required for a bombing of this scale."

UPDATE XVIII. Prime Minister John Howard: "This is not a nation that is going to intimidated by acts of terrorism."

UPDATE XIX. Labor leader Mark Latham: "The terrorists responsible for this attack are evil and barbaric and must be dealt with as harshly as possible."

UPDATE XX. ABC TV says eleven Indonesians are confirmed dead.

UPDATE XXI. Reader Geoffrey Gold, an Australian businessman based in Indonesia, writes: "The Jakarta bombing is a terrorist atrocity against the Indonesian people. The Australian Embassy is positioned on a busy ten-lane boulevard in central Jakarta. It is well-protected with a high wall along the pavement with its building well back from the fence. A police truck and road barriers permanently reduce the service road outside the embassy to one lane to prevent parking in front. IMO a  bomb attack on the embassy would require a suicide bomber. But, even then, the main blast area had to be roadside thereby guaranteeing that all serious casualties were police, security staff and passers by. The blast area though blew out the windows of the embassy and about eight high rise office buildings alongside and opposite and there would surely be many hundreds of people cut by the flying glass."

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:02 PM | Comments (145)

'HE LOOKS SCARY'

Peter Garrett has been largely concealed from media attention since his July 9 humiliation at the hands of The Today Show’s ruthless interrogation squad. So noticeable in following weeks was Garrett’s low profile that on August 30 Tony Eastley plaintively asked Mark Latham: "Where’s Peter Garrett?"

Where? Busy re-designing his website, for one thing, which initially involved removing all those embarrassing screeds that contradict current ALP policy. Yesterday Garrett was permitted to face his public, although the spaz-dancer’s minders made sure no pesky "grown-ups" with their complicated "questions" would be present.

Peter Garrett spoke to children at Matraville Soldiers Settlement Public School.

Chatting with those too young to vote possibly wasn’t the role imagined for the ALP’s star recruit when he was initially recruited. Still, after the wild-eyed backflippery of The Today Show, Garrett needed to ease his way back into the campaign. A pity, then, that his visit proved so hilariously ill-at-ease:

Peter Garrett was quizzed about his shiny scalp today as he reacquainted himself with the public school system.

"Do you actually shave your head with a razor or are you actually bald," an inquisitive year six student asked the Labor candidate for the Sydney seat of Kingsford-Smith and former Midnight Oil frontman.

Mr Garrett wouldn't say.

Excuse me ... he wouldn’t say? So much for Labor’s promised honesty and transparency! Next, Garrett was forced into giggling denial mode:

"Have you met Mark Latham ... is he cool," one girl inquired as Mr Garrett tried to laugh away the question.

Cool? Latham? Not according to the next pint-size questioner:

Another jumped in with "He looks scary", to which Mr Garrett replied: "I think he's a terrific leader and he cares a lot about education".

Yes, but the issue was Latham’s evident scariness. Garrett’s own daughters are enrolled at a private school, which raises a dilemma for the millionaire candidate:

He said he would be prepared to pay higher private school fees for his children as a result of Labor's plan to strip funding from wealthy private schools to pump more dollars into the public system.

"If that was the choice that I wanted to make, then certainly I'd be prepared to make that choice and I think that's the acceptable path for us to take," he said.

Easy for you to say, Baldy McRich! Raise the cost of private education and some of Mark Latham’s beloved aspirational class won’t be able to afford it. The gap between rich and poor will increase! Garrett ended his day swatting back the mushiest of softball questions on The Panel, which really could have used some Matraville kids as guest hosts.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:48 AM | Comments (31)

SQUEEZE THE EASE

Bernie Slattery notes that Mark Latham has twice dodged appearances on Victorian commercial radio, preferring to chat with his lower-rating friends at the ABC. Why would Latham do this? Bernie’s bride has a theory:

Latham is totally unconvincing on radio, sounding like a bad actor who hasn't confidently memorised his lines and Victorian listeners, who reject phonies like John Laws, won't have a bar of him.

Right on, Mrs. S! Latham was dreadful yesterday, coming off as more defensive than the South African cricket team. One line he’d certainly memorised, however; Latham promised to "ease the squeeze" five times during a single radio interview, and must have uttered the horrible phrase at least 100 times over the course of the day. Joe Lieberman should demand royalties.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:40 AM | Comments (4)

BRING ON THE CUTS

Will we have the tax-cut election of our dreams? Yes, says Terry McCrann, writing after Mark Latham’s announcement of $8-per-week breaks for those earning below $52,000:

It will, it has to, prompt a response -- something that John Howard has shown he is well aware of, with his sly hints of tax cuts for May's "forgotten" people.

But the SMH says matching cuts won’t happen:

John Howard will resist the temptation to match Mark Latham's tax relief for low-income earners but plans to deliver his own election lures for these voters, including child-care support.

The hell with that! Pressure for a big fat Howard tax cut must be maintained. The Australian is leaning on the PM:

Pressure is building on the Howard Government to counter Labor's $11.2 billion tax and family plan after the Opposition survived an onslaught on the vote-chasing policy.

They haven’t survived just yet, but might do if we don’t get some $$$ returned to us from the government. Last word to the Daily Telegraph’s editorial:

Yesterday, mixed in with the social policy and tax tinkering, there were actually some tax increases in Mr Latham's policy statement. Are we supposed to be cheered about that?

