To mark 1998's International Day of Families, Kofi Annan pointed out that "it is within the family that children learn the values that will guide them for the rest of their lives."
He sure got that right:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday he was "very disappointed and surprised" that his son had continued to receive payments until this February from a firm that had a contract with Iraq's oil-for-food program, the subject of numerous corruption investigations.
Annan told reporters that he had been working on the understanding that payments to his son, Kojo Annan, from the Swiss-based firm Cotecna Inspection S.A. stopped in 1998 "and I had not expected that the relationship continued."
Annan told reporters Monday he spoke to his son after learning that he had been paid through February, "but I really don't want to get into this."
Why not, Kofi? Saving it for a father-son appearance on Dr. Phil? Glenn Reynolds has more on our beloved family man:
Things have gotten bad enough that some are calling for Mr. Annan's resignation, amid talk of former Czech President Vaclav Havel as successor. ("Havel for Secretary General" bumper stickers are on the Web.) But however you assess Mr. Havel's chances of becoming secretary general, for Mr. Annan the comparison is devastating. Mr. Havel, after all, is a hero on behalf of freedom: A man who helped bring about the end of communist dominance in Eastern Europe, despite imprisonment and the threat of death -- a man who could write that "Evil must be confronted in its womb and, if it can't be done otherwise, then it has to be dealt with by the use of force." Mr. Annan, by contrast, is a trimmer and temporizer who has stood up for tyrants far more than he has stood up to them.
At this stage, the UN could be better run by Saddam himself. At least he knew what his kids were up to.
I'll be appearing this weekend at Straight Out of Brisbane, a "multi-arts festival of independent and emerging arts, culture and ideas." My role, obviously, will be to crush any independent ideas as they emerge. Crush them, and then salt the earth upon which these heresies were spoken.
Only kidding, organisers! I'll actually be speaking, along with a panel of other invitees, on the issue of John Howard's cultural legacy. That's on Saturday. I think I have to say something on Friday, too. More details here.
We had an abandoned quarry not far from where I grew up. When I was 14 or so, a bunch of us pooled our cash and bought an old dirt bike so that we might enjoy concussions and fractures in this perfect venue. None of our parents seemed to mind; in fact, some wondered if we weren't acting a little girly, what with our wearing advanced safety equipment like "helmets" and "shoes".
As Joanne Jacobs reports, times have changed:
Children learn to cope with the world through outdoor activities, writes a British educator. But adult fears are restricting children's ability to explore the world. And they're not any safer as a result.
Please discuss, parents: are you more safety-inclined than were your parents? And what insane risks did you take as kids that would now induce rage and fear if repeated by your children?
UPDATE. Disabled veteran Mike Weatherford tells his harrowing (and charming) childhood story:
I've fallen out of trees, cut my foot on broken glass, carved my own fingers while whittling, and even once jammed a piece of barbed wire completely through my bare foot. I've been stung by scorpions and just about every kind of bee and wasp that lives in Louisiana. I stepped into a yellow jacket nest when I was sixteen, and was stung so many times my parents were afraid I'd go into shock ...
Through all the wildness, the craziness, the escape from adult supervision, and 'learning the hard way', I lived, and lived well, as a child.
In a bid to improve 'comunication' (her word) at Webdiary, Margo Kingston is banning the use of political labels in reader submissions:
I'll trial substituting 'BLANK' for "left, leftys, left wing" and "right, right wingers" and the like.
Great idea! It's easier to spell, for one thing. In comments following this announcement, Margo admits something shocking:
Re marking and cateorising editing, I confess I'm a technical illiterate.
Why limit this self-'cateorising' to matters technological? Her other remarks in the same thread contain the usual Margoisms: 'attrated', 'publiushing', 'facism', 'disenfranschised', 'eveyone', 'Mariiyn', and 'suport'.
As Margo explains: "I'm having enough trouble with the other words a tthe moment!"
UPDATE. While we're on the subject of disturbed women with spelling issues ...
In a letter to The Australian, Ivan Wallace notes that Mark Latham is an uptalker:
In the article "Losing it", it is stated that Labor insiders consider Latham to be an "intuitive leader with a swaggering unshakeable confidence in his own judgment".
But if you listen not to what it says, but to how it is said, the use of a rising inflection directly contradicts the unshakeable confidence assessment.
What comes across is the impression of a man lacking confidence and one who continually seeks reassurance.
I've been out of town, hence the limited posts. And earlier I drove 600 kilometres in massive heat in a car with no air-con, hence the brain damage. Normal services will resume shortly.
The Daily Telegraph is running a campaign against the menace of young drivers in "200km/h supercars". It isn’t a very rigourous campaign, as may be judged by the fact that the Telegraph thinks a supercar is something that can reach a mere 200km/h (125mph).
(Nor is it original. The Telegraph should check its files for the June 25th, 1972, edition of the Sydney Sun Herald, which bore the headline: 160 MPH SUPERCARS SOON. What would happen, the paper worried, if young drivers were to buy these proposed machines?)
Nissan, maker of the 200km/h supercar in which three people died this week, does not believe it has any responsibility to help solve the P-plate problem.
Nissan Australia declined to get involved when asked if they thought P-platers (note: in Australia, newly-licensed drivers are required to display P - for “provisional” - plates) should be restricted from driving high-powered vehicles.
"It's not our choice," a spokesman said. "It's a strange question to be asking us".
It is a strange question, given that Nissan Australia doesn’t import the model in question. The Skyline is a popular choice for private importers. Meanwhile, nobody seems inclined to blame the driver of this "200kmh supercar":
The father of a pregnant 15-year-old girl killed in a fatal car smash yesterday said he did not blame the P-plate driver.
Tony Schyf, whose daughter Natasha died in a Nissan Skyline GT-R which was travelling at an estimated 200km/h at Wyoming on the Central Coast on Monday, said driver education was essential.
But Mr Schyf said he was "not prepared to blame" the young driver for his daughter's death.
"I can't be angry or place blame," Mr Schyf said.
"It all comes down to inexperience behind the wheel. We have to educate our kids more about road safety from a very early age."
Please. Do you think the driver was unaware that it is not a good idea to drive at 200km/h in a 50km/h zone with a pregnant teenage passenger? Speaking of whom, her 33-year-old boyfriend was also on board. Why wasn’t he demanding that his youthful friend slow the hell down? For that matter, why didn’t Mr Schyf educate his kids about not getting pregnant at 15 to men more than twice their age?
A certain issue of personal responsibility appears to have been dodged here, at several levels. Yesterday The Telegraph ran a puzzling piece by Luke McIlveen (not available online) defending Natasha Schyf’s pregnancy: "We should be praising Natasha Schyf for committing to one of life’s biggest challenges at such a young age."
Excuse me? She was knocked up by a 33-year-old. Congratulations! And, being only 15, she made a predictably mature choice of partner:
Mr Homer had a passion for cars and for modifying his own Ford XF 351 V8 with accessories such as a bonnet scoop, his friend Stephen Deas said.
He recently spray-painted it fire engine red and asked Mr Deas to help him purchase a boot wing. Its customised interior had a canvas mural of Motley Crue stitched on to the inside of car's roof.
In its zeal to pursue the NSW government, The Telegraph has missed the bigger story. We've got here a 20-year-old so irresponsible he drives a car containing a pregnant girl at four times the speed limit; a 33-year-old so irresponsible he has sex with 15-year-olds; and parents so irresponsible they allow it. And the Telegraph is worried about ... driver ed.
Well, not all the time. A few pages on from today's issue-dodging story, we find this item:
A Melbourne man travelled to Queensland where he had sex with a 15-year-old girl he had met in an internet chat room, a court heard yesterday.
Brisbane District Court heard when David Padgham, 37, began communicating with the girl, who lived at Logan, south of Brisbane, he clearly knew she was only 15.
Padgham pleaded guilty to using the internet to procure a girl under 16 for sex, carnal knowledge of a girl under 16 and two counts of indecent dealing. The offences occurred between December 1 last year and February 2 this year.
The Telegraph’s headline? "Jailed for preying on girl". I blame the government.
UPDATE. Miranda Devine points out that novice driver crashes have decreased: "In 1992 the crash rate of novice drivers - those on L and P plates - was 28 crashes per 100,000 licences, RTA figures show. In 2002, the number had dropped to 19, a 30 per cent reduction."
Reader Chris Joyce celebrates Thanksgiving the sorry way:
"My family is truly sorry that we live in a great country, that we have an abundance of food, and that George Bush beat John Kerry like a rented mule. So, in solidarity with all those sorry individuals, here are five sympathetic head tilts and two very weak power fists."
The New York Times reports:
A journalistic aphorism holds that bad news comes in threes. Now that Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather have announced their departures, how long does Peter Jennings have?
This is bad news? The Economist isn't upset:
Mr Rather's reputation has not recovered from a “60 Minutes” documentary which tried to raise questions about George Bush junior's service in the Texas National Guard. Mr Rather claimed to have documents proving that Mr Bush had violated a direct order to take a physical examination, and also that his superiors had been put under pressure to “sugarcoat” his evaluation. But within 14 hours internet sleuths had shown that the documents were forgeries. Mr Rather stood by his story for 12 excruciating days, while his supporters arrogantly contrasted the network's rigorous fact-checking with “a guy sitting in his living room in his pyjamas writing”. But the pyjama guy turned out to be right.
Read the whole thing. Right or wrong, Antonia Zerbisias thinks bloggers should quit attacking mainstream media before we all die:
Just like trigger happy celebrants in the Middle East, who have yet to figure out that what goes up must come down, they can't see that, by firing up at us, they will also kill themselves.
Firing up at a ground-dwelling hack like Zerbisias? Yeah. Right.
Latham's post-election efforts to placate business have been so clumsy that he has deeply alienated unions. And it has emerged from careful analysis of public and private polling that Latham seems to have a politically terminal problem with women, who simply find him scary.
That’s from former Beazley chief of staff Michael Costello, who believes Latham is doomed. Peter Hartcher is inclined to agree:
Howard sees that younger Australians comprehend this prosperity not as a condition that's impossibly remote, but something that's available to them. It's not something to get resentful about, it's something to get busy with.
Latham, however, looks out on an entirely different Australia. He made an exceptionally revealing remark during the election campaign. And he made it immediately after announcing Labor's Robin Hood schools policy, the one that took $520 million from the richest 67 schools and redistributed it to the poorer. "My ideology is about insiders and outsiders, about the dispersal of power and opportunity," Latham explained, also in an interview with the Herald.
As part of this ideology he is quite prepared to take funds from the insiders and give to the outsiders: "I've never been afraid to take on redistribution of money."
It is his motivating force, he tells us: "This is the passion that got me into public life. It is the passion that keeps me there."
Well, guess what? It's time for Mark Latham to find another passion.
Perhaps he could take up a career in conflict resolution:
Mr Latham is believed to have confronted his Senate deputy leader, Stephen Conroy, during the Victorian ALP conference last weekend, accusing him of leaking about Labor to the media.
Although the two men faced off in private, word has quickly spread. Sources said each gave the other a "frank character assessment".
Details emerged as Mr Latham's leadership came under more fire yesterday. Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon accused him of acting like a "bully", Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said federal Labor had a "lot to learn" from state Labor governments, and federal frontbencher Kerry O'Brien said Mr Latham had to prove himself to his Labor MP colleagues.
"It's been a year since Bush's fake turkey run," notes Moderate Independent, still getting it wrong. AFP celebrates Fake Turkey Day's first anniversary by recycling the turkey myth, in much the same way as the old New York Sun used to run its "Yes, Virginia" editorial every Christmas:
It was one year ago that Bush slipped away from the ranch -- and the army of journalists deployed to nearby Waco -- to make a surprise, lightning visit to lift the spirits of US troops serving in Iraq.
Once in Baghdad, Bush helped serve troops and posed for cameras carrying a fake turkey, before returning immediately to Texas.
It’s interesting to revisit immediate media reaction to Turkeygate; Bush was said to be "haunted" and "embarrassed" over "credibility questions" arising from the alleged plastic poultry incident. One year on, the only haunted and embarrassed people facing credibility questions are these guys:
Mark Lawson, the BBC, Antonia Zerbisias, Alan Ramsey, Phillip Adams, Matt Taibbi, Mark Morford, A.L. Kennedy, Heather Wokusch, Ian McNamara, Gregg Easterbrook, Saul Landau, W. David Jenkins, David Lindorff, Babes against Bush, Naomi Klein, Howard Dean, Daniel Patrick Welch, Yamin Sakaria, Collins Ezeanyim, Marc Perkel, David Sirota, William Saletan, Jon Bon Jovi, Buddy Grizzard, Patricia Earnest, Kevin Dawson, Mark Engler, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, John Kerry, Colleen Redman, Linwood Barclay, Mark Lawson (again), Antonio Yegles, Nick Grimm, Mick Youther, Michael Organ, Suzanne Malveaux, Ben Tripp, Neil Mitchell, Richard L. Berke, Michael Moore, Evelyn Pringle>, and Charles P. Pierce>.
To all US readers: have a wonderful Fake Turkey Day, and take it easy with the polystyrene sauce and fibreglass beer.
(AFP link via Franco Aleman)
• Check 'em out: Charlie's Angels in Iraq!
• Scott Ott warns dinosaur media of the blogosphere's withering firepower.
• Australians racist? Andrew Bolt disagrees.
• Let's hope the most influential philosopher alive never actually becomes seriously influential.
• A fun way to enjoy Thanksgiving: visit a safe drinking room. We also call them "pubs".
• Reader Dan Tyson forwards conclusive evidence: Political conservatism stifles open sex talk.
James Lileks is wrong. The greatest rock song of all time is "Steve Pollard"*, written and recorded by a friend of mine in 1988. It’s about another friend; here’s the chorus:
I dreamed I was Steve Pollard
And everybody mocked me
I couldn't get out
of the cupboard where they locked me
It was like my head was stuck in a hornets' hive
When I was Steve Pollard
the worst person alive
The song never achieved commercial release. Your world is the poorer for this.
*Name changed to protect the worst person alive.
It's all happening in Holland:
A Muslim preacher has provoked a storm of protest by admitting on Dutch television he wants parliamentarian Geert Wilders to die.
Asked by presenter Andries Kneuvel if he wanted Wilders to die within the next two years, Van de Ven said yes, preferrably due to illness. Wilders has received death threats for criticising Islam.
Van de Ven said he hoped Wilders was not murdered by a Muslim and that murder in general was wrong.
He did admit however that he felt "some joy" on hearing of the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh on 2 November.
