The ever-changing endorsement of Christopher Hitchens:
October 21: "Why I'm (Slightly) for Bush"
October 26: "Kerry should get his worst private nightmare and have to report for duty."
October 31: "Why I'm voting for Bush (but only just)"
If bin Laden is proved to be alive at this point, I'll take out a year-long subscription to the SMH. Hey -- I'll also take Paul [McGeough] out to lunch at the restaurant of his choice. He can bring Margo [Kingston] with him!
A deal's a deal. The subscription will be taken out on Monday, and invitations will shortly be on their way to Margo and Paul. Hope they like McDonald's ...
Celebrities! What would we do without them? I was struggling to make sense of the US election until Christine Lahti intervened:
Lahti herself is an excellent actress who, like so many of her ilk, is also reflexively anti-Bush. So she's been on the Kerry campaign trail "trying to reach out to women," as she told USA Today last week.
"I'm not going out there as an actress, I'm going out there as a woman, and I'm worried about women's rights," actress Julianna Margulies told the Los Angeles Times on October 25 about her volunteer work for Kerry.
I've never heard of Margulies or Lahti, however, so I needed Debbie Schussel to bring to my attention Patrick Swayze's opinion before I finally committed to the anti-Bush cause:
Speaking with Agence France Presse (it figures he’d pick the French) while in Warsaw, Swayze criticized the United States for being “insensitive” and "disrespectful" in Iraq.
"I know a great deal about the Middle East because I’ve been raising Arabian horses," he said.
Walter Cronkite identifies the evil genius responsible for the latest Osama bin Laden video:
So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing.
Oh, they’re e-mailing each other all the time:
Date: Thurs October 28, 2004
Subject: new videotaping we have
Is Osama here. How you do? Hope all is well with campaign for evil, etc. (How about that John Kerry wife - the crazy one. Two burkas for her at least! Kerry, he was surely wearing the fermented hummous goggles when they wed!)
Anyways, maybe can help campaign with new video, featuring me in star role. See attachmented clip below.
Yours in happiness,
Date: Thurs October 28, 2004
Subject: re: new videotaping we have
Osama, you old dog!
By all means, please release this video ASAP. And, as we’ve previously discussed, for every percentage point we gain in the swing states we’ll send you another kidney we’ve harvested from murdered Democrats in Florida.
(Via Professor Bunyip)
Comment away, folks.
Shannon Love rips into Lancet's "100,000 Iraqis killed since the invasion" study:
Needless to say, this study will become an article of faith in certain circles but the study is obviously bogus on its face.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, the study is well on its way to becoming an article of faith at the Sydney Morning Herald ...
Reader Jim McMahon, of Wellington, New Zealand, writes: "You've really hit the jackpot this time ... an item in 'The Last Word' from this Saturday's edition of the Wellington Dominion Post":
Tim Blair, who struggles to write a satirical column in Australia's Bulletin magazine, reckons the anti-Howard bunch are so dispirited over the election result they are threatening to emigrate here. Blair likens this to as close as you can get to committing suicide while still registering a pulse. But he threatens to come too if he doesn't win a journalism award next year. Sorry mate, we don't want you.
Not wanted in New Zealand? I'm ... what's the opposite of "devastated"? Actually, I'm quite fond of New Zealanders, and I meet a great many of them, on account of living in Sydney.
Osama bin Laden is an expert on children’s literature:
It appeared to him (Bush) that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers.
This is remarkable. Osama doesn’t merely mention the title of the book Bush was reading on September 11; he describes the actual plot:
A robber arrives to steal the dad's red car! But the goat butts the robber and saves the day.
Say what you like about old Binny -- I've been saying for years that he was dead -- but you can’t doubt his research skills. Welcome back to the realm of the living, Osama! Now we get to kill you properly.
UPDATE. More goat-butting news.
Sorry, guys and Tim: I am closing the comment script; we are under attack by some really disgusting pr0n spam. Until it is over I am not re-opening the comments.
John Kerry has a plan. Let him tell you all about it.
(Via reader Greg MacDonald)
Mark Steyn puts his job on the line:
Next Tuesday the President will win the states he won last time, plus Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Maine’s Second Congressional District to put him up to 301 electoral votes. Minnesota? Why not? Nudge him up to 311 electoral votes. Oh, and what the hell, give him Hawaii: that’s 315 ...
Usually after making wild predictions I confidently toss my job on the line and say, if they don’t pan out, I’m outta here. I’ve done that a couple of times this campaign season — over Wes Clark (remember him?) — but it almost goes without saying in these circumstances. Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism — that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism. Having failed to read correctly the mood of my own backyard, I could hardly continue to pass myself off as a plausible interpreter of the great geopolitical forces at play.
The good news for US-based conservatives is that, in the case of a Bush defeat, they now have a "Canada option" such as is often cited by US liberals. If Kerry wins, move to Australia! Conservatives control both our houses of Parliament, and even the Labor Party is slowly realising that, hey, maybe opposing the war wasn't such a good idea after all:
Labor is reviewing its call for Australian troops to be brought home from Iraq by Christmas, as it starts the painful process of rebuilding after its fourth election loss in a row.
UPDATE. Partners forever:
Accused terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has told an Indonesian court to be wary of interference from the "two enemies of God", Australia and the US.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher looks at the Jacksonian influence on the election:
When the US is at war, there is a powerful group of Americans, overlooked in American politics most of the time, whose feelings are stirred, whose resolve is stiffened, and whose intensity forces itself to the centre of national political life.
It's a group that constitutes the hardy core of the American folk, and it was introduced by the novelist and ex-Marine James Webb in these terms: "This people gave our country great things, including its most definitive culture. It is imbued with a unique and unforgiving code of personal honour less ritualised but every bit as powerful as the samurai code."
"This people", wrote Webb to his fellow Americans, "are all around you, even though you probably don't know it". They are the Scots-Irish. They arrived in America in the 18th century in small boats to find existing English settlements, and so pushed on inland to occupy the harsh mountain wilderness along the Appalachians. They fought the Indians, then they fought the British. From the beginning, they formed the core of the American fighting forces.
And, surveying an ancestral Virginia graveyard, Webb, a former senior official in the Reagan Pentagon, writes that they are his people: "The slurs stick to me, standing on these graves. Rednecks. Trailer-park trash. Racists. Cannon fodder. My ancestors. My people. Me."
The slurs still stick. Check the SMH’s headline on this piece: "Trailer trash: fightin' mad, want Dubya".
UPDATE. On a similar note, this Molly Ivins column -- published at Working for Spare Change -- declares: "Clueless people love Bush" ...
UPDATE II. Get a load of this:
The Bad Costello is whining about gambling, as usual:
The Reverend Tim Costello says most Australians would be shocked to know that one fifth of the world's poker machines are in Australia.
Actually, they might be more shocked by this:
Reverend Costello is attending the Australian Council of Social Services conference being held at the Alice Springs casino.
Contributor J.F. Beck writes: "What’s shocking is that anyone would be stupid enough to stuff money into one of these things. Really, the revenue from poker machines is a stupidity tax."
Congratulations to the Fat Man and Slender Sheila on the triumph of their baseballing team, which I understand has not won a game since 642BC. Coverage in Australia was extensive, featuring footage of both Fat and Sheila setting fire to their own cars, although during the playoffs multicultural broadcaster SBS revealed the limits of its multiculturalism by pronouncing "Houston Astros" as "Houston Ass-tross."
And Tim Dunlop complains that Chrenkoff avoids Iraq's "crucial truth" (that Iraq is a disaster, and Bush is idiotic, incompetent, must be defeated, etc.):
You either accept that crucial truth or you can spend your time linking to dopey "stories about cats" and continue to pretend that the biggest threat to civilisation is the New York Times.
Dunlop and Quiggin have invented a new argumentative tactic: the straw cat. Take a look through Arthur's exhaustive compilations, which cover all manner of developments in Iraq, from investment and rebuilding to diplomatic agreements and humanitarian aid. No kitties, however; for evidence of that, John and Tim point to this mocking August 3 post at Crooked Timber, by Belle Waring:
Like that one time in Mosul, when the kitten pretended to stalk and pounce on that dented beer cap, like it was a mouse or something, and everybody laughed. Remember that? Right before the mortar attack, remember?
At least Quiggin acknowledges that there "is some real good news" emerging from Iraq; Dunlop, however, simply demands further confirmation of his existing beliefs. "Sanity insists that we concentrate on what is going wrong," he cries. "Look, if things are so relatively wonderful, go spend some time there and give us some firsthand reporting from the country itself instead of sitting at home and picking through what various media are already providing." Yet when Chrenkoff supplies a firsthand report from Iraq, by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Annie Sweeney, Dunlop -- writing from his home, presumably -- condemns it as "crap" that is "just insulting".
Insulting? Try this Dunlop notion on for size:
Life went on pretty normally for a lot of German people while Jews were rounded up into ghettos under Nazism but was there an Arthur Chrenkoff blogging away somewhere in Australia telling us all that we shouldn't put so much emphasis on all that nasty stuff? Would there have been a chorus of other bloggers happily linking? And tough luck if you find the comparison offensive.
I only find the comparison pathetic (more valid would be to compare coverage of post-war Germany, during which many proto-Dunlops "concentrated on what was going wrong"); Chrenkoff, whose Polish grandmother lived through the Nazi occupation of her homeland, might find it offensive.
In any case, it’s not as though Chrenkoff claims a mortgage on truth. As he wrote in a recent Good News edition:
Read the stories below in addition to - not to the exclusion of - all the bad news. Only by knowing both sides of the story you can make an informed judgment about how things in Iraq are really going.
Quite why Dunlop and Quiggin should be so worked up about this is beyond me. Chrenkoff is an impressive, understated talent whose work quickly won notice throughout blogdom and in the Wall Street Journal; I’d hate to think that such bitter responses were inspired by his success.
STRAW CAT UPDATE. In comments, John Quiggin clarifies his definition of "an impossibly cute kitten story"; apparently that means a story about "farmers tilling fields and women walking on roads".
STRAW CAT UPDATE II. Snappy John ("the cats of Australia have made their choice!") claims he was attempting irony:
In my recent post about good and bad news from Iraq, I referred to impossibly cute kitten stories. This is Belle Waring's ironic description of the kind of good news story that relies on the fact that even in the midst of war, and even under oppressive dictatorships, life goes on. Farmers plant their crops, children (and kittens) are born and play, and so on.
Not even Thomas Hearns has a longer reach than Kitty Quiggin.
Did you know that the mainstream media is being criticised? By people using the 'global Interwebnet' technology? It's true! Jim Rutenberg reports:
Practicing cheap and dirty politics, playing fast and loose with the facts and even lying: Accusations like these, and worse, have been slung nonstop this year.
The accused in this case are not the candidates, but the mainstream news media. And the accusers are an ever-growing army of Internet writers, many of them partisans, who reach hundreds of thousands of people a day.
They do? Whatever will become of us?
Journalists covering the campaign believe the intent is often to bully them into caving to a particular point of view. They insist the efforts have not swayed them in any significant way, though others worry the criticism could eventually have a chilling effect.
We can only hope. Oh, they said "chilling"; I misread.
Many sites urge visitors to personally call reporters and news organizations and send e-mail messages, which can number in the hundreds daily.
Many editors urge reporters to personally call individuals and businesses and send e-mails, which can number in the hundreds daily.
When "60 Minutes" reported on documents purporting to show Mr. Bush received preferential treatment in the Air National Guard, questions about the documents' authenticity originated and caught fire on the FreeRepublic and PowerLine blog Web sites; mainstream outlets followed. CBS News admitted two weeks later that it could not authenticate the documents. The NBC anchor Tom Brokaw recently likened the tone of the Internet coverage of the CBS National Guard report, presented by the anchor Dan Rather, to a "political jihad." In an interview last week Mr. Brokaw said CBS News had clearly made mistakes. But, he said, "I think there were people just lying in the Internet bushes, waiting to strike, and I think that particular episode gave them a big opportunity."
I think there were people just lying in the CBS bushes, waiting to strike, and I think the Bush National Guard story gave them a big opportunity. Actually, I think there were people just lying ...
A certain European former power is frightened:
French officials and politicians are worrying about the pending outcome of next week's U.S. presidential elections, which they fear President George W. Bush could win, prolonging the standoff with France over Iraq and the Middle East crisis.
French fear is almost universal as the latest official polls show that 85 percent of the French support Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry.
"French fear is almost universal." There's a line you could drop into any story from the past 50 years. The chances of Bush winning may have increased lately, due to the Kerry camp's inept handling of the New York Times' "tons of explosives" story; Ralph Peters summarises developments.
UPDATE. Africa also wants Kerry to win, although Africa doesn’t know who Kerry is:
"If Africa was to vote, Kerry would get a landslide," said Robert Kabushenga, a political analyst in Uganda, told Reuters.
"All public opinion surveys show the publics of the world don't know Kerry but they don't like Bush. Someone sitting in Chad doesn't know who Kerry is, but he sure knows who Bush is," said John Stremlau, a professor of international relations at Johannesburg's Witwatersrand University ...
Africa roots for Kerry. Few premiers are so undiplomatic as to say it publicly but commentators and ordinary people across the continent are loud and proud in voicing support for the Democrat.
It is not that they know or like him. Besides promising a more robust challenge to Sudanese abuses in Darfur Kerry has said little about Africa. Nor are they especially impressed by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, romanticising her upbringing in Mozambique and South Africa. It is enough that Kerry is not Bush.
This public service announcement brought to you by Rory Carroll of The Guardian.
Reader Richard writes:
Just wondering if by any chance you are able to get a video of the first 5 minutes of the Australia v Ireland International Rules second game, when that dog ran onto the field and was chasing the ball?! (I still can't believe he was on there for 5+ minutes!). I'd LOVE to be able to download a version of that ...
No luck with any video, Richard, but here’s an update. Dog goes home!
If I’ve got this right, the subjective votes and the objective votes cancel each other out, but Kerry wins on some kind of ironic level. You would need a fucking PhD in Irony Studies to make any sense of this.
As luck would have it, my nephew is in the third year of an Ironic Degree at Oxford. He explains: "There are several layers of irony here, most of which you will be too dim to perceive. His endorsement of Bush a few days ago is best interpreted as some kind of sophisticated double-bluff irony feinting manoeuvre, rendering today’s support for Kerry even wittier than it already would have been.
"There is no way that Kerry should be elected –indeed, he should be 'pilloried' and pelted with fruit. And yet Kerry should be elected, precisely because he doesn't want to be. What we lose in 'principles', we gain in irony.
"I'm still trying to decode that bit about Pat Buchanan. I'll get back to you."
Speaking of hasty, James Lileks writes:
The older I get, the more I rethink that whole Ginger v. Mary Ann thing. Someone needs to make the case for Ginger, is all I’m saying.
A Kerry win would be fascinating, for several reasons. Imagine, for example, the reaction of anti-Bush folks internationally. These failures haven’t had anything to celebrate for years; their victory glands are shrivelled and inactive. And Kerry’s acceptance speech might run for the rest of 2004, if his campaign form is any guide:
During one speech, Mr Kerry’s script writers had crafted the concise pledge: "I will work with Republicans and Democrats on this healthcare plan, and we will pass it."
In the candidate’s hands it became: "I will work with Republicans and Democrats across the aisle, openly, not with an ideological, driven, fixed, rigid concept, but much like Franklin Roosevelt said, I don’t care whether a good idea is a Republican idea or a Democrat idea. I just care whether or not it’s gonna’ work for Americans and help make our country stronger.
"And we will pass this bill. I’ll tell you a little bit about it in a minute, and I’ll tell you why we’ll pass it, because it’s different from anything we’ve ever done before, despite what the Republicans want to try to tell you."
His scriptwriters’ snappy attack on Mr Bush’s healthcare plan - "Don’t get sick" - became: "And don’t get sick. Just pray, stand up and hope, wait - whatever. We are all left wondering and hoping. That’s it."
One year of Kerry, and people will yearn for the clarity and precision of the Bush administration.
The BBC reports:
A US airline attendant is fighting for her job after she was suspended over postings on her blog, or online diary.
Queen of the Sky, otherwise known as Ellen Simonetti, evolved into an anonymous semi-fictional account of life in the sky.
But after she posted pictures of herself in uniform, Delta Airlines suspended her indefinitely without pay.
Nice pics. Delta should give her a pay rise. Our friendly Sky Queen is also a Democrat supporter, but restricts her activism to conventional forms; unlike one road-bound campaigner, who attempted to mow down Katherine Harris :
A silver Cadillac "swerved off the road and drove up the sidewalk" heading "straight towards Ms. Harris," according to the police arrest report.
"I was exercising my political expression," Seltzer told police, according to the report.
Morrissey joins fellow Brits-living-in-the-US Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens in supporting John Kerry. To get the full impact of Morrissey's endorsement, imagine him singing this while swaying around in an oversized cardigan and planning his dismal suicide:
With all my heart I urge people to vote
against George Bush.
Jon Stewart would be ideal, but John Kerry
is the logical and sane move.
It does not need to be said yet again,
but Bush has single-handedly
turned the United States
into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet.
For non-Americans, the United States
is suddenly not a very nice place to visit
US immigration officers – under the rules of Bush –
now conduct themselves
with all the charm and
unanswerable indignation of Hitler’s SS.
Please bring sanity and intelligence
back to the United States.
Don’t forget to vote.
Vote for John Kerry and get rid of George Bush!
(repeat chorus until dead)
Bild, Europe's bestselling tabloid with 4m copies a day, yesterday endorsed the president, who it said was far less "wobbly" than his Democratic rival.
The president had learned the lessons of history, the paper said, reminding Germans it was the Republican Ronald Reagan who won the cold war, suggesting Mr Bush could become another Reagan.
Tim Colebatch reports:
The Coalition is poised to claim a historic Senate majority this morning by taking the final two seats in Queensland.
In a final twist to a drawn-out vote count, the preferences of 29,043 Fishing Party voters could clinch for the Coalition the most powerful parliamentary position of any federal government in more than two decades.
Here's to no Fraserite wasting of a Senate advantage. Hail the fish voters!
Prime Minister John Howard will have control of the upper house after the National Party was declared the winner of Queensland's last Senate seat today.
Brisbane Nationals candidate Barnaby Joyce was declared the winner of the sixth Senate seat when the Australian Electoral Commission completed the final computer count on the complex Senate preference distribution.
Mr Joyce's victory hands the Coalition 39 of the Senate's 76 members, giving the Government a majority in the upper house for the first time in a quarter of a century.
UPDATE II. In other happy piscine news, the Arafish is said to be unwell.
He's already alienated the CFMEU, and now Latham is enraging the AMWU:
One of Australia's largest unions has accused Mark Latham of a "cowardly scapegoating exercise", as the Opposition prepares to consult business about how it should rewrite its industrial relations policy.
The left-wing Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which has 150,000 members, wrote to Labor leader Mr Latham yesterday saying it was concerned about the plan to begin talks with business about changes to the policy.
"That the party has identified industrial relations as a key weakness, and a reason it lost the election, is, to say the very least, astounding," the union's national secretary, Doug Cameron, said in the letter.
I love that "one of Australia's largest unions" has only 150,000 members. Latham shouldn’t be too worried about this; unlike the forestry union folks, there's no broad sympathy for Cameron and his mates. It might be a clever move for Latham to indicate his support for Cameron's anti-globalism by demanding that Cameron be returned to Scotland.
Nice crowd at the taping of SBS’s Insight program the other night. The subject was Australia's relationship with the US. Check out the interjections when a sound problem occured:
JENNY BROCKIE: We are going to have to move on because we're running out of time, and I'd like to get back to the US election if we can because it is just a week away. I wonder, George Friedman, we talked about whether there's a difference - you're smiling there, what do you make of all of this, when you hear this kind of discussion going on? Does it give you an insight into what Australians are thinking a little bit more?
MAN: He's asleep.
JENNY BROCKIE: He's not asleep.
MAN: He's a good last speaker.
JENNY BROCKIE: No. Can he hear me? Can George hear me? George, can you hear me in Texas? No! Martin, you can hear me, can't you?
MAN: That was censorship by Murdoch.
Read the whole thing. The gibberish from Chris Haywood and Richard Neville is fantastic.
The Melbourne Cup is run next Tuesday, the same date as the US election -- and every single competitor looks exactly like John Kerry.
James Lileks doesn't think much of Andrew Sullivan's Kerry endorsement, and after reading Lileks' polite destruction of Sullivan, you may not either. That's if you thought much of it beforehand, which you probably didn't.
Another point of universal agreement: the release of a new Lileks book is a cause for celebration. My home village is still echoing with gunfire! Buy a copy just so you can witness "Xatptipltical, Frog God of Crap".
Look out, Mark! A 64-year-old man is approaching, and he might try to shake your hand!
Labor leader Mark Latham says the prime minister's flapping-style handshake is unnerving.
Mr Howard's handshake, or his "flapping-style armshake", was unusual and special tactics were required to counter it, Mr Latham said.
Defending his up-close handshake with Mr Howard outside a Sydney radio studio on election eve, the taller Mr Latham said he was not trying to stand over the Liberal leader.
Instead, he was getting in close to combat the armshake.
George W. Bush seemed able to cope.
Tim Dunlop, an Australian living in the US, describes watching game one of the World Series in the company of obsessive Sox fans:
There were about six different phones in the house--cell phones and landlines--and every time a run was scored or an innings ended or at some other "moment", all the phones would ring at once and it would be a brother/sister/mother/father/friend from California/Rhode Island/Texas/Boston or somewhere ringing through to share the moment and pick it apart.
There are two types of obsessive sports fans: those who leave their phone lines open, for the reasons Tim lists, and those who isolate themselves so that they may more deeply and harmfully dwell on the fortunes of their team. I fall into the latter category; I have, more than once, physically removed people from my house during crucial sports telecasts. Which would be much easier if Australia had more lenient gun laws.
Dennis Glover writes:
Labor needs to put its faith in a new generation of intellectuals who are in touch with the people.
Please, Dennis; name a single member of this in-touch leftoid intellectual generation.
Here it comes again, that sinking feeling. Four years ago I travelled across the United States, following the presidential campaign, and came away alarmed that Al Gore was not doing enough to win an election that should have been his. Now I have that same queasy feeling - except this time it's not only about the simple matter of who will win and who will lose on November 2. Now it's a deep concern about what is happening to the US itself.
What is happening is that the US is holding an election. Terrible, I know, but what can you do?
Those progressive Canadians! They're so advanced. Too bad "progressive" so often means "bureaucratic crazytime":
Gay couples wanting to get married in Nova Scotia this fall will have to be declared husband and wife – at least until the province gets its paperwork finished.
Some of Nova Scotian same-sex couples who fought for the right to be legally married are angry over the terminology.
Don't know why. What else do you call a married couple?
Yesterday, the Bush campaign provided a list of more than 40 examples it said had occurred since July, including the burglary from campaign offices of several items: two laptop computers in Seattle; a banner in Thousand Oaks, Calif.; petty cash in Spokane, Wash.; as well as break-ins last Friday in both Flagstaff, Ariz., and Cincinnati.
Violence against you = votes for you! (Other Bulletin columns may be found here.)
You think the Australian Labor Party is in chaos? Check out these guys:
Algeria’s largest Islamist political party is teetering on the brink of disintegration amid reports of sexual scandals and the resignation of five of its top leaders.
Key quote: “It is hard to know what happened at the house. There were no witnesses to see what our comrade and the lady did.”
"Your blogger has been busy playing in Big Media," Chris Sheil crowed yesterday:
The occasion is today's release of the Evatt Foundation's annual assessment of the state governments ... I didn't write a word, of course, but I managed the project, edited the final copy together and spun the release. Great to see it getting out there today ... I've also picked up a couple of radio interviews, and might be heard on Adelaide ABC tomorrow morning (6.50am) ... Must be off, the phone's ringing again ...
Adelaide radio at 6.50am? Media doesn’t get much bigger! But Chris’s preening was interrupted when Queensland premier Peter Beattie "ambushed" him:
"It's just rubbish," the radio guy repeated as he put on a record. "Peter Beattie says it's just rubbish". He didn't seem malicious, the radio guy, that is. More amused. Geoff Gallup is probably my favourite of the current premiers, and I quite like Steve Bracks. But Beattie is the closest any comes to charismatic. Beattie is catching.
I was ambushed by him on radio yesterday. No warning. Next thing you know, Pete is laying in big time. "I've never been impressed by the Evatt Foundation's work; it's a left-wing think tank; it doesn't count efficiency; have a look at the productivity commission; Evatt's left-wing; and the report's rubbish; it's just rubbish". And there were more words to that effect.
"What do you say to that Christopher?" asked the radio guy, now highly amused.
It gives me the shits, I was thinking. Not the premier's intervention, but the soft-soap invitation to have a nice chat about the Evatt report on a cuddly radio program, only to be ambushed from a great height.
Doesn’t cope with criticism very well, does he? I'm surprised Chris didn't resort to an earlier defence: "I didn't write the report! I only edited it! Not my argument!"
The Sydney Morning Herald investigates claims by the Herald Sun's Nui Te Koha that Mark Philippoussis has taken up with Paris Hilton, and finds that those claims may not be accurate. The story doesn’t check out, according to sources interviewed by the SMH.
Poor Nui. If he’d written that Paris Hilton was shooting handcuffed prisoners as part of her campaign to wipe out West Hollywood insurgents, the SMH would've run Nui's story on the front page, no questions asked. He might even have won a United Nations media award.
Clutch activist Dave Addis asks:
Is the clutch pedal dead? Or the sole province of those who inhabit the opposite societal poles of poverty and wealth?
I dunno. As I said, we own vehicles that have one and vehicles that don’t. But to steal from a line on those bumper stickers that I read while stalled in Tidewater traffic, "I'll give up my clutch when they pry my cold, dead toes from around it."
Those who would restrict us to automatic gearboxes face a brutal reckoning.
UPDATE. Matt from Denver -- I’ve ridden in his rapid Merc, and he knows what he’s talking about -- defends the shiftless:
I've seen footage of a nighttime drag race between an E55 AMG and a Mustang Cobra modified to generate 452hp. The E55 wasted the Mustang, and the reason was shifting. The camera was at the end of the qtr mile, and while every Mustang shift sent the headlights bobbling (losing time), you could barely see the MB shift points. It was like a plane taking off.
I'm afraid to say it's the future. Eat your soylent green, clutch monkeys.