At election times particularly, politicians are practiced at the art of what have become known as "small target" offerings. Mr Latham's outline yesterday seems to fit that category. How refreshing it would be to hear – from either Mr Latham or Mr Howard – of a "big target" plan for significant taxation reductions. What about it?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:38 AM | Comments (0)

FORGOTTEN PEOPLE SUDDENLY REMEMBERED

Mark Latham will be praying that this story, via the ABC’s Catherine McGrath, doesn’t get any traction:

CATHERINE MCGRATH: But the next caller to Hobart ABC radio was worried, very worried about Labor's policies. She thinks she's one of the losers.

CALLER 2: Obviously I'm a sole parent, but I was one of the unfortunate ones that my husband didn't leave me, he died, and Mr Latham said this morning on AM that sole parents need to get back to work and show their kids some work ethic, well, hello? You know, I'm here with three kids under 11 trying to sort out our lives, my husband died at work, and he's telling me to go back to work.

Oops! Looks like a certain level of traction has already been achieved. Here’s Josh Gordon in The Age:

A single mother earning $35,000 a year is struggling to raise two children. Each week she scrapes together just enough cash for bills, food, rent, clothes, child care. She is one of Mark Latham's "forgotten people", a true battler.

Then she takes a close look at his $11.2 billion tax and family policy. What? She will be $208 a year worse off if John Howard loses the election? How could this be? Although Latham claims the package will "ease the squeeze" on working families, Labor's own policy documents show the benefits are distributed in a cruelly haphazard manner.

The haphazard welfare lobby also cruelly attacked Latham:

Opposition Leader Mark Latham today rejected claims that Labor's tax and family shake-up would leave 180,000 families worse off.

Welfare body ACOSS today reportedly said 180,000 families would go backwards under Labor's tax policy, which includes tax cuts of up to $8 a week.

How far backward? Sue Dunlevy has the numbers:

More than 100,000 sole parents and another 80,000 low-income families will lose between $500 and $2500 a year if Labor is elected.

And if they think taking up Opposition Leader Mark Latham's challenge to get a job will help they had best think again, according to The Australian Council of Social Service.

Under Labor's tax and family package released on Tuesday they will get slugged even more, ACOSS said.

We’re living in strange times when ACOSS and the Prime Minister are making near-identical comments. Here’s Howard hitting a theme we’ll hear much more of in coming days:

How can you justify adding to the annual tax burden to the tune of $400 or $500 of a single-income family with an income of less than $35,000?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:35 AM | Comments (4)

NEWS BRIEFLETS

• Puce is back! Or was back, a few days ago.

• "Terrorist" seems to be appearing in more ABC stories recently. Could this be due to the retirement of John Tulloh?

• My Zionist masters inform me that Margo Kingston’s Psychodiary now features comments.

• A Palestine Solidarity Conference -- organised by the Palestinian Progressive Youth Union and Revolutionary Communist Youth -- is currently underway in Sweden. Highlights of the four-day Paleothon include “Palestinian resistance against the Zionist occupation”, “strategy for resistance”, “resistance against US imperialism in Iraq”, and “resisting that irresistable chocolate cream pie - mmmm, yummy!” Israelly Cool is trying to work up some counter-resistance, so help out if you can.

• Where did John Kerry get the idea that Dick Cheney had called him "unfit for office"? Russ Smith notes a confession from the Washington Post: “Ombudsman Michael Getler explained to readers last Sunday that an exuberant Post headline writer made an error ('Cheney Calls Kerry Unfit'), relying on the words in reporter John Harris' front-page story rather than the text of Cheney's speech." Kerry should read further than the headlines.

• Germans are all panty-bunched about the confinement by US authorities of Amir al-Sadi, leader of the Iraqi chem-weapons skunk works. Medienkritik writes: "Recently, the German Foreign Ministry made several requests to Washington for Mr. al-Sadi's release. When the US failed to respond, German Chancellor Schroeder himself brought up the issue of al-Sadi's release in a direct conversation with President George W. Bush." Bush has so far not answered this tear-jerking plea.

• More on Dick: did the VP really say that if the US would face the threat of another terrorist attack if it elected Kerry? Sure looks like it -- but Patterico has evidence that the damning quote was Dowdified!

• "I'm a moderate Muslim and agree wholeheartedly with the Bush Administration's terror policy," writes Alykhan Velshi, who has interesting (not to say depressing) insights into the western spread of Muslim extremism. Read the whole item.

• What were Glenn Reynolds and I thinking when we decided biker chicks were no longer hot?

• Donate $40 to Scott Elliott and he’ll send you a daily Election Projection update every day for free! ("Free" in this context means "$40")

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:14 AM | Comments (12)

September 08, 2004

CRUSH, KILL, DESTROY

Not sure about John Quiggin's first point:

It's a mistake to react to terrorism by hardening resistance to the political claims with which terrorism is associated. This has the effect of driving legitimate supporters of those claims into the arms of the terrorists.

But there’s no disputing his conclusion:

In political terms, we should not respond to terrorists either way - they have nothing to say to us. In practical terms, we should pursue and destroy them.

Well put. Although Quiggin reader Luis, in comments, disagrees:

I thought that one kills people and destroys objects and other animals (like dogs). Are you suggesting that terrorists should not receive the treatment reserved to people? If we fall into that trap, aren't we acting like terrorists too?