Giving Hollywood the benefit of the doubt, I did one more search to find industry response to the van Gogh murder. I found the blog of novelist and screenwriter Roger L. Simon, who confirmed that I wasn't the only one who'd been wondering: "It's stunning how silent the American artistic community, Hollywood in particular, has been about the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam," he wrote. "Do they even know what happened to one of their own? Have they even heard of him? Do they care someone was killed for making a film which protested violent abuse against women? Are they even interested?"
Judi McLeod on Helen Caldicott, whom she dubs Michael Moore in a skirt:
Just as the re-election of Bush is sending outraged, confused and depressed Democrats for stress therapy treatment, the children of another generation were traumatized when school boards made watching Caldicott’s 1982 film If You Love This Planet mandatory viewing.
Parents in Toronto complained that their elementary school children who had watched the film woke up screaming with nightmares and could not be convinced that the end of the world was not imminent.
As reckless in comments on the environment as she is in the nuclear arms department, Caldicott told environmentalist Theodore Roszak: "Every time you turn on an electric light, you are making another brainless baby".
Zombie babies! Cool. Here’s what happens if you use other electrical appliances:
Toaster: liverless baby with no feet
Washing machine: totally normal kid ... except for the x-ray vision!
Radio: more arms than a Fallujah mosque
DVD player: conjoined twins named Pedro and Orson
Rupert Murdoch celebrates immigrants:
Start with Eddie Chin, an ethnic Chinese Marine who was born a week after his family fled Burma. You've all seen Cpl. Chin. Because when Baghdad fell, he was the Marine we all watched shimmy up the statue of Saddam Hussein to attach the cable that would pull it down.
Or Lance Cpl. Ahmad Ibrahim. His family came to the U.S. from Syria when the first Gulf War broke out. Now Cpl. Ibrahim hopes to be deployed to Iraq--also as a Marine--to put his Arabic language skills in the service of Corps and Country.
Or what about Cpl. José Gutierrez, who was raised in Guatemala and came to America as a boy--illegally! Cpl. Gutierrez was one of the first Marines killed in action in Iraq. As his family told reporters, this young immigrant enlisted with the Marine Corps because he wanted to "give back" to America.
So here we have it--Asian Marines, Arab Marines, Latino Marines--all united in the mission of protecting the rest of us ... So the next time you hear people whinging about what a "drain" on America our immigrants are, it might be worth asking if they consider these Marines a drain.
Nice piece. This Murdoch fellow may have a bright future in the newspaper game.
An unusual circumstance matter-of-factly mentioned in this Daily Telegraph account of a quadruple fatality:
The P-plate driver who killed himself and two friends in a horrific accident was joy-riding in the high-powered, high-speed car without permission, his father said yesterday.
Emile Dousset, 20, had sneaked the Nissan Skyline GT-R from the family garage after he had been told by his father Graeme it was "off limits".
Shortly after, he died instantly along with passengers Carl Homer, 33, and Mr Homer's 15-year-old, seven-month pregnant girlfriend Natasha Schyf, when they crashed into a power pole at speeds estimated at up to 200km/h.
Curious, given recent coverage of underage-sex cases involving children of similar ages, how blandly this is reported. The dead girl’s parents seemed happy with the relationship:
Miss Schyf's parents, Margaret and Tony, were trying their best to deal with the loss of their daughter and future grandson.
Mrs Schyf had been due to take her daughter to birthing classes today to prepare for the big day, which was less than two months away.
Miss Schyf and Mr Homer, who met two years ago through friends, had just moved into a new home to start a family with their first child -- a boy -- and were already thinking of names.
"Carl and Natasha were perfect for each other, inseparable. He was a lovely guy, everything for my daughter, and we were all looking forward to the baby," Mr Schyf said.
Not that it's an issue now, sadly, but it would interesting to know if Carl Homer had ever been investigated or charged over this.
(via Evil Pundit)
Zimbabwe's government has turned down applications by British media organisations to cover England's cricket tour, a team spokesman said today.
England's media liaison officer Andrew Walpole said he had been told by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) that representatives of BBC television and radio; the Times, the Sun, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror newspapers; and the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the News of the World newspapers had been denied accreditation.
ZCU spokesman Lovemore Banda -- cool name; shame about the tyrannical dictatorship -- refused to reveal why those groups were banned, or why these were accepted:
The Guardian, Independent, Daily Express, Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, agencies Reuters and the Press Association, GQ magazine, ITN and two photographers from the Getty Images agency are understood to have been granted accreditation, and should be allowed to enter the country this evening when the England squad arrive.
Presumably The Guardian, the Independent, etc are perceived as friendlier to Mugabe's regime. They should refuse to cover the tour. Solidarity, comrades!
England's cricket players cancelled their flight to Harare Wednesday after several British journalists were refused entry to Zimbabwe to cover the team's controversial tour.
The players emerged from a meeting in the transit lounge at Johannesburg's international airport and said they would not be boarding their scheduled flight.
Daily Kos -- one of the dupes suckered by early exit polls on election day -- is among dozens of leftoid sites rejoicing in a Gawker claim that the Bush twins were refused service at a New York City restaurant:
Freemans tuesday night the 16th of nov. the bush twins along with 2 massive secret service men tried to have dinner they were told by the maitre 'd that they were full and would be for the next 4 years upon hearing the entire restaurant cheered and did a round of shots it was amazing!!!
and then everybody ran outside and turned over their car OMG you should have been there it was sooooo cool!!!!! Gawker says it totally confirmed the claim, although the restaurant has issued a denial. Who to believe? Consider that the "entire restaurant" allegedly heard the comment, despite the place being -- as Gawker reported in an earlier review -- "so loud we can barely hear ourselves talk ... "
Most likely we're witnessing another manifestation of Bush Derangement Syndrome. As Charles Krauthammer wrote in August: "What if Bush is reelected? If they lose to him again, Democrats will need more than just consolation. They'll need therapy."
(via Stephen Dawson)
Senior Labor figures say Mark Latham could be dumped within weeks after the ALP leader yesterday said his state premiers were partly to blame for the devastating federal election loss.
The Bulletin magazine today quoted an unnamed Labor frontbencher and prominent factional figure who said key Latham backers had lost faith in their leader.
"I am now, sadly, resigned that a leadership ballot is inevitable, if not before Christmas then early next year," the frontbencher said.
During a difficult two-hour election post-mortem in Canberra yesterday, the Opposition Leader also cited his failure to engage with business and problems within his office as prime reasons for the poll debacle.
Despite the sometimes-frank assessment of the loss, senior figures were not impressed.
"Latham's f..king mad; he's in complete denial," one said.
One small problem: Labor has no viable replacement. Incidentally, isn't it a little unfair that the likes of Seccombe and Ramsey aren't subject to similar pressure?
UPDATE. Latham rejects scuttlebutt:
Mark Latham today dismissed reports he could be dumped as Labor leader within weeks.
Mr Latham said reports quoting unnamed Labor MPs who predicted a leadership ballot by early next year were scuttlebutt.
"I've got the support of the party," Mr Latham told reporters in Adelaide.
Dan Rather -- shown here shoving a pencil into his head -- is quitting the news anchor game:
"I have decided to leave the CBS Evening News on March 9, 2005," Rather said. "I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News. Along the way, I've had the honor of working with some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the world, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to continue doing so in the years ahead."
"I have always said that I'd know when the time was right to step away from the anchor chair. This past summer, CBS and I began to discuss this matter in earnest -- and we decided that the close of the election cycle would be an appropriate time," Rather said. "I have always been and remain a 'hard news' investigative reporter at heart. I now look forward to pouring my heart into that kind of reporting full-time."
The Bush administration is trembling. Here’s CNN’s take:
On a September 8 segment of "60 Minutes II," Rather reported allegations that during the Vietnam era, Bush received special consideration to get into the Texas Air National Guard and subsequently did not fulfill his service obligations, including ignoring an order to get a required physical exam.
Among the evidence cited were four memos critical of the future president, purportedly written by Bush's then-squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.
But immediately after the broadcast, the documents came under fire in media reports,with some document experts saying that they were produced with a computer word-processing program, not by a 1970s-era typewriter.
Writes contributor Alan R. M. Jones: "Uh, er, actually, no. They immediately came under fire in the blogosphere."
(via reader Jennifer Faneuff)
UPDATE II. Via AP:
(via reader Lilly)
John Podhoretz on Bush madness:
President Bush proved in his first term that he had a talent for provoking fits of madness in the brains of liberals who disagree with him. It appears his second four years will be no different. For a week now, you see, authoritative Washington pundit-types have been making a very serious and deeply reasoned argument about the president's new Cabinet choices for which there is only one possible word:
Speaking of which, enjoy the latest bonkerswackocrazymeshugah tactics of MoveOn.org, sworn to remain idiotic well into the next presidential campaign.
Iraqis seem to be embracing the strange concept of western-style democracy:
At least 122 political organizations have registered to run in Iraq's Jan. 30 elections, thrilling organizers but setting the stage for tough bargaining over the next eight days.
"We have so many parties, so many people wanting to participate," said Farid Ayar, a spokesman for the IEC. "It is wonderful. I am happy."
Let’s see if The Guardian decides to interfere.
Darwin lawyer and blogger Ken Parish is upset about blog awards and such:
If Tim Blair is the answer, the question isn't worth asking. I had a certain amount of time for him until not that long ago, but no longer. So any blog awards that Blair "usually wins" are fucked by definition.
And although I've indulged momentarily in that sort of nonsense myself (blog bile awards before I got bored by the concept), what I really think is that awards are contrary to the whole spirit of blogging. Blogging is close to the ultimate in individualist self-indulgence. If you don't like what I write, I might be sad for a moment but mostly I don't give a shit. And I certainly don't give a shit how you rate me compared with others. And if you think Tim Blair's blog is ok, then your taste is in your arse along with your brains. Not deeply civil, but straight from the heart.
Angry, angry Ken. I have no idea what his problem is.
A professor at a military-related institution sends this note to The Corner:
My little brother is an enlisted Marine (a sniper with 1-3) in Fallujah. This weekend he called for the first time since the battle began. He informed us that a large number of the residents of Fallujah, before fleeing the battle, left blankets and bedding for the Marines and Soldiers along with notes thanking the Americans for liberating their city from the terrorists, as well as invitations to the Marines and Soldiers to sleep in their houses. I've yet to see a report in the media of this. Imagine that.
Someone inform The Age’s art propaganda unit. Hey, remember that Abu Ghraib deal? Photographs and video of prisoners being mistreated? It was mentioned once or twice in the newspapers, I think. Well, something similar has taken place in the Congo -- similar, but possibly much worse:
The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by UN civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior UN official said today.
The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.
Ms Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the allegations came to light since the spring.
UPDATE. Take another look at the Ron Tandberg cartoon linked above, which depicts grinning Americans (and an Australian) raining death upon Fallujah from the safety of the "high moral ground". Try to reconcile Tandberg’s view with this report from the New York Times:
Eight days after the Americans entered the city on foot, a pair of marines wound their way up the darkened innards of a minaret, shot through with holes by an American tank.
As the marines inched upward, a burst of gunfire rang down, fired by an insurgent hiding in the top of the tower. The bullets hit the first marine in the face, his blood spattering the marine behind him. The marine in the rear tumbled backward down the stairwell, while Lance Cpl. William Miller, age 22, lay in silence halfway up, mortally wounded.
"Miller!" the marines called from below. "Miller!"
With that, the marines' near mystical commandment against leaving a comrade behind seized the group. One after another, the young marines dashed into the minaret, into darkness and into gunfire, and wound their way up the stairs.
After four attempts, Corporal Miller's lifeless body emerged from the tower, his comrades choking and covered with dust. With more insurgents closing in, the marines ran through volleys of machine-gun fire back to their base.
Mark Latham's polling as preferred Prime Minister has declined to 27%, his lowest since becoming Labor leader. Phillip Adams is calling for him to be booted, which probably indicates that he'll survive:
A better strategy would be to replace him within the twelvemonth, giving his successor a couple of years to build a reputation and a policy base. But although Labor is allegedly soul searching -- to see if it still has a soul -- Latham continues to deflect criticism from himself. Few in caucus have had the courage to confront him.
In other poll news, Michael Moore is finally receiving the recognition he deserves:
Director Michael Moore, whose anti-Iraq war film "Fahrenheit 9/11" sparked a firestorm of controversy before becoming a post-election footnote, topped an annual list on Monday of Hollywood's "coldest" celebrities.
The outspoken documentarian, who seemed to be everywhere during the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, urging defeat of President Bush, ranks No. 1 on this year's "Frigid 50" roster of lackluster stars published by online movie magazine FilmThreat.com.
The Web site, known for an anti-establishment take on the entertainment industry, said its list names the stars it found to be the "the polar opposite of the hottest celebrities: these are the least powerful, least-inspiring, least-intriguing people in Hollywood."
"The Frigid 50 ice pack have left audiences cold with their overbearing personalities, poor career choices and chronic inability to stop making fools of themselves," the site said.
Lots of innocents seemingly slaughtered by French troops on the Ivory Coast, although reporting of these events is so patchy we have no real idea of context, etc. Hit the link for video. Meanwhile, check this comment -- apparently Fallujah-related -- from The Age cartoonist Michael Leunig:
Leunig, of course, is the guy who called for all of us to pray for Osama bin Laden during Christmas 2001, on account of him being "our relative".
(Via reader Richard Gillies)
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, 2001: "We will decide who comes here and the circumstances in which they come."
Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk, this week: "If you want to live in the Netherlands, you have to adhere to our rules."
• Arthur Chrenkoff presents another fine batch of good news from Iraq.
• No Thappy John, which aspires (!) to be Australia's MoveOn.org, has posted only eight items since the Australian election. Two of those are poems.
• The Klan is apparently active in non-Jesusland: "Awakened by a loud bang and the ring of their doorbell, an interracial couple peered out the front window of their Long Island home at 3 a.m. yesterday and saw a cross burning on the front lawn."
• Scott Campbell notes some conspirational thoughts coursing through the mind of The Manchurian Candidate director Jonathan Demme: "Halliburton was, you know, we researched Halliburton, we researched Bechtel, we researched the Carlyle Group. They're out there, this appalling idea that there are companies that profit — not just profit but profit enormously — through war." Can't wait until Demme figures out how much Michael Moore has earned.
• The Wogblogger, still on the road, encounters her double-word town of the day: Boonaa Boonaa!