Marian Wilkinson, the Sydney Morning Herald's tragic Washington correspondent, reports:
Vote for us or your children will die. It is a compelling message and President George Bush has no qualms about delivering it as he heads into the final week of this election in a neck-and-neck race with John Kerry.
Hey, if all the kids are dead, at least they’ll no longer be scared.
Dear supporters of Margo Kingston’s Not Happy John! website,
Firstly, thankyou for your patience. Burnout is a serious issue for activists, and we have all needed a bit of a break in order to come back fighting.
No Thappy John has been running for six months or so, and they’re already exhausted. I blame the Jews.
This Friday Margo is regrouping with the NHJ! team and we are preparing for the next phase of the website and the “Defending Our Democracy” project. Note that “Defending Our Democracy” is the subtitle of Margo’s book, and has always had a much broader relevance than merely, “Not Happy John!”
It’s as though he’s interpreting scripture.
At this time we are negotiating with an ISP for our new site and figuring out the details of the design. Our central goals are to build a genuine alternative media, to compete with the increasingly sycophantic mainstream, and to abet a mass movement to support, defend and if possible extend our great democratic traditions and institutions.
They are frustrated with the way things are, hungry for change, confident of the potential for human perfection, eager to believe in a single truth, able to envision an unprecedented society, and ready for action!
An Australian version of moveon.org is a central project. Right now this website is in the height of the US election, and in that context it is a very interesting look. Check it out.
Moveon.org claims more than two million participants, was founded by a couple of millionaires, and is financed by a billionaire. Not Happy John is run by these lazy people, who in the crucial last week of the Australian election campaign managed to post only four items. Good luck convincing investors about the depth of your commitment, babies.
The new site will have improved features of interactivity, where visitors can blog their own comments and have dialogue. In the tradition of Webdiary and NHJ! these blogs will be moderated and edited, fairly and professionally, which we feel is one of the keys to Webdiary’s success.
Success? What freakin' success? Who’s the Prime Minister these days?
All comments will be deemed valid, but it will not be a free-for-all of poor spelling and grammar ...
Great Leader will not be pleased.
We are going to need your help. For offers of any type of assistance, ideas and possible links that you do not wish to be published, email us at email@example.com.
Regards, in love and hope,
End transmission. Put on your Nike sneakers. Prepare for the comet.
(Congrats to Evil Pundit, who devised the Spanish-tricking image.)
Ha ha ha! Only joking, Mr. Editor Man. I deplore violence of any kind.
But I do love advertising, which is probably a form of economic violence or something. And it turns out that advertising on this site is very effective and cheap economic violence, according to happy customer Brian Morgan:
Dear Mr. Blair:
I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that blog ads on your site are incredibly cost-effective. I've been buying online ads with Yahoo, MSN, Google, and others since 1998. This ad buy was our first experience with blog ads. The results are simply phenomenal!
The cost per click (CPC) is less than four cents. To put things in perspective, we're used to seeing CPC's in the US$1.25 to US$2.00 range. Ads on your site are 35 to 55 times more cost effective than what we see elsewhere.
If there is anyone trying to reach a prize demographic of well-read, politically aware viewers, they'd be crazy not to buy one of your blog ads.
Managing Partner, CompuMedical, LLC
You heard the man. Don’t be crazy!
It’s terrible when innocent comments are taken out of context:
Two high-profile Muslim leaders in Canada have been forced to issue clarifications for anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments.
In East Vancouver, the head of Dar al-Madinah Islamic Society came under attack for calling Jews "brothers of monkeys and swine" during a recorded lecture following Israel's killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, last spring.
Now Sheik Younus Kathrada says the comments were taken out of context.
It’s also a damn shame when innocent comments are misunderstood:
Meanwhile, the president of the influential Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, also came under attack after a television interview last week, in which he said any Israeli over age 18 was a legitimate target for suicide bombers because adult Israelis were required to do military service.
"They are part of the Israeli army, even if they have civilian clothes," Elmasry argued on the Ontario current affairs show The Michael Coren Show.
"I sincerely regret that my comments were misunderstood and, as a result, caused offence," Elmasry was quoted in a web posting over the weekend.
(Via Alan R. M. Jones, now safely returned to Australia)
• John Hawkins interviews celebrity pie-dodger Ann Coulter. By the way, how come nobody ever throws pies at Michael Moore? Oh, wait ...
• If you missed this anti-Bush ad by Frank J. -- which is unlikely, because it was linked everywhere -- take a listen now. Or don't, just to spite me.
• The carefully-cultivated image of blondes as intellectual superbeings may never recover. I first posted something about these dumb broads months ago, and they still haven't fixed their stupid site ...
• Vote no to Bush! Vote no to riots!
The deep thoughts of Garbage singer Shirley Manson:
Woke up feeling REALLY outraged this morning having spent sunday night at a fundraiser for Women's Rights during which the organizers screened the documentary "A Voice for Choice" which examines the current crisis in women's reproductive freedoms and the systematic attacks being wreaked by the current Bush administration on a woman's right to choose.
The film really affected me profoundly,at one point bringing me to the brink of tears and has left me feeling really anxious and concerned.
I grew up in the UK which is essentially a pretty liberal country for all that we British gripe about it and although I have always been aware that the laws pertaining to women's rights in the US were rather restricitve by comparison I must have been sleeping because I genuinely had no idea just how threatened they have become during this current administration.If Bush and Cheney succeed in their bid for another four years I dread to think how much more fucked up things could become.
Anyways......on a lighter note........I got fitted with my contact lenses today and they're fantastic!
Yay! Next, Shirley contemplates the election:
Seeing as Wisconsin is a swing state, all the celebrity activists are turning up in downtown Madison to try and encourage people to utilize their vote.Leonardo De Caprio,Michael Moore and Natalie Portman to name but a few.Oh man this election is going to be INTENSE.
As it happens,we're all going off to hear Michael Moore speak at the University of Wisconsin student union tonight and I am so fucking EXCITED.Never before in my lifetime has an election seemed so desperately important and it's weird.....it feels like we're going to a rock show or something and we're all a titter with excitment and anticipation and the feeling of being united with others.What's adding to the excitement and the sense of occasion is the fact that it's the first time the temperature has dropped below 40 degrees this fall, signalling the beginning of winter and plunging temperatures so we're scrambling around trying to muster enough scarfs and gloves to keep everyone snugglelicious,making it feel like a holiday of some sort!!!
Double yay for snugglelicious holiday fun!
How about all the rumours that are whizzing around about the possibility that Bush was wearing a wire during the first presidential debate?!?!?!?! Have you see the photograph? He's got some weird box shaped thing nestled between his shoulder blades.Eeeeccccchhh......this is all getting too much like The Manchurian Candidate for my tastes.And you know what........the very fact that we are all getting so suspicious.......that we are even considering the idea that the current president of the united states might have been wearing a wire is just so fucking SAD.Is this where our so called civilization is at?!?!
And now, a personal revelation:
Thank god I've been going to therapy for all these years.
Speaking of which, expect a windfall for shrinks if Bush wins a second term. These frightened liberals are already exhibiting profound paranoia:
• CNN's Paul Begala: "He and his allies are likely to embark on a campaign of political retribution the likes of which we haven't seen since Richard Nixon."
• Columbia's Todd Gitlin: "I would not be surprised to see outbursts of political violence the likes of which we haven't seen since the Weather Underground of the 1970s."
• Former Clinton aide Elaine Kamarck: "The beginning of the end of American greatness."
• Blogger Kevin Drum: "One word: scandal."
• Nation editor Katrina van den Heuvel: "There will be a period of grieving."
• Salon columnist Joe Conason: "I will be worried. I will be concerned for the world."
• The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh: "Oh man, if he's reëlected, we're really in trouble."
Funny man Terry Jones imagines a conversation between George W. Bush and God:
"Jews, Christians and Moslems all worship the same Me! Didn't you do comparative theology at school, George?"
"No, of course not! You think I'm some sort of peace-waving dope-headed liberal faggot-lover, God?"
"No, of course not, George, but I expect you to know something about the people you're bombing."
"Oh, come on! I know it's right to bomb those oily rag-heads until there's not one left to wipe a wrench on!"
Oddly, this piece first appeared in The Guardian, which usually can’t stand such shocking invective. When it’s directed at them, anyway. Speaking of God, that’s exactly what John Kerry has been doing:
Rebuking one of the most openly religious presidents in recent history, Mr. Kerry said that Christians believed in caring for the sick, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry and stopping violence but that the administration was not heeding those teachings.
Mr. Kerry demonstrated a wide liturgical reach, quoting from Matthew, James, John, Luke, the Ten Commandments and "Amazing Grace" before recalling for cheering Jews in Boca Raton how he once shouted "the Israeli people lives" in Hebrew atop Masada.
More from Saint John here:
Quoting from the Bible, Kerry said his faith had taught him that "whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me".
"This means we have a moral obligation to one another, to the forgotten, and to those who live in the shadows," he said in an arts centre in Broward county.
Earlier, his ears ringing from soaring gospel music and cries of "Amen" and "Hallelujah," Kerry accused Bush of trying to scare America into reelecting him.
Not that Kerry is using the Bible as a campaign prop, of course.
UPDATE. Hit the archives and scroll down for earlier posts.
Al-Zarqawi’s brave Iraqi resistance is taking credit for the murder of 48 unarmed army recruits:
The extremist group led by Iraq's most wanted man today claimed it carried out the shocking roadside massacre of almost 50 unarmed cadets.
An Islamist website carried a statement attributed to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi's militants.
The new Iraqi soldiers were found dead beside a remote road after being executed by attackers while returning home from their final training course.
Incidentally, Mr al-Zarqawi would prefer that you referred to his little gang by its new name:
The militant group led by Iraq's most wanted man Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi has changed its name, linking itself to the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, according to statements published on an Islamist website.
In the latest statements which could not be verified, the group said it was now called "The Al-Qaeda Group of Jihad in the Country of Two Rivers (Iraq)".
How dare you taunt a dying Christopher Reeve with a big brown bottle of stem cells. The man was on his deathbed, you sick monster. Why did you have to hold the spoon right in front of his lips? "C'mon, Chrissy, it's right here. You can do it, bwah! Just another coupla inches. Oooh, close. Close!" Shame on you, Dubya.
Meanwhile, here are some Democrats for Bush.
European anti-militarists have really picked the wrong guy as their hero, writes Edward Luttwak:
In the televised debates, when President Bush spoke of "defeating terrorism", Kerry invariably spoke of "killing the terrorists". This was not just an electoral pose: the words accurately reflect the character of the man. He is a fighter, a two-fisted brawler. In all his past electoral campaigns, successful or otherwise, he was always the more aggressive candidate, ready to make wild accusations he knew to be false in the hope that some voters would believe even the incredible. At the moment he is telling older voters that Bush has a secret plan to cut their pensions by 45 per cent, and younger voters that Bush has a secret plan to re-introduce compulsory military service ...
I am quite certain that if Kerry had been president on September 11 he would have reacted more violently than Bush, sending bombers into Afghanistan, not just Special Forces scouts, and demanding immediate co-operation - or else - from Saudi Arabia, not just Pakistan.
In Australia, Michelle Grattan is appalled by Kerry’s goose massacre:
The other day John Kerry, as part of his campaigning, took a gun, dressed in camouflage, and went off to shoot some geese. His aides said this was to give voters "a better sense of ... the guy".
To foreign eyes, this gratuitous violence had to be the most extraordinary moment of a larger-than-life US presidential campaign.
Charlie Brooker, writing in The Guardian -- the newspaper that was shocked by "the volume and pitch of the invective directed our way" in the wake of Operation Clark County -- calls for the murder of George W. Bush:
On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
Working for The Guardian, most likely.
(Via reader Molly Richardson and blogger Scott Burgess, who has contact details for Charlie)
UPDATE. The idiot Brooker explains internet comedy:
"You do have to be fairly unsubtle," says Brooker. "You have to convince people quickly that's it's a good thing to hang around, which lends itself to sledgehammer tactics. The problem with instant publishing is that writers tend to get carried away and not edit themselves."
Apparently The Guardian doesn't have any editors, either.
Somebody flies a plane into the Guardian headquarters and the bastards are all burning or being crushed alive. Hundreds of the fuckers, from the publisher down to the cockroach-office-support-staff. Burning! Burning! like only leftist shitbags can burn. Charlie jumps out of his office window rather than get burned but spectators throw him back inside. (now here's the funny part) It's take-your-kid-to-work day at the guardian.
I bet that one would crack up the London leftists. I'll even give it to Charlie to use in his next 'column'.
UPDATE III. Brooker apologises.
Niner Charlie identifies an unexplored publishing niche:
Consider the achievements of the Australian Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal-led Government after eight and half years. Consider its dexterous handling of issues like fiscal consolidation and economic management, taxation and industrial relations reform, border protection and Australia's role in the liberation of Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and Iraq. Entering the 'Hill of Content', bookshop in Melbourne today, I looked in vain for any decent authoritative books on Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his Government. Surely, the soon-to-be second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister might be worthy of a few biographies.
None were available. Niner did locate "shelves full of anti-Howard tomes that appear to be largely ignored", however, including copies of Dark Victory ... reduced from $30.00 to $7.50.
After weeks of carefully observing the common voting riff-raff, John Kerry attempts to communicate in their curious patois:
Mr. Kerry's Ohio hunting adventure started last Saturday, when the senator, campaign entourage in tow, went into a grocery store and asked the owner: "Can I get me a hunting license here?"
Maybe they also sell chili.
Trust me on this.
A religious practice familiar to many Australians has been disrupted in Jakarta:
Muslim militants in Indonesia's capital today vandalised a cafe in an area popular with foreigners because it was serving beer during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Around 300 members of the Islamic Defenders Front ordered customers at the Star Deli in south Jakarta to leave, before smashing the building's windows and doors, said Alawi Usman, a spokesman for the group.
"We are against immorality," he said. "The guys saw the beer on the table and what happened, happened. We are doing this for the future of the country's youth."
In Jakarta, you truly do have to fight for your right to party.
I further predict that serving a plastic turkey to soldiers in Iraq for a Thanksgiving news clip and landing on an aircraft carrier dressed up like a pilot under a banner made by the White House that said Mission Accomplished, didn’t quite convince the troops that Bush has their best interests at heart. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.
Okay. We won’t ask.
UPDATE. This is how internet myths begin:
It was fairly easy for Mr. Cheney to slice and dice the plastic man Edwards!
Posted by: DagneyT at October 7, 2004 at 04:59 AM
are you saying edwards is a turkey?
Posted by: Mr. Bingley at October 7, 2004 at 05:02 AM
Posted by: Ken Summers at October 7, 2004 at 05:06 AM
SBS Television says John Martinkus would not be speaking to the media on the issue. Instead, the station's Director of News would be taking over.
So here’s SBS Director of News Phil Martin explaining Martinkus to the ABC’s Edmond Roy:
PHIL MARTIN: The first thing I'd say is that a lot of what John has said has been taken out of context. Now, I know this is fairly repulsive to a lot of people, but these groups view anyone who's deemed to be working with or for the Coalition, no matter how insignificant their role is, as a target.
EDMOND ROY: Could, as Alexander Downer says, could the terrorists take some comfort from what John Martinkus's statements, that perhaps they have good reason to be beheading certain people and so on?
PHIL MARTIN: Well, I don't think that that's what John was saying. I think… look, his suggestion that Kenneth Bigley or any other of the hostages were somehow deserving of their fate was incorrect. John's views are that these killings are monstrous acts, and he's got nothing but sympathy for the victims of these atrocities and their families.
Well, that’s all cleared up then. Further clarification is offered by another journalist working in Iraq, Christopher Allbritton:
We're not sure what all happened during his captivity, but he was able to persuade his captors that he was an Australian and a friend to the resistance and not to the Americans.
Hmmm. Among several puzzling aspects of this story is the original claim -- made by Martinkus's producer -- that Martinkus had been saved by Google. Yet Martinkus, in his SBS interview with Mark Davis, wasn't certain of this:
MARK DAVIS: You said they checked on the Internet to see what you’d written. Could you literally see them at the computer or they were coming and going?
JOHN MARTINKUS: No, it was basically the leader who came and conducted that first interrogation whilst I was blindfolded. He went away and then they came back in and they took the blindfolds off and then they left, left us there. And then they came back about half an hour later and he’d obviously done some checking. He didn’t come back himself, but he sent a message back to the other people who were looking after me that I was actually - I was who I said I was and that I wasn’t a spy and I didn’t work for any of the - any of the contractors or any of the security services.
The "people who were looking after me"? Anyway, here’s another extract from Allbritton, who says his report is as related by Martinkus:
At one point, one man disappeared, saying he would check out John's story. He came back after about 15 minutes, John said, convinced John was who he said he was. We suspect they Googled John, because they referenced previous stories he had covered.
So the much-reported Google angle is nothing more than a suspicion; Martinkus doesn't know if the kidnappers even had a computer, much less their search-engine preferences. There are a couple of small differences between the two accounts (15 minutes/30 minutes, the checker returning/the checker not returning) but we’ll let those slide. More interesting is that Allbritton writes:
John's captors said they received a phone call that he was on the move and that the time for taking him was now. This fits in with our intelligence that there are kidnap teams up and down Jadirya Street looking for us. His captors said they had penetrated the staff at the Hamra Hotel, where many of us live. They have people in the compound watching us. They know who we are ...
If they knew who Martinkus was, wouldn’t they have Googled him before they kidnapped him?
The Guardian's Ian Mayes reveals that even Guardian staffers were opposed to Operation Clark County:
In a poll I conducted among Guardian staff who had been following the story, of 71 respondents, 13 thought it a legitimate and worthwhile exercise, 14 were undecided and 44 were against it. Among the reasons given by the latter, reflecting complaints coming from the US, were that intervention in the democratic processes of another country was not "legitimate newspaper behaviour"; and that it was arrogant and self-aggrandising.
Several were dismayed that the internet effect had apparently not been anticipated, one saying that the speed with which links to the Guardian story spread showed that "this perceived insult has legs". Another commented: "It seems a shame that, in this interactive age, with email and weblogs all around, we rejected any attempt to have a real conversation with US voters."
And The Guardian's Bobbie Johnson defends his thieving newspaper:
Arch Australian Tim Blair claims he had the idea first, but I have been assured this is not the case.
Not by me, you haven't.
UPDATE. Ohio Republican spokesman Jason Mauk: "The British are our loyal allies, but voters in Clark County are outraged at this tacky publicity stunt conducted by an anti-Bush publication to manipulate the vote in Ohio. It has backfired miserably and fired up our base. The Guardian did us a big favor."
UPDATE II. Guardian assistant features editor Paul MacInnes: "We knew we'd get a response from the political right. What we didn't anticipate is the intensity of it. We can take it, but I'd rather not receive letters about our green teeth."
UPDATE III. Scott Burgess observes:
While it's just fine - in fact rather noble - for thousands of Guardian readers to "open up debate" by sending unsolicited letters, the email response was unaccountably seen as having "the intention to smother free speech" - although it's hard to see how sending email does that.
UPDATE IV. Puce's attempted trek to Clark County isn't going well. Pray for Puce.
Next Saturday in Perth: fund-raising rocking for Sudan. As Rob Corr writes: "Be there or be complicit."
Also from Treacher: runaway Puce posts an on-the-road update.
Remember Richard Neville’s pre-election fish poem?
Dancing in the street, everyone’s singing
Birds are chirping, the fish are grinning,
Buds are blooming, our heads are spinning
The end of Howard … is a new beginning
Well, the end of Howard didn’t happen, but those fish are happy anyway, as Richard explains:
As the world heats up, the one hundred million people who live at the waters edge will want to know why the world’s biggest polluter turns its back on Kyoto. US efforts to control the future of oil has upped prices, already forcing fishermen in Asia to hang up their nets, sell their boats and … then what?
Richard is too stupid to realise it, but current high oil prices are having exactly the effect he and all other Kyoto fantasists wish for. Why isn’t he applauding this halt to Asian sea-plundering? The fish, Richard! They are grinning!
Clear the benches:
The first meeting of the Labor caucus since the party's devastating election defeat wrapped up on Friday after almost three hours.
Shouting could be heard coming from inside the party room in Parliament House where Labor MPs conducted a post-mortem on Labor's fourth consecutive election loss.
(Headline via reader Ben Palmer)
UPDATE. Maybe they were shouting about the Jews, who, as we know, control politics and the media in the US and Australia:
Former Bob Hawke government minister Barry Cohen has launched a stinging attack on critics of Israel within the Labor Party, saying anti-semitism is now rampant in the ALP.
He said the number of Labor MPs who supported Israel were increasingly being drowned out by members of the party's hard left, whom he accuses of making exaggerated claims about the nation.
Mr Cohen said Israel's opponents in the ALP now included those who supported Palestinians not for ideological reasons but because of the increased number of Arab voters in their electorates.
In a commentary written for The Australian Jewish News, Mr Cohen said his life and character were shaped by the anti-semitism he experienced in his youth.
"I was proud to belong to a party [the ALP] that fought all forms of prejudice. Not any longer," he wrote.
Mr Cohen wrote of a conversation he said he'd had with an unidentified but prominent ALP figure.
"I told a Labor legend: 'Anti-semitism is now rampant in the Labor Party.' I expected a vigorous denial. His response confirmed my worst fear: 'I know,' he said."
Yahoo news headline:
Russian may saint soldier killed in Chechnya
"Saint" is now a verb?
Palestinians inspect the damage to a car after it was hit by a missile in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza October 21, 2004.
The Guardian's Ian Katz reviews Operation Clark County:
By the beginning of this week, a quixotic idea dreamed up last month in a north London pub had morphed into a global media phenomenon complete with transatlantic outrage, harrumphing over journalistic ethics, grave political predictions - and thousands of people from every corner of the planet writing personal, passionate letters to voters in a tiny American district few outside Ohio had heard of 10 days ago.
"Dreamed up in a north London pub," eh, Ian? Lies make baby Jesus cry.
Then came the backlash. We had expected it, of course. Fox-viewing America was never going to embrace our modest sortie into US politics and we knew full well that any individual voter might take exception to the idea of a foreigner writing to offer some advice on how they should vote - our website explicitly urged participants to "imagine how you would feel if you received a letter from an American urging you to vote for Tony Blair ... or Michael Howard." But you couldn't fail to be a little shocked by the volume and pitch of the invective directed our way. Most of it was coordinated by a handful of resourceful bloggers - the ringleader of whom is fittingly published on a site called "spleenville" - and much of it was eye-wateringly unpleasant.
The email onslaught was pretty unpleasant and inconvenient for the 53 Guardian colleagues whose addresses were targeted by the rightwing spammers - several of us received more than 700 mails ...
The Guardian sent out the names and addresses of 14,000 Ohio residents ... and Katz is bitching about e-mail inconvenience suffered by 53 colleagues? Pussy.
Others, a small but increasing number of Democrats among them, suggested that our campaign could be dangerously counterproductive. Americans don't like being told what to do, the argument went. If a load of foreigners write telling the voters of Clark County to vote Kerry, they are liable to do precisely the opposite ... It's not as if we didn't consider the possibility that our project might have precisely the opposite effect to that intended.
So Katz admits The Guardian's campaign aimed for "an intended effect", and the opposite of that would be to deliver votes to Bush. That’s not what he told the New York Sun:
Mr. Katz denies that the write-in campaign's goal is to swing the election Mr. Kerry's way."The article launching the campaign is absolutely neutral," he insisted.
Baby Jesus is bawling his little holy eyes out. Anyway, claims Katz, the whole idea was only a bit of a lark:
Somewhere along the line, though, the good-humoured spirit of the enterprise got lost in translation.
Today, your country is reviled across continents as never before.
Because of your president, and some who have preceded him, you are seen as the greatest bully on earth.
You seek to dominate all others by demanding access to all markets on your terms, so that local industries and small farmers go to the wall.
You have supported brutal dictators, like Augusto Pinochet, General Suharto and Saddam Hussein, who, over the years, have murdered and tortured with your administration's approval.
Tee hee! Giggle! So good-humoured. Spooked by a few e-mails, The Guardian is now in frantic retreat:
It feels as if the time has come to let the good people of the county make their minds up in peace. Since sending a Guardian delegation to the county in the last week of the campaign would be bound to prolong the media brouhaha, with unknowable consequences, and since some of the mail we have received brings to mind the old joke about unenviable holidays (first prize one week, second prize two weeks), we have decided that our competition winners will be watching the last days of the campaign from another, more tranquil, corner of the American electoral battlefield.
It's an authentic Kerry-style flip-flop! They voted for Clark County before they voted against it. Place your bets, readers; LA, New York, Boston, or another tranquil Democrat stronghold?
Can you imagine the look on the faces of Mr and Mrs John Doe in Springfield, Ohio, when they get a letter from the typical Guardian reader?
UPDATE II. The SMH, via Reuters, reprints John le Carre's Guardian-inspired anti-US rant.
UPDATE III. Cathy Seipp. Must-read, as usual.
UPDATE IV. Guardian calls it quits in Clark County fiasco:
The Guardian yesterday ran up the white flag and called a halt to "Operation Clark County", the newspaper's ambitious scheme to recruit thousands of readers to persuade American voters in a swing state to kick out President George W Bush in next month's election.
The paper said it had closed the website where readers collected an address to write to and had abandoned plans to take four "winners" to visit voters in Clark County. Instead, the group would be taken to the "more tranquil" area of Washington.
Albert Scardino, the paper's executive editor for news, simultaneously denied and conceded that an early halt had been called to the project. "It is roaringly, successfully completed. It has been an overwhelming triumph," he said.
He then acknowledged that no more addresses were being distributed, blaming attacks on The Guardian website by Right-wing hackers.
"If we had not had the technical problem of the assault we would have completed the distribution of names in orderly fashion," he said. "We were able to give fewer addresses [of voters in Clark County] than we hoped. There were 14,000 names and addresses sent out. We would like to have made it possible to reach another 42,000 people."
Popular and perfect and so complete in every way! YOU MUST LOVE EGGS.
Journalist John Martinkus explains the circumstances of his capture in Iraq:
JOHN MARTINKUS: What happened next confirmed all my worst fears. I had basically two armed gunmen from the first car trying to get into my vehicle. I was holding the doors shut and they were trying to pull it from the outside. Obviously, they were trying to get inside as soon as possible to get off the street. But also they were trying to subdue me, because I was like screaming at the driver to do something. And they basically yanked on the door so hard, and I was holding it, that the handle - it only gave way when the handle actually came off in my hand - and then ...
MARK DAVIS: They’re in.