No, Luis. We’re acting like people destroying terrorists.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:24 PM | Comments (23)

CONVERTING ALLAH

All deities are as one in the New York Times. God, Allah, Buddha ... what's the diff? It’s all just the same old beardy guy living in the sky, right? Dawn Eden notes the Times' happy monotheism:

The wire services reported, in a quote printed in thousands of newspapers, that the captured Beslan terrorist said, "By Allah, I did not shoot."

Today's Times piece quotes him as saying, "By God, I did not shoot"- a translation that no other news organization has used.

In other words, the Times wanted so badly to leave Islam out of its Beslan feature that it altered the terrorist's quote.

Meanwhile Daniel Pipes has compiled a list of terrorist euphemisms employed worldwide for the Beslan bastards:

* Assailants - National Public Radio.
* Attackers – the Economist.
* Bombers – the Guardian.
* Captors – the Associated Press.
* Commandos – Agence France-Presse refers to the terrorists both as "membres du commando" and "commando."
* Criminals - the Times (London).
* Extremists – United Press International.
* Fighters – the Washington Post.
* Group – the Australian.
* Guerrillas: in a New York Post editorial.
* Gunmen – Reuters.
* Hostage-takers - the Los Angeles Times.
* Insurgents – in a New York Times headline.
* Kidnappers – the Observer (London).
* Militants – the Chicago Tribune.
* Perpetrators – the New York Times.
* Radicals – the BBC.
* Rebels – in a Sydney Morning Herald headline.
* Separatists – the Christian Science Monitor.

And my favorite:

* Activists – the Pakistan Times.

(Via Angela Bell)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:58 PM | Comments (55)

PICK A NUMBER

The National Review’s Jim Geraghty on 1,000 deaths in Iraq:

It appears that today the United States may have suffered its 1,000th soldier killed in action in Iraq. We will soon hear from the antiwar left — and, I suspect, Senator Kerry — that 1,000 lives and around 7,000 injured is too high a price to pay to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Okay. What price would have been worth it? Let’s hear a number from war opponents.

How many U.S. soldiers dead? How many wounded? How many allies killed in action and wounded in action?

Perhaps the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien can supply some answers. After all, it was Kerry who last year asked the Prime Minister: "What is an acceptable number of civilian deaths in a war?" Or maybe Alan Ramsey can help us out.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:30 PM | Comments (24)

RACE CARD PLAYED

Mark Latham in 2001:

Tariffs and other forms of protection are the economic equivalent of racism. They encourage Australians to think poorly of people from other countries and to believe that we would be better off isolated from the rest of the world. If the Labor movement is willing to discriminate against other nations on economic grounds then what credibility do we have in arguing against social discrimination?

And Mark Latham’s policies today:

More than $2 billion of the Labor savings are temporary and will not produce significant benefits beyond the three-year span of the next parliament.

These include slowing down the rate at which tariffs are phased out for the motor vehicle industry, and for the textile clothing and footwear industries.

Mark Latham -- economic racist!

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:10 PM | Comments (4)

SNOBBISH SAWBONES

David Penberthy smites some uppity quacks:

On what basis – apart from cliches about healing hands – do 56 doctors decide they have the right to use an open letter to John Howard as a pulpit to tell the rest of the country how to vote?

And why do journalists fall over themselves to cover the pronouncement with the kind of unquestioning reverence shown by Polynesian cargo cults towards the magic doctor-man? Everyone is entitled to a view – the more views the merrier, let it rip – but what grates is the collective self-importance of these quacks in having the conceit to issue the statement and expecting the rest of us to stand back in awed silence hanging on their every word.

The reason these doctors wrote this letter – and the reason so many media outlets took it seriously – is simple.

They're snobs.

Read the whole thing (if you can get through the formatting errors) to enjoy Penberthy’s line about amputees being "up in arms".

UPDATE. Speaking of doctors ... Clinton's surgeon is a George W. Bush donor.

(Via the Corner)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:08 PM | Comments (23)

I LIKE THOSE ODDS

Having a drink last night with James Morrow when Adrian the Moblogging Cabbie dropped in. He’s been scoping out the latest Centrebet election odds:

Coalition $1.45 - Labor $2.60. In a two-horse race, not only is that a slaughter, but the stewards will be called immediately to conduct drug swabs. Same result in the US - Bush $1.50 - Kerry $2.40...the free world remains vigilant.

Centrebet is an underrated guide. ANU economist Dr Andrew Leigh found after the previous election that "betting markets run by the Northern Territory bookmaker Centrebet were a better guide than the pollsters - as in horseracing, when there's money on the line, bookies have a strong incentive to get the odds right."

UPDATE. Here’s an excellent piece on betting markets as an election guide from Time Australia’s Liz Feizkhah.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:56 PM | Comments (7)

IT JUST DON'T ADD UP

I grew up in a sole-parent family earning less than equivalent of $35,000 per year in today’s money. Under Labor’s proposed tax plan (although there is some dispute over the calculation of a one-off $600 annual payment) we apparently would have been worse off by $208:

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Well, you're obviously sticking by those weekly tables, but if families are doing the sums, if someone, a sole parent today is doing the sums and they earn $35,000 a year, they are by a year $208 worse off, so how do you justify that? You may say the $600 is unreal payment, they think it's a real payment. How do you justify the fact that they'll actually have less in their pocket over a year?