It took only hours for alert bloggers to gather evidence that CBS's 60 Minutes Bush memos were bogus. But a subsequent investigation is taking considerably longer, as Glenn Reynolds writes:
It has now been two months since CBS President Andrew Heyward promised that the investigation would be over and public in "weeks, not months."
CBS lie like dogs. Or Space Unicorns.
Former Labor Party official Neville Hilton was today sentenced to four years jail for child prostitution offences.
Hilton was found guilty in September of 11 counts of obtaining benefit from child prostitution and eight counts of permitting premises to be used for child prostitution.
The 66-year-old, from the ALP Albion Park branch in NSW, quit the party last year following allegations two girls, aged 13 and 14, worked at his Southern Belle escort agency at Port Kembla.
Hey, at least he was doing something about youth unemployment.
German publisher Matthias Döpfner takes a stand against the Europeasers:
Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo and we Europeans debated and debated until the Americans came in and did our work for us. Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians. Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore 300,000 victims of Saddam’s torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, to issue bad grades to George Bush. A particularly grotesque form of appeasement is reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere by suggesting that we should really have a Muslim holiday in Germany.
Please read the entire piece, translated by Hartmut Lau.
Maureen Dowd on her New York Times cellmates:
They're fragile and frazzled, depressed and self-doubting.
Well, she's actually talking about Democrats, but same thing.
David Aaronovitch considers the madness of Naomi Klein, John Pilger, and Robert Fisk:
Readers of the Independent last week were offered a front page article by that great figure of Middle Eastern reporting, Robert Fisk. In it he asked the question, not once but several times, who killed Margaret Hassan? Of course, the most obvious answer is that one of the Iraqi insurgent groups did it. Obvious and, apparently, probably wrong.
'If anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents,' said Fisk, 'what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan's murder? What more ruthless way could there be of demonstrating to the world that America and Alawi's tinpot army was fighting "evil" in Fallujah?' True, Fisk then added the deliberately unconvincing coda that 'of course we cannot say that Alawi was involved in Margaret Hassan's death, even though he would have hated her political views', before reminding readers of the (unsubstantiated) rumours that Alawi had personally executed a number of Iraqi prisoners in a Baghdad jail.
Again, consider. The Iraqi government (or its shadowy agents) kidnapped Margaret Hassan, and got her to appeal to the beleaguered Tony Blair for the Black Watch not to be redeployed north of Basra so that US troops could be freed up to take Fallujah. How much sense does that make?
One of Fisk's bits of circumstantial evidence for his thesis was the difference between the way that Hassan was murdered and the release of two Italian aid workers freed 'when their captors recognised their innocence'. Fisk's 'innocence' in this instance meaning having nothing to do with voting, reconstruction, the police, the economy or any of the other various activities that those murdered by insurgents have been 'guilty' of.
An AFP caption:
A British hooligan in the streets of Belgium. The typical Briton is polite, witty and phlegmatic, but lacks a certain style and has a dental hygiene issue while having an occasional drinking problem.
(Via reader Richard Compton)
Margo Kingston writes:
Dave Green is a disillusioned small Liberal ...
Meanwhile, Canada's disillusioned small Liberals are terrified by the prospect of a new digital television network. Here's a fair and balanced report from Canada's Globe and Mail:
Fox News, the Canada-baiting house organ of the U.S. right, will come to Canadian digital television next year, the federal broadcast regulator is expected to rule today.
Although broadcasting insiders expect the CRTC to give the go-ahead to the 24-hour-a-day service, often called "the unofficial official voice of the Bush administration," it was unclear yesterday what conditions, if any, might be applied.
The association asked the CRTC in April for permission to carry Fox News to Canadians with digital cable, satellite or wireless television service. Fox, launched in 1996 by Roger Ailes, a former adviser to several Republican presidents, is a subsidiary of News Corp. Ltd.
News Corp. is controlled by the right-wing Australian media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch.
The CRTC unleashed a barrage of criticism in July after it agreed to the conditional digital broadcast of another controversial foreign-news channel, Qatar-based, Arabic-language Al-Jazeera.
Way to go, Victoria:
Victoria's contentious land tax is forcing businesses to close, with the loss of jobs, higher rents for caravan park residents and millions of investment dollars leaving the state.
The latest victim is one of Melbourne's oldest hardware and timber businesses, which was forced to sell up this week to pay a $120,000 tax bill.
At the Wantirna Park caravan park, one of the biggest providers of low-cost accommodation in the eastern suburbs, pensioners and retirees have been forced to find another $500 a year to pay rent.
Peter Heath, the owner operator, said the rent rises had been unavoidable because his land tax had ballooned from $20,000 in 2000 to a staggering $175,000 this year.
The evil of this tax is as The Age's Russell Skelton explains: "Land tax has become inflated because it is levelled on the potential value of land, rather than its existing use." In other words, many people are being taxed for something they aren’t doing.
"What a glaring double standard," writes Jane Novak. "The Arab world is enraged over the shooting of a wounded, unarmed Iraqi insurgent by a uniformed US soldier. There is no similar outrage for Margaret Hassan":
Is it because she was an Anglo, a woman, or because she was killed by a Muslim? The video of the soldier shooting is proof, we are told, of America's evil. And the kidnapping, torture and murder of Mrs. Hassan is then proof of what -- that America is evil!
Muslims wouldn't do that unless evil America forced their hand. Bombing children, defiling mosques, kidnapping civilians, executing poor workers and cleaning women point blank: these are not discussed, broadcast with frequency, or the source of much anger.
Videos where a masked man shakes a bloody head while the curtains flutter do not evoke such fury. Why? The identity of the victim or the perpetrator?
All tactics of the insurgents are excused. Hide among civilians. Justified. Wear civilian clothes. Justified. Shoot from the holy mosque. Justified. Feign death to draw soldiers in (the way one marine died the day before the incident). Justified. Wave a white flag as a ploy. Justified. Booby trap dead bodies. Justified. That's just Fallujah.
Moving outward -- Deliberately killing Iraqi civilians daily. Justified. Bombing churches. Justified. Bombing cafes. Justified. Using schools and mosques as arsenals. Justified. Attacking the police. Just fine. The rules of war don't apply to the insurgents, only the Americans.
And if one horrible act occurs at the hands of one American soldier, the world howls.
Hmmm. This won’t help matters any:
The French public broadcasting regulator authorized an Arabic-language television station close to the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group to transmit programs within the European Union.
• James Taranto: "Arafat is in stable condition after dying in a Paris hospital."
• Iowahawk: "The retail industry received another shake-up today as Sears Holding Corp. (NYSE: S), the parent company behind the recent merger of Sears and Kmart, announced the acquisition of embattled European cheesemaker France (NASDAQ: FROG)."
• John Masterson: "As a left-winger, I have one fundamental principle that guides me in this life: people who disagree with me are inherently inferior, in every possible way."
• James Lileks: "Yay Condi Rice. I want her to go to Saudi Arabia, and I want her first words upon getting off the plane to be 'I'll drive.'"
Glenn McGrath is closing in on a Test 50.
UPDATE. He's done it: 52 not out off 63 balls, five fours, one six. First Test 50 in 102 matches. Partnership with Jason Gillespie (43 not out) worth 90 runs.
UPDATE II. Michael Clarke: "To see Glenn McGrath make his first Test 50, that's close to the best thing I've ever seen in cricket."
UPDATE III. Alex Brown: "The Australian players stood as one when McGrath passed 40 for the first time in his 102-Test career."
UPDATE IV. Chloe Saltau: "Earlier, their mouths had dropped open with disbelief when McGrath leaned down on one knee and cleanly whacked the best left-arm spinner in the world, Daniel Vettori, for six over mid-wicket."
UPDATE V. Michael Crutcher: "He was greeted like a double-century maker by disbelieving teammates who formed a guard of honour while the Kiwis walked off stone-faced and wondering what had happened to the Test. Incredibly, the moment wasn't seen in McGrath's home town of Sydney as Channel Nine left the cricket to go to its news coverage."
UPDATE VI. Century partnership; Gillespie reaches his first Test 50; McGrath moves on to 61, and the third-highest score by a number 11.
UPDATE VII. It's all over -- McGrath caught on 64.
UPDATE VIII. Australia's greatest all-rounder takes a wicket in his first over. Can nothing stop this Narromine juggernaut?
UPDATE IX. McGrath has removed the second NZ opener, Mathew Sinclair, in his second over.
UPDATE X. Stephen Fleming, caught Langer, bowled McGrath: 11. McGrath has 3 for 8 off 4.2 overs.
William F. Buckley on the academic divide:
When Robert Bork was a professor at the Yale Law School he had a telephone call from the young editor of the Yale Daily News, who was in a tizzy. The paper was going to press with its findings on the faculty vote in the upcoming election, President Lyndon Johnson vs. Senator Barry Goldwater. The editor explained that the paper was kind of embarrassed: As things stood, the next day’s edition would reveal that only a single member of the Yale faculty (of approximately 1,000) was going to vote for Barry Goldwater on Tuesday.
These days, such places have very little influence on US elections.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Alan Ramsey asks:
Do you really think Tony Windsor, after 13 years of a political career in a country town sustained only by local trust and confidence in his honesty and integrity and not by party political clout or organisation, would throw it away on a wild story with no basis whatever? Think about it.
Okay, Alan; consider it we shall. Do you really think Alan Ramsey, after 1,468 years as a political columnist in an industry sustained only by local trust and confidence in his honesty and integrity and not by political bias or ignorance, would throw it away on a wild story with no basis whatever? Think about it.
Elsewhere: Currency Lad salutes Mike Carlton’s comic genius, Tim Dunlop meets Americans who are too scared to visit the South, Bernie Slattery unburdens himself of certain thoughts involving Kerry Nettle, and Adrian the cabbie apologises for not attending a Sydney blogger meet-up.
Ted Rall has been dumped by WashingtonPost.com:
Rall said he thinks the site dropped his work because of a Nov. 4 cartoon he did showing a drooling, mentally handicapped student taking over a classroom. "The idea was to draw an analogy to the electorate — in essence, the idiots are now running the country," he told E&P.
Sweet-natured little goomy, isn't he? Robbie Williams shares Rall’s opinion:
"I can't believe he got back in again," said the musician at a press conference on a promotional visit to Mexico.
"I'm scared as an individual, I'm scared for the world. The guy is obviously an idiot," added the star.
If Bush is an idiot, how might Robbie describe the Boston Globe's Charles P. Pierce, who repeats dumb, long-debunked lies?
I was heartened to learn on Wednesday last that George W. Bush, the newly elected president of the United States of America, will be paying his first visit to Canada later this month. Now, you may find it odd that a president who could fly halfway around the world to pose for a photo op with a fake turkey has managed to be in office for four years without ever making the short trip to Ottawa ...
The headline on Pierce's item: "Moron, Eh?"
Rice has a continuing record of questionable public statements ...
On May 16, 2002 she said "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would use an airplane as a missile". But as we now know, Bush was briefed about exactly that possibility on August 6, 2001.
No, he wasn't. Here's the only mention of aircraft in that August 6 briefing:
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a XXXXXX service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.
To gain the release of al-Rahman ... not for use as a missile. Broinowski's research is pathetic.
• An open letter to Europe, from Herbert E. Meyer: "Hi. Are you nuts?"
• Yasser Arafat -- man of pens!
• Linda Rondstadt explains the history of Hitlers.
• Happy World Toilet Day, everybody!
• Sing along with Bush and Blair.
• PooterGeek is right; the scrapbook site assembled by John Kerry's ex is one of the most terrifying things ever seen on the Web.
• This piece by former Navy SEAL Matthew Heidt is remarkable for several reasons, not least because it features the first recorded use of "moveon.org" as a verb.
• Until my all-meat hamburger (beef wrapped in bacon served on ham) is ready for public consumption, I guess this will have to do.
• The Wogblogger, currently charging through Queensland, reports another culinary milestone: "I ate a Crab Sandwich in Moore which was cold and delicious. All fresh crabby goodness caught between two slabs of thin white plastic bread, buttered, natch. When you see a crab sandwich advertised from the side of the road in the blistering heat in a place far away from the sea, well, you just gotta stop….and get outta the car."
Who is the Road Runner, anyway? An idiot bird blessed with speed, he personifies not ingenuity but luck. You can’t tell me that he somehow figured out how to avoid triggering the Coyote’s various traps. If anything, he didn’t set them off because he was light and / or fast, and I concede that the Coyote should have taken those things into consideration. But. But. We’re talking about a dog here, a canine capable of constructing explosive devices one day, pantomiming elaborate deceptions the next, to say nothing of operating – however inexpertly – complex machinery. If he’d been up against something stupid and slow, he would have been fat and happy.
I once spliced together hours of Road Runner cartoons into a single, seemingly endless horror tape, and played it to stoned students at a party. They enjoyed it, at first, but by the end of the first hour several were visibly traumatised; as the second hour concluded, some appeared to be crying. "Turn it off!" one of them begged.
Stupid Acme haters.
Robert Fisk, completely out of his mind, hints that Iyad Allawi was responsible for Margaret Hassan's murder:
There was one mysterious video that floated to the surface this year - a group promising to seize al-Zarqawi, claiming he was anti-Iraqi, politely referring to the occupation armies as "the coalition forces".
This was quickly nicknamed the "Alawi tape" - after the American- appointed ex-CIA agent and ex-Baathist who holds the title of "Interim Prime Minister" in Iraq, the same Alawi who fatuously claimed there had been no civilian deaths in Fallujah.
So if anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan's murder?
What more ruthless way could there be of demonstrating to the world that America and Alawi's tinpot army was fighting "evil" in Fallujah and the other Iraqi cities that are now controlled by Washington's enemies.
No, of course we cannot say that Alawi was involved in Margaret Hassan's death, even though he would have hated her political views.
Just because the "Interim Prime Minister" is widely believed in Baghdad to have executed seven prisoners in the Amariya Police Station just before taking office - he denies this - should not suggest he would ever have a hand in so terrible a deed.
But the question remains: Who killed Margaret Hassan?
I don't know, Robert; was it you? Note also that Fisk has boosted the number of Allawi's Amariya victims from six to seven. Someone alert the Lancet!
It's interesting that Fisk thinks we need proof of the insurgents' "evil" ... after we've already witnessed several hostage decapitations. In other crazy UK news, George Galloway's successful Respect party (4.79% of the Euro parliament vote) is to be challenged by another left-wing force: the Redgrave-driven Peace and Progress party.