JOHN MARTINKUS: ... they’re in. And what I did then was basically what I think anybody would do in that situation - I tried to wrestle with the guy. I tried to get his gun. I had both hands on top of his hands and I was forcing the gun down, into his crotch basically, and I was trying to shoot it because, as far as I could tell at that time, these guys were gonna kill me.
UPDATE. Tim Dunlop objects to "Hmmm".
In an otherwise standard Paul McGeough piece, the Sydney Morning Herald’s mope in the Middle East actually writes something positive:
The relative safety of the Afghan capital and a stunning demonstration of the people's yearning for a new life when they came out to vote in their millions on October 9 are proof that good things might happen in this crazy world.
Deposing murderous lunatics somehow leads to goodness. It’s just crazy, is what it is! Meanwhile, an earlier McGeough report has attracted some high-level criticism:
A senior Bush administration official has rejected as "nonsense" claims Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi personally executed six suspected insurgents in June.
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he believed he had evidence that the claim by two alleged unnamed witnesses, as reported on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne's The Age on July 17, was not true.
Happy now, Paul?
Taxi drivers might agree with this assessment of Mark Latham:
Critics say he lacks effective people-handling skills.
No kidding. Then again, if "effective people-handling" includes the ability to wrestle colleagues into back-bench obscurity, Latham is a champion:
First Mark Latham lost the election. Now he is losing his front bench.
Lindsay Tanner's refusal to serve in his leader's team shook the Labor Party yesterday and brings the number of experienced frontbenchers who have quit to six.
Make that seven:
Labor housing spokesman Daryl Melham has become the seventh frontbencher to retreat to the backbench.
Why is everybody so unhappy? Steve Lewis has a theory:
Much of the discontent appears to revolve around the position of treasury spokesman, which now appears likely to go to Latham confidante Julia Gillard. Gillard would become the first Labor left-winger since Jim Cairns to hold the treasury portfolio.
Oh, great. As for the rest of the likely Latham A-Team, Drooble writes: "If they keep gettin' any younger, they'll be chuckin' foetuses on to the front bench."
UPDATE. Not content with demolishing Labor’s front bench, Latham is now trying to remove John Anderson:
Opposition Leader Mark Latham today urged Nationals leader John Anderson to stick to his election campaign promise and resign following the defeat of Nationals MP Larry Anthony.
If Latham really wanted Anderson gone, he should become leader of the Coalition. Seems to work with his own party.
UPDATE II. Well, he is kinda foetus-like:
Strong pressure is still being exerted on former rock star Peter Garrett to stand for the front bench, after he indicated to colleagues earlier in the week that he was inclined not to put himself forward at this stage.
Sources said the centre faction was having difficulty filling its allotted two positions and Mr Garrett, who is unaligned, is being pressed to solve the problem.
When Peter Garrett is the solution to your political problems, you’re in far more trouble than you realise.
UPDATE III. Anderson hits back. Includes comment from De-Anne Kelly: "None of John Anderson's front bench are moving to the back bench."
Mark Steyn on The Guardian's Operation Clark County:
There's nothing like a barrage of mail from condescending Guardian readers to send the locals stampeding into the Bush camp. If the editor of the Guardian's up for it, fifty quid says Bush will win a higher proportion of the vote in Clark County on November 2 than he did last time.
American voters, it turns out, do not much necessarily want to be told what to do by a bunch of foreigners, particularly when they are "losers and idiots," as one American characterized the British in a letter to the Guardian.
The Kerry campaign doesn’t seem very grateful:
Even John Kerry's own Democrats expressed horror at the campaign.
"We all feel it is not a good idea. I think it was unwise. It is so poorly thought-out," said Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman in Britain for Democrats Abroad.
Meanwhile, the first letters have hit Ohio:
The letter came addressed to her mother, but Beverly Coale wasn’t expecting anything from England. She began to fear the writer had an underhanded motive.
"You think, 'Is this really a letter from a guy in England, or is it from a terrorist?'" Coale said.
Coale, who already has cast her vote for Kerry, called the letter propaganda and said she was shocked her mother received it ...
Although Coale called the letter courteous, she said that she thinks the writing campaign will not work because the American people are too smart to be influenced by people outside of the country.
Australian journalist John Martinkus, captured by the brave Iraqi resistance, Googled his way to freedom:
Iraqi insurgents who took Australian journalist John Martinkus hostage carried out a Google search on the Internet to determine whether they should kill him.
When he turned out to be neither American nor CIA, but the author of a book about how the US is facing an uphill battle to beat the insurgents in Iraq, it almost certainly saved his life.
Possibly his Google-aware captors happened upon this. “The Australian, he is one of us!”
Mr Martinkus, 35, described his kidnapping as an "interesting" experience.
"These guys, they're not stupid. They are fighting a war but they are not savages - they're not actually killing people willy-nilly. There was no reason for them to kill me," he told reporters on his arrival at Sydney airport last night.
"There was a reason to kill (British hostage Kenneth) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the (two) Americans (kidnapped with Bigley). There was not a reason to kill me."
Andrew Bolt has more on this charming fellow.
Kidnapped Australian journalist John Martinkus was attacked today by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and former hostage Steve Pratt for appearing to say that Iraqi terrorists had a reason to kill some hostages.
Mr Downer said today it was pretty much the most appalling thing any Australian had said about the Iraq war.
"There is no mistaking the arrogance in his remarks - the disgusting disregard for the deaths of British hostage Ken Bigley and US civilians murdered by terrorists," Mr Pratt wrote in a letter the The Australian newspaper.
"There is no excuse for anybody hacking off those poor men's heads. But Martinkus seems to be making excuses for their executioners."
A 'REAL' Australian wouldn't have supported this fucking Imperialistic war, timmy-boy. A 'REAL' Australian remembers what the fuck Empires do & keeps his marbles mindful of the consequences of supporting colonialism all over again. Besides, I said 'AmeriKKKan' not Amerian. I guess I was insensitive in lumping you with all the other week-kneed supporters of AmeriKKKan fascism. Sorry.
To me, you are 'AmeriKKKan'. Just like being a Nazi sympathizer makes you a fucking Nazi. Or selling out makes you a 'whore'. Doesn't matter what you're passport says. You are what you believe. You are your actions. The universe will eventually label you at the end what you deserve to be: dedicated
humanist or selfish asshole. It looks to me like you're gonna end up in the 'selfish asshole' column.
But, correct me then if I'm wrong: Is this what Australians are like now? Evil little shitheads who absolutely hate liberals & pacifists more than anything? Hmmm, sounds like an 'AmeriKKKan' trait to me.
Look, a dingo ran off with your baby.
G'day, you selfish asshole.
Les? Just for you, pal. Enjoy!
Comments still aren't working (or maybe Andrea has finally banned everybody. You people just had to keep annoying her, didn't you?).
Kind of boring, this comment-free format. Hopefully all will be repaired shortly. The problem was apparently a troll-driven mass spam assault, which threatened to overwhelm something called a "server". So, essentially, it was an attempted denial-of-service attack.
Hey, Mike! Leave some room for the paying customers:
Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore nearly filled Seattle's KeyArena Tuesday night.
Besides testing the outer limits of modern stadium design, Michigan Fats is also attempting, yet again, to make an accurate prediction:
"We're the majority and they're the minority," said Moore, "and on Jan. 20, they're going to be the official minority."
UPDATE. Further proof, if proof were needed, that Moore is working for the Bush campaign:
"There's a reason that they're saying Kerry is the No. 1 liberal in the Senate," said Moore. "It's because he is the No. 1 liberal in the Senate."
Keep talking him down, Mike. If Kerry wins, your anti-Bush earnings will zero.
(Via The Corner)
Hostile correspondent Les Ketchum writes:
If you think murdering 30,000+ Iraqui civilians is A-OKAY, hey, I've got a copy of Mein Kampf for you... since it's America's new bible these days.
Saudi Arabians attacked Americans... with American collusion. Military hawks and neocons such as the PNAC have BEEN PLANNING 9/11 for years... using CIA assets such as Osama Bin Laden for such an opportune & neccessary task to subjugate the citizenry to its aims.
Once the cold war was over, America faced a new lack of enemies... so it spent the last several years really turning up the heat in the middle east and around the world.
Remember, America gave billions to Osama & the Taliban, where is American culpability?! Huh? Nowhere.... and that's why I think America is going like Nazi Germany. It needs a kick in the ass itself, a historical correction, from it's high-mighty perch of hubris and oil-addled wealth.
your hatred is against all things that stop you from enjoying your egos and your ability to accumulate gargantuan wealth...
the rape of Iraq has created countless new enemies for America. happy now? of course you are, because now America has viable enemies it can exploit and ramrod defensive (um, rather "offensive") spending more than ever...
because is Congress really give this Administration the money it wants without all these new enemies? jeez, no.
America has always been willing to kill others, and its own, to keep or attain power. not for the benefit of American citizens or the world, or for freedom, or for God. No, no, no... but for the greedy, the hateful, the ignorant & the shamelessly wealthy of America.
American corporatism is... fascism. When Bush II was appointed CEO of America, the United States of America stopped to be and became the Corporate States of AmeriKKKa. It's only a matter of time before your machiavellan masters start throwing the 'undesirables' in the citizenry into concentration camps built & run by FEMA and AmeriKKKa becomes a nice little neoconservative
Oh, by the way, Jon Stewart NAILED all of your pundit asses to the board this week on Crossfire.
On Nov. 2, you'll be crying in your cool aid, you brownshirt bastard.
Glad to wipe the smug smirk of hubris off your fat Amerikkkan face.
The most optimistic statement of 2004:
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," said Marjorie Jacobs, 90, of Hallandale Beach, who went home after waiting two-and-a-half hours in vain. "I'm coming back and voting on Election Day."
That’s still a couple of weeks away. Majorie is clearly among the minority of 90-year-olds who buy unripe bananas. Almost as optimistic is Not Happy John activist Hamish Alcorn:
I have never before seen the apparent beginnings of a movement like I am witnessing now. This is the activist movement I have always dreamed about - real people, from the middle, with everyday values of decency, and who do not have an ideology for a brain.
At the same time there is an incredible cross-fertilisation of views where such wasn't happening. The political fault lines have all changed. Liberals, socialists, labourites, social justice campaigners, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, agrarian socialists (Nats, CEC, Katter), and mostly people who've never especially identified themselves with any of these, all of a sudden have a lot to talk about.
The term I've come up with for this phenomenon, which I think Margo helped pioneer with Webdiary, is glasnost.
Hamish came up with "glasnost"?
The Coalition’s 2004 advertising campaign against Mark Latham was based on his contentious term as Liverpool’s mayor. The Coalition’s 2007 advertising campaign may be based on the total debacle that's taking place under Latham's command after the election loss:
Former Labor minister Bob McMullan today said he would not run for a frontbench position, citing a difference of opinion with Opposition Leader Mark Latham over the role he would fulfil.
Mr McMullan joins workplace relations spokesman Craig Emerson, who today said he would not contest a position on the frontbench.
Dr Emerson stood aside after acknowledging factional wrangling made it unlikely he would win a position.
Mr Latham issued a brief statement through a spokesman thanking Mr McMullan for his contribution over the years but making no further comment.
"I thank Bob for his long service on the front bench," Mr Latham said.
"His statement stands on its own."
Spoken like a true leader.
Party figures suggested last night that Mr Crean might be next to take a seat on the backbench. "I wouldn't be shocked if he stepped aside," one colleague said.
Mr Crean's spokesman said he had nothing to add to Mr Crean's statement last week that he was not seeking the shadow treasury position and would serve where Mr Latham and the party wanted him to.
Labor's multicultural affairs spokesman, Laurie Ferguson, and the party's housing spokesman, Daryl Melham, are both "under pressure".
Mr Latham has now lost five frontbenchers who have resigned to go on to the back bench, and another is in danger of losing his seat ...
One frontbencher said yesterday that Mr Latham's use of US political strategist Dick Morris' "triangulation" was "strangulation", and that Mr Latham should have concentrated on the economy as an issue. "We need to have a head to head combat on the economy," he said. Another frontbencher said that the "morally bankrupt" factions and supporters of Mr Beazley were blaming Mr Latham and trying to position Mr Smith for Treasury.
Labor MPs were warning that Friday's parliamentary meeting in Canberra could be "long and bloody".
UPDATE III. It just keeps getting better and better.
As you all have probably noticed, you have been unable to comment on this blog. Well, you can thank the trolls for that. The hosting service has shut down the comment capability for the time being until all the cretins have been given their medication and tied to their beds so if you are emailing Tim with complaints or questions as to why you aren't able to comment here you can stop now.
By the way, the irritation level here at Management is set to RED.
Reaction to The Guardian's "write letters to Clark County, Ohio, using the fluids from your bleeding, infected British gums" campaign has been mixed, to say the least. (Earlier reports on The Guardian's campaign, and our vigorous counter-campaign, may be found here, here, here and
Meanwhile, possibly inspired by our British friends, Malaysian anti-Semite Mahathir Mohammad is sending letters to the US himself:
Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohammad has appealed to American Muslims not to vote for George Bush on November 2.
In an open letter sent to the community, believed to number seven million, the former prime minister said during the past four years of the Bush presidency, the Muslims and their countries had suffered oppression and humiliation as never before in the history of Islam.
"There is an obvious connection between the sufferings of the Muslims and the policies and thinking of Bush. We cannot expect much change to the policies of the United States of America towards Islam and the Muslims under Democrats as under Republicans. But we have a duty to ensure that Bush will not be able to determine our fate for four more years," he said.
Read on. It’s pure ... Guardian.
A fantastic Sarah Baxter piece in the Sunday Times contains this information:
Alexandra Wolfe, 24, the daughter of Bonfire of Vanities novelist Tom Wolfe, confessed she was intending to vote Republican.
"If I say it out loud, it's death," she whispered. "In a place like this, people look at you like you are a freak. I believe in abortion and I totally believe Kerry is right on some social issues, but I just don’t trust him on terrorism.
"I feel that Bush has the character to say, 'They did us wrong, and I’m going to get them back.' Kerry can talk the talk, but that's all he’s good at."
(Via Roger L. Simon)
Phillip Adams -- who described me as "odious" during a recent Radio National broadcast heard by fourteen people -- imagines life in a parallel universe:
I was surprised and pleased by Howard's graceful concession speech. Not only did he finally say sorry to the indigenous population, he also apologised to the electorate for misleading them on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, he went further and begged forgiveness for embroiling us in that sorry escapade while conceding that he'd behaved unconscionably in the previous election in regard to the Tampa asylum-seeker stand-off. Howard went on to announce that he'd be seeking therapy for this condition and that Piers Akerman, Christopher Pearson and Tim Blair, among others, would be joining him in truth and reconciliation sessions conducted by Hugh Mackay.
The truth and reconciliation sessions will run into weeks hearing Adams explain his Krauthammer column and turkey fantasies. Incidentally, when I met Media Watch's David Marr and Peter McEvoy, they seemed genuinely alarmed by Adams' Krauthammer piece, of which they'd not previously been aware. Not that they’ve done anything about it since, of course, but at least now they know of the odious entity they’ve largely allowed to escape their attention.
Hey, it’s that American Gothic guy!
The back story here: purple t-shirt man has earlier proposed to sandal-babe on the right, and they’ve decided to visit her folks to tell them the good news. But her parents' house is filled with people demanding he hold a sign denouncing Iraq’s liberation. His eyes scream: "Dear God, what have I done?"
This is for commenter Justin Eagle, who wrote: "I didn’t see any signs in favor of Saddam." Read the sign, Justin. Read it out loud so the whole class can hear -- especially the last two words.
She’s got legs. She knows how to use them.
How many seconds later did the guy on the right puke? a) 5 seconds b) 10 seconds c) 2 seconds
"The Beatles' White Album told me to make this sign."
Australia doesn’t respond to just any request for troops in Iraq:
The Foreign Ministry has confirmed Australia has rejected suggestions it send more troops to Iraq to help protect the United Nations mission there.
The Government says it has been informally approached to help with security for the UN assistance mission in Iraq.
But a spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the Australian Government has already made a substantial commitment to Iraq and it will not be sending more troops.
Hilariously, Labor’s Kevin Rudd -- his party wanted all Australian troops withdrawn by Christmas -- is all of a sudden Mr. Send-'Em-In:
The Federal Opposition's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, has attacked the Government's handling of the request, saying the UN would have got a better response if Labor had won the election.
It's AFP, so utilize adequate quantities of salt.
It says the UN asked Australia to provide extra troops to protect any UN mission to Baghdad, and Australia said, "No".
Quite rightly so, too. Australia is already busy in Iraq doing real work.
Aren't there all sorts of other nations, like say in Europe, who could provide troops? Did the UN talk to China, which has the largest standing military in the world?
The article implies that since Australia refused to play, it's gonna fall to the US. That's crap, too. Our troops are also busy doing real work.
If this multilateralism we keep hearing about is so important, why don't such major and critically important world powers as China, Russia and France (all UNSC veto powers) offer troops to protect the UN mission to Baghdad? After all, those three nations have been demanding UN involvement in Iraq since about five minutes after Saddam's statue fell.
Who could ever have predicted this? Imagine; John Kerry actually leaving open the possibility he might change his mind about something:
In an interview with the nation's largest homosexual magazine just weeks before the election, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry leaves open the possibility that he will change his position on same-sex "marriage" and says he will nominate judges who will fight for homosexual causes.
It’s almost as though Kerry is tailoring his message to suit a particular audience. Or maybe he’s simply stressed from the unfairness of selective media attention, which his opponent never suffers:
Senator John Kerry and President Bush devoted four and a half hours and nearly 45,000 words to three detailed and substantial debates. But a single remark by Mr. Kerry, noting that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is a lesbian, has shadowed his strong performance and given Republicans an opening to slow the momentum Mr. Kerry got from the debates, some Democrats say.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was the New York Times spinning like a one-legged crab for John Kerry. Why, his words were just a few among some 45,000! Can’t we focus on something else?
UPDATE. Kerry’s international bridge-building continues to implode:
The commander of the UN peacekeepers in Haiti has linked a recent upsurge in violence there to comments made by the US presidential candidate, John Kerry.
Earlier this year Mr Kerry said that as president he would have sent American troops to protect Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted from power in February.
The Brazilian UN general, Augusto Heleno, said Mr Kerry's comments had offered "hope" to Aristide supporters. Much of the recent unrest has centred on areas loyal to Mr Aristide.
More than 50 people have died over the past fortnight.
Mark Steyn on John Howard and the Australian election:
The US and British press could barely disguise their befuddlement at the way the first of the Anglosphere's three musketeers to face the electorate had survived being run through by Ramsey and a thousand others and was dancing round the parapet crying, "All for one and one for all!"
Well, not exactly dancing, but raising his arms for that endearingly stiff victory gesture Howard does, as if he's put his back out joining in the "conga line of suckholes" (in Mark Latham's contribution to thoughtful political debate). There were no conga lines in the world's newsrooms. Front-page splashes ("Angry Oz Turns On Bush Toady") were hastily shuffled to page 37 section D ("Minor Regional Figure Of No Consequence Ekes Out Victory In Election On Obscure Domestic Issues Like Interest Rates With No Wider Significance, Honest, Take Our Word For It").
And Michael Gordon reports that its Iraq policy was a crucial election blunder for Labor:
Mr Textor also shed light on Liberal research on Labor leader Mark Latham, asserting that his troops-home-by-Christmas promise was a "watershed" reinforcing concerns that he "just made up stuff because it was exciting and got him a headline".
UPDATE. Not happy, Mark:
As the magnitude of the task ahead of Labor sinks in, party figures are sharply divided over the campaign and post-campaign performance of Mr Latham ...
Critics of Mr Latham, who mostly decline to go on the record, complain he is in denial and not personally accepting enough of the blame for defeat ...
One Latham critic said at the weekend the interest rate issue had been raised with Mr Latham before and during the election and he "didn't consider it a key issue".
A photographic exploration of the pious and peaceful:
Crouching peaceniks, hidden sandals.
It sure is! Palaces, oil, the whole damn deal!
Front row, centre: the tilted head of compassion.
To those of you who scoff at advances in genetic engineering, I present ... Raccoon Lady!
At least she's got the decency to apologise.
Er, ladies? You aren’t standing.
Most awesome power-fist ever.
Noting his ancestry, young Peter checks for the presence of testicles.
Free the Iraqui, and all Indian tribes!
Add a few orange jumpsuits, and this looks exactly like an Iraq hostage video. Except hostages don’t usually look this stupid.
Maybe you shouldn’t have given up that night-school spelling course.
"Hey, you crazy-ass whiteys! Get yo'selves back inside befo' yo' dinner gets cold!"
They feel great! Good for them.
How’s the prayer for a Weed Whacker working out?
Return of the tilted compassion-head!
Dennis Kucinich and his mother keep the peace message alive.
It’s not every day you see an authentic Jesus beehive.
That hot parking cop walked by at just the wrong moment.
Dude on the left has one of those "arm hearts" everybody's talking about.
Edith and Walter were the first to notice the blood dripping from the ceiling.
Pick the couple who just returned from an innocent "nature walk" in the forest. And at left: one of the finest compassionate head-tilts yet.
Drunk out of their minds.
Dorkafork writes: "Notice the compassionate head-tilt on the terrorist second from the right."
UPDATE II. Sean Gleeson takes things to a whole new level.
UPDATE III. Silent Running piles on.
UPDATE IV. An otherwise-convincing peacenik parody by Dave Barry and John Cleese fails due to its lack of a sign.
UPDATE V. From Mike Jericho:
UPDATE VI. And from Brian O'Connell:
David Zucker -- director of Naked Gun, Flying High, and Police Squad, and a former Democrat who now describes himself as a September 12 Republican -- has come up with a comic masterpiece featuring John Kerry.
The Times' backing is one of the most coveted and influential of any endorsement during the US presidential campaign, although given the newspaper's somewhat left-of-centre tendency, not entirely unexpected.
In Australian post-election news:
• "The election result has merely confirmed our belief," writes John Menadue in New Matilda, "that public debate in this country has been corrupted."
• John Quiggin has indisputable proof of the Howard government's evil.
• And Paul Sheehan points out that progressives have stopped progressing:
Three years ago, in the 2001 Senate election, 1.2 million voters supported three broad-based progressive protest parties: the Democrats (620,000 votes), the Greens (569,000) and the Unity Party (25,000). Another half million feral voters opted for One Nation, which shared the anti-globalism of the Greens.
This was a large incursion into the major parties - 1.7 million votes - and it took place even before the highly charged and highly dubious invasion of Iraq.
It was an altogether different story on October 9. The progressive vote collapsed. The combined vote that had gone to the Democrats, Greens and Unity in 2001 plunged 23 per cent, to 932,000. The Democrats disintegrated. Unity did not take part in the election. On the other end of the protest spectrum, One Nation disintegrated as a protest movement.
If this election was meant to be a referendum on Iraq, which is what the progressives wanted, it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for the prosecution.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
The Guardian's campaign of liberation, led by an unprecedented shock and awe letter assault, has become bogged down in a quagmire of hostile e-mails and online mockery. Instead of the flowers they'd anticipated, The Guardian's soldiers are being targeted by the very people they believed they were helping.
Fears that weapons of mass destruction would be deployed against the invaders have so far proved groundless, although rumours persist of an alleged postcard-powered Doomsday Device. The device is said to be capable of transmitting fatal images to massed Guardian forces within 45 seconds.
"All Guardian journalists will feel the wrath of postcard vengeance!" a resistance spokesman urged on a website opposed to the imperialist takeover. "Images of the Hatted One shall be upon them! Blog is great!"
Viewing Fahrenheit 9/11 doesn’t always result in immediate conversion to Michael Moore's cause:
Cindy Stewart told 6 News Friday, "My step son said last night ... his comment was that Michael Moore is a jerk. And I said, 'Why did you say that?' And he said, 'Oh well, we're watching 'Fahrenheit 9/11.'"
Stewart's step son is a high school student. Maybe Moore's movie should be compulsory high school viewing; after all, like Diana Kerry, Moore seems to have a gift for getting out the conservative vote:
Ms. Kerry, a former teacher, and media-dubbed as "Sister Kerry", believes that support for the U.S. in Iraq by the John Howard government in Australia makes Aussies a bigger target for international terrorists.
The Australian people, who obviously don't buy into the same notion, recently restored the Howard government to office.
There's been no word about what Moore or Kerry makes of that turn of events.
"Why aren't this guy's copious activities resonating where they should be - in the polls?" asks liberal columnist Gene Grant. "What happened to the 'Moore bounce'?" Grant continues:
Toss in all the work by assorted movie stars, rock acts such as the recently concluded "Vote for Change" tour by Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, the Dixie Chicks, R.E.M and a slew of other acts, liberal pundits at full throttle, a national radio network dubbed "Air America" whose sole reason for being is to unseat the president, and a reasonable man has to wonder what all this dust-raising has led up to. A tie - that's where.
For those who were thinking all this noise was going to put Kerry over the top, I would start breaking out Plan B. This ain't gonna get it done.
I'm afraid this is starting to look like yet another example of liberals predictably pandering to cheap emotions instead of doing the ugly and decidedly un-sexy work it takes to win elections.
Railing is not doing. Neither is finger-pointing, huffing incredulously or claiming to understand how the "rest of the world" considers us. All of it is garbage.
Yes, but it's lucrative garbage. Moore -- described by Anand Patwardhan (the "Michael Moore of India") as "the best thing that has happened to America since Chomsky" -- interrupted his Slacker Uprising tour a few days ago for an appearance in Utah:
Apparently Mr. Moore is only scheduled to speak in swing states, where he might be able to score some more voters for the Kerry ticket. So why stop in the largely Republican state of Utah? To do some "missionary work" as he put it, with a grin on his face. He said they kept asking him and asking him, and he just felt so sorry for the lonely Kerry supporters, that he had to come. For them. So they wouldn't feel so alone in the world.
So it turns out that this Michael Moore fellow really is a thoughtful, caring and compassionate soul. Or was it really just about the $40,000 check he will receive for a couple hours of his time?
And with every appearance, Moore inspires more young conservatives:
One sign among dozens read, "I would die to protect our nation. Would Mike?"
Holding the homemade placard was Danielle Dahl, 18, a Fallbrook resident and Cal State San Marcos freshman who was one of nearly 200 demonstrators hoisting signs and hollering praise for President Bush.