MARK LATHAM: Well our approach is unashamedly to say that we've got to ease the squeeze on middle Australia, we've got to ease the squeeze on middle Australia and we are providing substantial benefits in that area.

What about the battlers, pal? (Incidentally, Latham performed remarkably poorly in this interview. The transcript doesn’t fully reflect his awkwardness.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:56 PM | Comments (8)

KERRY DEBATES SELF

George W. Bush -- you know, the stupid guy -- is currently batting John Kerry around like a long-jawed pinata:

"When the heat got on in the Democratic primary, he declared himself the anti-war candidate. More recently, he switched again, saying he would have voted for the war even knowing everything we know today. And he woke up yesterday morning with yet another new position. And this one is not even his own. It is that of his one-time rival, Howard Dean. He even used the same words Howard Dean did back when he supposedly disagreed with him."

Toast.

UPDATE. More Kerry Komedy here. As Glenn Reynolds says: "Is there anyone running this campaign?"

STUPID BUSH UPDATE. "Bush military record mediocre" reads the headline on an AP story on the President’s Air National Guard service. Scroll to the very last paragraph, however:

Bush made good grades, scoring an 88 on total airmanship and earning perfect 100 for flying without navigational instruments, operating a T-38 System and studying applied aerodynamics. Other scores ranged from 89 in flight planning to 98 in aviation physiology.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:47 PM | Comments (17)

POWER OR GLORY

Michael Moore tells his readers he’s withdrawn ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ from the Best Documentary category at the Oscars because, well, because he cares about democracy:

The only problem with my desire to get this movie in front of as many Americans as possible is that, should it air on TV, I will NOT be eligible to submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Academy Award consideration for Best Documentary. Academy rules forbid the airing of a documentary on television within nine months of its theatrical release (fiction films do not have the same restriction).

Therefore, I have decided not to submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for consideration for the Best Documentary Oscar. If there is even the remotest of chances that I can get this film seen by a few million more Americans before election day, then that is more important to me than winning another documentary Oscar. I have already won a Best Documentary statue. Having a second one would be nice, but not as nice as getting this country back in the hands of the majority.

Ain’t he sweet? And then Mike adds this little aside:

I have informed our distributors of my decision. They support me (in fact, they then offered to submit our film for all the other categories it is eligible for, including Best Picture -- so, hey, who knows, maybe I'll get to complete that Oscar speech from 2003! Sorry, just kidding).

Just kidding? Not according to this Associated Press report:

Michael Moore says he won't submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for consideration as best documentary at this year's Academy Awards. Instead, he's going for the bigger prize of best picture.

In the midst of the presidential campaign, Moore's announcement is a strategic move for his Oscar campaign. Documentaries and animated films have their own categories, but the conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that those niche awards can limit a film's appeal in the overall best picture class.

Moore said he and his producing partner, Harvey Weinstein, agreed "Fahrenheit 9/11" would stand a better chance if they focused solely on the top Oscar.

Is Moore lying or is the AP report quoting him inaccurately? Tough call ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:52 AM | Comments (34)

September 07, 2004

PERPETUAL LOATHING

My favourite protest sign at the anti-Bush rallies in New York: "I cannot believe that George W. Bush is so stupid, and I cannot believe that so many people don’t see this." That sums up an attitude common among Bush-bashing literati, as observed by Mark Steyn:

In Sunday's Observer, Robert McCrum observed: "Today, by some margin, George W Bush is the most despised figure in America." Really? The paper sent McCrum to America to interview nine novelists about the election. That's the first mistake right there: shipping a guy 3,000 miles to take the pulse of the nation by interviewing a bunch of guys who already agree with him. One of the reasons why the Bush-despisers will be waking up stunned on the morning of November 3 is because they spend way too much time talking to each other and sustaining each other's delusions.

Makes you wonder who Ted Rall is talking to. Who’s sustaining his delusions, which extend about a light-year beyond the median range of Bush hatred?

(Obscene Rall link via LGF)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:37 PM | Comments (141)

POLICY ANNOUNCED

The Age reports:

Opposition Leader Mark Latham today unveiled Labor's long-awaited tax policy, delivering tax cuts of $8 a week to workers earning less than $52,000 a year.

UPDATE. More:

Mr Latham said his party would also lift the top marginal tax rate to $85,000 a year from July 2006 in a plan which he says will "ease the squeeze" on Australian families.

This is sounding good. Let’s hope Howard matches these numbers, and Latham then offers yet further breaks. Bring on the tax-cut election!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:43 PM | Comments (31)

RELEASE RELEASED

That weird John Kerry press release mentioned yesterday -- Adam Yoshida has more on it -- has now been withdrawn from combat. Obviously the release collected three Purple Hearts and requested a return home.

Memories of its honourable service are preserved here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:07 PM | Comments (5)

UNIVERSALLY PRAISED

The top five reviews of Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans, a new humour anthology from McSweeney’s:

"On the whole, the book isn’t terrible." - Daily Californian

"Most of the 50 entries are very short." - Globe and Mail

"The problem with a collection such as this can be summed up in four words: It is not funny." - Chicago Sun Times

"It may be an interesting exercise intellectually, but it doesn't add up to anything approaching enjoyment." - Rocky Mountain News

"$16.95 is far too much to charge for this book." - San Francisco Weekly

Lies! Created in Darkness is worth at least $16.95 -- perhaps up to $21.73 -- simply for the inclusion of John Moe’s Possible Follow-Up Songs for One-Hit Wonders. My own contribution appears in the book’s prestigious 'filler' section.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:05 PM | Comments (6)

ELECTION 2004 - A NATION SITS AROUND AND WAITS

• According to The Australian’s Christine Jackman, "it is almost impossible to find a website devoted to Mark Latham, either for or against." Jesus, Jackman. Buy some eyes already! (UPDATE: more Latham sites here and here.)