On October 15, John Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill sent a begging e-mail to supporters:
On Wednesday, I told you that party strategists said they need our online supporters to contribute at least $4 million and that I told them you could make it $5 million. In light of new polling data, it is even more urgent for us to hit this goal. We are now poised to compete in more places than anyone thought possible.
We are about to cross that $5 million goal. Your contribution could be the one to put us over the top.
I wonder how many Democrats fell for that. Turns out Kerry had millions to spare:
Democratic Party leaders want to know why John Kerry ended his presidential run with more than $15 million in the bank.
They say the money could have helped spell victory in the race for president -- or made a difference in other tight races across the country.
One high-ranking member of the Democratic National Committee says word of Kerry's nest egg has stirred anger, and could hurt his chances of putting an ally into the party leadership.
Three former Kerry campaign aides said they were surprised and disappointed to learn that he left so much money in the bank.
UPDATE: "John Kerry, who has $45 million left from his record-breaking Democratic campaign, hinted on Tuesday that he may try again for the presidency."
Australia's Senate -- to be reclaimed by civilised forces next July -- has sent its condolences to Yasser:
The Senate backed a condolence motion for the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in a Paris hospital last week.
Australian Greens senator Kerry Nettle moved the resolution, which officially noted the leader's death and extended condolences to the Palestinian people.
Senator Nettle said she hoped the motion would go some way to atoning for the comments made by Prime Minister John Howard last week.
"Many Palestinians were offended by the prime minister's uncharitable attack on the recently deceased Palestinian leader," Senator Nettle said.
Mustn’t offend our Palestinian friends.
Popular and combative lefty blogger Chris Sheil has up and quit. He'll likely return mid-2005 after finishing his latest book. In the interim, you’re always welcome in the comments here, Chris.
Jacques Chirac has his doubts about Saddam Hussein’s removal:
French President Jacques Chirac says he is "not at all sure" the world has become safer with the removal from power of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"To a certain extent Saddam Hussein's departure was a positive thing, " Mr Chirac says when asked if the world is safer now, as US President George W Bush has repeatedly stated.
"But it also provoked reactions, such as the mobilisation in a number of countries, of men and women of Islam, which has made the world more dangerous," Mr Chirac says.
Europe is much less ambivalent about Condoleezza Rice:
The appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state is bad news for the already fragile American-European relationship, European experts and commentators said Tuesday.
In Spain, the newspaper El Pais said, "The White House has lost its moderate face," while the Kommersant newspaper in Russia went further: "Now the hawks will attack us."
"Among the most pessimistic conjectures made when George W. Bush gained re-election was that with a mandate, he'd keep Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and nominate Rice to replace Powell," the French newspaper Le Monde said. "The second of those has now come true. ... It is bad news for European leaders."
Maybe Bush should have replaced Powell with Saddam. In Australia, Greens leader Bob Brown detects a lack of compassion:
US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice did not have the compassion needed to be secretary of state, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said today.
"Condaleeza Rice is not a warm human being," Senator Brown told reporters.
"She's George W. Bush's echo."
Go talk to a tree, Senator. Reader Richard Compton writes to point out that the caption in this BBC piece originally read: "Her master's voice: Condoleezza Rice." It was presumably replaced after someone considered the obvious racist implications; others are slower to react.
The Spectator's office parties must be lively events:
Johnson's sacking as a Conservative Party frontbencher for allegedly lying to his party leader, Michael Howard, about the affair, followed earlier revelations about The Spectator's (married) publisher, Kimberly Fortier, having a three-year affair with the Home Secretary David Blunkett, and its (married) associate editor, Rod Liddle, having an affair with a junior Spectator staffer, Alicia Munckton.
The once venerable magazine is now widely referred to as "The Sextator".
Turns out that America isn't Jesusland after all:
This presidential election has been described by many as one in which morality mattered most to voters. But that perception may be driven at least partially by how pollsters asked voters about their priority issues.
Whether voters named "moral values" their key issue partly depended on whether that subject was included in a list of choices provided by pollsters, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday.
When "moral values" was included in poll questions, it was named more often than any other issue. But when voters were just asked to name the issue most important in their vote for president — without being given a list of answers — moral values trailed the war in Iraq and the economy, according to the Pew survey.
"The advantage of the open-ended question is it tells you what's at the top of mind for voters — what they're thinking," said Cliff Zukin, a veteran pollster and professor of public policy at Rutgers University. "Much too much has been made of the moral values answer."
Still, the US remains bitterly divided. Iowahawk aims to bring Americans together:
In the spirit of national reconciliation, I would like to offer my services as a navigator across these troubled waters. Having grown up on a confinement swine farm followed by 20 years incarceration in various left wing nut-hatches, I believe I have a unique perspective that will help America to build a daredevil rocket-cycle of understanding, shoot a rainbow arc of diversity over the Snake River Canyon of hate, and crash into the far cliffside of unity.
Are you confused and frightened by the folks on the other side? Get to know them! Here are a few of my favorite places where we can start the healing journey to American togetherness.
The 2004/5 Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (968 pages) contains a short piece by me on Mark Waugh's retirement. An extract:
Mark Waugh announced his Test arrival with a perfectly-timed straight drive against England on the first day of the Fourth Test in January, 1991. On any ground other than the elongated Adelaide Oval, Waugh’s first shot would have earned four runs; as it was, he ran three.
In a way, that very first drive - the ball dispatched with a speed impossible to reconcile with Waugh’s liquid, slow-motion swing - summarises the right-hander's Test career; falling, as it did, slightly short of numeric expectations. But Waugh belongs to that category of cricketers impossible (or inappropriate) to analyse by numbers alone ...
Even as a limited-overs opener, Waugh worked within borders more artistic than barbaric. He subverted the one-day game, presenting precise minimalism to an audience primed for furious medieval assault. A straight six during a one-day match against the West Indies in 1994/5 smashed a commentary box window, but Waugh’s apparent effort in achieving this would not have disturbed a Royal funeral. He may as well have been quietly leafing through a Bible.
This appears alongside an item on Michael Slater written by ... Bob Ellis! Scary. Even scarier, for different reasons: only a couple of pages away is Gideon Haigh's farewell to Jo Angel. Gideon is possibly the world’s finest cricket writer; I've envied him for decades. One day I will have his fingers broken.
Gideon's latest book is brilliant, of course. Every serious cricket follower should buy it.
James Morrow on progressive concerns:
November 2 was not just the day that George W. Bush, bete noire of the chattering classes, handily won another four years in the White House. It was also the day that Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh was slaughtered on an Amsterdam footpath – for no other reason than that he made a film shining a light on the treatment of women in Islam.
Yet a quick survey of headlines in the 12 days following both events reveals that for many so-called "progressives" the US's free exercise of democracy was far more disturbing than the fact that, in a country known for its extreme tolerance, a film-maker could be knifed to death for publicly criticising an organised religion.
Progressives may be unmoved, but the Dutch are taking action:
At this point, the Dutch seem more inclined to move from Live and Let Live to its opposite, and are calling for laws that make the Patriot Act look like Kumbayah. Strict laws against government surveillance over religious establishments, a centuries-old inheritance from the United Provinces' battle against Spanish occupation, appear set to go by the boards. On Friday, the Dutch parliament requested a new law that would forbid mosques to employ imams who had been educated elsewhere. One member of parliament was quoted in a wire report as saying: "It's better to have 10 possibly innocent people temporarily in jail than one with a bomb on the street."
Australian politicians are forever organising "fact-finding" tours to various fun locations. I wonder if any are planning to visit Holland.
The photograph, taken by a Los Angeles Times photographer and transmitted by The Associated Press, has been printed in more than 100 newspapers and shown on network television.
Miller, 20, is shown with smudged camouflage paint and a bloody scratch on his nose, a cigarette drooping from the side of his mouth. He was exhausted and grimy after more than 12 hours of nonstop fighting.
Miller, a graduate of Shelby Valley High School, is serving with Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment in the Iraqi city of Falluja, scene of fierce battles over the past week.
Nice line from Miller’s mother, of Robinson Creek in eastern Kentucky: "Until my son went into the Marines, I never really realized what that flag stood for -- but now I do". You know, if those sorryistas really wanted to help, they could contribute to this:
The brainchild of Port Arthur detective and police sniper Brian Sain, Adopt a Sniper has raised thousands of dollars in cash and gear to supplement the kit of sharp shooters in up to 75 US combat platoons.
I’m in for $50. And speaking of payback ...
(Via contributors J. F. Beck and Alan R. M. Jones, and reader Aaron H.)
UPDATE. Readers of the Akron Beacon Journal are offended: "Why the front-page photo of a soldier with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth? … One would hope that the editors had more sense than to show willfully negligent behavior on the part of a service person on the front page."
Nuclear hysteric Helen Caldicott says we all goin' to die:
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Helen Caldicott fears US President George Bush's re-election will lead to Armageddon and she isn't sure if mankind would survive another four years.
"This is the most serious election that has ever occurred in the history of the human race, without a scrag of doubt," she told smh.com.
"I don't know if we'll survive the next four years ... I don't think the Americans have, on the whole, the faintest idea - and I have to say also I don't think most Australians do either. But it's not just the threat from nuclear war. It's the threat of what's happening to the environment, the global warming which is occurring rapidly now, to ozone depletion, to species extinction, to deforestation - it's the whole thing."
Put your money where your mouth is, Helen. I bet you $1,000,000,000 mankind will still exist in 2008.
Speaking from her son Will's Boston home, the Australian paediatrician, who runs the Nuclear Policy Research Institute in Washington, has just spent a frantic two-and-a-half months criss-crossing America to deliver her anti-nuclear and anti-Bush message. She discovered the country was more divided than at any time since she first stepped onto American soil in 1966.
"I don't think I've ever felt so personally, politically devastated in my life and that includes when [former president Ronald] Reagan won a second term of office - which was pretty devastating for me as I was so heavily involved in the anti-nuclear movement in those days.
If we're all still alive four years from now, I'll donate at least half of my winnings to Caldicott's continued anti-Republican campaigning. It seems to be beneficial, somehow.
"They [the Bush administration] have been able to con the American people with their extremely brilliant propaganda and brainwashing, with the help of the media ... they consistently lie. On the whole the American people don't really understand the dynamics of the right at all. They don't know that Bush et al want to go into Iran next and that they want to dominate the world militarily and that they want to put weapons in space.
"I don't think they [the American public] understand. It is a mandate for Bush to do absolutely anything he wants. I know people don't like me using this word but they're fascists."
Caldicott's interview was then terminated by the usual Bush murder brigades.
Firstly, we have the term Conservative. We know the conservative wishes to conserve. Taking it to its pure extreme, to its archetype - and this might be hard to accept for some people - the conservative is not capable of creating anything new. In pure form, it can only ever conserve what already exists.
Like the Berlin Wall. Read the whole thing, for the thrill of lines like these: "Conservatives dislike the system of status that their world lives by. They tend to believe that someone else's status is wrongfully attained, or, if rightfully attained, that it is their birth right to attain it"; and: "Conservatives do not like the creative need. To the conservative, the creative need is a threat to their status quo."
The brave Iraqi resistance (in this case, a big-mouthed Saddamite loser) vows to fight America all the way, while fleeing any current fighting:
One Sunni Muslim cleric, an aide to Abdullah Janabi, the wanted head of the "mujahideen council" that ran Falluja until the US assault, said the rebellion would intensify.
"Maybe the Americans will come into Falluja," said the cleric, who asked not to be named. "Maybe they will take it. But it is not the end. There are 18 provinces in Iraq and the resistance will continue to grow tougher ... America has taken its last breath."
The cleric, aged in his 40s spoke to the Guardian for two hours in a private house in Baghdad. He spent six years fighting in Saddam Hussein's army in both the Iran-Iraq war and the first Gulf war and largely supported the former dictator. In April last year he fought alongside Iraqi troops at Baghdad airport and has helped run the rebellion.
"I felt like every human being feels when someone comes into their country: sad and terrified. Now we have to fight to change our sadness to happiness," he said. He fled to Baghdad as the assault began last week.
With that sort of spirit, no wonder Saddam's men held on to Baghdad airport for so long.
(Via contributor J. F. Beck)
Greens boss Bob Brown -- leader of the, ahem, "Feisty Four" -- warns of dark times ahead:
The Federal Government had some nasty surprises among its plans for its next term, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said today.
Trees banned? Whaling permitted? Illegal immigrants forced to live in the enchanted Tolkien Forest? I can hardly wait.
"This is the most conservative government in living memory and it has some pretty nasty things in its saddle bag that it hasn't shown the people yet," Senator Brown said.
"We will see truncation of civil liberties in Australia, we're going to see privatisation of more than Telstra on the agenda."
Privatisation of Telstra (and the ABC) would represent an expansion of civil liberties. No longer will our wages fund that which they shouldn’t.
Senator Brown warned the Government against introducing legislation not linked to its election promises, despite the Coalition being able to control the Senate from July 1 next year.
Beware, government! You've been warned by Bob Brown!
"The Greens are going to be the feisty four in this Parliament and the Government's going to know we're there."
By scent, most likely. After July, when Brown's splinter gang is shoved to the margins, his Feisty Four may be known as the "Mute and Injured Turtles".
MoveOn.org really should:
A liberal tax-exempt organization that raised millions of dollars to try to defeat President Bush has begun a petition and fund-raising campaign questioning the legitimacy of his Nov. 2 victory.
MoveOn.org, which says it has 2.3 million members, is asking for signatures and cash to challenge through an "Investigate the Vote" campaign whether voters "were wrongly prevented from voting" and whether legitimate votes were "miscounted or not counted at all."
MoveOn.org should be investigated over its deceptive name.
• The Wog is on the road! She's headed for Kingaroy, possibly to stage a coup. Hit the link for details of her encounter with a Studebaker, a miniature Ayers Rock (possibly a relic from the doomed theme park run by Mike and Mal Leyland) and a brontosaurus.
• Ken Parish fumes about "the increasingly repellant Tim Blair and his gang of mongrel dogs masquerading as human beings". Man, I knew those grandmother posts were risky, but I never expected this.
• Find the secret message hidden within a Sorry Picture.
• Congratulations to Mohammed, Omar, and Ali:
Today we celebrate the 1st anniversary of this blog. We sat together recalling the early moments in the life of Iraq the model, reliving the moments of happiness and grief and the huge magnitude of events we’ve been through in the past twelve months where tears mixed with smiles, anger and dreams....it’s been a long year.
• You will want to read this sensational piece from Iowahawk.