With equal enthusiasm, they berated controversial filmmaker Michael Moore as thousands waited in traffic to attended Moore's sold-out rally at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
"I like it," [Dahl] said of demonstrating. "I want to do it more."
Demonstrators rallied for more than two hours and many of their voices grew hoarse as the night wore on. From the crowded sidewalks, some protestors exchanged heated words with the passengers of cars that idled in traffic.
Some motorists blew their horns and extended rigid middle fingers.
"France is that way!" a demonstrator responded.
Antonio Pizzonia was recently clocked at 369.9 km/h (229.7 mph), the highest speed recorded in Formula One. And here was me all impressed with myself because lately I’ve pushed my personal best to 225 km/h (140 mph). Check the comments at that link; I'm still at the slow end of the spectrum.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Alan Ramsey on February 7: "Have a look at page three of The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday. There is a photo there which shows John Howard like you've not seen him before. A little grey man burdened by, what? Responsibility? His conscience? The thought of the Mack truck bearing down?"
Alan on April 3: "We have not heard the last of the Iraq fiasco. Nor should we. And John Howard, by any measure, did nothing this week to avoid that Mack truck coming for him."
Alan on June 5: "Latham hasn't budged. The Mack truck is still coming."
And Alan two days ago: "John Howard's press office, I suspect, left an anonymous 'welcome' taped overnight Sunday to my office door in the parliamentary press gallery, 'The Mack truck has arrived AT YOUR PLACE.'"
Inaccurate Al will always have his fans -- among them optimistic commenter Homer Paxton: "Al is the most perceptive Journalist around and if a mack truck is coming you better take warning" -- but the good news is a gigantic truck really is coming. It’s not a Mack, but Al should be happy enough.
(Via Piers Akerman, whose Mack-mentioning column in the Sunday Telegraph is yet to be appear online)
Ohio's Springfield New Sun reports:
The [Guardian] is encouraging its readers from "Basildon to Botswana" to write Clark County residents who do not have a declared party, "which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable."
Features editor Ian Katz said the unique idea stemmed from many foreigners’ feelings of helplessness while they watched the unfolding of the U.S. election.
No, the "unique idea" stemmed from here. The Guardian -- it steals! And it also runs insane letters-to-Ohio from the likes of Samia Rahman, deputy editor of "the Muslim lifestyle magazine emel". Imagine how happy someone in Clark County will be to receive this load of condescending abuse:
You may wonder why on earth your friends in Britain are telling you how to vote. I can understand how perplexed you must feel. Once again faced with the hyperbole of a US election, the rest of the world seems to be resounding to the chorus of "Your vote counts!", and I can appreciate you may be feeling a touch cynical. After all, I suspect you never voted for Bush in the first place, or maybe you did but are now feeling a little misled. I would, too.
I, like you, would feel disappointed to learn that since the Republicans came to power in 2000, unemployment has soared by a third, the number of people living in poverty has increased by nearly three million and the erosion of standards in education has become a startling reality. I would also be alarmed by your president's breathtaking disregard for the environment, demonstrated by his pulling out of the Kyoto agreement to stem global warming, a phenomenon that may well be the cause of the freak hurricanes that lashed Florida in recent weeks.
I can see that you must be furious at the way the current administration has not only catapulted the US into a state of social decline, but has plunged your great nation into a state of perpetual insecurity. I know that you will not stand by and observe your country being hijacked by a select group of neo-conservative extremists who spread fear and loathing. I don't expect you to stand for the haughty suppression of your civil liberties threatened by the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act, which will enable the government to detain in secrecy anyone who supports a "terrorist" group and strip them of their citizenship.
I know that you, as Americans, understand the issues and will not allow your sincere and industrious population to be misrepresented, exploited and cowed any longer in the name of a so-called democracy that dishonours your founding fathers. I implore you to vote on November 2. The greatest weapon in the war against terror is you.
A British Muslim telling heartland Americans their nation "dishonours your founding fathers"; that’s certain to drive votes away from George W. Bush! It’ll be fun to follow Clark County’s voting on election night. If you haven’t already, please contribute to Operation Guardian, a global initiative that aims to inform Guardian journalists of their "breathtaking disregard" for ... well, everything, really. A helpful cut 'n' paste mass e-mail list is available here.
UPDATE. John Le Carré, double agent?
Of course, Le Carré "made a name for himself" writing novels of spies and double agents, so it's not completely illogical to think this is a well crafted pro-Bush diatribe, better perhaps than some of the CIA's best efforts on their Democratic Underground site.
UPDATE II. Dear God, no! Puce is headed for "Clock County"!
The Guardian's campaign to target undecided voters in a key swing state in the US presidential elections has attracted more than 10,000 responses, as well earning the ire of the conservative media.
By 6pm yesterday, 11,658 people had contacted the newspaper from around the world, after it encouraged readers in Britain to write with their thoughts on the election to voters in Clark county, Ohio.
Ian Katz, the Guardian's features editor, said: "For millions of people around the world, this election will have far more of an impact on our lives than even elections in their own country, and this is a way for non-Americans to have some say."
He said the article that launched the campaign was neutral ...
Mr. Katz denies that the write-in campaign's goal is to swing the election Mr. Kerry's way.
"The article launching the campaign is absolutely neutral," he insisted ...
Republicans note that all the letters on the campaign from prominent British figures that the Guardian has so far published in its pages, and sent online to Clark County voters, are anti-Bush.
This is terrific:
The director of the Board of Elections in Clark County, Linda Rosicka, seemed less than amused by the Guardian's campaign, possibly because it has added to her workload calls from the press around the world. "Everyone is contacting me," she complained ...
She expressed skepticism that the letter campaign would have an effect. "The American Revolution was fought for a reason," Ms. Rosicka remarked.
Don’t tell me all these wonderful policies have simply been abandoned ...
The Labor Party has removed from its website the policies it took to last Saturday's election, leaving just a parting shot at the Prime Minister, John Howard.
The hundreds of pronouncements made by the Labor leader, Mark Latham, and his frontbench during the election campaign have been archived while Labor ponders its policy direction.
The only remnant of its failed bid for government is "Truth Overboard", the almanac of what Labor said were 35 lies that Mr Howard told on issues ranging from bulk billing to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
UPDATE. Beazley overboard!
Remember the "wealth of sympathy" ladled upon Americans after September 11? In Australia, among the hard left, it took the immediate form of accusations against the US:
Some others have written making judgements about the United States and suggesting it is responsible for last night's events.
All that "sympathy" -- letters to the Sydney Morning Herald claimed the US brought on the attacks because it hadn’t ratified Kyoto -- has since evaporated, according to The Guardian’s Alan Travis:
George Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office.
Marian Wilkinson, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Washington correspondent and pro-Dem spin freak, is at it again:
Throughout the 90-minute debate, Mr Bush sought to differentiate himself from the "liberal" views of Senator Kerry on religion, abortion and gay marriage. He cited his support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, a position Senator Kerry opposes.
This is true, in the narrow sense that Kerry opposes a constitutional ban, but rather leaves the impression that "liberal" Kerry is in favour of gay marriage, don’t you think? Wilkinson declined to mention this clarifying comment from debate moderator Bob Schieffer:
Both of you are opposed to gay marriage.
Nor did she mention this, from Kerry himself:
The president and I share the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
At least Marian has stopped panting for good-looking, charismatic John Edwards, the honest mill worker's boy sworn to bring down Darth Vader and He Who Scares Children. What has Edwards been up to lately, anyway? Charles Krauthammer reports:
I'm not making this up. I couldn't. This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
Don’t look for that quote to appear in a Wilkinson story anytime soon.
First Miranda Devine identified the hipsters for Howard, and now Dawn Eden notes her personal fusion of conservatism and cool. It’s one hell of a piece, citing Ella Fitzgerald, the Zombies, the Kinks, Tex Avery, Michael Palin, Joey Ramone, They Might Be Giants, Nina Simone ...
Meanwhile, Eric Clapton obsessive Chris Sheil stands up for the dorky Left:
The point to appreciate, I think, is that the elite/ordinary dichotomy is a neoconservative class structure which aims to mobilise popular resentment against liberalism and undercut mass support for parties of the left. It's liberal-democracy, without the liberal. This is why tim blair et al never tire of imagining they have found even the slightest downward pejorative on the part of someone who they classify as 'left'. To some extent at least the neo-cons have succeeded. This is where the contest is.
Sheil is a snerd.
The Sydney Morning Herald and its media collaborators are fomenting global division:
The US President, George Bush, is encountering growing international hostility to his campaign for a second term in the White House.
A remarkable collaborative polling exercise, undertaken by leading newspapers in 10 countries across the globe, has highlighted strong opposition to the Bush re-election campaign.
The ambitious exercise, initiated by Canada's Quebec-based La Presse, required the 10 project partners to run identical polls in mid- to late September to gauge public attitudes towards the US election on November 2.
In Canada, 64 per cent said their attitude had worsened, France 70 per cent, Britain 45 per cent, Japan 74 per cent, South Korea 67 per cent and Australia 54 per cent.
The souring view is directly linked to public dissatisfaction with Mr Bush, mainly over his prosecution of the Iraq war.
So a bunch of people say their view has worsened. Be interesting to know how much they loved the US beforehand.
Acrimony among the women flared yesterday when it became clear only a few spots on Labor's 30-member front bench would be female, contravening party policy to gradually increase the representation levels to 40 per cent.
They should defect to the Coalition, where talented female candidates are welcome. Speaking of the Coalition ...
The chances of the Coalition seizing control of the Senate are increasing as vote counting resumes today.
With the Nationals close to gaining another spot in Queensland, the Coalition could clinch 39 seats out of the 76-seat upper house - a controlling majority.
However, final Senate figures are not expected to be confirmed for at least two weeks.
We can wait. Check out former Beazley chief-of-staffer Michael Costello ripping into Wonderboy:
Latham must accept responsibility for a series of policy and strategic decisions that cost dearly. Withdrawing from Iraq by Christmas; the extraordinary forest policy that destroyed Labor's last week of the campaign; Medicare Gold, the health portfolio equivalent of free beer for all the workers, thus playing into Howard's economic irresponsibility theme; the close embrace of Bob Brown and the Australian Greens in a way that Latham before he became leader would rightly have pointed out was guaranteed to alienate huge numbers of traditional Labor voters, and despite the fact that Labor was always going to win Green preferences.
Then there was his decision to campaign on values – for example reading to children, disposal of plastic bags, mentoring boys – and to say virtually nothing about key economic issues. The bizarre thing is that in Latham's pre-leadership writings, there is a kernel of very strong, rigorous economic thinking related to competitiveness, trade, efficiency and productivity. Where did this disappear?
Wog Blog has a question about gambling etiquette.
By the end of the workday, the paper had received more than 3,000 requests for voters, whose names were culled from public voter-registration rolls, said features editor Ian Katz.
Many of those requests were from opponents of the vote-influencing scheme, wishing to help Clark County residents avoid mail from pale, asexual, unevolved British socialists.
Editors came up with the idea as a way to give non-Americans a way to express their opinions.
It works like this. Below you’ll find the names of dozens of journalists who work at The Guardian. You may not have heard of it, but it's one of the most marginal newspapers in one of the most marginal media cultures on earth. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few journalists could make a real difference.
Pick one, two, three, or all the names and send your message. It's that easy!
Some of those addresses may not work. These sure will:
Send and send and send and send!
UPDATE. More on this from Captain's Quarters. And don’t miss Robin Grant: "This is possibly the most important thing I’ve ever done at work - in the last few days I’ve been helping the Guardian set up Operation Clark County."
UPDATE III. SouthernCross suggests an innovative cut 'n' paste mail-'em-all-at-once megalist.
UPDATE IV. Cranky Neocon locates a typical Guardian missive to Ohio:
UPDATE V. Jeff Harrell has composed a VCF file of the e-mail addresses listed above, for easy clicking-and-sending.
Oliver Stone on George W. Bush: "He’s worse than Nixon in his vulgarity. He looks like he shops at Wal-Mart. That’s not what the president is supposed to be."
Deep guy, this Stone fellow. But he's well qualified to discuss vulgarity:
Jennifer Lopez once broke down in tears in front of director Oliver Stone in an attempt to avoid having to film a raunchy sex scene.
"Urgh. Yeah, the sex scenes were bad. It was hard being the only woman on set with those strong men," Lopez said. "I just started crying and fighting. But Oliver was like, 'Take off your top.'"
Maybe it was from Wal-Mart.
WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) -- Stung by allegations his administration has done little to advance spinal-damage research, President George W. Bush today announced a $10 billion government program to study the very latest initiatives in spinal care.
At the center of the study will be what the president described as a "breakthrough" in "pre-trauma spinal-maintenence therapy". Essentially, as explained by the president, this involves "telling people not to get on big stupid animals and try jumping them over stuff."
"I mean, hey," said the president, standing before a chart demonstrating the relative sizes of a show-jumping horse and a standard showbusiness human. "You want me to do all this stem-cell science. How about you don’t get on the damn horse in the first place?"
Several million dollars from the program have been earmarked for a door-to-door education campaign in the nation’s wealthiest areas, where horse ownership and related spinal injuries are rampant.
"Turns out a lot of folks get on these enormous, witless critters and then - get this - try to make 'em bounce over walls and hedges and such," said the president. "My panel of experts tell me this is no way to maintain viable spinal integrity."
In a demonstration illustrating the potency of Bush's claims, a sack of kittens equivalent in weight to a standard showbusiness identity was elevated to a height approximating that of the rider of a leaping horse and then dashed to the ground. Fewer than half the kittens survived without injury, and all were subsequently killed when a weight equal to that of a mature horse was dropped upon the writhing, howling sack.
"See?" said the president, holding aloft a bloodied, lifeless tabby. "Stem cells ain’t going to do much for this little guy."
Maybe John Howard won the referendum on Iraq before the election. Greg Sheridan writes:
The other critical conclusion to come out of this election is that it was a total vindication of John Howard over Iraq. This is very painful for the commentariat – perhaps the Government should set up special psychiatric triage clinics for commentators unable to cope with their grief over the electorate's decision on Iraq.
But the conclusion is inescapable. Labor did not buy a single ad on Iraq. Nor did Latham mention his troops-home-by-Christmas pledge in his policy speech. Indeed Iraq only figured in the last line on page 13 of a 16-page speech by Latham.
Both parties poll the electorate to within an inch of its life. If Iraq were a negative for Howard, Labor would have campaigned on it.
Far from seething with resentment at Howard over Iraq, voters, according to the polls, all through the campaign gave Howard a huge lead over Latham on national security, very nearly as big a lead as on economic management.
It was rather strange that we have troops at war and they were hardly mentioned in the campaign. This is actually a bigger victory for Howard than if the election had been fought on Iraq and he had won. His victory in the Iraq argument was so comprehensive that Labor did not even raise it in the campaign. This is because Labor understood that while it had campaigned brilliantly on Iraq among ABC and Fairfax journalists, all these people put together still don't make a single marginal seat.
No ... but they sure are marginalised.
Sculptor and environmentalist Peter Adams laments the beating of democracy in Australia, and urges depressive dipsticks nationwide to "remain virile":
All of us, especially those elders among us; those with a few more years of experiencing life in its fullness; those who have been at the forefront of environmental and social change; and those of us who have touched the void before and have come back with a deeper wisdom.... we have to remain virile in body and spirit. We can never give up on the spreading of seeds of change.
This is a cry from the heart of hearts asking us all to embrace the day, feet planted into the earth with arms thrust upward into the sky and beyond to the stars. Let fly into the air seeds of hope, stories of love, words of delight for all things green, all creatures great and small. Constantly sing up the earth. Breathe in fear and despair and blow out a never ending stream of activity; of decent activity. And the stronger our exhale, the further our seeds will travel.
It is true that in our lifetime we might not see the fruit of the seeds we have planted. But it is so very important to keep planting them, despite what seems as hopeless odds; despite the seeming unjustness of it all; despite just wanting to curl up in bed and face the wall. If we're in the "wilderness" for a few more years, so be it.
Last night the UN Security Council was in emergency session on the situation in Australia, where John Howard seized power in a bloodless election on Saturday. The defeat of democracy had been long foreshadowed by the country's artists and intellectuals, as well as by some prominent columnists.
"For this to happen in one of the world's most stable democracies is a tragedy that must not be allowed to go unchallenged", said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Mr Howard's election coup occurred without violence. It was brilliantly organised and took the form of more than 7700 mini-coups in so-called "polling places" around the nation.
• Now it's oil for probe: "Secretary-General Kofi Annan has ordered $US30 million ($41.14 million) to fund the fraud probe into the UN's handling of Iraqi oil sales, using money taken from the program itself, his office said today."
• If you thought Phillip Adams could be a little troublesome around the ladyfolk, wait until you read these allegations against Fox News loudmouth Bill O’Reilly. My favourite line: "O'Reilly’s eyes became glazed and bizarrely strayed in opposite directions."
• Helpful British legal advice from Natalie Solent: "Tell the police immediately if your estranged husband is coming to murder you. They can give you 'advice and support' until you are killed. They can't actually come to the house until a few hours after your death in case they meet a violent criminal."
• What’s the big deal about David Beckham’s deliberate suspension? Brent Crosswell used to do it all the time, as a means of regaining fitness late in the season. The wily Carlton/North Melbourne/Melbourne player always made certain that his contracts contained no suspension penalty clauses ...
• "An RTA spokeswoman said Chatswood had top of the line technology," reports the Daily Telegraph. Reader Shaun was in that particular Road and Traffic Authority office a couple of weeks ago, and notes: "The new technology is Apple Mac!!"
Those brilliant Labor strategists have tricked us all:
Mr Tanner said the Howard government's landslide win may play into Labor's hands.
Oddly, despite the success of their crafty landslide ploy, Labor identities seem angry and combative:
Senior federal Labor frontbencher Simon Crean is demanding his colleagues "shut up" in a bid to keep a lid on post-election infighting.
A number of Labor MPs have come out swinging over the Party's disastrous performance.
Frontbencher Lindsay Tanner is worried the party does not know what it stands for.
Backbencher Graeme Edwards wants those he says are "hacks" out of the shadow ministry.
Whoa! Get rid of the hacks, and Labor's shadow ministry could hold meetings in a glovebox. Hey, Mighty Leader has commenced a Hillary-style listening tour:
After his initial shock, Latham has roused himself and is phoning colleagues for their views about what went wrong. Those close to him say he wants a thorough appraisal and is intent on listening and learning.
If Latham wants to learn, why is he phoning his colleagues? Those idiots caused all the problems in the first place. Call Miranda Devine instead:
To the folks in Gnashville, John Howard's fourth and most decisive election victory is not only devastating, it is inexplicable. "I cannot understand how the Coalition was returned to power," a "stunned" Petrina Frost of Woollahra wrote to The Daily Telegraph. "I only know one person who voted Liberal. I attended the polling booth with three people. We all voted Labor. I discussed the results with my workmates this morning - they all voted Labor. Everyone I talk to voted Labor. So, tell me, how is it that Labor did not win?"
Poor Petrina should get out more. The same goes for the big wheels of the Labor Party, not to mention a good portion of the media who, as the joke goes in Liberal circles, suffered a "major failure of intelligence" in not predicting the election result and misjudging Mark Latham's appeal.
"Mark Latham's appeal". There’s a phrase we won’t be seeing too often from now on.
(Via reader Guy H. and contributor J.F. Beck)
UPDATE. One of the reasons Mark Latham's ease the squeeze line didn’t work is because -- besides sounding like a taxi driver’s desperate plea to be released before his arm is broken -- Australians didn't perceive that there was a squeeze to be eased. The same is true in the US of John Edwards' attempts to paint the place as a hardscrabble dustbowl nation, with pitiful dirt-streaked Steinbeckian moppets lining up everywhere for a bowl of union soup and a plate of sawdust. Mark Steyn:
I don't care about Edwards' dad and his heartwarming, sepia-hued vignettes any more than I cared about the mythical "coatless girl" he used to cite in his primary speeches: a wee shivering thing whose coatlessness was supposedly a result of Bush-Cheney reducing her parents to poverty. I offered to buy a coat for any authentically coatless girl the campaign managed to produce. Not the most generous offer on my part -- girls' winter coats are $9.99 at Wal-Mart -- but the Edwards camp never took me up on it. Do you recognize this Dickensian image of America? It's true there are some folks who are having a tough time finding work in certain Rust Belt states. In 2003, the U.S. unemployment rate was 6 percent, which is considered high. In Canada it was 7.8 percent; France 9.7 percent; Germany 10.5 percent -- and in the last two cases these levels are permanent features of the landscape, as they would be in America if the Democrats ever get the opportunity to impose the Franco-German high-cost social welfare/government health care system John Kerry admires so much. America's "bright light" isn't "flickering." It's Europe where the lights are about to go out, permanently.
Doug Payton has more on Little Mary Sunshine:
Praise the Lord, and pass the crystal ball. John Edwards said in a speech, "When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
Now compare this to the brouhaha over Cheney's comments that a Kerry presidency would make us more susceptible to terrorism. Democrats were livid over this, even though Cheney couched his comment in an examination of Kerry's record and what can be gleaned from his stump speeches about when he plans to do regarding terrorism. Based on that, and what Bush & Cheney have done and plan to do, Mr. Cheney was well within his rights to render his opinion on the subject.
However, he was accused by Democrats of trying to scare people into voting for him. But while his opinion was buttressed by Kerry's record, this pronouncement by Edwards is pure fantasy and is, in my mind, worse than anything Cheney has said. Edwards is both trying to add an irrational euphoria to his own campaign, based on nothing but his say-so, while scaring folks that, by implication, Bush wants to keep disabled people in their wheelchairs.
But he does! And even worse, according to Tim Dunlop: "President allows Christopher Reeve to die".
Things are going from intolerant to downright Stasi:
Already coming to terms with a ban on smoking inside pubs and clubs, smokers may now be stopped from lighting up in front of them and in city parks and sports grounds.
Worried that smokers will gather on footpaths outside city pubs, and fill the harbour with butts washed from gutters, the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has announced a working party will draw up regulations that would ban smoking on pavements in front of licensed premises and in all council recreational facilities.
Cr Moore said the working party would establish the council's legal position and liaise with government agencies and other local councils.
"We are part of the Clean Harbour program, and that has shown us how cigarette butts in the harbour are really a significant pollution issue," she said.
"Look at the Oxford Street entertainment precinct and Darlinghurst Road and see how people congregate outside those venues. When this ban proceeds clearly that is going to be accelerated," she said.
Want to save the seals and the penguins and the water porcupines and the adorable aqua-puppies, Clover? Then let people smoke in bars. Meanwhile, reader Kellie T. writes: "If you do go into the franchise business, let me know. I'll be the first in WA."
UPDATE. Currency Lad pens a cigarette tribute. Also at CL's site: a new poll. Select your preferred Ivan!
• Professor Bunyip declares an end to gloating.
• Dixie Chick Natalie Maines insulted George W. Bush, then apologised for insulting George W. Bush, and now claims she didn’t apologise for insulting George W. Bush. The stupid faux-country bint.
• A Dylanologist defends her faith.
• Gnat Lileks is only a few years (or weeks or months -- hard to tell with kids these days) old, and she's already inventing killer Achewoodesque lines:
After we played Candyland I told her she beat the pants off me, and she later reported this to Mommy thus: I took off his pants to his underwear. So we had a little talk about similes and metaphors.
"How'd you do in court today?" "Terrible. Bitch prosecutor took off my pants to my underwear." "Man ... that’s too bad."
• Speaking of Achewood, via Photoshop-adept reader Bunnie I now have my own Achewood band:
• Those Che Guevara t-shirts should show him doing this.
• Julie Burchill on Jacques Derrida: "I didn't know much about him. He was French, which to me says it all. Leave well alone! I did laugh, though, when I saw the news on AOL. It said: 'Cancer claims snowy-haired philosopher.'"
• From Daily Kos's Guardian column:
Someone, somewhere, labelled Bush Furious George - a clever turn on HA Rey's Curious George children's books and an appellation that took firm hold in the online and, increasingly, offline worlds.
Yeah, it really took a firm hold online. Look at all those Bush links!
• "All we have to do today is go down to the lake for a few hours," writes welfare mother and future Springer subject Gianna ("I Don't Wanna Work, and You Can't Make Me!"). She continues: "I'm always conscious that some people will begrudge me this carefree lifestyle because I am on a sole parent's pension ... So how about it--any rightwing readers think I'm a bludger?"
• "No, I’m a Collingwood fan."
A couple of weeks ago, in response to Jonathan Freedland’s mewling in The Guardian about how he couldn’t vote in the US elections, I wrote:
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.
This afternoon I received an (unsolicited) e-mail from The Guardian containing "the address of your voter in Clark County, Ohio. Please use it wisely." What the ... hey, these bastards are using my idea!
We have come up with a unique way for non-Americans to express your views on the policies and candidates in this election to some of the people best placed to decide its outcome. It's not quite a vote, but it's a chance to influence how a very important vote will be cast. Or, at the very least, make a new penpal.
It works like this. By typing your email address into the box on this page you will be sent a name and address of a voter in Clark County, Ohio from the most recent publicly available voters roll. You may not have heard of it, but it's one of the most marginal areas in one of the most marginal states: at the last election, just 167 votes separated Democrats from Republicans. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few voters could make a real difference.
Writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House. It may even persuade someone to use their vote at all.
More about it here. The worst part is, I’m not even eligible to win The Guardian's prize (five nights in Clark County) for the best letter; that contest is only open to UK residents. Whatever; I'll settle for a contributor payment. The invoice is on its way.
UPDATE. John le Carre, Antonia Fraser, and Richard Dawkins get in on the action.
UPDATE III. LGF readers join the fun.
UPDATE IV. Noting this passage -- "Writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House" -- Imre Salusinszky writes: "'Effect' should be 'affect', and 'who' should be 'whom'. If the Poms are going to start badgering innocent voters in Ohio they should at least try to write English – standards in the US are higher on this kind of stuff."
What do you call Iraqi insurgents when they insurge against their former terrorist allies? Outsurgents? Resurgents?
Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.
Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses.
"If the Arabs will not leave willingly, we will make them leave by force," said Jamal Adnan, a taxi driver.
Meanwhile, in Baghdad ... chickens! Chickens for all!