• Mark Latham will reveal his tax policy today to a shocked and trembling planet. Wonder if he’ll repeal the GST:

This is what Mr Latham had to say about the GST back in December of 1998, when he was taking a break from the front bench: "If it is ever introduced, such an unnecessary, unfair, discriminatory and job-destroying tax will need to be repealed. That strikes me as self-evident, particularly from a party of social justice . . . We are here to replace bad taxes with better taxes. We are here to replace unfair taxes with fairer taxes. This is why Labor exists."

• It’s the first commie alert of the 2004 election!

• Queensland’s Labor government will ban smoking from 2006 in all pubs, clubs, outdoor restaurants, underground, high above the earth, while walking, and in dreams. Cancelling out any potential ALP backlash, Queensland’s Liberal opposition say the new laws don’t go far enough.

Good news for John Howard:

The number of job advertisements in major Australian newspapers and on the internet rose 4.1 per cent last month compared with July and heralded a pickup in hiring, ANZ Bank economists said yesterday.

"The rebound in newspaper and internet job advertising in August is consistent with our expectation that the pace of job hiring will accelerate in the second half of the year in response to the recent rebound in economic activity," ANZ chief economist Karen Pringle said.

• Speaking of Howard, test your knowledge of Australian political protocol with the new poll at left.

• And remember -- if the Liberals win, democracy is dead.

• "An enoromous amount of money will be spent on this election," writes Hamish Alcorn. Why he spell so bad? Because he Margo brother! Is genetic.

• Pierpont announces his policy: "The Pierpont policy for the federal election can be stated simply. Pierpont intends to vote for any party that does not contain Peter Garrett."

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:12 AM | Comments (24)

HE'LL BE OFF THE PORCH IN NO TIME

Clinton "came through it okay". His heart surgery, that is.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:52 AM | Comments (21)

NUANCE OF THE RUMPS

Almost everybody involved in the arts is liberal, observes Time’s Joel Stein:

Perhaps that's because the left, with all its hemming and nuancing, is more willing to accept imperfection and failure, which are inherent in art. Conservatives, with their definitive solutions and visions of Utopia and impeccable memories, are better at philosophy and political talk shows.

Stein is joking -- in that "why isn’t anybody laughing? why does nobody ever laugh?" way of his -- but he references a serious leftoid notion: all this hemming and nuancing proves that we are the intelligent ones! Where dull-minded conservatives simply demand solutions, the left calls for discussions on the etymology of "solution" and how that may relate to Engels, Foucault, the concept of objectivity, and the present conflict between reactionary religious forces on one side and brave anti-Bush dissenters on the other.

(A couple of points: conservatives are perfectly willing to accept failure. Unlike the left, however, we’re unwilling to accept it two, three, or four times in a row. Socialism didn’t work out? Let’s try it again! The UN is a ruinous mess that only causes problems to become worse? More power to them! Castro still killing people? Give him another chance! And as for conservative visions of Utopia ... has Stein ever inspected the bumper-sticker dreams of the modern leftist?)

Conservatives see things in crude black and white. But those on the left -- intellingent, nuanced -- are capable of detecting delicate tonal variations invisible to the conservative eye. Here’s an example of the multi-hued leftist view, as expressed by the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg ahead of last week’s Republican convention:

The Republicans are here. We—we New Yorkers—hope they enjoy the amenities of our city. We hope they are treated politely by all of our fellow canyon dwellers, including those among us who are alarmed by the performance of the incumbent Administration during the past three and a half years—alarmed by its mania for shovelling cash to the very rich at the expense of families of middling means, its servility to polluters and fossil-fuel extractors, its reckless embrace of fiscal insolvency, its hostility to science, its political alliances with fanatic religious fundamentalisms of every stripe except Islamic (and of that stripe, too, when the subject is family planning or capital punishment), its partisan exploitation of our city’s suffering after the attacks of September 11, 2001, its transubstantiation of the worldwide solidarity that followed those attacks into worldwide anti-Americanism, and its diversion of American blood, treasure, and expertise away from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to a bloody occupation of Iraq that appears to have done nothing to weaken Islamist terrorism and may have done more than a little to strengthen it.

Nothing black-and-white there. No absolutes, no sir. All the freakin’ nuance you can eat. And it just gets more nuancy, as when Hertzberg describes the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth as a "rump group", although they far outnumber the Swift Boat Veterans for Kerry. "Rump group" ... kind of a sneering (not to say inaccurate) title, isn’t it? When servicemen have gone through what they went through, to answer such base accusations is itself demeaning. Which brings me to Hertzberg’s next point:

When a serviceman has gone through what Kerry went through, to answer such base accusations is itself demeaning.

The left don’t want Kerry’s record questioned. They want him elected -- presumably because they’re "more willing to accept imperfection and failure". What a group of rumps.