Web logs have emerged into more than a mere cacophony of newfound but uninformed voices. Not only do blogs plug holes in emerging history, they may even change it by reaching the parts that freedom does not. In Iran, several anti-government newspapers have been closed down, but the Iranian blogosphere is booming, with 6,000 separate blogs. Farsi is now the fourth most widely used language on web logs.
• Bloggers will converge on the Clock Hotel in Sydney this Friday for a Grogblogging Festival. I’d intended to go, but can’t due to another commitment; if I do make it, it’ll be late, after all the violence.
An Aussie working in Baghdad recently sent this e-mail to friends back home. Reader Marc K. passes it on:
Just to break up the monotony (is there such a thing in a war zone?) today I ventured outside of the Workshop compound to do an emergency house call at the Australian Embassy. One of the armoured Toyota Landcruisers that they use for transporting staff had developed a gremlin in the immobiliser system rendering the vehicle unusable. Towing the vehicle was not possible as our tow-truck driver was recovering after being shot in leg doing a pickup job a couple of days ago and was not expected to be back to work (in the words of his son) till the end of the week.
This meant transiting out of the relative safety of the Green Zone and into the Red. Red and Green denotes at what state of readiness soldiers have their weapons set - green being unloaded and the magazines removed with red meaning loaded, safety catch on and plenty more spares close at hand. Unfortunately as a measure of how badly the situation has deteriorated, the miniscule little green zones on the map of Iraq are lost amongst the huge swathes of red that dominates the country.
So in the same way as mechanics world wide, preparing for a call-out job, I grabbed a set of jumper leads, a selection of spare parts, my tool kit, flak jacket, Kevlar helmet, passport, GPS, credit cards and a 1000 Dollars in cash. My transport consisted of a convoy of Australian LAV's (Light Armoured Vehicle) for the short trip to the Embassy. Travel time is less than 5 minutes, but it's a tense 5 minutes - the close proximity of the Embassy to the Green Zone means that there are only a couple of routes that these convoys can take, and as such are relatively predictable, a fact the bad guys exploited only 2 weeks ago when a VBIED (Vehicle borne Improvised Explosive Device) was detonated as an Australian convoy was passing by. We drove by the site where the attack took place, and it was a rather sobering experience as the wreckage and damage to the surrounding buildings is still plainly visible. Thankfully the one Aussie soldier that was badly injured in the face is expected to make a full recovery and is now back home. The locals were not so lucky, 3 Iraqi civilians were killed outright and several more were seriously injured.
Construction is underway on a brand new Embassy building within the Green Zone and is scheduled to be finished in the next few months, but until then they have to make do with the current location. Despite the incidents of the last month around the Embassy, it's still one of the safer areas of Baghdad and is another suburb that has been turned into a mini fortified city by the local residents and the Australian Soldiers. Locals man the outer ring of checkpoints and are the first line of defence against intruders. Back home residents band together to form action groups to complain about the pesky dog down the road, or an awful exterior paintjob on a house, but as a measure of how serious the situation is here, the locals manning the checkpoints will open fire on any strange vehicle that passes the same place more than twice.
The local residents really like having the Australians around, not just because of the security they provide, but because they appreciate the professional and courteous nature of the troops who patrol the area. Many of the houses on the street that the embassy is located have intricately trimmed hedges shaped like chickens, and I finally got around to asking why that is the case - only to be told that they are actually kangaroos.
We need pictures! Meanwhile, on the subject of war and Australians, Arthur Chrenkoff presents his latest edition of good news from Afghanistan.
Iraqi blogger Hammorabi recently received this e-mail from an Australian reader:
It is idiots like you that really make me sick. Do you often get told by the Americans to bend over and get ready for Bush to have his way with you.
What makes me really angry is that I live in Australia, yet I understand fully why the Iraqi people are fighting this illegal occupation, whilst dogs such as yourself will do anything to appease your masters. Do you not feel any sympathy for the 100,000+ Iraqis who have died from American bombs?
Oh, oh I get it now. I have just figured out why you are such a coward and why you post these traitorous blogs of yours. You know that you have no chance in hell of surviving if the Americans are not there to protect you cowardly ass, so you try in vain to do your part and try to influence others to think the way that the Americans want them to, in the hope that if you are able to convince some, then your life will be less in danger.
The note continues in this charming tone. Hammorabi writes: "Such people are enjoying the freedom in these countries yet they hide inside themselves hate, terrors and racism." Some of them don’t bother hiding, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports:
Something odd was happening on Sydney Harbour in the days leading up to New Year's Eve last year. A group of men known to police and ASIO counter-terrorism intelligence experts had found a sudden interest in pleasure cruising.
The men had acquired a boat and were seen making several trips around the harbour, showing particular interest, sources say, in an oil terminal. One was Saleh Jamal, a convert to militant Islam, who three months later would jump bail in Sydney on shooting charges and flee to Lebanon. There he has been jailed on suspicion of terrorist offences.
(Via reader Joe Nagy)
W. F. Deedes on British anti-Americanism:
Americans over here must not take too seriously the abuse directed at them since George W Bush was voted back into office. Part of it is attributable to the Iraq war, which is unquestionably divisive. Most of it springs from that school of liberal thought that has fought hard to rid us of Victorian values and is dismayed to find them flourishing in America.
Jealousy also comes into it, as it did when the Americans arrived in this country to help us reoccupy Europe. "Over-paid, over-sexed and over here" was the jibe we ungratefully threw back at them. Eisenhower's trial was not so much getting us back into Europe as stopping the British and Americans from quarrelling.
Montgomery served us well and I admired him, but his behaviour towards America's generals was unforgivably rude. A risible character in Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited is played by an American army lieutenant in London who is always busy socially but performs no military duties. "Have you seen their food packs?" my company sergeant-major used to exclaim crossly. They were fatter than our own, their bacon was juicier and, much to the indignation of my CSM (who smoked like a chimney), their packs included cigarettes.
"Yet all is forgiven," I thought in Normandy last May, when I saw for the first time America's vast military cemetery near the beach at Omaha. So it should be.
(Via reader Mike Daley)
Austrian Prime President John Hunt is rightfully condemned by this clever and informed individual:
Doors open and close throughout our lives and for me, today a door closed. I am....or at least I will be, technically, unemployed from Monday. I'll still be paid for the next seven weeks, due to a very congenial parting arrangement, but for me, the door of employment with Homeloans Ltd is now closed, and I am ever so grateful. It seems that the individual who was my immediate superior has a severe personality problem in that he fears competition from other well-equipped, well-experienced lenders, such as myself. He wants to be numero ono, considered 100% correct in every judgement and never found to be wanting in any avenue of lending experience. I'm afraid, as a lender, one can never be completely 'full bottle' on every aspect of prudential credit decision-making. In addition, to being able to adequately manage people, and in truth being classed as having 'adequate' management abilities doesn't make the grade when one is dealing in the black art of people skills, one needs to be much more well equipped than the individual in question is. In fact, I'd classify him as handicapped. Even adequate managers don't hold one-on-one sessions in a small office with doors wide open for all the world to hear. Nor do they lie straight-faced about accusations they've made minutes previous when faced with irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
I'm genuinely sorry to be leaving because I have this nagging feeling I'm letting some people down. Specifically the sales people and their supports. We had a good relationship, they trusted me, respected my experience and opinions and I theirs. I'll miss them. I'll especially miss the repartie and comraderie, for although we were a small group, apart from the one individual in a cornerstone position, we were a tight group. I'll stay in touch though. There are things I believe we can do together from a business perspective.
They loved him, and they'll miss him. Hopefully Niall will soon meet his ex-staffers for a Christmas reunion.
UPDATE. Goomba Goom has more on Centrelink Cook.
UPDATE II. If you've been banned from the Cookster's place, Google cache provides a mystical portal through which you may continue to gaze at this brilliant man.
Robert Manne hails The Lancet's Iraqi death count:
In late October, the results of a sophisticated American study of post-invasion deaths were published by the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. For this study interviewers were sent to 33 randomly selected neighbourhoods across Iraq. Their questions concerned household deaths in the 15 months before, and the 18 months after, the invasion of Iraq.
One of the randomly selected towns was Fallujah. In the 30 houses where interviews took place more than 50 violent post-invasion deaths were reported to have occurred, mainly as a result of US air strikes. If Fallujah were included in the calculations, the post-invasion death toll was 2.5 times higher than in the pre-invasion period. If it were excluded, the toll was 1.5 times higher.
In the final calculation Fallujah was excluded. The study estimated that, even so, the most likely number of excess deaths caused by the US invasion was 98,000. Of these, some 60,000 were estimated to have been caused by post-invasion violence. Because the sample was small, the margin for error was acknowledged to be large. The figure of excess post-invasion deaths might be considerably lower than 98,000. Equally, it might be considerably higher.
The right-of-centre Economist magazine has praised the study unreservedly. The study has been unpersuasively dismissed, however, by the pro-war party on obviously political grounds.
Manne is never "obviously political". Or obviously intelligent.
The New York Times reports from Fallujah:
During the gun battle around the mosque, an Iraqi in civilian clothes who had been seriously wounded in the face appeared on the street waving a white flag. "Don't shoot, don't shoot!" he pleaded in Arabic. "I have a family with me. There are women in the car."
There were no obvious signs of an ambush, but two of the Iraqi soldiers said, "Just shoot him." But for whatever reason, the Americans held off ...
Comments Alan R.M. Jones: "For 'whatever reason'? How about because American soldiers don't usually make a habit of shooting unarmed people holding white flags, even if there is a risk of an ambush? The NYT takes this as an unusual event."
"[Is] Team America basically right-wing?" asks Andrew Sullivan. "That's what some on the left think. If right-wing means dreary, joyless puritanism, then no. If it means backing self-reliance, celebrating individual freedom and abhorring Hollywood leftism, then sure."
US troops in Fallujah might support that right-wing theory:
The soldiers shared laughs during the more surreal moments, such as when a psychological-operations truck rolled through the city blaring the theme song to the movie "Team America: World Police."
Surreal? It's perfect.
Tory MP Boris Johnson was sacked from his party's front bench last night over lurid claims about his love life.
His fate was sealed by the mother of his alleged mistress, Petronella Wyatt, who said her daughter had become pregnant by him and had an abortion last month.
Johnson, who is married with four children, had categorically dismissed the allegations only last week as an 'inverted pyramid of piffle'- and, crucially, he had assured Tory leader Michael Howard they were untrue.
Last night Howard said his colourful arts spokesman and party vice-chairman had been 'relieved of his responsibilities'. He is said to have been unable to forgive Johnson for having apparently misled both newspapers to whom he had earlier denied the allegations and Howard, who publicly backed him.
Johnson is already in the "unforgiven" pile for adding Andrew Gilligan to the Spectator's staff. Rumours of a Boris-Wyatt affair aren't new; e-mails were circulating up to a year ago.
Everybody: currently you have probably noticed that commenting is impossible. I am trying to get the problem with the comments fixed. Please be patient; I am trying to get commenting restored as soon as possible.
Update: all is working again, as some of you have already found out.
Best wishes to Mark Steyn, who for personal and family reasons is currently on a break. Before his hopefully-brief absence, Mark had some thoughts on an ex-friend:
James Wolcott is very down in this election-night post - especially compared to the previous one, which cheerfully boots me in the crotch. I feel rather down myself. I've always liked James personally and I've often quoted him - he's very funny on the Rat Pack - and his wife, Laura Jacobs, is one of my favorite New Criterion colleagues and the best dance writer in America. The passage about me in his new book is savage but hilarious, and not without a grain of truth to it. So I am sad that, among the very minor casualties of 9/11, we are now permanently estranged. It's easy to say, as Judy Woodruff recommends, that I should reach across the aisle, but I fear James would not appreciate me stroking his hand right now.
I've lost a few friends since 9/11, but I don't think the election caused any additional estrangements. Ken Layne, for example, remains a pal, despite our divergent views on Bush and Iraq. Got any election-related friendship-over stories? Put 'em in comments.
On November 4, Jodi Wilgoren of The New York Times reported details of election night television coverage that are yet to get the attention they deserve. Buried deep in a story, far from the front page, here’s what Wilgoren wrote:
"The critical moment came at 12:41 a.m. Wednesday, when, shortly after Florida had been painted red for Mr. Bush, Fox News declared that Ohio — and, very likely, the presidency — was in Republican hands.
"Howard Wolfson, a strategist who joined the [Kerry] campaign this fall, burst into the room where the brain trust was huddled and told them ‘we have 30 seconds’ to stop the other networks from following suit.
"The campaign pollster, Mark Mellman, and the renowned organizer Michael Whouley quickly dialed ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC — and all but the last refrained from calling the race through the night. Then Mr. Wolfson banged out a simple, two-line statement from Mary Beth Cahill, expressing confidence that Mr. Kerry would win Ohio once the remaining ballots were counted.
"'All through the process, what was driving our decision making was the memory of how in 2000, by allowing Florida to go for Bush, a lot of momentum was blocked,' said one person who was in the room. 'Our whole goal was stop the train from moving that way.'"
They stopped the train dead, and with it any pretense that CBS, CNN and ABC were practicing independent, objective, knowledgeable analysis and journalism. It is perfectly acceptable for networks to listen to what a campaign has to say, but not to ignore empirical evidence to favor that campaign.
She's doing fine. Massive thanks to everybody for earlier messages of support. Yesterday's best conversation followed a comment from my aunt Jill, who for the past decade has lived with and cared for her mother:
Aunt: "Why do you suppose they decided to race horses? Why not race cows?"
Grandmother: "It would be fun if they raced cows over the jumps!"
A steeplecowchase! Bring it on. As a teenager, I’d watch all the major televised sports events with my grandparents; my grandmother has a particular fondness for tennis and boxing, although any big-time sports occasion attracts her searing attention.
Her prevailing attitude -- dignified amusement -- is remarkable considering the sadness my grandmother has endured. One child died at birth; her two eldest sons died in their early thirties; I was at her youngest son's bedside when he died in 1995. Only one of her children (my aunt, her only daughter) has survived to this point.
If you met my grandmother, you'd love her. I do.
Remember how Kofi Annan lashed out at anti-coalition reports during the liberation of Iraq? Well, he's doing it again, this time over accounts from the Ivory Coast:
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan blamed "hate media" on Thursday for fuelling the political violence in the troubled Ivory Coast and appealed to all parties for calm.
The African nation's airwaves have been rife with anti-French and other angry sentiment in the past few days amid an explosion of riots and bloodshed in the former French colony.
I'd link to some of Annan’s earlier condemnations of the "hate media's" anti-coalition reports ... except I can’t find them.