"Australia has become an island of Bush-licking cowards," writes an ex-pat living in Los Angeles. You’d think someone so opposed to Bush would decline to live under his tyranny. Anyway, Ed Koch disagrees:
Many members of the New Labor Party in Britain would like to bring down Tony Blair because his philosophy and actions in support of the war in Iraq are in accord with those of President Bush. On this issue, Tony Blair's opponents are the intellectual descendants of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who, until the very end when Hitler marched into Poland, sought to placate the Nazi dictator, foolishly believing that negotiations could achieve peace with Germany, safety for the world, and in Chamberlain's words, "peace in our time." Now Chamberlain's name is a synonym for appeasement.
In Australia, a similar battle for the hearts and minds of Aussies over the war in Iraq and the approach to international terrorism ended with the reelection by a larger majority of Prime Minister John Howard, a fervent supporter of the war in Iraq and an advocate of the Bush Doctrine which targets the terrorists as well as those who harbor them.
Howard addressed this during an appearance today on CNN:
Mr Howard said most people backed his view that Australia should stay in Iraq until the job was completed.
"I think the issue was there. It wasn't the dominant factor," he said in an interview on cable news service CNN.
"Clearly our opponents did not see it as a major negative and they didn't really pursue the issue. There was divided opinion in Australia on whether or not we should have gone into Iraq.
"But the overwhelming majority of Australians believe very strongly that having gone there, we should stay and finish the job. They rejected the notion of the premature withdrawal of our forces until their job has been completed.
"That is of course a view that I put very strongly."
Carl Cameron's weak office jokes drove leftists into a frenzy. Mistakenly published at the Fox News website, his comments were seized on as demonstrating profound bias. So what are we to make of Australian radio presenter Ross Solly's partisan outburst?
Listeners to ABC 936 in Hobart were chilling out to Jet's tune Look What You've Done during the Tim Cox program yesterday morning, when the song suddenly dropped from the airways and a familiar voice was heard to remark: "I tell you what I do know – this country is doomed for the next three years; absolutely doomed!" It was quickly back to Jet before Cox introduced his next guest, ABC sport commentator Ross Solly, on the line from Canberra. An obviously embarrassed Solly tried to suggest his reference to three years of doom was a jibe at Coxie's tenure on Tassie's prime radio show.
"Where are the bodies of evidence?" Phillip Adams asked a few months ago, shortly before Christopher Hitchens introduced him to reality. And here’s some more evidence for Adams, courtesy of the fine folks at Al Jazeera:
Hoping to unearth crucial evidence that could help in convicting deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, investigators said nine trenches in a dry riverbed at the Hatra site in northern Iraq contained at least 300 bodies, and possibly thousands.
Those buried included children still clutching toys.
"It is my personal opinion that this is a killing field," said Greg Kehoe, a US lawyer appointed by the White House to work with the Iraqi Special Tribunal.
"I have been doing grave sites for a long time, but I have never seen anything like this, women and children executed for no apparent reason," Kehoe said.
The same article reports that Saddam has endured another of those humiliating medical procedures:
Iraqi sources revealed today that the former Iraqi ruler underwent an operation to repair a hernia about 10 days ago but has made a full recovery, Iraqi sources said Tuesday.
The ousted dictator was taken to the Ibn Sina hospital near the US-controlled Green Zone for the procedure, which was performed by Iraqi doctors, according to sources close to the Human Rights Ministry.
Mr Kehoe said that work to uncover graves around Iraq, where about 300,000 people are thought to have been killed during Saddam Hussein's regime, was slow as experienced European investigators were not taking part.
The Europeans, he said, were staying away as the evidence might be used eventually to put Saddam Hussein to death.
This happiness isn't universal, for some reason. Janet Albrechtsen reviews a miserable media collective, betrayed by democracy:
Over at Chateau Fairfax - the safest Labor seat in the country - journalist Mike Seccombe's dummy spit went like this. John Howard is "heavy on fear, light on vision. Then, having frightened the apathetic into voting for him, he uses his special skill for putting them back to sleep for another three years." Lights out, Mike. On Monday, fellow Sydney Morning Herald journalist Alan Ramsey bellowed about the voters' "gullibility", their "ignorance", their "greedy self-interest", how the "comfortable idiocy of the manipulated minority" had voted for "mediocrity" and "a toad of a human being". Give it up, Alan. Artist George Morant said he was embarrassed to be Australian. If Howard was re-elected Prime Minister, he'd pack up his brushes and his bags for New Zealand's South Island. Au revoir, George.
Several commenters at Chris Sheil’s Sadville have made similar promises. Sheil is working through his depression by trying to decipher what went wrong with Labor’s campaign; the main problem, as I see it, is that Labor didn’t adopt Chris’s visionary advertising idea:
Think of those kids drawing boards, where you just lift the plastic and everything disappears.
Scene opens with a selection of what's already written all over the dark looking board, juxtaposed with old Howard's face, looking out the corner of his eyes - non-core, never-ever gst, Peter Reith on the phone with dogs and goons, no apology, wretched asylum seekers, no Kyoto, children overboard (not), war, collapsing infrastructure, Hollingsworth scandal, Kirribili House, Telstra in hock, soaring international debt, soaring casualisation, soaring taxation levels, banks and global drug companies gorging themselves, little Aussie children dying like dogs in the street etc etc etc ... and the camera shows the 8 dark years being gradually erased, as the plastic sheet is lifted at the forthcoming election, and underneath what is gradually revealed is a picture of the young Mark Latham, not looking out of the corner of his eyes, but reading to children, shaking hands with workers, laughing with teachers and nurses, all set in a fresh, young, green, bright, co-operative morning in Australia ...
Yep. That would’ve worked. For more election-related carping, check out Tex’s collection of immediate reactions to Howard’s victory.
Dennis Prager asks the question:
In order to believe that the greater number of terrorists in Iraq means the invasion was a mistake, you have to believe one or both of the following -- that were it not for the invasion, the terrorists who are in Iraq would have been engaged in some peaceful work in some other country, or that they are newly minted terrorists who were perhaps selling shoes prior to the war in Iraq.
Neither scenario makes sense.
Take the leading terrorist -- the Jordanian butcher of human beings, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Everyone acknowledges he was a terrorist before the war in Iraq. In the 1990s, he spent seven years in a Jordanian prison for plotting to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state. He then went to Germany, where he set up a terrorist cell.
So here's the question that apparently goes unasked of all the Democrats who are sure it is President Bush who lacks intelligence: What would Zarqawi be doing now if he were not slaughtering people in Iraq? Selling used cars in Amman? Playing cello in the Berlin Philharmonic?
Dr Kevin McDonald lectures in sociology at the University of Melbourne, and lectures readers of the Melbourne Age:
In May 2000, more than a quarter of a million people marched for reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge. Yet four years later there was not a trace of Aboriginal issues in the election campaign, despite the fact that Aborigines remain the most imprisoned people in the world and that while countries such as New Zealand, Canada and the US are making progress in indigenous life expectancy, this is not happening in Australia.
More than quarter of a million people? Looks like the Pilger Curve has kicked in here. Not a trace of Aboriginal issues in the campaign? Somebody better tell Mark Latham that his speeches weren’t reaching the sociology-imbecile demographic. And as for Canada, well, any number of McDonald-esque do-goodniks will tell you it’s just as bad as Australia ...
Canadian officials and police are failing to protect aboriginal women from violent attacks and ignoring the acts when they occur, according to a report from Amnesty International.
The report harshly condemns Canada's "indifference and apathy" toward native women, particularly those who end up in the margins of society, such as sex trade workers.
Aboriginal women aged 25-44 are five times more likely than other Canadian women of the same age to die of violence, said the report. More than 500 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered over the last 30 years.
The increasingly ridiculous Alan Ramsey on ALP senator John Faulkner’s resignation:
At 10am yesterday, he called an 11.30am conference with the Canberra press gallery to announce he would not recontest Labor's Senate leadership next week.
Faulkner would arguably be the most widely admired federal parliamentary figure in the entire Labor movement. But he has an old-fashioned Labor caution about the media and, despite his relaxed affability, dealt with yesterday's press conference as he would one of his old classes with impaired children.
He was thinking of you, Alan. Faulkner isn’t the only ALP identity to go:
Former Keating government ministers Simon Crean and Bob McMullan have also decided against standing for their economic posts on the front bench, allowing Mr Latham to freshen up his shadow ministry with two "generational change" candidates.
UPDATE. Darren Lehmann catches stand-down fever.
Jane Perlez last week in the International Herald Tribune:
Most Australians like to think they have a healthy relationship with Asia, especially since the bad old days of the White Australia policy. They point to the presence of China's president, Hu Jintao, in Canberra a year ago, addressing Parliament a day after President George W. Bush. Hu outshone the American in substance and style: he offered new contracts to buy natural gas and iron ore, and he lingered long enough to see the sights. Bush offered little in the economic department. Unsociable, he rushed off after less than 24 hours.
Bush is condemned when he spends seven minutes reading to children, and he’s condemned when he spends less than 24 hours in Australia. Man can’t win.
But Hu also touched a chord among some Australians that illustrates the standoffishness, or shall we say, let's-have-Asia-on-our-own-terms attitude that has been a theme of Australia's stance to the array of countries and cultures to its north.
Well, excuse us. We’re consumed with hedonism, you see:
The fight between the long-serving prime minister, John Howard, of the conservative Liberal Party, and the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Mark Latham, is about who can hand out the most money to maintain the hedonistic lifestyle to which many Australians have become accustomed.
The wildest hand-out was free health care to those over 75. Hedonism! Elderly folks getting state-financed minced prunes!
But Asia is a constant backdrop for Australian politicians and voters, even in a contented, inward-looking period like this one.
Inward-looking? We joined invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re outward-looking, as Perlez next attempts to address:
Howard acquired his political philosophy from Sir Robert Menzies, the Anglophile prime minister whose campaign literature in the 1950s showed red arrows swarming southwards from Communist China. In this very different era, Howard has visited China numerous times to shore up the economic relationship.
Yet Howard has also promulgated a policy of pre-emptive strikes against terror threats in the region that many Asians see as harking back to Australia's true form.
Yeah. So often we’ve launched pre-emptive strikes on Asian countries. It’s our "true form".
• It's the crushing of assent! Someone wants to kill Liberal voters. He'll need lots of ammo.
• A friend at Brisbane Airport just tried to access comments at this post using an on-site computer, and got the following message: "Access denied by CyberPatrol. This website's content is inappropriate. Category: drugs, alcohol, and tobacco."
Frank J.: I heard from a credible source that Terry McAullife now has editorial control of every story in the NYT. I even have a signed document to prove it.
Michele Catalano: What font is it in?
Frank J.: It's crayon.
• What Canberra's press gallery misses, Terry McCrann does not. Read and enjoy.
• Australian blogger Drooble has both a statement:
When a government takes power, with an increased majority, it actually does have a mandate to govern, and to implement its policies. We call that d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y.
And a question:
Is it wrong to love both "The Simpsons" and Wagner's Ring Cycle?
State governments in Victoria and New South Wales today unveiled plans to go smoke-free in pubs, clubs and licensed premises within three years.
In related news, underworld identity Tim Blair today contemplated the millions he will earn from a chain of smokeasies he plans to open within three years.
Mark Steyn -- in a piece the Daily Telegraph declined to publish -- offers sound, if challenging, advice:
If you’re kidnapped, accept you’re unlikely to survive, say "I'll show you how an Englishman dies", and wreck the video. If they want you to confess you’re a spy, make a little mischief: there are jihadi from Britain, Italy, France, Canada and other western nations all over Iraq – so say yes, you’re an MI6 agent, and so are those Muslims from Tipton and Luton who recently joined the al-Qaeda cells in Samarra and Ramadi. As Churchill recommended in a less timorous Britain: You can always take one with you. If Mr Blair and other government officials were to make that plain, it would be, to use Mr Bigley’s word, "enough". A war cannot be subordinate to the fate of any individual caught up in it.
And, if you don’t want to wind up in that situation, you need to pack heat and be prepared to resist at the point of abduction. I didn’t give much thought to decapitation when I was mooching round the Sunni Triangle last year, but my one rule was that I was determined not to get into a car with any of the locals and I was willing to shoot anyone who tried to force me. If you’re not, you shouldn't be there.
Ken Bigley was reportedly dismissive of any kidnap concerns:
While many contractors employ heavily-armed security guards, Mr Bigley and his two colleagues preferred to adopt a low-key existence. They lived in a two-storey house in the al-Mansour area of Baghdad and were taken to work by unarmed local drivers in 4x4 vehicles.
Their neighbours were concerned: "Two weeks ago, I told him: Why are you here? It's dangerous. There are kidnappers," one said. But Mr Bigley was not deterred. "I'm not afraid - you only die once," was his reply. He had joked that he was too old for kidnappers to bother with.
Let's take another look at Tim Lambert's claim that Iraq was "hardly an issue" in the election. "Anyone who has been following the election would know how little it was discussed," says Tim.
Anyone who watched the election debate between the two leaders would have heard Iraq mentioned 25 times ("Latham puts Iraq on the election table," wrote Margo Kingston, a source Lambert may find trustworthy).
Latham mentioned Iraq three times during his campaign launch (his promise to bring the troops home was a major part of his election platform, driving much media coverage); Howard's launch mentioned Iraq twice. Iraq was mentioned 27 times in questions and responses following Howard’s Press Club speech in the final week of the campaign. At Latham’s Press Club appearance (five mentions of Iraq, by the way) he was asked:
As a father of two young children, you would know, as I do, that Christmas is looming. Is that promise [to return troops] still possible to achieve? And why has that not been a central theme? Why has that hardly been raised during the election campaign?
Latham’s reply: "It’s been raised many, many times, and we've confirmed our policy and it's eminently achievable and it will be implemented by a Labor Government." This followed earlier Parliamentary disputes on Iraq between Latham and Howard. And the Jakarta bombing last month put terrorism issues (including, obviously, Iraq) front and centre ... to Latham's disadvantage, according to just-released internal ALP polling:
The polling, in 30 of Australia's most marginal seats, showed that after the bombing on September 9, Labor's primary vote fell to 37 per cent from 40, while the Coalition's primary vote rose to 48 per cent from 46.
Mr Latham's positive rating dropped five points and his negative rating rose two points.
By contrast, the positive rating for the Prime Minister, John Howard, increased three points and his negative rating fell by the same amount.
The Coalition lead on which party was better able to handle defence and terrorism jumped to 27 per cent from 23, while Mr Howard opened up a 6 percentage point lead over Mr Latham on which leader "deserves to win".
The SMH’s spin on this is that the bombing, and subsequent halt in campaigning, hurt Latham by causing him to lose "vital momentum". I disagree; I think it hurt him by reminding people of the issues at stake. As Herald reader John Chapman told Alan Ramsey the other day: "Believe it."
With 76 per cent of the vote counted in Fairfax, Liberal MP Alex Somlyay (31,467) was 14,000 votes ahead of outspoken ALP candidate Ivan Molloy.
Mr Somlyay held 51 per cent of the primary vote to Mr Molloy's 27 per cent.
Mr Molloy, who hit the headlines recently when he backed comments blaming the Coalition for the Bali bombing, said he was disappointed with the Labor Party and the result.
"The Labor Party has lost its way and turned to career politicians and bureaucrats who have effectively shut down Mark Latham," Mr Molloy said.
"I was shut down and left unable to defend myself following comments on the Bali bombing. I'll run again but I doubt it will be with the Labor Party."
Interesting. Latham didn’t have the guts to remove Molloy, so Molloy's going to do it himself. Removal isn’t really an issue for Latham -- who else would lead? -- but Margonaut Harry Heidelberg wants him out:
Mark Latham must resign. He ran a dreadful campaign and failed to address the issue Australians care most about: the economy. He pedalled an incoherent philosophy that was full of contradictions.
The man himself is a living contradiction and people don't trust him. He talks of creating opportunity and then pisses on forestry workers. Memo to mark: tattooed blokes don't relish the prospect of becoming dainty waitresses at Tasmania's mooted $800 million bed and breakfast eco-tourist industry.
The contradictions are everywhere. Others have mentioned them so there is no point in repeating them here. He is a clown and a joke and he was in the loco when the train wrecked.
Many of us have been astounded over the years at the ease with which the Labor Party has progressively abandoned the cause of the workers and, in its place, adopted every ratbag cause that comes along. Perhaps it is because so few in the parliamentary party have ever been workers themselves.
But even so, to watch the party so blithely sacrifice the jobs of Tasmanian timber workers in the interest of saving trees (trees!) was breathtaking. And for what return? To curry favour with the trendy Left in Sydney and Melbourne and, even then, to get no benefit from doing so.
Stupid Labor. The Prime Minister, at his first post-election press conference, proved himself above gloating:
Attempts to goad Howard into blasting his own trumpet failed spectacularly.
Was this your greatest victory, PM? Not for me to say.
Was this a two-term victory for the Coalition? Tsk, tsk. How dare anyone be so presumptuous.
Come on, PM, when everyone left, didn't you shut the door and jump up and down? Let's leave what happens behind closed doors alone.
When invited to offer Mark Latham advice about coping with Saturday's shattering defeat, the PM magnanimously desisted. Far too self-serving.
Events in Afghanistan have taken a surprising turn, reports scowly Paul McGeough:
There was no proper international monitoring of the poll. Bodies such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe cast a pall on the propriety of the vote by announcing that they would not make formal declarations on its fairness.
However, encouraged by the turnout and the surprising lack of violence they are informally endorsing the process.
McGeough's endorsement is pending.
The poor woman to Edwards' left -- she's almost overwhelmed by charisma. Meanwhile, the dashing, thrilling, not-boring-at-all Senator has joined John Kerry in supporting the war:
Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards said last week's Central Intelligence Agency report confirming the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq hasn't convinced him it was a mistake to authorize President George W. Bush to take military action.
UPDATE. In other US political news, The Age reports that "a number of internet sites have claimed that the president was wearing a device that allowed an adviser to feed him answers to questions during the debate last week." The Age is highly selective when it comes to publishing claims made at internet sites.
Keith Miller -- WWII pilot, VFL player, Test cricketer, journalist, and gentleman -- has died at 84.
UPDATE. Bundy in comments writes:
I was fortunate to spend a day with Keith in 1997 at his house in Newport. The only things connected with sport on view were a football award from his schooldays and a photo from the Victory Test of 1945. The only thing he spoke about with regard to that match was the reception given to one of the players - not for a century or five wickets, but just for walking on to the field. The player had only been returned a few weeks from a prisoner of war camp.
After what he went through during the war, cricket always remained just a game to him. He flew Mosquito night fighters. A lifelong love of Beethoven saw him leave his group during a raid over Germany and fly a further 50 miles to Bonn, where he flew low, at some risk, over the city - just to see the place where his hero was born. A huge life.
UPDATE II. From Steven Lynch’s read-it-all obituary:
Neville Cardus dubbed Keith Miller "the Australian in excelsis", a notion to which the noted Daily Mail sportswriter Ian Wooldridge heartily subscribed: "By God he was right."
Alan Ramsey on Saturday: "Today's election is not cut and dried, whatever you hear. Today's election remains to be won, by either side. Believe it."
Alan Ramsey on Monday: "Latham's time will come. Believe it."
Why should we?
A non-Spanish mood seems to be catching on:
The Czech government wants to extend the mandate of its 100-strong contingent of military police in Iraq, an official said Sunday.
Defense Minister Karel Khuenl said in a live television debate his government wants the contingent's mandate, which expires Dec. 31, extended by two months.
Speaking of mandates, here’s an editorial from the New York Sun:
Worthy of reflection is the decisiveness of the victory Saturday by Prime Minister Howard and his center-right Liberal Party in Australia. He defeated an appeasement-oriented campaign by the Labor Party, led by Mark Latham. Mr. Howard's fourth term will make him the second longest serving prime minister in Australia's history. This victory endorses Mr. Howard's military support of the American-led coalition's efforts to install democracy in Iraq. Although no Australian troops have been killed in Iraq, Australia has faced causalities - 88 dead civilians, killed by a terrorist bomb in a Bali nightclub. The decision of Australians to return Mr. Howard to office is a strong statement that Australian voters cannot be intimidated by terrorist acts.
"I've got five terrorists going south-east on Mukkalukkadukka Street!"
Alan Ramsey seems to be in a bad mood for some reason:
How on earth could we have put this scheming, mendacious little man and his miserable claque back in office for another three years? Worse, how could we have brought them to the very brink of absolute control of the nation's entire parliamentary process and authority?
Very easily, as things turned out, to the cost of the rest of us and our national self-respect.
For almost nine years this Government, incompetent in most everything except mediocrity, debauched its word and the people's trust, along with voters' gullibility, their ignorance, their taxes and, in the end, their greedy self-interest.
Apparently Alan's friend is just as angry.
One week away from a knife-edge election, Australian Prime Minister John Howard declared yesterday he would be re-elected on October 9, but only just, as anti-Iraq war rallies urged voters to throw him out of office.
As Howard campaigned in Sydney yesterday, an airplane skywriter delivered a message, "Not happy, John," although the wind quickly blew the words away, and protesters took to the streets to oppose his sending troops to the U.S.-led Iraq war.
"We are saying Howard should be brought to justice at the poll next Saturday - this is where people can throw him out of office," said Pip Hinman, during a march by about 2,000 people in Sydney.
Protests were also staged in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.
Not an issue ... please. The whole "John Howard lies!" campaign was based on Iraq. Do you think if Latham had won Lambert would imagine for a second that Iraq had nothing to do with it?
UPDATE II. Rob Corr agrees:
I'm sure there were swinging voters, too, who supported the Liberals for a variety of reasons — support for the war on Iraq, for instance ...
Oh no! Our neighbours are worried:
While John Howard was showered with compliments from allies worldwide following his election victory, some of Australia's Muslim neighbours worried the result would strengthen his aggressive stance in combatting terror.
I’d worry if Howard’s win didn’t strengthen his stance. That’s why many voted for him ... although the New York Times, having earlier decided that War Plays a Role in Elections in Australia, now believes that Iraq remained in the background during the campaign.
In other breaking news:
• Here’s more breaking news from Currency Lad.
• The first vote in Afghanistan’s election was cast by a 19-year-old girl.
• The tears they do come but they are not often.
• Did ALP preferences give away control of the Senate? Looks like it.
• Labor brawling begins: "Labor frontbencher Julia Gillard has refused to rule out challenging colleague Jenny Macklin for the deputy leadership."
• The Australian cricket team proves it can handle spin as well as any Prime Minister: "I'm certainly not expecting anything greener or bouncier than what we had here. I'd be very surprised if there's been any water on the wicket in Chennai for about three months," Gilchrist said. "But that's a given. Sri Lanka tried it against us, at their peril."
Paul Sheehan’s text messages were an election-night highlight. Here’s his summary of events:
On Saturday night the giant, lumbering road train known as the will of the people, aka the democratic process, smashed through the pretensions, delusions and manipulations of the unelected and unaccountable who presume to tell Australians what to think and who to be.
In short order, John Howard has decimated four Labor leaders - Keating, Beazley, Crean and Latham - and in the process decimated the hopes of the True Believers and progressive utopians, the people who dominate the milieu in which I live and work.
Whole thing. Read.
UPDATE. Gregory Melleuish:
If we are to believe the stream of books and articles turned out by the academic and media elites over the past few years, Howard and his Government are about the worst thing that has ever happened to Australia. No doubt the election result will confirm their prejudices and the likes of Robert Manne, Margo Kingston and Guy Rundle will continue to hurl missiles at the man they love to hate.
We're living in a whole new world, people:
The swing back to the Coalition and the emergence of Family First means the Government is close to gaining control of the Senate for the first time since under Malcolm Fraser in 1976.
According to Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, this is "a disaster for democracy." Which is true, if you define "democracy" as "being dicked around by unpopular, legislation-blocking mutants." What might Coalition control of the Senate mean? Mark Metherell explains:
The Prime Minister would be able to push through his long-held ambition of selling the Government's remaining 51 per cent share of Telstra and further strengthen employer rights at the expense of the unions. Mr Howard would also be able to lower taxes on high incomes ... control of the Senate would enable the Coalition to abolish compulsory voting.
Bring. It. On. I swear, if Howard wastes any Senate advantage (as Fraser did) I’ll personally hunt him down and stake him to an ant bed.
UPDATE. Dennis Shanahan:
John Howard has the best opportunity to pass a raft of reforms of any government in the past three decades with a Senate window of opportunity.
UPDATE II. Harshness is predicted:
Their chance at a balance of power lost, the Greens predict harsher Federal Government social attitudes as it moves to control the Senate influenced by the religious right.
UPDATE III. It's the Abbey Road PM:
UPDATE IV. The Melbourne Age suddenly realises that Senate voting isn’t representative:
He represents a party that few Australians had heard of before this election. He has never before stood for Parliament. And on Saturday, in his first crack at federal politics, he secured just 1.9 per cent of the Senate vote in Victoria.
But thanks to the amazing quirks of Australia's preferential voting system, Steve Fielding, 43, could soon find himself in one of the most important jobs in the country.
Hmmm. This hangover still hasn’t gone away. Maybe a couple more bottles of champagne will kill it.
Yum! Much better. Okay: everybody who kept this site alive on Saturday night with election updates, thank you. Those threads absolutely sing. Let’s hope for something similar in November. By the way, being a speedy blogger-person, I was able to congratulate Howard at least an hour before he took calls from George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Bloggers -- faster than the White House! Faster than Downing Street!
More on election night in this week’s Bulletin, out Wednesday. Close to midnight Saturday I was interviewed by 4BC's Ian Maurice, who played me an astonishing audio clip from Kim Beazley. The Australian has similar quotes:
I have been dreading this night for the last 12 months.
I assumed from a close study of our polling results late last year that we were likely to lose 25 to 30 seats whenever an election was held, so any seat less than 25 seats that we lose I regard as a stay of execution.
Latham? I think he can get there. At the very least Labor will eat into the Government's majority. People are sick and tired of Howard, and many of us detest him for his duplicity, his divisiveness and his gross mendacity.
John Howard made his decision to join the invasion of Iraq "in good faith, based on the available intelligence." Presumably Ramsey’s decision to publish his inaccuracies was based on similar criteria.
Labor's share of the primary vote at 38.2 per cent. This is the second lowest for Labor since 1931.
• Peter Garrett claims Mark Latham was an "outstanding" Labor leader who ran a good, positive campaign.
• Currency Lad: "Howard is a joke!"
• Arthur Chrenkoff has many stories to tell.
• It ain't over yet! Algore is challenging the result.
• Mark Latham is unhappy.
• And he may face a leadership challenge.