UPDATE. Nancy Nuance changes position yet again:

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry has called the invasion of Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" and says his goal is to withdraw U.S. troops in a first White House term.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:36 AM | Comments (29)

SWIFT RECOVERY NOT EXPECTED

Professor Bunyip notes that the Melbourne Age is yet to correct this:

President George W Bush, campaigning in Wisconsin, wished Clinton "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

"He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said. Bush's audience of thousands booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

The Age’s audience of thousands booed. The Age did nothing to stop them. Also from the Bunyip: a revealing look inside an online Australian Muslim forum.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:26 AM | Comments (3)

September 06, 2004

URBANITE REQUESTS DESTRUCTION

Writing from deep within the pristine jungle wilderness of Manhattan's Upper West Side, James Wolcott urges nature to fight back:

I root for hurricanes. When, courtesy of the Weather Channel, I see one forming in the ocean off the coast of Africa, I find myself longing for it to become big and strong--Mother Nature's fist of fury, Gaia's stern rebuke. Considering the havoc mankind has wreaked upon nature with deforesting, stripmining, and the destruction of animal habitat, it only seems fair that nature get some of its own back and teach us that there are forces greater than our own.

By “us”, Wolcott means “people other than myself”. Actually, seeing as he lives in Manhattan, perhaps he’d appreciate a re-write of his post: “I root for Islamic terrorists. When, courtesy of al-Jazeera ...”

UPDATE. More from Pete Holiday, Pixy Misa, Dave Barry, Florida Cracker, and Andrea Harris. Beautiful comment from goldsmith, too.

UPDATE II. Hurricane Frances has killed four people. That'll learn ‘em to try any stripmining or deforesting.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:34 PM | Comments (77)

PINKS, PINKOS UPSET

Grrrrrrr! Anti-Labor anger is rising:

Gay and lesbian voters are threatening to punish the Opposition at the ballot box for opposing same-sex marriage as Labor frontbencher Nicola Roxon was also accused of courting the "larger and more significant" Christian lobby.

And Australia’s socialists are furious with flippy Peter Garrett:

From being an avowed opponent of US military and spy bases in Australia and the detention of refugees, Garrett, like many others in the “left,” has become a loyal Latham supporter. He now defends the US bases and the continuation of mandatory detention for refugees—initiated by Labor in the early 1990s. That the party has expended so much effort advancing him as its “star” candidate merely highlights, once again, the collapse of its base of working class support.

Hmmm ... speaking of socialism:

A visit to the doctor will be cheaper for all Australians under a $1.8 billion Medicare initiative announced by Prime Minister John Howard today.

From January 1, the Medicare rebate will increase from 85 per cent to 100 per cent of the schedule fee for all GP visits.

UPDATE III. Currency Lad hails Alexander Downer as a reason to vote Liberal:

That the Foreign Minister understands Australia and the West need not and cannot ever send a delegation to negotiate with the kings of terrorism is another reason for returning the Howard government on 9 October. I don't question the Opposition's patriotism or its human concern. I do have doubts about Mark Latham's and Kevin Rudd's ability to see the threats before us with the same uncompromising moral clarity as Alexander Downer.

UPDATE IV. Score week one to Howard:

In what is shaping up to be the closest election in years, support for the Coalition jumped three points while it fell three for Labor, so they now stand at 50-50 in two-party terms. The Coalition's primary vote rose by four percentage points to 46 per cent while Labor's rose by one point to 40 per cent.

The poll raises the prospect of a hung Parliament or a minority government relying on independents, although AC Nielsen's research director, John Stirton, said a Coalition victory was probably indicated. "Historically governments win tight elections and so the Coalition would probably have won an election held over the weekend," Mr Stirton said.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:32 PM | Comments (19)

THE MOLLY IVINS OF LAKE WOBEGON

Despite his talent for offing junkie girlfriends, Sid Vicious wasn’t particularly vicious. Many prefer to remember him as sad and useless. Besides which, old Sid died way back in the seventies, so why is Garrison Keillor describing Grover Norquist as “the Sid Vicious of the GOP”?

Thanks to Keillor, Norquist joins a long list of the Vicious-compared:

Francis Poulenc was the Sid Vicious of 1920s French art music.

Presenter Kathy Bedford asked if [Mark Latham] saw himself as the Sid Vicious of politics ...

Tyrannosaurus was the Sid Vicious of the Late Cretaceous.

The bassist Stanley Clark said he was the ''Sid Vicious of jazz.''

Tom Putnam - The Sid Vicious of ramp building.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:21 PM | Comments (26)

NORTHERN ELITISTS STRIKE!

Scroll down this list of alleged Bush campaign lies released today by the Kerryites and you’ll find a charming Zell Miller transcription:

"Against the Trident missile, against, against, against. This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Speeutbawlls?" [Miller Remarks, 9/1/04]

As Adam Yoshida writes:

Now, I don't mean to be hyper-sensitive. But does anyone think that the Republicans could get away with rendering remarks by Al Sharpton in "black English." I think they should be able to: but I'm sure they wouldn't.

Wasn’t John Edwards added to the ticket to boost Kerry’s support in the south? What is this campaign doing? And, as Adam notes, if the comments included in the list are lies, where are the rebuttals?

UPDATE. Is John Kerry the new Michael Dukakis? There may be more immediate similarities between he and Howard Dean. Oh, well ... either way = loser.