Bill Maher, plainly jealous of Bill O'Reilly's recent telephone-related publicity accomplishments, seeks to up the ante:
Loud-mouthed TV host Bill Maher has been slapped with a $9 million palimony suit by an ex-lover who says the comedian reneged on his promise to marry her, have his children and set her up for life in a Beverly Hills mansion.
Nancy "Coco" Johnsen, a former centerfold model and flight attendant, claims Maher, 48, instead subjected her to a torrent of physical and verbal abuse during a fiery 17-month love affair that ended in tears last May.
Maher denies everything.
How do you survive a German air attack on an RAF field during World War II? Jeff S. -- known here and elsewhere for his fine comments -- describes his father's method:
Dad was waiting at a British RAF field somewhere on Sicily for a flight back to North Africa. One of the Brits, in a gesture of friendship and goodwill amongst allies against the forces of evil, offered Dad a drink. This was not some local hooch looted from an abandoned home, but a luxury from home hoarded for some time, a bottle of genuine English Scotch.
Even though his stomach could barely accept food, Dad eagerly drank most of the Scotch. Needless to say, he did not stay conscious. He passed out on a cot and spent the night there.
However, the Germans were quite rude, and attacked the air field that night. But Dad never heard a thing. He was not wounded in any way. He slept the blissful sleep of the dead drunk through the whole thing.
Dad told me that when he woke up, he sat up, stretched, and looked around. He knew that there had been fighting because of the battle damage to the aircraft and airfield, and he realized how lucky he had been.
But before reaction set in, another British airman poked his head up out of a trench, and saw Dad scratching himself on the cot, in the open, and clearly just waking up. The Brit realized that Dad had rode out the attack in the open and unscathed. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "You bloody Yank ... !" Dad still laughed at the memory of the man's expression 30 years later.
Jeff’s father died in 1988. Read the entire, completely charming piece; the above extract is internally edited for length.
Muhammad Ali, call your lawyers:
Shortly after dawn, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian cabinet minister, had emerged from Mr Arafat's compound, the muqata, to announce the passing of the "greatest person in human history".
Hey, why limit it to human history? Arafat was also the Seabiscuit of fish. At least, thanks to a kindly group of self-exploders, we’ll always be able to remember him:
A section of the fractured al-Aqsa martyrs' brigades, responsible for numerous suicide bombings, announced it had changed its name to the Martyr Arafat brigades.
Israel had been attempting to martyr Arafat for years. A little credit where it’s due, people.
(Via reader Torsten K., of Vancouver, Canada)
UPDATE. John le Carré -- real name David Cornwell -- describes his erotically-charged meeting with Arafat:
"Mr David, why have you come here?" he demanded, unexpectedly using my Christian name while he studied me, eyes like a worried doctor.
"Mr Chairman, I have come to put my hand on the Palestinian heart."
He seized my hand and pressed it to his breast. "Mr David! It is here! It is here!"
UPDATE II. Via contributor J. F. Beck, here’s Melanie Phillips:
The degradation and corruption of British and western society, not to mention the United Nations, are now on sickening display for all with eyes to see from the disgusting response to the death of Arafat.
Disgusting responses from Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac, Nelson Mandela, and Jack Straw are thereafter listed.
UPDATE III. OmbudsGod has more revolting reaction.
UPDATE IV. The dignitaries attending Arafat's funeral weren’t treated very dignitarily:
Yasser Arafat's solemn funeral procession in Egypt ended with confusion for many on Friday as prime ministers, foreign ministers and other dignitaries were left stranded and searching for their cars in the street.
"It's a mess," said one of the Arab officials, milling around on the roadside after Arafat's coffin entered the Cairo military airbase to be flown to Ramallah.
"Yasser Arafat's life was like this, his death should be like this," added another senior Arab official, an allusion to what some saw as Arafat's preference for Byzantine administrative structures that confused even his closest aides.
UPDATE V. A headline in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Israel calls the shots even after death
Germany's left-wing media is wallowing in the "America says sorry” photo orgy, reports David Kaspar. He presents a couple of suggested German apologies. Meanwhile US Army Major John Tammes, stationed in Bagram, Afghanistan, has an apology of his own ... complete with a military-quality compassionate head-tilt:
John writes: "The map with all the tags on it denotes where schools have been built, wells dug, roads repaired, and other barbaric, crusader atrocities have occurred. The picture is of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance Leader assassinated on September 9th, 2001."
UPDATE. New Zealand is trawling for sorry immigrants:
Hello, America. Feeling down after a bad election result? Disgruntled the candidate you voted for wasn't elected? Why not move to New Zealand?
Visits to the New Zealand Immigration Service website topped 10,300 last Wednesday when George W. Bush was re-elected, says Cross Walk.
NZIS marketing director Terry Murphy - who is from Portland, Oregon - says New Zealand has "liberal attractions", including the debate over civil unions for same-sex couples, anti-globalisation, and our anti-war stance.
Paul Keating reminds me why I was a Labor voter throughout the '80s:
In a fiery defence of Labor's opening up of the economy in the 1980s and 1990s, Mr Keating crowed that ordinary Australians now had cheaper cars, higher wages, near-full employment, and easy access to home loans and the stock market.
"You can't believe that we still have critics for this policy," he said.
"I used to say to some of my colleagues in the current Opposition who wanted to go back to sort of centralised wage fixing 'why don't you tell people (they) have got a 20 per cent real increase in incomes?'.
"Oh yes, but that's not their perception (they said). Well it's handy to let them know. And it's not a bad reason for the policy."
Mr Keating scorned critics who have cast Labor of the 1980s and 1990s as "not really Labor governments" or "Labor fakers of some kind who passed the parcel on government and the markets".
"You can buy a reasonable quality small car for under $15,000 today," he said. "(Before tariff reduction) that would have been nearer to $30,000."
Materialism was under attack for hollowing out social values, however Mr Keating said: "One has to ask, will people have better values and be better put together if their car costs twice as much?
I flew to Melbourne yesterday to be with my grandmother, who has just left hospital after suffering a stroke. It hasn't dulled her any:
Me: "Did you hear that Yasser Arafat is dead?"
Grandmother: "Really? I wonder who'll get his tea-towel."
She's 93 years old. Maybe the alleged dignitaries who'll appear at Yasser’s funeral can hold an auction for that signature garment of his:
Yasser Arafat's body arrived in Egypt today as authorities prepared for a strictly controlled and brief military funeral where dignitaries from around the world would pay their respects.
One dignitary has indicated he won't be turning up:
Prime Minister John Howard has been criticised by the Palestinian representative in Australia for saying he will not be among the many heads of state at President Yasser Arafat's funeral.
Ali Kazak says it reflects badly on Australia.
Mr Kazak says the death of Mr Arafat is a terrible loss.
"It's such a sad time for us all, Yasser Arafat was such a kind leader," he said.
Nice to see his followers embracing Yasser’s philosophy of kindness:
The militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades urged militants to attack Israel to avenge the "Zionist assassination" of Yasser Arafat, who died hours earlier in a Paris hospital, said a statement received by AFP today.
"Zionist Israel and the government of (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon are responsible for the assassination of our leader by putting him under siege," the armed offshoot of Arafat's mainstream Fatah party said.
Announcing a state of high-alert across the Palestinian territories, it called on people to "hit out and strike the occupation everywhere. This crime will not go without punishment."
Did Yasser die because he was "put under siege" or because he was poisoned? Al-Aqsa and Hamas can’t keep their story straight:
"I hold Israel responsible for the crime of killing Abu Ammar," said Hamas’ top political leader, Khaled Mashaal. He offered no evidence.
"Yes, death is an act of God and a man the age of brother Abu Ammar may die a natural death, but all the circumstances which we have seen in the past two weeks and medical reports indicate that brother Abu Ammar had been poisoned," Mashaal said.
These balanced and rational people clearly deserve statehood.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
Are you experiencing extreme anger, despair, hopelessness, powerlessness, a failure to function behaviorally, a sense of disillusionment? Do you find yourself staring listlessly into space? Are you emotionally paralyzed, shocked and devastated?
You may be suffering Post-Election Selection Trauma, my friend. There ain’t no cure. A group of PEST victims are meeting today in Sydney; please assist their recovery by laughing, singing, and otherwise expressing joy.
A sorry update from the SMH:
A website that allows Americans to apologise to the rest of the world for the election victory of President George W Bush was overwhelmed today after a report about it on CNN.
The crash of the site reflected the deep disappointment of many Bush opponents about the election results, and their feeling that the victory of the right wing president could have disastrous effects around the globe on issues ranging from war and peace to the environment.
The website, sorryeverybody.com, features pictures of troubled US citizens holding up signs of apology. It was the brainchild of neuroscience student James Zetlen who kicked off the popular new pastime with the message "Sorry, world, we tried."
It just dawned on me, I mean, the reason why the blogosphere has become so successful and influential and etc. Of course there’s the interactive side of it, there’s the immediate criticism of all the crap in the papers and on TV, there are many things that were badly needed. But still, there’s something deeper, even more essential than all the rest: unlike the MSM with all their fatuous, pompous pseudo-serious solemnity, the blogosphere is funny. You start, for instance, to read a thread at LGF and you simply cannot stop. It’s fun for free and often much better than the one you pay for. It’s unbelievable how funny not only the bloggers, but the average commenters (usually beginning by their very nicknames) can be. Politics used to be tragic or simply boring. Now, thanks to thousands and thousands of new players, it has become actually funny.
Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke enjoys the company of friends during a recent race meeting at Flemington ...
Via a reader who met Mr. Hawke on Derby Day.
UPDATE. Doubt is expressed in comments as to the age of these images; they may be a couple of years old. Never seen them before myself, however, and my source is certain they were taken during this year's spring racing carnival.
UPDATE II. Seems these pics are most likely two (or possibly more) years old, and were taken in Queensland rather than Victoria. In a traditional punishment, my source has had both hands removed.
Theo van Gogh's murder has transformed the Dutch:
Now, with the manifestation of a violent form of intolerance in their midst, the iron has entered their souls. After decades of welcoming immigration and preaching multiculturalism, they now propose to expel failed asylum-seekers and to assimilate those who settle, rather than permit de facto religious segregation. If neo-conservatives are liberals who have been mugged by reality, the Dutch are fast becoming a nation of neo-conservatives.
While the Arab-European League accused the Dutch immigration minister of giving a "Hitler speech" at a rally in protest at van Gogh's murder, the Dutch know who the real Hitlers are. Even the most liberal society is illiberal when it is a question of survival. The Dutch see those who dream of Europe under a revived caliphate as a threat to their way of life. The prospect of Islamist imams imposing sharia law on Dutch cities amounts, they feel, to a new Nazi occupation.
Van Gogh's murder has proved him right about the hardline Islamists. Their ideology is inimical to all that the Dutch hold dear. Last night, as van Gogh's cremation was seen on television, the tension was palpable. Holland is now the crucible of Europe. Not even the most tolerant people on earth can tolerate the Islamists.
With you all the way, Dutchies.
The battle for Fallujah continues, with significant progress reported:
After nearly 16 hours of fighting, the United States marines thought they had finally won their battle for the green-domed mosque, which insurgents had been using as a command center.
Then a car drove up behind a group of the marines on Al Thurthar Street. Seven men bristling with Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and black ammunition belts spilled onto the street, ready to fight at point-blank range. The marines turned and fired, and killed four of them immediately, blowing one man's head entirely away before he fell on his back onto the pavement, his arms spread wide.
Three more fled. Cpl. Jason Huyghe cornered two of them in a courtyard. One of them, he suddenly realized, was wearing a belt packed with explosives.
"I saw the guy roll over and pull something on his jacket," Corporal Huyghe said, "and he exploded."
Crucial in the attack is the involvement of Iraqi soldiers alongside US troops:
When Allawi addressed some of the Iraqi troops, telling them they need to liberate a city held "hostage" by radicals and terrorists, they yelled in response "may they go to hell!" "To hell they will go," replied Allawi. Victory in Iraq depends on that kind of national will prevailing in a battle for the country's, and the region's, soul.
They must prevail. Meanwhile ...
A psychological operations unit has been deployed in Fallujah to draw out gunmen. It broadcasts statements in Arabic around the streets, saying: "Brave terrorists, I am waiting here for the brave terrorists. Come and kill us. Plant small bombs on roadsides. Attention, attention, terrorists of Fallujah."
Other suggested lures:
"Michael Moore is here! Come get his autograph!"
"I got your contact from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Following this and other investigations resulting in a good recommendation we have decided to contact you to help us with the legal transfer of US$28,600,000."
Steven Malanga on poverty avoidance:
To stay out of poverty in America, it's necessary to do three simple things, social scientists have found: finish high school, don't have kids until you marry, and wait until you are at least 20 to marry. Do those three things, and the odds against your becoming impoverished are less than one in ten. Nearly 80 percent of everyone who fails to do those three things winds up poor.
Those primitive Americans who voted for "moral values" are so ignorant, so unsophisticated, so ... European:
Italians largely oppose gay marriage with 61 percent rejecting homosexual wedlock and even more opposed to adoption for same-sex couples, a poll on Sunday showed.
In traditionally Roman Catholic Italy, home to the Vatican, only 32 percent of the population is favorable to gay marriage, according to a survey carried out for la Repubblica newspaper.
Only 21 percent of Italians thought a homosexual couple should be allowed to adopt a child.
I blame Karl Rome. Er, Rove.
My friend Ken Layne -- currently shoplifting in Reno to cover election-related gambling debts -- mentions this curious report from a liberal radio host:
Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, one of the radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after midnight, during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was startled to hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat George W. Bush down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit polls were clear: Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news stoically," noted the AP report.
The only part of this story that really interests me is Karen Hughes telling Dubya he was The Loser. I can't find this in any newspaper online. Did anyone tape-record this AP news update on the radio? Was it actually broadcast, or just on a network feed, or did it never happen? Does this possibly explain why the Fox News team seriously looked like they were about to commit mass suicide? It was clear -- just as it was in 2000 -- that Fox News was privy to the internal White House information.
Lots of people were. A friend at a rival US media company called after the exit poll news to say that his White House sources were telling him the same thing: that the election was lost. In fact, on the strength of those sources, his company was planning nothing but massive "KERRY WINS!" coverage. Took them a while to turn things around after the exit polls were revealed to be wrong ...
Good to see Labor paying attention to the big issues:
Prime Minister John Howard should fight to ensure next year's Ashes Test series was shown on the ABC or SBS, Labor said today.
Opposition communications spokesman Stephen Conroy said it was a tragedy the Nine and Seven networks were considering not screening the Ashes from England in July.