• Margo has lost all sense of history, as well as any ability to spell: "Can Latham survive? 2004 was certainly not a re-run of 1969, when Gough led Labor to the brink of victory before truiumphing in 1975." Whitlam was voted out massively in 1975; he "truiumphed" in 1972.
• Proto-Margo Antony Loewenstein: "The people of Australia have spoken and we must listen." Hey, why not? It’d make a change. He also asks: "If we can't rely on our democratic institutions or media organisations to punish dishonesty, what can we do?" Beats me, Antony. Fire you?
Never again will I doubt the wisdom of Australians. I called this election all wrong, essentially because I couldn’t believe -- despite a powerful economy, correct views on the war, and a lame opposition campaign -- that John Howard could win four elections in a row.
I love this country for proving me wrong. I love Australia.
(a) Has the election made you sad? Express the full extent of your raging grief here. Also, link in comments to any particularly tragic online commentary. It’s the house of pain!
(b) Are you inclined to gloat over the election result? Please, be my guest! Hurtful, savage, imbalanced and triumphalist ranting is welcome -- in fact, anything not sufficiently twisted and furious will be deleted. Go for it!
I’ll be at the Sofitel Wentworth (Liberal election-night headquarters) tonight until late, so readers are again invited to keep everybody informed via comments. Nine’s coverage begins at 6.30pm; the ABC’s begins when polls close at 6.00pm; and Sky News kicks into election mode at 4.00pm (all times AEST).
Visit the Australian Electoral Commission for poll data, and go to Currency Lad, Arthur Chrenkoff, Sam Ward, Bernard Slattery, Rob Corr, Alan Anderson, Tim Dunlop, Adrian, the Gnu Hunter, Mike Jericho, Chris Sheil, Peter Kerr, Tony the Teacher, Troppo Armadillo, Angela Bell and Paul & Carl for blog news 'n' views.
Sydney readers: supporters of unstable Wentworth independent Pat Sheil plan fun and chaos tonight at the Mill Hill Hotel, 59 Oxford St., Bondi Junction. I might be there after 11.00pm. Laborites will meet at the Broadway (corner of Regent and Broadway) from 7.00pm.
Special gloating and weeping forums will be posted here as soon as a result is called -- if a result is called tonight, and I'm near a computer. And able to type. These posts have been written in advance, so as to not reflect any of my evident bias.
Pollster Gary Morgan has again put his reputation on the line, going against the trend in other polls by forecasting a close Labor win tonight.
Mr Morgan, whose company Roy Morgan Research tipped a landslide victory by Kim Beazley in the 2001 election, has put the Labor Party ahead on a two-party preferred basis by 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
Mr Morgan said the result was too close to call because it hinged on marginal coalition seats, with the serious possibility of a hung parliament.
Please post in comments your election day highlights. Confrontations with rival voters and campaign workers are especially prized. Do you live in a marginal seat? Tell your story of marginal life, right here! Any encounters with glad-handing candidates, weeping Democrats, and wildlife-costumed Greens should also be recorded.
Oh, and if you get exit-polled, ask them how it's going.
Michael Wooldridge has terrible news for magazine columnists who must file election stories by late Sunday:
I predict we won't know the result tomorrow night and it could take as much as 10 days to find out.
Every piece of available objective evidence points to the same conclusion. John Howard will win today's election.
But Dennis Shanahan ain’t so sure:
Labor can still snatch the election on preferences with a late shift among wavering voters.
The failure of any newspapers except The Canberra Times and The Melbourne Times to recommend a vote against Howard is the death knell for mainstream journalism as a institutional democratic check on government.
Any newspaper editor worth his salt and aware of the responsibilities of a free press in a democracy would have advocated a vote against Howard for fundamental reasons which underpin the very right of journalism to demand an essential place in our democracy.
Journalism has a right to demand an essential place in our democracy? Such a right is earned, surely. Fellow shambles Phillip Adams offers a simple plea:
Dear God, don’t let Howard get re-elected.
Talk about desperate. Adams is an atheist.
Afghanistan is a terrible place, writes misery correspondent Paul McGeough. Corruption, tribal hatreds, rag-covered mutton carcasses; it’s almost as bad as a Sydney Morning Herald staff conference. And then there's this curious line:
Despite all that, a remarkable 10.5 million Afghans have registered to vote today. And that's what angers many observers here.
McGeough among them, apparently.
• Tim Dunlop claims to have read every book and article Mark Latham has ever written. Which would explain a lot.
• Backpages commenter Brian Bahnisch: "I remember in 1982 we had a drought. Came the election, came Hawke, came hope, came rain. The land heaved a sigh of release as the pestilence dissolved and went away."
• Gnu Hunter: "I will not vote for the ALP, or the Greens, both of them with their sad record of appeasement and their sniping, opportunity politics. I will not vote out good economic managers and elect unknowns."
• Sam Ward: "Greens last at all costs!"
• Antony Loewenstein: "The ALP under Mark Latham has many question marks under its name, of this there is no question."
• Andrew Bolt on Mark Latham: "Here's a man who, whatever his other virtues, is impulsive, divisive, punitive, bull-headed, enthralled with grand visions and prepared to write a cheque out to the Left. Many voters will like that in him, but should Labor lose, it must learn at last to see these qualities for the vices that they are."
• Remember Al Gore pulling a similar staring move on George W. Bush in 2000?
• Depending on the result, Professor Bunyip is planning either (a) a celebratory hangover, or (b) earnest consultation with the Billabong's accountant.
• The campaign is not going well. Puce's campaign to be included in Google News, that is.
• AFP reports: "Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham may be tipped to lose Saturday's election but he is being seen as a winner regardless of the outcome after a strong campaign performance marked him out as one of the leading politicians of his generation." Latham has been Labor leader for only ten months.
• Civilising Global Capital: New Thinking for Australian Labor. Amazon.com Sales Rank: 1,083,113
• Gianna: "I was thinking one of the reasons the Howard-lying thing doesn't seem to have cut through in this election campaign is because we're a nation of liars."
• Gianna may be on to something: "This afternoon the Finance Department released its costings of Labor's Medicare Gold policy, estimating it would cost $726 million more than Labor says it would."
• Mike Jericho: "I say to all our American, British, Polish and Italian friends, if Mark Latham and his party of isolationism should win tomorrow, bid us farewell, and try not to resent us our folly. Remember us for how we were, and not for how we've allowed ourselves to become. For there are old Australians amid the new, and I swear to you, our time shall come again."
Maurice Wilkins may have been one hell of a DNA scientist, but his real skill was an uncanny ability to simultaneously be noticed and ignored:
New Zealand scientist Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, hailed as an unsung hero of DNA research, has died in London.
Ken Bigley, a British hostage kidnapped in Baghdad last month, is dead, Sky News television reported today, quoting sources in Prime Minister Tony Blair's office.
A militant group led by al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed Bigley in Iraq, Abu Dhabi Television said earlier, quoting "informed" sources in Iraq.
In other outrage news, we now know who’s behind those Pat Tillman posters:
It's an artist who is also an assistant professor with a Chicano Studies project at ASU.
John Leanos says he doesn't think the message is "anti-war." He says he respects Tillman, and he simply wanted the posters to be thought-provoking about the tragic decisions made in Afghanistan.
Tom Gara, an Australian in Egypt, reports on the Sinai terrorist attacks:
Most media reports on the bombings are presenting them as being focussed on Israeli tourists. This underestimates how severe the casualties will be for Egyptian tourists - as this was the 6 October long weekend, pretty much every middle class travelling Egyptian went somewhere this weekend - Sinai being a particular favourite. Right now Egyptian television is saying 33 dead, majority Egyptians with 10+ Israelis. But take the opinion of Egyptian english language television with a grain of salt.
This is incredibly bad news for Egypt. It will cause a significant, significant drop in tourist numbers. After Suez Canal revenues, tourism is Egypt's number 2 earner of foreign exchange dollars. This is bad.
Tom promises updates in coming days.
The Sydney Morning Herald takes a bold fence-sitting stance:
Thirteen million Australians will decide tomorrow who will have the privilege of governing in the name of all Australians, of divining the prudent course for this nation's future while deriving, as America's founding fathers so eloquently prescribed, "their just powers from the consent of the governed". Elections mark a nation's changing times. This election marks change for us,the Herald. There comes a time when a newspaper, having expressed its voting preference for more than 170 years, as has the Herald, must renew and reassess its claim on independence so that its pursuit of truth is not only free of partisanship and without fear or favour, but is seen to be so. From today, the Herald no longer will endorse a political party.
Sounds like another election-campaign lie to me.
Tomorrow, on election day, this lifelong Labor man will do something I didn't do in 2001: I will vote Liberal so that John Howard will remain prime minister.
One of the Great Known Truths of this universe -- besides that Dwight Yoakam’s version of "I Want You to Want Me" is the best cover of a Cheap Trick song -- is that Mark Latham has a crazy temper. Many expected it to manifest itself damagingly during the campaign, but Latham has kept himself under control.
Mostly. There was yesterday’s outburst about immigration, and his microphone moment, and the railing about sweet baby Oliver and "leave my family out of it!". Then there was the Battle of Brisbane, in which Latham is said to have torn into a staffer during rehearsals for his campaign launch.
Bruno Bouchet ran an item on this a couple of days ago on Queensland ABC radio. I’ve since contacted two people who were present. Apparently Latham was reading his speech when he noticed some changes had been made without his knowledge; the printed copy in front of him was different, in some small ways, to the version he was reading on autocue.
The Labor leader previously hasn’t had a problem with rewrites, even allowing Simon Crean to censor Latham's mother in a speech at the Labor national conference. But this time Latham was angry. Much shouting and swearing, by all accounts, followed by Latham storming out. His parting words: "Let's get out of here, Janine!"
Latham isn’t great under pressure, as we’ve seen, but I’d have thought him more intelligent than to allow Bad Mark to surface in a situation where he was surrounded by microphones and television cameras. No tape has emerged; if Latham did in fact flick the switch to "berko", he’s gotten away with it.
Well, who knows? Maybe it would have worked in his favour. Anything would be better than ease the squeeze.
A friend's new Porsche Cayenne (4.5-litre twin-turbo V8, 450 horsepower, 13 miles per gallon). Check the numberplate ...
Greg Barns in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
In contrast to Howard's boast in 2002 that Australia is the United States' "deputy sheriff" in the volatile Asia-Pacific region ...
Simon Tisdall in The Guardian:
Latham accuses the prime minister, who in 1999 appointed himself America's regional "deputy sheriff" ...
Michelle Nicols of Reuters:
Howard, who in 1999 sparked regional criticism when he characterised Australia as a U.S. "deputy sheriff" in Asia ...
Richard C. Paddock in the LA Times:
Howard, for one, believes the U.S. relationship is paramount. He once described Australia's role in the Asia-Pacific region as Washington's "deputy sheriff."
Richard Davey in Webdiary:
He has guaranteed that Australia is being seen as an American puppet (in his own words, a 'deputy sheriff').
Bilal Cleland, secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria:
We have a representative who refers to himself as the deputy sheriff of Asia.
No, no, no. No! As Gerard Henderson pointed out in 2003, Howard never said such a thing. An interview with The Bulletin’s Fred Brenchley led to the myth:
It is surprising that, nearly four years after the event, some diplomats and foreign commentators still believe that Howard announced, in September 1999, that Australia would be "deputy sheriff" to the United States in the Asian region. It is true Brenchley interpreted the Prime Minister's view as necessitating that Australia would be a deputy to the US. It's just that Howard never used this term. Nor did he utter the word "sheriff" - this was dropped into the story by a subeditor in search of a memorable subheading.
Fake but true, I guess.
Where do these words come from?
I was killed by my own Army Ranger platoon in Afganistan on April 22nd, 2004. I am a hero to many of you. My death was tragic my glory was short lived. Flawed perceptions of myself my country and the war on terror resulted in the disasterous end to my life.
From a poster featuring a picture of Pat Tillman.
"Surely an honest prime minister, someone big enough to handle the truth, would 'fess up to his responsibility today and just say straight to Australians: 'I made a mistake.'" So said Mark Latham yesterday ... shortly before making a mistake of his own. Latham accused the Prime Minister of wanting to get rid of Asian migrants:
"I tell you one thing I wasn't doing in the late 80s, I wasn't racing around Liverpool saying we should get rid of Asian migrants and run a racially discriminatory immigration policy."
He’s referring to a Howard interview in 1988 in which the then-opposition leader was asked whether the rate of Asian immigration was too high. Howard’s answer:
"I think there are some people who believe it is. I wouldn’t like to see it greater, I am not in favour of going back to a White Australia policy. I do believe that if it is in the eyes of some in the community, it’s too great, it would be in our immediate term interest and supportive of social cohesion if it were slowed down a little, so that the capacity of the community to absorb was greater."
The worst you can say about Howard’s 1988 attitude is that he wanted to slow Asian immigration "a little". Which is a long way from "getting rid of Asian migrants". Did Latham admit his mistake? Not at all. He simply recast his words, during subsequent interviews, in a more slippery fashion:
"In the late 1980s, in my community, I wasn't walking around saying we have too many Asian migrants, and Australia needs a racially discriminatory migration policy."
Admit your mistake, Mark. Prove you’re big enough to handle the truth. Latham should be more concerned with the racial views of his own supporters:
He was not impressed when one Labor supporter raised concerns that his party had selected the wrong candidate to stand in the News South Wales seat of Greenway where there is a large Christian community.
The supporter said: "We've, I understand selected a Muslim, that's breathtakingly stupid I would have thought, you're not going to attract Christian voters by doing that."
Mr Latham slammed the supporter's comment.
"I can't believe you're saying 'we' as if you're part of the Labor Party with that sort of attitude," he said.
On the contrary; puzzling and ignorant attitudes on race are a leftist staple. Consider Margo "niggers in the woodpile" Kingston, who believes that fundamentalist Zionists control politics and the media in Australia and the US; Labor zealot Niall "slitty-eyed, slimy Vietnamese prick" Cook; Gary "powerful images" Sauer-Thompson; and confused Christopher Sheil, who used the term "jigaboo" because he thought it was a dance.
It's a global (con)test:
Some of Kerry's weirdest gaffes have come as a result of him telling magazines about some exploit of his that particularly suits that source. In Field and Stream, it's Kerry's encounter with a 16-point buck. In Runner's World, it's his first Boston Marathon. When contacted by the Humane Society, he told them the VC the Flying Dog story.
Beginning to see the pattern? Okay, here's the contest. Come up with a John Kerry submission to some magazine, real or imaginary, about some rather incredible incident that Kerry "experienced" that would be of interest to that magazine's readers.
I'm surprised Kerry hasn’t already been interviewed by The Hat magazine:
The Hat: Thank you for joining us, Senator. Before we get to your strong - if evasive, two-faced, and pandering - views on the current administration's hat policy, we understand you have a favourite magical hat. Perhaps you could ...
Kerry: Who told you? My friends don't know about this.
The Hat: We have our sources. I notice you’re reaching into a black attache case there and retrieving something ... something frayed. Mildewy. Fading. A hat!
Kerry: My good luck hat.
The Hat: No kidding! Man, this is awesome!
Kerry: Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia.
The Hat: This is so cool! It’s totally genuine-looking. It’s got ... hey, wait a minute. Senator, this label says the hat was made by Foxwell & Moon, and they’ve only been making hats since 1994. Wasn’t the war in Cambodia like in the 1980s or something? And, looking slightly more closely, this seems to be a woman’s hat, with feathers all in it. Mr. Kerry, if this is some kind of fake hat scam, we’ll have to ...
Kerry minder: This interview is terminated. You have two minutes to leave before we call the Rottweilers. Three minutes, we call Teresa.
At last, the proof we were waiting for:
President George W Bush and John Howard still say they were right to invade Iraq despite a report showing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
UPDATE. That typo’s been fixed, but there’s no fixing Margo:
Cross ytour fingers the voters of Bennelong gewt risd of him on Saturday.
A Syndey reader in Ruddock's seat ...
The Syndey Morning Herald should gewt risd of Margo.
(Via reader Nic P.)
UPDATE II. Meanwhile, Margo’s hardworking activists at Not Happy John haven’t added a single new post all week -- the final week of the election campaign. Perhaps their skywriting triumph exhausted them. It was a stunning work, after all.
Visited Kinky Friedman in 1996. Bunch of Clinton-Gore signs on the lawn; framed letter from Bill Clinton on the wall; cigars everywhere. The cigars and letter are probably still there, but I don’t think the lawn has any Kerry-Edwards signs:
I'm pals with Clinton and pals with Bush - so, obviously, if John Kerry wants to be president, he has to make friends with me. Hey, is that my phone ringing?
"Start talkin'," I said as I picked up the blower.
"Kinkster," said a familiar voice, "this is John Kerry. I haven't been very happy with you lately."
"Why the long face, John?"
"Are you aware that I'm running for president of the United States?"
"Are you aware," I said somewhat indignantly, "that my books have been translated into more languages than your wife speaks?"
There was silence, followed by a peculiar choking sound. I puffed patiently on my cigar and waited. One of the drawbacks to the telephone is that there's very little you can do to physically help the party on the other end of the line. Either Kerry would recover by himself or else he was definitely going to lose Ohio.
"I went to Vietnam," he said at last.
These are long extracts, so for ease of reading I’ll leave them unitalicised. This next section is wonderful:
"I don't understand how you can support Bush's policies. I'm told you grew up a Democrat. What happened?"
What did happen, I wondered, to the little boy who cried when Adlai Stevenson lost? What happened to the young man whose heroes were Abraham, Martin, and John?
Time changes the river, I suppose, and it changes all of us as well. I
was tired of Sudan being on the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations. I was tired of dictators with Swiss bank accounts, like Castro and Arafat and Mugabe, masquerading as men of the people. I was tired of Europeans picking on cowboys, everybody picking on the Jews, and the whole supposedly civilized world of gutless wonders, including the dinosaur graveyard called Berkeley, picking on America and Israel. As I write this, 1.2 million black Christian and Muslim Sudanese are starving to death thanks to the Arab government in Khartoum and the worldwide mafia of France, Germany, China, Russia, and practically every Islamic country on the face of the earth. What happened to the little boy who cried when Adlai Stevenson lost? He died in Darfur.
"I don't know what happened," I said. "But as Joseph Heller once wrote, 'Something happened.'"
"You'll be back," said Kerry. "You'll be back."
Not anytime soon. Link to the full piece requires registration, by the way.
(Via Bernie Slattery)
• Remember how The Day After Tomorrow was going to change everything?
It sounds unlikely, but this summer might just see an alliance of commerce, populist entertainment and feel-good concern combine to weaken President George Bush and hand votes to his expected Democrat rival John Kerry.
• Peter Kerr is back. Go visit.
• Take a stroll through Dinkytown with James Lileks, and meet the scared Che doll.
• Cathy Seipp recalls an interview with Rodney Dangerfield: "He was sitting at a dining room table covered with packs of cigarettes, a blood-pressure monitor, three cigarette lighters, assorted vials of pills, and a jumbo box of Advil. It was 1:30 in the afternoon, and he was wearing a bathrobe and ripped bedroom slippers."
• Phillip Noyce demands truth in government. How about some truth in Phillip Noyce movies?
• John Kerry competed in the Boston Marathon. The event is seared -- seared, I tell you -- on his memory.
• Put your money on Paul Krugman!
• "John Howard killed my wife." He also "employed a Senior Manager to intentionally injure me with anxiety neurosis."
• David Marr is quitting as host of Media Watch: "The thing you learn in the job is no matter what you expose going on in News Limited, it doesn't seem to affect their careers. You can have the most outlandish plagiarism, and it's a sober experience to expose it and see that there has been no discernible effect." Wow. Tough call on Phillip Adams.
Another reason to vote for Howard:
The giant Tasmanian trees visited by Opposition Leader Mark Latham would be destroyed within months under Prime Minister John Howard's forestry plan, Greens leader Bob Brown said today.
"The 83m-high Gandalph's Staff in the Tolkien Forest, along with the Cave Tree which can accommodate 30 people in its hollow, will be a pile of woodchips," Senator Brown said.
"These 500-year-old trees which were given nationwide publicity when the Opposition Leader visited the Styx Valley, north-west of Hobart, are due to be cut down this financial year and will be if John Howard wins on Saturday."
Yes, that famous visit. The awesome Cave Tree so overwhelmed Latham that he movingly described it as "a big tree with a hole in it".
UPDATE. John Howard:
"Genuine deep Green voters are never going to be satisfied with anything I say or do," Mr Howard said.
"Sensible people will see this as a good compromise which takes the environment forward but which doesn't disrupt the lives of local communities and they are the sort of people I want to appeal to."
Apologise for removing a murderous dictator with a record of using weapons of mass destruction! Mark Latham insists:
Mark Latham has demanded Prime Minister John Howard apologise to the Australian people for leading the country to war in Iraq after US officials released a report concluding Saddam Hussein had no effective weapons of mass destruction since 1991.
The report by Charles Duelfer, the chief US weapons inspector who has been leading the search for Iraq's WMDs, has swept aside one of the key justifications for the coalition's justification for going to war.
"On the front of honesty and integrity in government he should today, at long last, 'fess up to the fact, the fundamental truth, that there were no WMD in Iraq," Mr Latham said on Sydney radio.
"You've got report after report, now you've got the inspectors in the United States saying that the stockpiles of weapons of destruction never existed.
"Surely an honest prime minister, someone big enough to handle the truth, would 'fess up to his responsibility today and just say straight to Australians: 'I made a mistake.'"
Latham ignores this Duelfer conclusion:
Pressed by Warner to say whether the world is better off with Saddam out of power and in U.S. custody, Duelfer responded that the deposed dictator "clearly had ambitions with respect to weapons of mass destruction. ... Analytically, the world is better off."
And let’s not forget this, from Mahdi Obeidi, former head of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear centifuge program:
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.
The world is better off.
"I tell you one thing I wasn't doing in the late 80s, I wasn't racing around Liverpool saying we should get rid of Asian migrants and run a racially discriminatory immigration policy," he told Sydney radio 2GB.
"I wasn't doing that.
"If you want to go back into Mr Howard's history that's what he was doing at that time."
UPDATE II. More from Duelfer:
Duelfer also supports Bush's argument that Saddam remained a threat. Interviews with the toppled leader and other former Iraqi officials made clear that Saddam still wanted to pursue weapons of mass destruction and hoped to revive his weapons program if U.N. sanctions were lifted.
"What is clear is that Saddam retained his notions of use of force and had experiences that demonstrated the utility of WMD," Duelfer told Congress.
Often dubbed by his enemies as the Darth Vader of the White House, Mr Cheney lived up to his caricature, presenting voters with a grim scenario where the country was "faced with the possibility that terrorists could smuggle a deadly biological agent or a nuclear weapon into the middle of one of our own cities" as he lectured them on their responsibility to re-elect President George Bush in November.
Yep; sure sounds like something Darth Vader would say.
Via Dave Barry:
"All species of frogs shed their skin once or twice a week, and then eat it. It’s a revolting sight," says Mike Tyler of Adelaide University, who discovered the frog glue.
I don’t know about you, but a paragraph like that elevates my mood like a half-pound of Prozac.
Mark Steyn calls it for Cheney:
Classic Daddy Party performance, underlined by Edwards' closing with his maudlin generic hardscrabble vignettes. Simply by being who he is, Cheney made the other guy look a lightweight. Edwards had one good trick: he worked the format better - using the 30-second add-ons for his sharpest and best rehearsed jabs and leaving Cheney no time for rebuttal. That aside, I don't agree with Andrew Sullivan on much these days, but I'm with him on this: Cheney is way sexier than Edwards, who seems cheesier and emptier every time I see him.
Oh, by the way: Cheney lied! He and Edwards stood side-by-side!
The SMH's Antony Loewenstein isn't the only propagandist pushing an absurd Coalition = conscription line. Check out this cartoon (bottom right of page) in the Byron Bay Echo: "Vote Howard and bid your children farewell!"
Actually, for some parents, that slogan could be a real winner.
UPDATE. Draft alarmism just won’t go away:
During a campaign stop last week in West Palm Beach, Fla., Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was asked if he thought President Bush would revive the military draft if re-elected. "Is it possible?" Kerry replied. "I can't answer that."
During an appearance one week earlier in Parkersburg, W.Va., Kerry ticket-mate John Edwards was similarly queried about the draft. And rather than declaring it a nonissue, he simply responded, "There will be no draft when John Kerry is president."
He opposes abortion, in vitro fertilisation and euthanasia - beliefs that put him alongside the Howard government's staunch conservatives such as Tony Abbott. Garrett, in fact, is a committed Christian on a mission to change the world - and he believes the best way to do that is in a mainstream political party.
Oooh! Scary! (The above link, to Morgan Mellish's September 30 piece in the Australian Financial Review, requires subscription/registration.)
UPDATE: "The new Family First party is being energetically derided as a fanatical right-wing fundamentalist Christian organisation because it is against abortion and euthanasia."
The zero-budget anti-Howard "documentary" Time to Go, John hasn’t received much mainstream attention, possibly due to certain flaws that make it unwatchable. But Le Monde thought French readers should hear about it, on account of the film’s makers being "Michael Moore disciples". Choice line from a Babel Fish translation:
The realizers put on sale on the Web, for a bread mouthful, the DVD of their documentary. The owners of obscure rooms can thus buy this film for the moderate amount of 35 euros.
Two of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's 30 ministers are women; about 20 public management posts are filled by women; and 21 per cent of all state employees are female. Good news, right? Progress and everything? Not according to Paul McGeough:
Only two of President Hamid Karzai's 30 ministers are women; only about 20 public management posts are filled by women; and 21 per cent of all state employees are female.
Just 21 per cent? Why, Afghan women are barely better off than when they were being stoned to death for talking to men.
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield has died at 82.
UPDATE. Hit the archives and scroll down for earlier posts.
All the election predictions you can stand, beginning with pro and semi-pro pundits:
• Glenn Milne: Coalition by 4
• Paul Bongiorno: Coalition by 0 ("My prediction is a hung parliament, but then a minority Howard government with the support of independents, Bob Katter and Peter King.")
• Stephen Loosley: Labor by 4
• John Hewson: Coalition by 6 ("Wentworth could go Labor.")
• John Laws: Coalition by 6
• Ray Hadley: Coalition by 4
• Don Chipp: ALP by 6
• Gerard Daffy: Coalition by 6
• Wil Anderson: ALP by 5
• David Speers: Too close to call.
• Piers Akerman: Coalition by 5
And now: bloggers, commenters, lurkers, and random others ...
• John Quiggin: "The odds are significantly in Labor's favour."