UPDATE II. Mean! Vicious! Bad!

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:21 PM | Comments (23)

KERRY'S HOSPITAL BILL

The New York Times reports:

Former President Bill Clinton, in a 90-minute telephone conversation from his hospital room, offered John Kerry detailed advice on Saturday night on how to reinvigorate his candidacy, as Mr. Kerry enlisted more Clinton advisers to help shape his strategy and message for the remainder of the campaign.

In an expansive conversation, Mr. Clinton told Mr. Kerry that he should move away from talking about Vietnam ...

Well, duh. Kerry himself urged practically the same thing more than twelve years ago:

Defending Clinton in February of 1992, Sen. John Kerry said, "We do not need to divide America over who served and how."

Good advice.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 PM | Comments (15)

PRECISE TERMS EMPLOYED

From the Sydney Morning Herald’s early Saturday coverage of the Beslan school atrocity:

As hostages took their chance to flee, the militants opened fire on them ...

And from an SMH piece filed later that day:

Captive children and parents fled for their lives. From the rooftops the terrorists fired into their backs.

Mark Steyn has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:10 PM | Comments (19)

TEN (OK, ELEVEN) PER CENT TERESA

Under the hated Bush regime, evil rich people pay less tax. One evil rich person in particular:

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry reported $395,338 in income last year and paid $90,575 in taxes. His wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress to the Heinz food company fortune, reported income of $5.1 million last year and paid $587,000 in taxes.

Bush last year reported income of $822,000, on which he paid 28 percent in federal taxes.

Which is a substantially higher rate than paid by the widow Heinz -- who, judging by this line, is as grand a flip-flopper as Long Jaw McGraw himself:

The Democratic machine in this country is putrid.

Wonder if Teresa is available for the 2008 Republican convention?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:52 PM | Comments (3)

FAIR AND ZELLANCED

Could it be that accused segregationist Zell Miller is also an email plagiarist? Well, possibly. He is a Democrat, after all! Here’s a extract from a Kerry-attacking (and misleading, according to Snopes) email that was circulating earlier this year:

He voted to kill the B-1 Bomber
He voted to kill the B-2 Stealth Bomber
He voted to kill the F-14
He voted to kill the F-15 Strike Eagle
He voted to kill the F-16
He voted to kill the AV-8B Harrier Vertical Takeoff and Landing Jet Fighter
He voted to kill the AH-64 Apache Helicopter
He voted to kill the Patriot Anti-Missile System
He voted to kill the Aegis Anti-Aircraft System
He voted to kill the Trident Missile System
He voted to kill the M-1 Abrams Tank
He voted to kill the Bradley Fighting Vehicle
He voted to kill the Tomahawk Cruise Missile

In short, he voted to kill every military appropriation for the development and deployment of every weapons systems since 1988 to include the battle armor for our troops. With Kerry as president our Army will be made up of naked men running around with sticks and clubs.

And here’s an extract from Miller’s rousing convention speech:

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Gadhafi's Libyan MiGs over the Gulf of Sidra.

The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War.

The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's capital and this very city after 9/11.

I could go on and on and on -- against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein's scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile, against, against, against.

This is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spit balls?

Got some big-time similarities there ... although the crucial point is whether Kerry actually did vote against the measures cited in the email and by Miller.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:25 PM | Comments (17)

DUMB, DUMBER, DUMBEST

The Melbourne Age runs a pic mocking George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush as dumb and dumber. Being the intelligent newspaper it is, the byline reads: “By Akron, Ohio”.

Look for more of Akron's fine coverage as the election campaign continues.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:14 PM | Comments (51)

September 04, 2004

NOT LITERATE, JOHN

Margo invents a new word:

Here’s a prediction from a bloke who worked on Labor’s campaign in the Cunningham byelection at which The Greens trounded Labor in a boilover in 2002.

Perfectly cromulent.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:13 PM | Comments (61)

SHOUTY AND COMMON

John Howard went for a walk today, and apparently ran into a gang of Sydney Morning Herald employees:

One outdoor diner demanded Mr Howard explain why Australia had not ratified the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Mr Howard replied: "As far as Kyoto protocol is concerned, if we sign it in its present form, we will disadvantage industries and export jobs to other countries".

One woman yelled the Prime Minister was a "stinking piece of dog excrement", while a third resident criticised Australia's involvement in the war on Iraq.

"You claimed the lives of thousands of men, women and children just to get rid of one stupid, guilty one, Saddam Hussein," he yelled at Mr Howard.

"I do not expect the policy of killing the innocent to get at the guilty and that is a policy that you accepted and that is despicable."

Nice people. Rather a lot of yelling, though. On a related theme of polished political commentary, listen to spaz-balladeer Martin Richardson's tuneful indictment of the war against Saddam.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:36 PM | Comments (66)

PSYCHODRAMA REVIEWED

Big-deal Vanity Fair guy James Wolcott once wrote some nice things about this site, so it pains me to report that his own site is a total washout. Here's Wolcott's post-speech hug analysis:

More fascinating repressed psychodrama it would be harder to imagine. The Bush twins came out and embraced their dad, but it was an affectionless embrace, like those brief pats the American girl gymnasts gave each other after one of them after a routine, and immediately broken. Was he upset with their ditzy embarrassing performance?--there was none of the warmth and giddiness one saw with the Kerry and Edwards clans. His hugs of his father and mother were equally perfunctory. Everyone looked ill at ease ...