Instead, cricket fans will only be able to see the series if they subscribe to pay TV providers Foxtel or Austar.
So subscribe already. Problem solved.
Reader Brent is the first to identify blogdom's new triumphalist war cry, courtesy of Ted Rall. Let's hear a big Goomba Goom! for James Wolcott, whose prayers helped deliver Florida to Bush. Yo, German media -- Goomba Goom! to you, too. And as for this unhappy camper:
"I have family in Idaho, but I told my wife we're not going to visit them now. It's all Republicans there," said Ron Schmidt, a public relations executive. "We have family in Indiana and I don't want to go there either.
"The ideologies of the two parties are too different. I don't see how healing can take place. I feel like the disenfranchised minority now, and that's a funny thing for a tall, good-looking white guy like me to say."
Funny? It’s hilarious. Goomba Goom!, you big handsome idiot.
The New York Times' Dean E. Murphy calls for divine intervention:
With George W. Bush's re-election, God and a newly triumphant Republican president are once again in the headlines. And there are signs that the present national divide, between the narrow but solid Republican majority and a Democratic party seemingly trapped in second place, may be hardening into a pattern that will persist for years to come.
Democrats, especially, are left to wonder: What will it take to break the pattern - an act of God?
Hmmm ... like the act of God that took out William McKinley?
His death was a tragedy and a fluke, Professor Wilentz said, but it changed the course of political history. Had McKinley not been killed, Marcus A. Hanna, the political handler who was as instrumental to McKinley's success as Karl Rove has been to Mr. Bush's, would have pursued his dream of "creating a Republican machine that would go on forever," Professor Wilentz said ...
"One can't imagine what American history might have looked like had McKinley continued to the end of his second term," Professor Wilentz said.
Just as well he was gut-shot by an anarchist, then. Murphy later returns to our happy academic, and the ominous parallels between McKinley and Bush:
Professor Wilentz of Princeton said that even if the 2004 victory was an incremental one, that should not comfort the Democrats. He said Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush now have a chance to do what Hanna and McKinley never did: Lay the foundation for lasting Republican dominance.
"The Republicans are basically unchecked," Professor Wilentz said. "There is no check in the federal government and no check in the world. They have an unfettered playing field."
Until the next act of God, that is.
As the article states near the beginning, "an act of God" during the Bush presidency could range from "a national calamity, a deep schism in the ruling party, the implosion of a social movement under the excesses of its own agenda or the emergence of an extraordinary political figure." While assassination would certainly qualify as a national calamity, many other events would as well. Certainly, the article never advocated any of them.
No; it merely pointed out that "had McKinley not been killed" he might have succeeded in creating an unimaginable Republican hellworld, much as the "unchecked" Bush is building. By the way, since when is assassination an "act of God"?
Steve Bracks revives a stupid idea once popular in the US:
The Victorian government wants to restrict speedometers on all new cars in Australia at 130kph (80mph).
Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said Transport Minister Peter Batchelor would submit the proposal to the Australian Transport Council, a meeting of state and federal transport ministers, in Brisbane next Friday.
The debate over speed has been reignited by Ford Performance Vehicles' release of a turbocharged six-cylinder Falcon - the Typhoon - which is capable of well over 200kph (125mph).
Actually, even a standard Falcon can these days top 200kph. The Typhoon should run beyond 250.
Mr Bracks told radio 3AW today the plan to peg speedometers was the first step in a campaign to impose a limit on the top speed.
Very well. I suggest 300kph.
Youngster Jessica Wiseman describes her attempt to get out the vote among registered Democrats in Las Vegas:
The first door that opened belonged to a shirtless man with a pigeon on his shoulder, tattoos covering both his arms, teeth missing. Shaelyn and I looked at our script and then back at this man. Whoa. But he was already registered, voting for Kerry. Good.
Second door and third door belonged to empty houses with broken windows and doors boarded up. Throughout the day we would be confronted with these unkempt homes, weeds shooting up towards the sky, broken toys lying like defeated bodies on the ground, abandoned ...
One man, a self-confessed four time felon, offering us some beef jerky from a bag as he opened the door, said that if he could he would vote for Bush because "The only person who doesn’t like George Dubya is Osama Bin Laden."
BZZZZT! Wrong answer! What he should have said, in the manner of a Rove-controlled automaton, is: "Must. Vote. Republican. For. Jesus." Because, as everyone knows, and Phillip Adams reminds us, this election was all about Christ:
These intellectually challenged characters have been given four more years to run the world -- thanks to a rush to the ballot box by millions of Christian fundamentalists convinced that the earth and all its creatures were created in a process of divine mechanics that began at 9am on Monday, October 23, 4004BC -- and who support Israel because of evangelical prophecies involving a rapidly approaching apocalypse.
(Via Adrian the Cabbie)
"Bush Derangement Syndrome is moving to a whole new level," writes Mark Steyn:
On the morning of Nov. 2, the condescending left were convinced that Bush was an idiot. By the evening of Nov. 2, they were convinced that the electorate was. Or as London's Daily Mirror put it in its front page: "How Can 59,054,087 People Be So DUMB?"
Well, they're British lefties: They can do without Americans. Whether an American political party can do without Americans is more doubtful. Nonetheless, MSNBC.com's Eric Alterman was mirroring the Mirror's sentiments: "Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the 'reality-based community' say or believe about anything." Over at Slate, Jane Smiley's analysis was headlined, "The Unteachable Ignorance Of The Red States.'' If you don't want to bother plowing your way through Alterman and Smiley, a placard prominently displayed by a fetching young lad at the post-election anti-Bush rally in San Francisco cut to the chase: "F--- MIDDLE AMERICA."
Almost right, man. It would be more accurate to say that "MIDDLE AMERICA" has "F---ed" you.
Steyn’s piece also includes this pure wisdom: "Nobody who campaigns with Ben Affleck at his side has the right to call anybody an idiot." BDS is rife at the BBC, as Stephen Pollard reports:
Last Thursday, for instance, I took part in a discussion about the American elections. The presenter, Natasha Kaplinsky, began the slot with this: “It seems that the polls throughout the election were right, but nobody really wanted to believe them; that George Bush was going to get re-elected.”
"No one" wanted to believe them? Not in White City, for sure. The programme’s researcher had rung me the night before to ask what I would say in response to a variety of questions.
Researcher: "Why do you think the exit polls were wrong, so that we were all so disappointed by the result?" Me: "We weren’t all disappointed. Not everyone shares the BBC’s anti-Bush leftie bias. I was delighted and relieved that the free world will continue to be led by a man who understands the threat we face."
Researcher (giggling, and clearly mystified that such a person existed): "Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I forgot you were pleased by the result."
The Guardian's Paul Carr wasn't. He blames the Internet:
While the Democrat supporters had right on their side, the Republican supporters were far, far better at fighting dirty. Conservative mega-sites such as Freerepublic.com galvanised their hundreds of thousands of visitors into an army of amateur attack dogs - ready to yap and snap the moment a foolish journalist wrote anything bad about Bush. Woe betide any TV reporter who didn't check his facts properly before claiming that George W didn't finish his national guard service. And pity any liberal British newspaper that launched an online campaign to convince the voters of a small county in Ohio of the merits of a Kerry administration. The mass yapping and snapping worked like a charm - making even the most fearless journalists think twice before they questioned Bush's suitability for a second term.
"An army of amateur attack dogs." Sounds like The Guardian’s newsroom. Note that The Guardian considers pointing out factual errors to be "fighting dirty" ...
UPDATE. Ted Rall is working through his post-election rage in a subtle, intelligent manner.
Hours before it was clear that US President George W Bush had won the election, Karl Rove told his boss to rest easy.
Working from a bank of computers on the first-floor of the White House, Bush's political guru absorbed the turnout numbers, checked his target projections in swing states and concluded that the bitterly contested race was over.
"Karl was calling states long before the networks did," a Bush confidant said. "His grasp of reality was totally uncanny."
I am "posting" this at the request of a young man named Puce Parchesceau. He is standing over my shoulder as I type this into the screen. My name is Claire Northpine, and since 1957 I have been employed by the public library in Northpine, Ohio. (Yes, I am a descendant of the founder of our little town, but that is a story I have neither the time nor inclination to convey at present.) Young Mr. Parchesceau has become a fixture here at the Northpine Public Library, which became less of a problem after I took him into my home and instructed him in American bathing practices.
As near as I can come to fathoming his strange speech, he wants everyone on the "Web" to know that he is doing well, both physically and, to the extent possible, mentally. He does walk with a limp, the result of an unfortunate incident with a Coca-Cola truck in the course of his journeys. (Again, I am extrapolating this explanation from what he has attempted to convey to me. His accent does not seem to emanate from any country with which I am familiar, although it does sound vaguely Eastern European.)
Now he's become accustomed to living indoors, how will Puce re-adapt to life at Treacher's?
Arthur Chrenkoff e-mails: "Had Kerry won, The New York Times and CNN would be shortly starting to publish their own versions of 'Good news from Iraq'. As it is, the latest - number 14 - is still exclusively available here, here, and here."
From L.H. Smith of Tacoma, Washington, a letter to the editor.
Snooker titan Eddie Charlton has died at 75.
Genuine or not, this is the most disturbing reaction to the US election yet:
A few of us, including my wife, are going to commit suicide. If you plan to do the same, do it with us. Together we can make a statement:
ANYONE ELSE WANT TO CONTEMPLATE SUICIDE WITH US?
Sadly, someone's already gone a step beyond contemplation:
A 25-year-old university worker from Georgia shot and killed himself at ground zero Saturday morning, authorities said.
The man, Andrew Veal, of Athens, Ga., was found atop the structure housing the 1 and 9 subway lines after a hotel worker spotted what he believed was somebody sleeping inside the site around 8 a.m., said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A shotgun was found near the body, Coleman said. No suicide note was found, he said.
Veal apparently was distraught over President Bush's re-election, Newsday reported Saturday on its Web site edition, citing an unnamed police source. The newspaper also said the man was a registered Democrat who opposed the war in Iraq.
Reader Alan Wesson sent a note a few weeks ago on a similar matter. This is published with his permission:
I am a Brit, and in 1988 my wife's cousin, who was an avid Guardian reader, committed suicide by climbing a high-tension power pylon and grabbing hold of the cable. He did it because he had become depressed and despairing at what he had been led to believe was the utter inevitability of nuclear war against Russia (if you were a Guardian reader then, that was the scare they were selling - basically they purvey scares. Then it was WW3, now it's environmental doom, and their more credulous readers - i.e. most of them - buy the line).
My wife's cousin certainly bought all the crap about WW3 being inevitable, and he could stand it no longer. Barely two years later the Berlin Wall came down; shortly after that the threat was history. Unfortunately, so was he.
The Guardian's 'thing' now is that the Americans are causing planetary meltdown by their fuel and power consumption (I don't know what they think we run *our* power stations and transport systems on), and their readership is now worked up into a lather because they think the only way to save the world from Global Warming is to vote for Kerry (like *that's* going to make any difference!). This is utter tosh (Clinton didn't restrict SUV sales or sign Kyoto either), but it does give them something to worry about, and it certainly helps boost sales of their poisonous rag.
It also explains their readership’s urgent mission to 'save Americans from themselves'. Personally, I hold them at least in part responsible for my cousin-in-law's death, and I regard their irresponsible scaremongering as malign in the extreme.
UPDATE. Not everybody is depressed:
Freedom lovers should rejoice for the victory of their guide. I congratulate Americans - and Iraqis - for the re-election of this courageous leader. We were as happy as his supporters for this victory. All Iraqis were Republicans on election day. We are confident he will finish the job and wipe out terrorists from the region during the next four years.
Ahmed, Iraqi in Australia
Just how much did Karl Rove hate not being one of the cool guys in high school in the 60's? Enough to hatch schemes to marshal the forces of darkness to take over the country?
Oh, please. And check out Maureen's latest crackling wordplay:
Instead of the New Frontier, Karl and W. offer the New Backtier.
Hey, MoDo -- instead of high school, maybe they went to low school!
Gough Whitlam, failure, should apologise:
It's time for Gough Whitlam to say sorry. And the former Labor prime minister should no longer be allowed to "strut the national stage as the wronged legendary hero of Australian politics" but apologise to all those he failed.
So says Sir David Smith, the man who stood on the steps of Old Parliament House and read the proclamation to dissolve Parliament after the dismissal of the Whitlam Government 29 years ago this week.
"It's time he said sorry to his party for being such a failure as leader. It's time he said sorry to the Australian people for being such a failure as prime minister and for giving us the most incompetent government we have ever had, and it's time that he told the truth about the events of 1975," Sir David said yesterday at a lecture in Canberra.
(Via US-based Australian reader Rob H.)
Franco Aleman on bilateral anti-Americanism:
Anti-Americanism in Spain is a double-whammy, because unlike many countries, it affects both sides of the political spectrum. On the right, they still remember the US took Cuba and the Philippines in the Spanish-American war at the very end of the 19th century, signaling the complete end of the once, they reason, vibrant Spanish empire's domination of the world; plus the propaganda during the Franco dictatorship (1936-1975) was, particularly during the first 20 years, heavily anti-American because, after all, the US had defeated Franco's ideological cousins, the Nazis and fascists, during World War II.
On the left, well, it's like everwhere else, only worse ...
• Number of people who voted for Bush: 59,651,262
• Number of people who live in Britain: 59,600,000
• Number of dentists in Britain: 31,600
This site, October 26: "Expect a windfall for shrinks if Bush wins a second term."
New York Newsday, November 5: "This week, many therapists in Kerry-friendly New York found their clients left personal issues at home, instead seeking professional help for post-election political despair."
Not much of a long shot, as predictions go. Highlights from the Newsday piece:
Manhattan psychologist Bonnie Maslin said many of her patients cried about the lost election and the reality of the Republican victory. They talked about hopelessness. They said they felt isolated, depressed and angry.
Manhattan has 468,841 Kerry voters and only 95,362 Bush voters. And they feel isolated?
"There is a lot of grieving and mourning -- not unlike the Jewish shiva," Maslin said. "The level of devastation is enormous. Patients are saying they feel that the things they cherish and value are under siege. They feel threatened."
It would be wrong to hang around Manhattan psychologists' offices wearing all black and a Bush-Cheney cap, waiting for tearful patients to emerge, then following them while taking notes. Wrong, but fun.
The post-election emotions of many who voted for Sen. John Kerry may mirror clinical depression, but experts say they aren't necessarily signs of a psychiatric condition.