• Currency Lad: "Mr Latham won't win because he doesn't deserve to win."
• Paul Batey: "Howard is gone. ALP by 18 seats."
• Guido: "It is probable that Howard will remain Prime Minister."
• Southerly Buster: "I certainly hope the Man of Steel is defeated."
• Chris Sheil: "A Latham landslide."
• The House of Wheels: "Coalition to be returned with a small majority (4 seats or so) in the House of Representatives, Greens/Democrats to control the balance of power in the Senate."
• Sam Ward: "Any of you lefties who really, honestly believe that Labor will win are welcome to put your bills up against mine - at even money."
• Graham Freeman: "ALP by 6-8."
• Gianna: "If Howard gets in again, I think it may just break the heart of this Lefty blogger."
• Cy Zilla: "Go Mark. Get over the line mate."
• Professor Bunyip: "John Howard needs to be voted for, make no mistake about that. But when he gets back, if he is ever to be trusted again, there are many expensive promises that need to be broken double quick."
• Ken Parish: "The Coalition will win on Saturday and be returned with a very slightly reduced margin."
• Fat K Files: "John Howard will be returned but it will probably be very, very close."
• Martin Kidd: The senate will remain annoying and fruity, while Howard will be re-elected."
• Tony the Teacher: (way back on September 2, 2003) "Labor's chip-chip tactics WILL win them the next election. But not with Crean at the helm."
• Stephen Kirchner: "My election forecast of 83 seats for the Coalition was originally posted at Quiggin. Quiggin said he would give a prize to the most accurate forecast, but never said what it was!"
• Gubbaboy: "Coalition by 14 seats."
• Murph: "Coalition by 6 in the Lower House. Greens control balance of power in the Upper House. Massive collective embolism by SMH readers."
• Troy Nelson: "Liberals: 72. Labor: 60. Nats: 13. Greens: 1. Independants: 3"
• Paul Bickford: "Labor to pick up a couple of marginals in NSW and VIC, possibly Parramatta and a chance of rolling Turnbull with a split vote and green preferences. Chopped to bits in QLD and TAS, due to the combination of Qld Labor being on the nose and possibly involved in (another) induced suicide, Ivan Milat/Molly and idiotic green preference chasing in Tas. Loss of up to three seats in both states. Rest maybe status quo. Coalition by 10. Greens to possibly pinch a luvvie seat in Sydney or Melbourne from Labor (hope it's Tania Plibarsek). Family First to clean up in the upper house- Greens to maybe pick up two Democrats seats, Democrats to lose all seats up for election, and party status. Howard to have control of the upper house for the first time with support of God-botherers. Margo Kingston pulls out remaining hair, flies broom into the AMP building. Phillip Adams goes on eating binge due to depression, causes Hunter Valley famine. Assorted media gobshites desperately flail around for hatred of reffos type reason to insult and belittle the electorate for their obvious stupidity."
• Bernard Slattery: "Coalition to win 84 seats; Labor, 64; Independents, 2. Coalition to have majority in Senate. Greens to poll heaviest in blue-ribbon Labor seats, meaning their influence on anything is five-eighths of FA. My prognostications are based on hunch alone and are therefore about as reliable as a Morgan poll."
• Mike Jericho: "Latham to win by a small margin. I don't want him to, but the leftward drift is probably too great."
• Jim Mackintosh: "Coalition by 23 seats more than Labor. Coalition will pick up Stirling, Hasluck, Bass and Brisbane; but will lose Dobell and Herbert. Labor will regain the seat it lost to the Greens. The three independents will remain in place. That is Coalition 85, Labor 62, Independents 3."
• Alan Anderson: "An eight-seat win for Howard."
• Scott: "The Coalition will win. In fact they will maintain their comfortable majority and win 82 seats (exactly what they've got now). John Howard will nearly lose his seat. Margo Kingston will discuss the election results in a column that will be amusing for both its childish whining and poor grammar. I will be too hung over to care about any of the aforementioned."
• Todd: "Coalition win by 24."
• Jack Strocchi: "The Coalition of the Willing parties will coast to electoral victory in spite, not because, of their Hawkish foreign policies."
• Jim: "Coalition by 23 seats more than Labor. Coalition will pick up Stirling, Hasluck, Bass and Brisbane; but will lose Dobell and Herbert. Labor will regain the seat it lost to the Greens. The three independents will remain in place. That is Coalition 85, Labor 62, Independents 3."
• JDM: "Latham is new and shiny, and people might just feel like a change."
• Margo Kingston: Coalition by 10.
• Peter Wilkins: Coalition By 24.
• Clive Robertson: ALP by 5
• Fight Fire with Fire: "The Coalition to win with a clear majority of 6 to 8 seats."
•Tom Paine: "The Coalition by six seats, with the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate."
And me? I'm less confident about this than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I still think Latham will win. Hope I'm wrong.
UPDATE. Centrebet is now paying $4.00 for a Labor win (earlier today it blew out to $4.50). The Coalition is currently at $1.20.
The Age’s Marian Wilkinson covers George W. Bush’s Iowa campaign visit:
There was no trace of the scowling, growling candidate who scared children during last week's presidential debate when he faced his rival John Kerry and came off second best.
Name a single child frightened by Bush’s "scowling and growling", Marian. Besides yourself, I mean.
Antony Loewenstein, whose Sydney Morning Herald brief is to "unload the bias", is now fear-mongering like a maniac:
Kim Hudson informs readers that America's most decorated soldier, Colonel David Hackworth, has repeated the claim that the US has no option but to re-introduce the draft in 2005: How long before a re-elected Coalition government follows suit?
Herald staff shall avoid any prominent activity in partisan public causes that compromises, or appears to compromise, the journalist or the newspaper.
On Sunday Antony and his friends painted their partisan message in the sky above Sydney. How much more prominent can an activity be?
• The best Maureen Dowd column you’ll ever read. Mainly because she didn’t write it.
• Our guys in the Middle East, having fun.
• Positive reviews keep rolling in:
"Tim Blair's blog has been sadly rather boring and worn out of late. I guess that's the price you pay for being on the A-list. People expect you to deliver."
"I don't think it's a healthy situation that in this country Tim Blair is the most popular blogger."
Cool. I’m an illness!
• D. Paul Norton, of Queensland's Griffith University, thinks trees have won it for Mark Latham: "I believe that Labor's Tasmanian forests policy, and its superiority over the Coalition in other areas of environmental policy, will be the game-breaking move that wins the election for Labor."
• "Latham takes stage with no script and wows 600," gushes the SMH, devotedly sticking to its pro-Latham script.
• John O’Sullivan writes in the latest New Criterion: "In her 1996 reprise of Churchill’s Fulton Speech, Lady Thatcher argued that the combination of rogue states and weapons of mass destruction was sufficiently threatening to justify the military overthrow of regimes like Saddam Hussein’s. But since this was unlikely to happen in the prevailing climate of opinion, she argued, then we should adopt the second-best solution of missile defense. September 11 changed that intellectual climate. The set of foreign policy concepts that justified ousting Saddam was retrieved from the files." Long piece, worth reading.
• Alan Ramsey is depressed, as usual: "If the Herald's opinion poll published two days ago accurately reflects voter sentiment, the Howard Government will thrash Labor in Saturday's election. And I do mean thrash."
• Latham almost gets my vote for this: "Asked if the anger from Dick Adams and other Labor figures had been stage-managed for public consumption, he produced a retort for connoisseurs of 1970s Sunday afternoon television to savour. 'It's not like a wrestling match,' he told 3AW. 'I'm not Spiros Arion.'"
Whenever Mark Latham disappoints his followers, Latham apostle Robert Bosler soothes them with his all-knowing wisdom:
Margo Kingston: Why did he do this, Robert. Why?
Robert Bosler (in a shroud, eyes closed, hovering in the sky): Mark Latham has not collapsed the energy built up among citizens. He has collapsed the illusion he was anything but a politician. Of course he has made mistakes; we all knew he would. But the energy you speak of has not been collapsed. Further, what has been collapsed is the illusion that we would immediately and from this terribly divided national condition, exacerbated for nearly a decade by Howard, fight on the grounds of an ideal national way. That is not the playing field we are on.
The energy you are speaking of is a latent energy. You and your readers will find in him more of what you are seeking at that moment.
And a nation -- nay, planet -- is calmed. Lately Robert (an artist, if that weren’t already evident) has turned his attention to Latham’s opponent:
This painting questions John Howard's fitness to serve. It is not about evil. It's not about the bible. It's about John Howard purposely allowing himself to be susceptible to forces of negativity.
People need to see this image. It shows the whole picture of a leader. We have to learn to look beyond clever words. This picture shows what is really going on - not all the time, but far, far too many times John Howard has chosen to open himself to forces that would do our nation harm.
I wish you well, Mr Howard. Should you want to continue misleading, Sir, I give you this painting, your mirror.
From our country's point of view, this painting is a sign of a country gone too far. It should never have had to have been done.
And you will notice, Mr Howard, that this is not a personal attack on you. Have I captured your smile, Sir? Isn't this how you look? Rather, I have given a more complete picture, and as different from a personal attack, this is the more fulfilling.
It is long overdue. It had to be done.
Here is Robert’s painting. Remember, it’s not about evil, so just ignore the clawed hand of Mephisto pawing at the Prime Minister’s skull. Has Robert captured Howard’s smile? Possibly not; to me, it looks more like famous Labor candidate Ivan Milat.
Attention, peaceniks! Here’s your ideal anti-war candidate:
Saddam's lawyer has told a Danish newspaper that the ousted dictator will run in Iraq's elections with the view to become president again, media reported.
The elections, which are scheduled for January, are parliamentary implying that Saddam would not have to run nationwide. It is presumed that Saddam, if allowed to take part, would choose Tikrit, his home town, to fight election.
In Iraq, Saddam's popularity seems to be staging a comeback. He is revered as a hero who sought to challenge Israel and the West.
That should be enough to win Michael Moore’s support. Speaking of Michael ...
I’m getting up at 7am to phone in live to the Howard Stern show. Howard and I resolved long ago that no matter what the Democratic candidate was doing, the two of us were somehow, single-handedly, going to toss Bush out on the curb.
The two of you? Single-handedly? Mike Moore can’t count.
UPDATE. Ex-Moore fan Emily Brackett slams the hefty sell-out:
"He pushed us further in the direction of Ralph Nader," said Brackett, who works for Nader's Corporate Crime Busters campaign. "We used to have so much respect for (Moore), and now he's buying into the two party system. It just breaks our heart."
UPDATE II. Remember Moore getting all excited about Dan Rather presenting "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"? Well, now Moore is claiming that he received that "new and damning information" before Rather, and he rejected it because it didn’t seem authentic. Moorelies.com has the full story.
"I don't cross picket lines," claims pro-union John Kerry. "I never have."
Unionists will be interested in this casting call for a John Kerry commercial. Find the key words ...
Tom Dusevic on 43-year-old Mark Latham:
"All my life" has become almost a mantra for Latham (and a phrase journalists use among themselves to mock his earnestness) as he builds a narrative of constancy and purpose.
The Canberra press gallery apparently calls him "Lifelong". It’s one of Mark’s pet phrases. Meanwhile, on 2BL radio last night (no link) former ALP leader Kim Beazley practically dared Greens to direct their preferences away from Labor. Here’s my shorthand transcript:
"I’m the only Labor candidate in Western Australia who is not getting Greens preferences directed towards him. And that’s because, according to the Greens, I’m committed to the American alliance. Well, I’ve got news for them -- the whole Labor party is committed to the American alliance."
Over to you, Greens.
Could anyone who was at the rehearsal for Mark Latham’s campaign launch in Brisbane please email me. (If you were at the rehearsal, I expect you’ll know what this is about.) All confidences assured, etc.
Also, any bloggers who are yet to post their Australian election predictions should mail them in. I’ll put up a list tomorrow.
UPDATE. Thank you, Bob Brown:
Labor hopes of wresting a marginal Victorian seat from the Coalition have been dealt a blow, with a key independent to direct preferences to the Nationals because of Labor's Tasmanian forests policy.
UPDATE II. Remember when Mark Latham annoyed Bob Brown by not relating to trees?
"It was as if a veil had come down over his face," Brown says. "A reporter would ask, 'What do you think of this one, Mr Latham?' And he'd shrug and say, 'It's a big tree.' When we got to the cave tree, he just said, 'It's a big tree with a hole in it.'
"It was a studied, desultory response. He was not responding to me. It was as if he was saying, 'I am not going to be shown to relate' - not just to me, but to the forests."
UPDATE III. The CFMEU’s Michael O'Connor:
We think that the policy that was being announced by Mark Latham will spread through Australia like wildfire. It will ensure that we'll have a competition between state and federal governments, Labor parties at different spheres trying to outbid each other, who's going to be greener than who.
And what Mark Latham has done by his announcement yesterday is set off another auction of timber workers' jobs, another auction of timber workers' communities, another auction of ruining timber workers' families.
UPDATE IV. Labor member for Lyons Dick Adams:
He's got to tell the Tasmanian members why he did this. It must be because he's so ambitious that he will sell out seats in Tasmania to take seats on the mainland.
I have learned that one of my friends has been shot and is in a hospital in Iraq. We met through the internet blogosphere, and I have never seen him. Yet my heart is sick with sadness.
More information here.
Latham will save the forests, screams the Sydney Morning Herald. About Tasmanian forests further than 1,000 kilometres from Sydney. Tasmanian Forestry Industry Association boss Terry Edwards is right:
It's quite obvious to us that they are prepared to sell out Tasmanian jobs to get a few votes in CBD Melbourne and Sydney.
Jobs? Who cares about jobs? The SMH’s Louise Dobson is aghast that trees are subject to debate:
Is nothing sacred in this election?
Tasmania's forests, beloved of conservationists around the world, have become the latest political football tossed between the Coalition and Labor.
Isn’t it awful? Of course, Latham previously held anti-Green positions. Dodson prefers not to remember them. Instead ...
Remember the scare campaign by the Liberal Party's federal director, Brian Loughnane, about how close Labor was getting to the Greens ... ?
Didn’t turn out to be much of a scare campaign, did it? More of a reality campaign. (Incidentally, only a couple of weeks ago Latham vowed to "oppose any Coalition plan to spend hundreds of millions of the federal budget surplus to phase out old-growth logging in Tasmania's forests." Now he wants to spend hundreds of millions to ... well, you know.)
Let’s leave weeping Louise ("the Coalition is just warming up for a huge campaign against Labor on interest rates, taxes, industrial relations and now it seems, even conservation") and consider the views of angry Tasmanian Labor politicians:
Tasmanian Labor Premier Paul Lennon accused Mr Latham of a stunt to attract environment votes.
"Why? Because it's been determined that marginal seats in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and in South Australia demand it," Mr Lennon said. "So Tasmanian workers and their families and their livelihoods are today at risk for preferences in marginal seats across some states in mainland Australia."
Labor MP Dick Adams, who holds the Tasmanian seat of Lyons by a normally comfortable margin of 8.2per cent, warned that Mr Latham's policy could put local seats at risk.
He said the leader's commitment was "over-the-top" and played to marginal mainland electorates without considering the impact on workers who could not be compensated for the end of logging activity.
"I'm devastated," he said. "It sells us out down here."
Latham is a sell out. He's sold out on tariffs, he's sold out on trade, he's sold out on jobs. The danger he runs now is that in trying to appease Green voters for a first-up election victory, he risks destroying subsequent campaigns.
The United Nations agency that provides assistance and food aid to Palestinian refugees admits it has hired members of the terrorist group Hamas to help in its efforts.
Peter Hansen, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), told the CBC he believes it likely that Hamas members receive paycheques from his organization.
"Oh I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime. Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another," Mr. Hansen said.
No vetting. No exclusion. That's the way to make peace happen!
David Marr recently interviewed (via e-mail) Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Gerard Henderson, and me for a piece in Overland magazine. Last week he mentioned those interviews in something called the Overland lecture.
Three points. In his speech, Marr claimed:
Slagging off the Left and its motives has particular - and puzzling - potency. How can this be in a country which again and again shows its indifference to great contests of principle; a country where you have to struggle to remember the last time the Left had decisive influence on national politics?
Marr likely crafted that line before John Howard leapt Leftwards during the election campaign. Figure this out: Marr thinks Australia doesn’t care for contests of principle, yet confronting the Left -- a contest of principle -- has a "puzzling potency". Maybe that’s because Australia does care for contests of principle; only that they’re not the contests Marr believes should be paramount.
Point two. Marr writes that all four of his interviewees agreed on "only one point" as a Leftoid identifier:
The Left they demonise is anti-American. Forget Marx and Engels, the core complaint against the Australian Left today is disloyalty to the United States.
"Disloyalty" is substantially different to, and carries a vastly greater weight than, the simple opposition to the US described by his interviewees. Point three:
I went back to all four combatants and asked: is it really about money? The Left is never going to seize the assets of the rich, but the Left has plans and they’re expensive. They cost a lot of other people’s money. Is this where the fear comes in? The idea drew a blank with all four of these anti-Left warriors.
This is wrong. Marr didn’t draw a blank. I still have a copy of my reply:
I'm not sure that the divide is over money so much as it is over process. Well, maybe that isn't the view from both sides -- I think from the Right the divide might be over money (and, implicitly, individual liberty) but from the Left (judging by my massively prejudiced take on things) the view seems that public/regulatory/government-funded is simply the Correct Course to Take. Money is rarely mentioned by defenders of the ABC, for example.
And I know Marr received that reply, because he replied to it himself, with this message:
True, the Left is often squeamish about facing the public cost of Taking the Right Course but I don't think that means money is not an issue. The ABC is a good example. Defenders (like me) believe it's worth spending a great deal of money to have a public broadcaster - could be better, could be different but it will always be expensive. Critics on the Right, heavily emphasise the public cost of the institution - as when Media Watch is accused of misusing 'taxpayers' money'. Putting aside the rights and wrongs of that particular complaint (and you'll know where I stand) it does seem a neat example of what I'm getting at.
Of course everything the State does is expensive - whether it's funding the Navy, subsidising Olympic sport or buying pharmaceuticals. And both Left and Right will always try to undercut the priorities of their opponents by pointing out that such and such a policy is unjustifiably expensive. But I sense the Left and Right have a different starting point on this: that the Right starts with a presumption against and the Left with a presumption in favour of public expenditure - and the taxation to support it.
Maybe I'm just throwing more words at this idea than it deserves - but one of the most effective arguments against Labor has always been that it's the spenders' party, that it's shopping list is too long, too undisciplined. The Right seems to say that once you identify Left tendencies in a person or party - then you've picked a spender. Hence the need for such vigilance.
Whatever. Apologies for the most boring post ever. I just wanted to get this on the record.
In an interview with adoring Democracy Now! bubbleheads, Robert Fisk explains that Iraqis need the security of someone who’ll only kill you if you break the rules:
When I go to funerals in Iraq, of men who have been cruelly murdered, women, children, people say to me, look. I don't care if you got rid of Saddam Hussein. No, we didn't like him, but at least with Saddam Hussein, we had security. Our children went to school in the morning. Although we didn't have free speech, we knew that if we obeyed the rules, we would be alive. Now, that is not praise of Saddam Hussein. He was a cruel dictator. We helped to prop him up. We started him off in the first place. But if the alternative is carnage on the scale we're now seeing, what do you think that the Iraqis want? I mean, history shows that what Bush did, and what Kerry thinks he might be able to do, cannot work, especially in Iraq.
The Democracy Now! people lap this up. Ironic name, isn’t it?
Something should be done to Fisk's article - maybe someone can reprint it, interleaving analytical and sarcastic comments.
In fact, there should be a name for this process - maybe we could name it after some deserving pundit!
Think it will catch on?
Virginia’s George Mason University has canceled a planned Michael Moore appearance -- but the Great Loaf of Truth says he’ll turn up anyway:
"I'm going to show up in support of free speech and free expression," he said.
Free? Free? Moore’s original payment was to be $35,000. From public funds.
• Arthur Chrenkoff locates good news all over the Islamic world.
• More good news, this time from Spain.
• Sometimes Photoshop is redundant. Remember this classic Keery image?
• Bessie Bardot has just returned from Iraq, where she entertained troops at nine military bases. To discover exactly how entertaining this must have been, run a Google image search on her name.
• Looking to place your blog ad where it will reach the maximum number of spendthrift troubled loners? Iowahawk is what you’re looking for -- and it’s a better spend than Air America’s eyeball-repelling Morning Sedition.
• Angela Bell is back blogging -- and nails The Australian on a bizarre Grand Final claim.
• A Jordanian prince wants to look at the President’s brain.
• Conspiracy Corner update: The Miami Lectern Depositing scandal has been solved -- apparently the object Kerry withdrew from his pocket was just a black pen. No word yet on Bush and his stealth earpiece.
Mark Latham once angered Greens by telling steel workers that 10,000 jobs were threatened by their crazy Kyoto-ish eco-policies.
Now he’s enraged timber workers by threatening their jobs with his own eco-policies:
"It's the most fundamental sellout of the Tasmanian forests industry by a Labor leader in the history of the labour movement in this country," [Forest Industry Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry] Edwards said. "Believe me, Mark Latham has ratted on you."
Mr Edwards said Mr Latham had promised on a visit to Tasmania in March that job protection for timber workers was non-negotiable.
"He has taken all of your jobs and sold you down the river," he said. "We have yet to see what John Howard's policy is but it's a little bit hard to envisage that it's going to be any worse than this rubbish."
UPDATE. Here’s a much better environmental policy:
The Federal Government allegedly offered a $36.4 million subsidy to an oil company if it promised to take environmental group Greenpeace to court.
Spot the mistake in the opening line of cyclist Darren Armstrong’s SMH opinion piece:
I'm proud to say I'm a cyclist. Yes, I own a 2WD.
No, he doesn’t. The blunder is repeated in the headline.
Margo Kingston's unstable followers don't ask for much. All they want is to see their simple creed written in the sky, as though by the hand of God:
On the 26th of September the Liberal Party are having their campaign launch here in Brisbane. All of the nation’s media will be focused on this one event and we thought it would be amusing and effective if we organized for a skywriter to write the words ‘Not Happy John’ over Brisbane city during the launch. The cost is $2 800 so we're looking for donations from anyone who wants to contibute to Howards End.
But even this basic want was denied them by the callous Howard regime:
John Howard's Coalition Government has gagged the public service - bullying once fearless bureacrats into towing the government line. It now appears that they are trying to gag public debate in the lead-up to the federal election.
A coalition of concerned socially minded citizens has banded together to fund a protest against the Howard Government. The group organised a sky-writer to voice their heart-felt concerns in the skies above Brisbane during the Liberal Party's campaign launch. The intended message, "Not Happy John".
In a damming reflection of the Howard Government's determination to control public debate, it appears conservative forces have rallied to discourage the skywriter into reneging on the company's undertaking to write the message.
This is despite the small business man, Rob Vance from Ace Above Skywriting, agreeing to go ahead with the job just hours before the payment was due.
The skywriter advised organisers that he had "concerns about his client base" and that he could comment no further.
Group representative Genevieve Siddle said "the contractor had been booked for three weeks and the whole time had known the content of the message, the only concern had been the possibility of bad weather".
"Why is it that Brisbane Liberal Lord Mayoral Candidate Campbell Newman can successfully have a banner towed over Brisbane city for several hours annd the people of Queensland have been effectively gagged?"
"We don't know how this has happened. This is the kind of thing you read about happening in other countries, how can it happen here in Queensland?".
We’ve all read of how, in countries other than Queensland, aerial skywriters are commonly silenced by Howardian fascist dictatorships. (Usually we read about it in better English, but that’s another matter.) Yesterday the Not Happy John crowd got their wish, however; the subversive phrase finally appeared in the skies above Sydney. Immediately politicised by the apparition, thousands stormed Liberal Party headquarters.
Or they would have, if "Not Happy John" hadn't proved such an unwieldy aerial phrase. By the time "John" had been completed, the "Not" was an indistinct blur; then the "H" morphed into an "N". An attempted comma became a bloated dash. I didn’t see it, but according to reliable witnesses Sydney residents saw something like this:
(big cloudy shape) Nappy-John
Follow John Kerry's hand in this Zapruder-like footage from the first debate. Down and to the left; down and to the left.
Of screen, anyway. Drudge has more on the Miami Lectern Depositing scandal. Meanwhile, a competing theory holds that George W. Bush had electronic earpiece assistance during the debate. If so, it wasn’t coming from Mark Steyn:
Almost any of us armchair warriors could have put down John Kerry's feeble generalisations better than Bush did.
Democrat armchair warriors had their post-debate generalisations prepared in advance, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Tackett:
In more than 200 e-mails, not a single citizen-pundit thought Bush had won. Definitely a reason to pause and reflect.
If only it were real. In a first for a presidential campaign, Democratic activists decided to fire up their computers and flood the media with their post-debate point of view, except some of them were over-eager and sent their messages before the debate had ended.
Clever people. Who put them up to it? They’re not saying.
• During an interview, Mark Latham four times refused to guarantee that taxes won’t rise under Labor.
• One possible reason why Latham won’t commit: the government claims Medicare Old is underfunded by $5 billion in the first two years.
• A small poll suggests things may be closer than expected in Tasmania, where all five seats are currently held by Labor. Howard hasn’t visited Tasmania once during this campaign; maybe he should have.
• Greens are polling so well in marginals that they could deliver, via preferences, a Latham government.
• James Morrow writes that the Coalition is "more than happy to sell out its time-tested principles of fiscal conservatism – to say nothing of the economy – for one more turn at bat ... These bribes – whoops, targeted initiatives – are closely related to the same sort of soft socialism that has wrecked so many of the European economies."
I was on to the government’s socialist electioneering early last month. It’s gotten worse since.
• Glenn Milne: "In the event of a hung parliament, Australia's future would assume something resembling an expensive and contradictory version of herding cats."
How to tell if someone is a genuine peace activist or a wild parody of a peace activist? It isn’t easy; take a look at this, for example.
Zem was present, and witnessed the crowd’s gradual realisation that, hey, these people are making fun of us! Some of the less doctrinaire peace activists evidently ripped and clawed at their signs with mighty indignation-fuelled fingers.
Haven’t checked any of the papers yet to see if the peacenik mockers fooled any picture editors.