Those non-tactile, brief-embracing Bush freaks! They need to show the love. Just like John and Teresa.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:16 PM | Comments (23)

MAN IN BLACK IS BACK

At last, a reason to once again read Crikey: P.P. McGuinness has joined as a contributor during the Australian election!

Pity the poor press gallery. With less than a week of the election campaign elapsed, they are running out of things to say. So already they are saying the same things over and over. These are, mainly, the repetition of their own Big Lie that John Howard is a liar and cannot be trusted. The hope is clearly that this simple message will penetrate into the electorate outside the chattering classes and cause of swing against the government.

I may have to respond to this by hiring Frank Devine. Meanwhile, here's how the Crikey/McGuinness deal was sealed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:10 PM | Comments (12)

THANKS ALL

I'm leaving New York tomorrow morning for the million-hour flight back to Sydney. To everybody I've met on this trip, and to everybody I didn't have time to meet, my sincere thanks. Your kindness is massively appreciated. And apologies for the 400 or so unanswered emails; I'll send replies when I'm home.

Okay, to review. Here are columns filed from Boston, Boston again, New York, Los Angeles, and Virginia. Further columns, currently subscriber-only, will become available shortly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:50 PM | Comments (11)

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF "YEAH, RIGHT"

We've become used to cartoonists portraying George W. Bush as moronic or ape-like. The Village Voice's Ward Sutton takes on a far greater challenge: he seeks to convince us that John Kerry is a charismatic wonderbeing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:47 PM | Comments (20)

THE BOUNCE BEGINS

On Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday we were both crowing and hollerin' about the convention's success and how it would push Bush's numbers up. But I don't think either of us expected this:

For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

Note: this poll was taken before Bush's speech. It's the Zell Miller bounce! Well, maybe with some help from these guys. And an extra assist from John Kerry himself:

Let us not speculate about him saying, "I have five words for America: This is your wake up call." (Count them.)

Go back to sleep, Senator.

(Via Instapundit. By the way, Hugh, you've got listeners in Australia; a bunch of emails arrived from people back home who happened to be tuned in when I appeared. Once they learn of this internet-radio deal, our friendly cultural protectionists will probably try to ban you.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:37 AM | Comments (20)

MEEE-OUCH!

Queen of the jungle Cathy Seipp mauls domestic kitty Maureen Dowd:

Critics have called her style catty, or at least kittenish. But this isn't really apt anymore. Cats scratch, and Dowd no longer draws blood.

Seipp does, however. Pints of it. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:27 AM | Comments (7)

CELEBRATE MONG

Everybody went to school with a kid like Mong.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:25 AM | Comments (13)

SILENT MARGO

The Australian's Imre Salusinszky resumes his battle with Margo the Ridiculous:

Dear Margo,

You have banned any discussion of "postings overboard" on Webdiary. I understand and accept that. However, I assume the scandal can be mentioned in passing when a thread of discussion arises to which it is clearly relevant. And so let me say I am utterly gobsmacked that in your postings this week you continue to address themes of truth and trust in government and journalism.

You see, I had simply assumed that, after The Australian revealed you as a journalist prepared to mislead your own readers, and willy-nilly abandon your own code of ethics, you would quietly drop the whole subject of truthfulness and move on to other themes. Indeed, had you done so you would have heard no more from me. But you appear to combine an unusually high level of self-absorption with an astonishing lack of self-knowledge.

Don't you see how closely your behaviour in "postings overboard" mirrors that of John Howard in "children overboard", a scandal also uncovered by The Australian? You and Howard both mislead by omission rather than commission: that is, by concealing what you know from voters/readers, rather than by the telling of straight-out lies. For two whole days -- July 26 and 27, 2004 -- you treated your readers like puppets, just as John Howard treated voters in the final days of the 2001 election campaign.

Showing yourself as more than a match for the PM in the "plausible deniability" stakes, you permitted a long discussion of your "throwaway comment" about the "fundamentalist Zionist lobby", a debate in which you claimed to be "inexperienced", while concealing the fact you had already published a much more detailed theory about the lobby's power to choose the next Prime Minister of Australia, as follows: "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."

Can you seriously claim that this statement, under your name, would not have massively shifted the terms of the debate you stage-managed on July 26 and 27?

In short, Margo, you still don't appear to get it. Your little deception has changed everything, as far as your credibility on issues of transparency and truth is concerned. You went back and secretly altered the public record in order to mislead readers regarding your true opinions. Those actions constitute the single most serious ethical breach I have witnessed in 25 years in journalism.

Imre Salusinszky

Margo hasn't replied to this e-mail. C'mon, girl! Free the mind to use the brain!

In related news, remember how only a few years ago the Australian Democrats were seen as hip and cool? Take a look at their latest work and be stunned by the absolute crapness.

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:07 AM | Comments (5)

ILL BILL

The 42nd President will shortly face the knife:

Former President Bill Clinton will undergo heart bypass surgery as early as Saturday.

A close friend of Clinton said the former president called him to say that his doctors had advised him that he needs bypass surgery.

The friend told CNN that Clinton's condition is serious and the former president had told him he might have a quadruple bypass.

Best of luck to the old rogue.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:10 AM | Comments (34)