If we hadn’t liberated Iraq, terrorists wouldn’t be quite so intent on hurting us. Well, according to the Latham doctrine, anyway. The terrorists themselves seem to have a longer list of grievances, some of them pre-emptive:
"We should not wait until US, British, French, Jewish, South Korean, Hungarian or Polish forces enter Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen and Algeria before we resist," said the voice on the audio tape aired by Al Jazeera television.
"Let us start resisting now. The interests of America, Britain, Australia, France, Poland, Norway, South Korea and Japan are spread everywhere.
"They all took part in the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq or Chechnya or enabled Israel to survive."
There you have it, Mark. It’ll make us safer if we stop “enabling Israel to survive”. Any room for that in Labor policy? And the terrorists won’t be happy with your stance on Afghanistan, either:
MARK LATHAM: We supported the deployment of Australia's military forces to the immediate conflict in Afghanistan and the wider war against terrorism. A clear-cut attack had occurred on the United States and a clear location was established for the source of that attack. Should another attack produce an identifiable source, we would be prepared to support similar action. That is a rock solid Labor commitment.
But ... making us unsafe! In other Latham developments, remember this observation from Greg Sheridan, arising from Latham’s hopelessly weak handling of Ivan Molloy?
The response of the media to Molloy's political obscenity of accusing Australian politicians of moral responsibility for terrorist murder has been instructive. The ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald have virtually ignored the story, whereas if a Howard government candidate had committed equal obscenities on the other side they would be foaming with indignation.
In today’s Age, Phillip Hudson positively admires Latham’s dodging -- although actual credit should go to the press that enables it:
After an unsteady start, he is running the campaign on his own terms. Pesky questions about an ALP candidate who agrees the Liberals are to blame for the Bali bombing are dismissed in a way that John Howard could never get away with.
And why would that be, Phillip?
(Via Evil Pundit)
"John Kerry, a lean athlete who is the picture of health as he skis, skates, cycles and windsurfs, is in robust condition," reports the New York Times.
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance!
From the shores of Martha’s Vineyard he rode his horse out West,
With a treaty in his holster and a medal on his chest,
Bringing law and justice to a wild and violent land,
Talking was his creed and sanctions were his brand!
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance! (Hyahhh!)
Outlaws feared his blazing pen!
Ride the wild surf of Blogging Momentum with Vanity Fair contributing editor James Wolcott:
I would advise Kerry to reach into Bush's chest and pull out his beating heart and hold it up to the world if I didn't think it might upset some of the "Security Moms" whose votes could prove so decisive in the coming election.
Why not cut off his head? Seems to be all the rage these days. Next, James takes a walk:
This morning as I walked to the general store to pick up the papers, there were birds everywhere aflutter. Bluejays. Cardinals. Mourning doves. Sparrows of every persuasion. A peregrine falcon or merlin (I didn't get my binocs up fast enough) winging overhead. Later, at Sunset Beach, a quartet of pelicans floated over like a band heading to a gig. Some would attribute this to a shift in wind direction or a change in temp, but I know different.
Nature is celebrating last night's presidential debate.
The trees are alive with the sound of Kerry.
"You let the powerful demand power 'for the little man.' But you yourself are silent. You provide powerful men with more power or choose weak, malignant men to represent you. And you discover too late you are always the dupe."
Not a bad description of Bush's base.
No sooner had Tina Brown so kindly chosen this blog as her hot pick of the week on her CNBC's Topic A with Tina Brown than the phone service in the rental house konked out, leaving me unable to get online and ride the wild surf of Blogging Momentum.
• If you missed Chris Sheil's latest magnificent evasions, please click and laugh. The guy spends more time in denial than an Egyptian carp.
UPDATE. Reader Patsy writes:
At a dinner party tonight the discussion turned to blogs. As the wine flowed we started listing our votes for the most pretentious wankers online. There was a bit of good natured heckling as people tried to defend favourites from attack and vice versa. I agreed with some, disagreed with others. And then someone - and no, it wasn't me - mentioned Professor Christopher Sheil as contender for Big Blog Wanker. The response was, quite frankly, amazing. Each and every person yelled as one: "Yes!!" It was a like a game of Trivial Pursuit when everyone is trying to think of the answer to an obvious question. And then someone says it and everyone wonders why they didn't see what was staring at them in the face all that time.
We adjourned to the computer and took at quick look at Professor Christopher Sheil's blog entry on Professor Peter Singer. Much hilarity was had by all. And then I navigated over to this blog. It was the end of civilised discourse. I swear to God I saw tears of laughter on the cheeks of a guy who will vote Labour in the upcoming election. It was a bonding experience.
• Bernstein? Woodward? You guys awake?
• Jim Treacher demands: "Write my URL on the forehead of a sleeping hobo!"
• "I fucking hate Liberal voters," writes Greens campaigner Ruth. "Hate them. I know everyone has a right to their own political views, and I know most of them aren't actually bad people, and I'm sure they're all really nice to their mothers, and they're probably loving parents, and maybe they help little old ladies across the street, and volunteer for the CFA, and donate money to the Salvos, and cut up orange quarters for their kids' football teams, and look after stray cats and dogs they find on the street. But I don't care. I hate them ...
"On the other hand, the guy handing out Liberal how-to-vote cards yesterday bought me a coffee. It was awful coffee, but it was nice of him."
• Stop lies! Stop Bush! Stop tennis!
• Currency Lad is Schindler's List. Well, most of us are this late on a Saturday night.
• "I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But ... "
• Just a random collection of Puce statements: "DABAT BUSK AS 'UKE-UKE'", "Hehe polatil sartir as Busk", "MOR LYS fashist wangnut STOP BEFAR TULAT", "Kos pruv as TRUETH, rightwang fat! Goolag Newes say!", "TRATCH AS FAGIT", "Saadm one teh Irak elecshin fare as sqaur, PUT HIM BAKC IN OFICE YOUFUCKS", "redy to sorendor yet, USAsholes? GIVEUP!!!", "Canyou handel TRUE?", "YOU DIDIT! Cebrate with piza exrta cheese!!!!!", "PUCE ISPUCE famis webstar who dare?", "Goodby stupad yanky dick fasis!", "PUCE CRUSH IMPOST", "Hay Bush wepon masterucshin? Their it is weight no just Irak babie no leg", "Take drog all ok!", "home brav land of free sampel?", "SHUTUP LOSAR".
• Roberto Benigni sounding like Puce: "Westerners are running the show, all of those doing these things have studied in the West, it is not the Easterners. We know how many dreams the East gives, and how grateful we are to the East and love all its beautiful things." CLICK you, Roberto.
At smh.com.au: Polls swing to Labor.
Also at smh.com.au: Polls favour coalition.
Saturday at smh.com.au: "In what will be a crushing blow to Labor's hopes, the latest Herald Poll by ACNielsen indicates Mr Cameron will retain his seat at next Saturday's election."
Sunday at smh.com.au: "The self-confessed adulterer Ross Cameron in Parramatta has angered voters so much that the poll reveals it could be turned into a safe Labor seat with a 60 per cent to 40 per cent second preference margin."
Harry Heidelberg points out that the world is lagging behind civilised Australian opinion:
We are out on a limb on a number of fronts. In the Presidential Debate, John Kerry said only Britain and Australia were in the lead with the US on the invasion. In response, President Bush said 'you forgot Poland'. Australia out on a limb.
There was the United Nations vote objecting to the wall in Israel. We voted against that. It was us, America, Israel and the Federated States of Micronesia. The rest of the world disagreed. Australia out on a limb.
This week, Russia announced it would sign the Kyoto conventions on Climate Change. Think about that. A country infinitely poorer than our own, a producer of fossil fuels, says it will sign Kyoto. Australia will not. We are at one with the US, alone amongst our peers. Australia out on a limb.
It’s so sad. Someone -- maybe Harry -- should tell the world to shape up and get with the wise Australian agenda. (By the way, Russia was forced into Kyoto. If only they’d been able, like Australia, to act independently ...)
Another Iraqi, Barea Nafea Dawoud Ibrahim, has been beheaded by what Reuters describes as "an Iraqi Islamist group." That will teach those arrogant Iraqis to occupy Iraq. Iraqis had no business being in Iraq in the first place. The sooner Iraqis get out of Iraq and go home, the better.
If a network calls itself 'fair and balanced', it shouldn't have a blatant anti-Kerry reporter on the beat.
And if all newspapers or networks claiming to be impartial fired all their anti-Bush reporters, there’d be no newspapers or networks. Another lefty blogger, Joshua Mingus Marshall, belatedly reviews Rathergate:
I will spare you any pretense of mock surprise that CBS News is ridiculously biased against the Bush campaign. But it's one thing to know it and another to get such a blazing and undeniable example of it as a story with fabricated Bush-bashing.
I kid, I kid! He’s actually talking about Fox and the hideous scandal of Carl Cameron’s crap jokes appearing on Fox’s website. Which is obviously a much greater scandal than bogus anti-Bush memos running on a major television program hosted by a $7 million anchor. Joshua Margo Marshall’s strongest condemnation of Rathergate is essentially that the memos "shouldn’t have gone to air."
UPDATE. LGF has more on Joshua Biggest Story Of My Life Marshall.
UPDATE II. Oh, no! Carl Cameron is at it again. Call the police, Josh.
UPDATE III. Mere hours after CBS broadcast its bogus memos piece, wrote conspiracy-minded Left Coaster, "an anonymous blogger known as Buckhead posted at freerepublic.com that the documents were forgeries and said 'this should be pursued aggressively'. And so it was. And the right-wing pack of hounds was off baying for Dan Rather's blood."
Scary. Democracy under threat. Reporters questioned. Clearly an inside job, etc. We look forward, then, to Left Coaster explaining how the Washington Post received a letter praising John Kerry’s debate performance -- four hours before the debate was held.
I grew up with a great journalist. My father traveled all over the world, gathering evidence, taking interviews, visiting locations, and getting his facts straight. For forty years, he wrote for a magazine that had the largest circulation in the world. He had an unlimited expense account and he knew how to get a story. He had meetings at the Pentagon, the White House and Langley. He recieved death threats and was audited by the IRS eight years in a row for publishing unflattering articles about one presidential administration.
Are those "journalistic" qualifications? He wrote at home, at midnight and would've worked in his pajamas, but he said he couldn't concentrate if he was too comfortable. We live in Minneapolis, and the Strib is our paper. He doesn't bother with it. He has been retired for over a decade and almost all he reads now are blogs. He loves them. He is now addicted to Powerline, and Lileks, and Hewitt, among others ...
There’s more. Read the whole thing.
Today I observed a kookaburra. Here are my exclusive modality findings:
Mode One: Inertia. The kookaburra just sits there like an idiot. Do something, kookaburra!
Mode Two: Intense social engagement. The kookaburra notices and reacts to visual and aural stimulus, including other birds, music, and me offering it a plate of meat chunks.
Mode Three: Pointy attack stance = imminent gecko murder. The kookaburra tenses itself into chunky arrow form, aimed at the target lizard.
Mode Four: Operation Death Smash. The kookaburra impacts leafy undergrowth and returns to its perch with a gecko in its beak.
Mode Five: Like Mode One, but with gloating.
An IKEA store opening in Jeddah turned violent last month:
Three men were killed and 16 injured in a stampede when thousands of people rushed to claim cash vouchers at the opening of an IKEA furniture showroom at its new location near the intersection of Tahlia and Sitteen streets here yesterday.
Many men, women and children fainted and some of them were trampled upon as the crowd of shoppers swelled just before the opening. The Red Crescent rushed some of the victims to the nearby King Fahd Hospital.
IKEA tried to play down the disaster ("IKEA management insisted that only two people were killed") and local IKEA executive vice president Amin Jamal pointed out the relative lack of deaths during another store opening in Riyadh:
"The Riyadh opening was without any problem, although we had made a similar offer of vouchers to shoppers. Maybe the Riyadh shoppers are more disciplined," he said.
“Excellent business” was nevertheless reported. Arab News correspondent Rasheed Abou-Alsamh had more:
A Saudi translator told me that his wife had been nagging him to take her to the opening so she could have a chance at getting one of the SR500 vouchers. He told her that he would give her SR2,000 to give up on the idea.
"Unfortunately for me, she took me up on my offer!" he said.
Here’s a survivor’s account:
"It was a stampede. I have never seen anything like it. You couldn’t reason with these people, they were out of control. I saw one woman lying on the ground; I couldn’t see her breathing ... I thought I was going to die."
UPDATE. I've got to pay more attention to publication dates. This story is from last month; I've made subsequent copy changes.
Al Gore’s advisors thought their man won the first debate in 2000:
Says Stuart Stevens, a Bush adviser then and now: "The Gore people were totally convinced they had won overwhelmingly. We were in a room next to them and we could hear them yelling and chanting."
Democrats charge that Bush was later perceived to have won due to better management of post-debate spin. They’re determined to avoid a repeat of that this year (by stacking online polls, among other things). Trouble for Kerry is, although many believe he won on the night --including right-wingers Damian Penny and Jay Nordlinger -- the post-debate battle may be fought (especially online) on what was actually said.
Bush is a stumbly, stalling speaker. He’ll lose any contest in which ease of communcation and style of presentation are paramount. But Kerry can’t win on content. No matter what position he takes, he’s bound to contradict one of his myriad prior positions. On Kyoto, for example, Kerry had this to say:
"You don't help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty."
But in 1997 Kerry voted for a resolution that would not approve a protocol that exempted developing nations or would do harm to the U.S. economy. During the debate, Kerry claimed that "nobody's talking about leaving [Iraq], nobody's talking about wilting and wavering, we're talking about winning and getting the job done right." But on September 6, Kerry had a different view:
"We want those troops home and my goal would be to try to get them home in my first term and I believe that can be done."
Kerry also denied an earlier line about lying:
LEHRER: You just -- you've repeatedly accused President Bush -- not here tonight, but elsewhere before -- of not telling the truth about Iraq, essentially of lying to the American people about Iraq. Give us some examples of what you consider to be his not telling the truth.
KERRY: Well, I've never, ever used the harshest word, as you did just then.
Yes, he has. All of this feeds into and builds on the established view of Kerry as a flip-floppin’ freak. Democrat yelling and chanting may again be premature.
UPDATE. A Kerry-supporting anti-war poli-sci class (big shock, I know) gives it to Bush:
Despite their left-leaning preferences, the students — to a person — admitted Thursday night that President George Bush, and not Kerry, came out the victor in the first presidential debate of the election season.
UPDATE II. Bush is also winning the crucial Halloween vote:
Since President Ronald Reagan's first victory, sales of rubber Halloween masks caricaturing the Republican and Democratic candidates have predicted the next president, according to an Internet costume seller. President Bush is leading this year.
UPDATE III. Mega-scandal alert! Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron typed up some lame Kerry gags that were mistakenly published at the Fox website. Within hours, a correction and apology was issued:
Earlier Friday, FOXNews.com posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.
Is there a form of Stockholm syndrome that infects people even before they’re kidnapped? If so, ex-hostage Simona Torretta seems to be afflicted:
An Italian aid worker held hostage last month in Iraq said guerrillas there were right to fight US-led forces and their Iraqi "puppet government".
In comments that were bound to annoy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government, Simona Torretta also called on Rome to withdraw the troops it sent to Iraq to support its US ally.
"I said it before the kidnapping and I repeat it today," she told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published yesterday.
"You have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. The guerrilla war is justified, but I am against the kidnapping of civilians."
Of course she’s against it. Kidnapping of civilians involved her; "justified" guerrilla war involves others.
(Via Scott at the Blithering Bunny)
UPDATE. Local mood is turning against the ex-hostages:
Italy's adoration of the "two Simonas", the women aid workers abducted in Iraq, began to sour yesterday, as the extent of their sympathy for the Iraqi fight against the allied occupation became clear.
Miss Torretta admitted that was now studying Islam, although she denied that was planning to convert.
The two women have also ruffled feathers by thanking Italy's Islamic community for working for their release before thanking the government and the Italian Red Cross.
"Apart from introducing the GST and some long-overdue gun laws," writes Phillip Adams, "can Howard point to any significant body of achievement?"
Well, I'm still living here, but I'm inclined towards Mark Steyn's view on Howard's firearm legislation: "I wouldn't want to live under his government's gun-control laws." Back to Adams, and his request for a significant Howard achievement. One is found in his column:
Cast your minds back to the balaclava’d bullies and their Rottweilers threatening Australian wharfies.
Yes! Good times.
Christopher Pearson on dopey spineless appeaser Mark Latham:
It's not necessary to rely on his cut-and-run policy to brand Latham as an appeaser. The ultimate in appeasement lines must be bewailing the prospect that confronting terrorists makes us more of a target. It implies a consequentialist mirror-argument, as dopey as it is spineless. Rather than risking the terrorists' wrath by standing up for what we believe in, the safest course of action is to do nothing to offend them and hope they can find it in their hearts to overlook our "crusader nation" role in East Timor.
If I was Osama bin Laden, I'd sure be voting for Mr. Molloy. And for Mr. Latham who doesn't seem to have the stomach to send this guy where he deserves to go, which raises doubts over both his resolve as a leader and the integrity of candidates he seems willing to embrace into his party.
Indeedy! But brace for potentially KA-BOOM poll news from Sydney’s marginals in Sunday’s Sun-Herald. In other poll jibber-jabber, bean-counters give Howard the edge:
Results tallied at the 18 Miss Maud coffee houses and restaurants this week revealed 44.5 per cent of the more than 20,000 beans polled by customers were in favour of the Liberals.
Labor polled 29.8 per cent of the beans, followed by the Greens with 10.1 per cent, the Democrats and Nationals with 3.8 per cent each and "others" attracting 8 per cent.
• The suicide bomber who attacked Australia's embassy in Jakarta abandoned his pregnant wife: "The widow gave birth to a baby boy a week ago, two weeks after her [husband] blew himself up, killing nine others. The baby is named Mohammad Jundullah, meaning soldier of God, which is as Golun wanted it."
• Sydney Morning Herald readers really love the Kyoto protocol.
• "Experts say Florida will again decide who gets to live in the White House," reports the Melbourne Age, citing Republican and Democratic strategists and various activists, but no independent experts.
• Keith Windschuttle, Catharine Lumby, and Garry Linnell are all friends of mine, so it's nice to see them appear in the same paragraph:
Keith Windschuttle is pleased to announce that an action for defamation he launched against The Bulletin magazine over an article written by Catherine Lumby in its February 12 2002 edition has been resolved. The editor-in-chief of The Bulletin, Garry Linnell, published the following apology in the edition of September 7 2004 ...
• "John Howard and his Government committed my country to war," writes Mitchell Lennard in the Melbourne Age. "I watched this decision being taken, I know that they decided to unleash the barbarity of modern war with little consideration of the consequences. I will vote them out, go home and hug my kids." Awwwww! Wonderful that someone who can by himself remove a government still has time for hugs.
• Something I missed from last month: "Australia should send 400 personalised stuffed koalas to the grieving families of the Beslan school massacre, Greens leader Bob Brown has proposed. 'We could send 400 koalas over there, you know, the fluffy toy koalas, with the name of each (victim), and deliver it to each of those open doors where the families are,' he said."
That'll fix everything.
Who says George W. Bush can’t build a coalition? As John Kerry mentioned during the debate:
"It was principally the United States, the America and Great Britain and one or two others. That's it."
It’s not every President who can convince the US and the America to fight alongside each other, reaching across centuries of division to find common cause. Kerry’s continued efforts to rebuild international respect -- describing Australia and Poland as "one or two others" -- are also noted, and appreciated.
UPDATE. The New York Times (republished in the Sydney Morning Herald) provides unique debate insights:
When George Bush leaned over his podium and talked directly into the camera, he had the same firm, squared off look he brings to a presidential address from the Oval Office.
When the networks cut to Mr Bush while Senator John Kerry was speaking, he had the hunched shoulders and the peevish, defensive look of an incumbent under heavy attack.
The New York Times should provide online footage of its writers: peevish, defensive incumbents under attack.
Mr. Kerry moved his hands almost continuously, at one point folding them over his heart like a French mime ...
Bet he can perform a really awesome "hamster in a glass cage walking into the wind" routine. Strange thing is, the NYT probably thinks these descriptions are positive ...
A nationwide child-porn investigation is underway in Australia. Several cases won’t reach court:
Four suspects - two in Victoria, one in Queensland and one in Western Australia - have committed suicide after being interviewed by police.
Police expect to charge up to 500 people. In Queensland alone, 1904 charges have already been laid against 58 suspects.
UPDATE. The Courier-Mail has more:
By July, armed with a cluster map of addresses, the operation was divided into three phases. It was the third phase, which targeted southeast Queensland addresses, which confirmed detectives' fears that alleged predators had moved beyond images on the Internet and were making their own.
Chris Sheil: "It may help to remember that it's not really your money, at least as an individual. It's our money collectively, most of which has in fact been provided by governments, past as well as present. Indeed, if morality was the only policy consideration, most people should give a good deal of what they already have back to its rightful owner - the government on behalf of society as a whole."
Mr. Sheil teaches stuff at a big university.
Michael Moore reports the latest excitement on his Slacker Uprising Tour:
About 80 republicans showed up to picket the event. I was so happy to see them. Every minute they spend protesting me is another minute I've kept them away from getting out the Republican vote. They should have been making phone calls or going door to door.
And every minute thousands of Democrats spend listening to Moore is another minute he’s kept them away from getting out the Democrat vote. Excellent.
Are you watching the debate? If you eat enough psychotropic drugs -- at least a kilo or so -- you can almost pretend that John Kerry is winning!
"That's not a grand coalition." -- Kerry's line on Australia, the US, and Great Britain (he managed to forget Poland, although Bush had reminded him of Poland's participation only seconds earlier). Not a grand coalition? Way to suck, Senator.
UPDATE. A martini-fuelled Stephen Green is covering this minutely. Why the hell does Kerry keep going on about global alliances and passing global tests? It just feeds directly into a Bush response about acting in America's best interests. Because, you know, he's the American president.
UPDATE II. Bush is beginning to pick apart some factual errors in Kerry's claims. Sometimes you get a hint of the temper Bush is noted for in private meetings, but which rarely surfaces publicly.
UPDATE III. We've just moved into the friendly phase of the debate: "Your daughters are great", "I respect the First Lady", "that bridge Teresa lives under is really cool", etc.
UPDATE IV. When Bush refers to Putin as "Vladimir", does it remind you of the scenes in Dr. Strangelove when Sellers, as the president, is talking to his pal Dmitri?
UPDATE V. Bush's closer was strong. Kerry recycled his convention speech.
UPDATE VI. "Nice lipstick, Senator!"
Greens holy man Bob Brown: "We are the people's party."
Greens polling: between 7 per cent and 10 per cent.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Nick Coleman puts us idiots in our place:
Here's what really makes bloggers mad: I know stuff.
Too bad all-knowing Coleman wasn’t able to help his Big Media colleagues identify a Microsoft Word document recently. Because -- and he’ll tell you -- Colemen knows a whole bunch about everything:
I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors.
Wow! Almost every county in Minnesota! That totally kills us blogger types, who never go anywhere or do anything. None of us know of these "tornadoes" or "World Series" you speak of. What are they? And, seeing as you're such an expert, who will win this year's World Series? Who will win the World Series in 2011?
Unlike the bloggies, I don't give money to politicians, I don't put campaign signs on my lawn, I don't attend political events as anything other than a reporter, I don't drink with pols and I have an ear trained to detect baloney.
Bloggers give money to politicians? That’s me disqualified. No signs on the lawn, either. That baloney-sensitive ear of yours is envied by us in the global non-baloney aural community.
Do bloggers have the credentials of real journalists? No.
Well, apart from those of us who do have those credentials, on account of being "real journalists". Which is the saddest life description I can currently think of.
Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.
Man. Imagine the contempt this guy has for people who write letters to his newspaper. They think they’re involved! Poor saps.
Bloggers don't know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square -- without editors, correction policies or community standards.
Dan Rather is a blogger?
We are not dealing with journalism, people. We are dealing with Internet chat rooms: sleazy and unreliable, with no accountability. Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter's notebook.
It would be interesting to discover which bloggers Coleman believes are fit to haul his notebook across all those Minnesotan counties.
(Via James Lileks)
UPDATE. New aircraft-related poll at left.
John Kerry is in one of those fighting moods again:
Edwards said Kerry is "in a fighting mood" and ready for the debates, which he said will help the Massachusetts senator win over voters who may have yet to see his strengths.
When angered or stressed, they often change color to brown or orange.
Sen. John Kerry says the most widely lampooned gaffe of his campaign — when he said he voted for a bill funding the war in Iraq before he voted against it — was "one of those inarticulate moments" that occurred when he was "dead tired."
But the statement was made during a Huntington, W.Va., rally in the middle of the day, not "late in the evening" as the Democratic presidential candidate claimed during an interview aired yesterday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
UPDATE. If John Kerry loses the election, he can always try for a job at the United Nations:
Thailand's foreign minister won the unanimous support of Southeast Asian nations in his campaign to be the next U.N. secretary-general.
Philippine U.N. Ambassador Lauro Baja, the only ASEAN member of the U.N. Security Council, said Asian foreign ministers formally endorsed the Thai candidate.
Baja was asked whether Surakiart speaks French, an unofficial requirement for the job because France insisted that the U.N. chief speak the language.
"He has 2 1/2 years to learn French if he does not speak" it, Baja said.
Japanese war veterans who trained as kamikaze pilots have a certain clarity on the issue of Islamic suicide bombers, and feel insulted by any comparision:
Naoto Amaki, Japan's former ambassador to Lebanon, recalled delivering a polite lecture to Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shiite Islamist militia Hezbollah, in 2001. Amaki said he told Nasrallah that Japan's experience was a lesson in the ultimate futility of violence.
Not so, replied the sheik.
"He told me: 'We learned how to do suicide missions from the kamikazes,' " Amaki recalled. "Nasrallah said the Shiites all commend the Japanese samurai spirit."
Amaki says the analogy is faulty. "We Japanese are not a religious people; we just obey instructions. But the Arab world is looking for support wherever they can get it, so they seek out every excuse to legitimize their actions."
And kamikaze survivors resent it.
The first rule of CBS: when you're in a hole, keep digging! Dig dig dig! Hit mantle? Dig harder! Dig through lithosphere! Dig through magma! Strike core! Continue dig! Dig until all credibility gone!
UPDATE. "Fake but true" now seems to be the required standard at CBS:
CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger: "Whether or not there’s any reality to there being a draft, is almost besides the point."
CBS producer Linda Karas: "The truth of the e-mails were absolutely irrelevant to the piece."
(INDC Journal link via InstaPundit)