Quite right. Those are indicated by the fact they voted for Kerry.
Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychoanalyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University's School of Medicine, believes "people are genuinely worried that Bush is our leader." He said virtually all of his patients this week said they feel depressed about the fate of the country. "They feel helpless and dismayed by Bush's staying power."
Dr. Sulkowicz has the perfect name for someone specialising in post-election crybaby counselling.
Alan Hilfer, director of training in the department of psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, observed that "They don't quite understand what the majority of the country is feeling. But people are resilient ... By next week, people will be talking about their own issues again."
Tragically, Sex and the City ended earlier this year. These people have nothing else to talk about.
Hilfer said he is finding that patients who actually worked on the Kerry campaign are coping better than those who only voted for him.
Glad to hear it. I’ve always liked Teresa.
Dr. David Schlager, clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook University Hospital, warned that if hopelessness persists, it may signal an undiagnosed depression that could be coloring a person's exaggerated and prolonged response to the election. In that case, people should seek professional help, Schlager said.
There isn’t enough lithium in the whole world ...
Angry Democrats are fleeing -- or are planning to flee -- the US:
The embassies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada are reporting a surge in inquiries from Americans looking to move to their respective countries.
The Australian Consulate says, "Americans are funny. They don't get their own way, so they want to move."
And a New Zealand official, quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle, wants Americans to know his country is picky — primarily welcoming only younger, educated applicants with specific skills.
And Canadian officials say that while they've heard from Americans who are "distraught with the election results," it's too early to tell if that means there will be a subsequent surge in actual applications.
Arm those borders, Canadians! Via Jeff S. Meanwhile, reader Sonetka wonders: "Why on earth would they want to go to Australia? You'd think such politically astute observers would realize ... oh, wait."
The BBC was bombarded with hundreds of complaints yesterday after one of its reporters admitted on air that she had wept for ailing Yasser Arafat.
The BBC admitted it had received hundreds of angry calls. A spokesman confessed: “Aspects of this particular report were misjudged.”
No kidding. Michael Moore can relate:
Not since Moby Dick has a great white whale been so bloodily harpooned. It took a shocked Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11, until yesterday to comment on the US election result. When he did, he made a lame joke, offering "reasons not to slit your own throat". But if John Kerry's strategists feel like slitting anyone's throat right now, it is Mr Moore's.
In 2000, Mr Moore's support for Ralph Nader helped lose Florida for Al Gore. This time, he boosted President Bush by outraging Middle America. Take a bow, Mike: you've done it again.
Take a bow? For Moore, that’s an Extreme Sport. Maybe he can lose some mass dancing slowly to this.
Who knew that the youth vote would turn out to be so smart? Hunter S. Thompson condemns the youngsters:
"I feel like somebody's died," Thompson lamented as the sun was preparing to rise early Wednesday morning. "I'm just not sure who it was."
He deemed the election "another failure of the youth vote."
"Yeah, we rocked the vote all right. Those little bastards betrayed us again."
We supposedly had more of the youth vote and the disenfranchised single-female vote and the "Daily Show" vote and the Eminem vote and the celebrity vote and the humanitarian vote and the antiwar vote and the gay vote and the pro-choice vote and the Howard Stern vote and the immigrant vote, and still the dragon just sneered and hacked up another fireball of bogus fear and evangelical Christian self-righteousness and torched our glimmering sword of juicy hope into a smoking cinder.
Via Judith Weiss. Morford sounds so old; he's not so much on the wrong side of history as he is history. Just as well Iowahawk has a fresh batch of positives to "keep our progressive friends warm during the upcoming Rovian ice age":
• Money is the lifeblood of politics, and Democrats were able to establish a solid fundraising network in 2004. This will stand you in good stead in future elections. When you go back to George Soros and Steve Bing in 2008 and ask them for another $150 million, make sure you point out all the successes you accomplished this year.
• Kerry's lack of success in the South was largely due to the fact that Southerners are uneducated and often 'slow.' Studies have found that special needs students often learn better through repetition, so it will be important to continually remind Southerners that they are violent inbred monkey-people.
• On an up note, Democratic efforts to increase voter turnout was a major success story in 2004. Progressives have shown that they know how to get first-timers and young people to the polling booth. Next time, you can work on the problem of making them vote for you.
NRO's Michael Ledeen salutes America's Guardian angels:
You may recall that the Guardian, the leftist British newspaper, convinced its readers to participate in a letter-writing campaign to the residents of Clark County, asking them to vote for Kerry to save the world from Dubya. It seems this brilliant idea sprung at least in part from the pale white forehead of Sidney Blumenthal: the loyal manservant of Hillary Clinton in the White House; the creator of the short-lived doctrine of the "Third Way" that was to have united "progressive" leaders in America and Europe; a regular contributor to the Guardian; and, along with Michael Moore, a pundit on the BBC's election-night coverage.
To say this scheme backfired is to fail to give it proper credit. It ranks right up there with the worst political schemes, ever.
Speaking of proper credit ...
(Via reader Greg MacDonald)
"Former President George W. Bush Dead at 72," exults Greil Marcus in a grotesque mock obituary:
Mr. Bush's life after his presidency was marked by misfortune. He soon lost interest in his status as the standard-bearer of his party and its chief fundraiser; many believed he had again begun drinking, and in any case he seemed to spend most of his time at private clubs in Houston, where he established residence in 2010 after selling his property in Crawford, Texas. ("At least I won't have to cut that f--- brush again," Mr. Bush was heard to say after his last election.) Then on May 1, 2011, Jenna and Barbara Bush were killed in a drunken driving accident in New York City, an incident that also took the lives of seven other people, four of them friends of the Bush daughters. Rumors that a Bush family friend attempted to bribe the police to report that a person other than Jenna or Barbara Bush was driving (the body of Barbara Bush was in the driver's seat) were never confirmed.
Ex-Rolling Stone editor Marcus should write an obit for his writing career, which has been dead since the late '80s.
The election lost, Daily Kos attempts to win the post-election:
The biggest silver lining of this election is how the GOP's victory is thus far being claimed, framed and explained. To that I say, "Let us join that chorus." And we should do so now, because there is immediacy in the post-election window of opportunity.
Marching order #1, therefore, is this: No matter whom you talk to outside our circles, begin to perpetuate the (false, exaggerated) notion that George Bush's victory was built not merely on values issues, but gay marriage specifically. If you feel a need to broaden it slightly, try depicting the GOP as a majority party synonymous with gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers.
Exactly what kind of Bible is being read by all these evangelical Christians: the ones who have voted George Bush back into the White House? Do they have a special copy which skips the passage about the "meek inheriting the Earth"?
In their copy, is the world inherited instead by the sleek or the bleak, or perhaps by the clique - that group of defence contractors and petrol-pumpers surrounding the President? Does it approve of the coveting of one's neighbour's ass, because that's aspirational, but not his arse, because that's gay and therefore weird?
The same paper's Mike Carlton also follows Marching order #1:
In Main Street USA the disaster in Iraq evidently meant far less to voters than the so-called moral issues: gay marriage, stem-cell research, abortion, family values, religious faith, all that stuff.
Shallow Mike. David Brooks provides a little reality therapy to correct perceptions that "throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surged to the polls to put George Bush over the top"; read whole thing.
Former Guantanamo Bay occupant Jamal reveals the nightmarish abuses he suffered:
A military intelligence officer brought a ghetto blaster into his room. He put it on the floor in the corner. He said, "Here's a great girl band doing Fleetwood Mac songs."
He didn't blast the CD at Jamal. This wasn't sleep-deprivation, and it wasn't an attempt to induce the Bucha Effect. Instead, the agent simply put it on at normal volume.
"He put it on," said Jamal, "and he left."
"An all-girl Fleetwood Mac covers band?" I said.
"Yeah," said Jamal.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
Are you one sorry son of a bitch? Of course you are! Bush the Hitler-powered chimpoid oil bunny is back in power, and soon he will send everyone to meet his beloved Jesus. So say sorry now, like these enlightened folks:
He did everything he could. And now he can’t afford matches.
Charles and Kayla met at the 'Born Without an Upper Lip' support group.
First point: she's making a direct plea to Osama. Second point: Hot or not?
We may have our first hoax image.
(Via Evil Pundit)
UPDATE II. Reader Daniel writes:
Bonus points for any images featuring guns!
A Guardian reader wants his fellow Guardianistas to volunteer for suicide missions:
After Operational Clark County, I suggest Operation Rock the Voter - well-meaning Guardian readers volunteer to visit America, and are assigned a single Bush voter, who they then shake violently and slap around a bit, and point at any given 5 second video clip of Bush and scream, "Look! He's a fucking moron! Can't you see that? Everyone else on the bloody planet can, what the hell is wrong with you?". Followed by some more violent shaking.
Followed by the death of the Guardian reader. Anger at Bush's re-election has provoked an unusual response in Seattle:
Riley Sweeney, an 18-year-old Western Washington University freshman, elected to wear his protest: He showed up in a gray fedora and checkered blue bathrobe.
"I am in mourning because of the decision our country has made," he said. "I don't think I'll be wearing pants for a while."
Panties, however, are another matter. On other election-related clothing issues, the Mysterious Bush Bulge is finally explained:
Call off the conspiracy freaks. Now it can be told: That mysterious bulge on President Bush’s back during the first presidential debate was not an electronic device feeding him answers, but a strap holding his bulletproof vest in place.
Jacques Chirac shuns Iyad Allawi, but can spare an hour or so for brain-dead Yasser:
He will snub a meeting with Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi in Brussels today. It is a sleight aimed at Mr Bush and Tony Blair, who back Mr Allawi.
Chirac — who tried to stop the war to topple Saddam Hussein — will leave Brussels before the new Iraqi leader arrives.
Allawi should shoot him. Notice how Yasser’s health has gotten so much worse since he arrived in Paris? Temperature must be over 23º or something. Anyway, Chirac's visit cheered him up, in a non-cerebrally functioning kind of way:
Thursday afternoon, French President Jacques Chirac was allowed to briefly visit Arafat's room. He also spent about a half hour with Suha Arafat, the Palestinian leader's wife.
Shahid, who was in the room during Chirac's visit, told French radio that when the French leader held Arafat's hand, he opened his eyes and smiled although it was not clear if he recognized Chirac.
If he smiled, it’s pretty obvious that he didn’t.
(Via contributor Alan R. M. Jones)
The latest edition of Newsweek contains some remarkable reporting from inside the Bush and Kerry (and Dean) campaigns. I've cherry-picked some of the goofier elements, but please read the whole thing:
Teresa/Dean Cage Match
At one point in the summer, as Dean was starting to pull away, Teresa called Jordan and demanded, "I want you to issue a challenge for me to debate Howard Dean."
Howard Dean’s Ghost Buses
The Dean campaign, eager to show off its vast army of Deaniacs, took reporters out on the skywalk in downtown Des Moines to watch 40-plus yellow schoolbuses rumble into town—shock troops in the Dean onslaught to get out the vote for the January Iowa caucuses, the first electoral test on the road to the nomination. One of the reporters noticed something odd. "Is it just me, or are they empty?" asked Liz Marlantes of The Christian Science Monitor. The other reporters tried to peer through the tinted-glass windows. All they could see was row after row of empty seats.
Hello, Al? [click] Hello? Hello?
When the Kerry camp heard the rumors that Gore was endorsing Kerry's opponent, Kerry tried to call the former veep to find out if it could be true. Kerry had Gore's cell-phone number and called him. "This is John Kerry," he said when Gore answered. The phone went dead. Kerry tried to call several more times and never got through. He was hurt.
Karl Rove - Deaniac!
It was an open secret that Karl Rove was itching to take on Dean. Back in July, Rove had been seen standing in a crowd near his home in Washington, watching Dean pass by in an Independence Day parade. Rove was quoted as chortling: "Heh, heh, heh, that's the one we want. Go, Howard Dean!"
Meet the Press
Rove made little attempt to hide his feelings. Poking his head into the crowded press cabin on Air Force One during a trip on a frigid day in January, he snarled, "Weenies!"
Evil Genius Out-Geniused
Bush, who knew Dean's volatility from working with him as a fellow governor, had always suspected he would flame out. Now Bush needled his political guru about his hamburger wagers. Want to double your bets? the president asked. Dean still has money, Rove grumbled. Lots of candidates lose Iowa and come back. "This guy ain't coming back," Bush said, laughing.
Quote of the Year
Rove was thought by some White House staffers to have a bit of a tin ear, to lean too hard, to reach too far to cater to his prized right-wing base. (Even Bush would crack, "That idea's so f---ing bad it sounds like something Rove came up with.")
"Howard will never get your hearts, and he will not try," writes Fixing Australia:
His appreciation ratings have never been high enough to even rate in any rankings. While Latham has a PhD and has written several books, and also has several biographies on the bookshelves, Howard remains absent in the hearts of Australians, and I think he knows it.
Latham has a PhD? In what? Meanwhile, unions are shunning Labor:
The trade union movement in NSW has publicly dissociated itself from the party it spawned.
From January the Trades and Labor Council will be known as Unions NSW. The move to "re-brand and repackage" comes as unions struggle to arrest a membership plunge that has virtually halved their numbers since 1990 and threatened their place in the modern workplace.
The reason for the change? Because research shows their association with politicians is killing their core business. And internal polling finalised yesterday shows that only 49 per cent of unionists in NSW voted Labor last month.
And almost a third went for Howard. He mightn't have their hearts, but he's got their votes.
• Daily Kos raised more than $500,000 to assist the campaigns of fifteen candidates. None were elected.
• Cathy Seipp's pal Lewis reviews the elegant and sultry speaking style of Fox News contributor Susan Estrich: "It's interesting and kind of a shame that for all the many opportunities open to a woman of such accomplishment and background -- editor of the Harvard Law Journal, TV pundit, etc. -- that one is forever closed to her: Phone sex operator."
• Check out the chin! It's raised to maximum defiance level!
• The LA Weekly gets all crazy with the fangs and the blood and the evil:
• Don't believe the lying media, lying government, lying voters, or the whole lying world! John Kerry won!
• Mark Steyn in The Australian: "The Michael Mooronification of the Democratic Party proved a fatal error. Moore is the chief promoter of what's now the received opinion of Bush among the condescending Left -- Chimpy Bushitler the World's Dumbest Fascist. There are some takers for this view, but not enough. By running a campaign fuelled by Moore's caricature of Bush, the Democrats were doomed to defeat."
• Michele Catalano's A Small Victory has a new name.
• The Washington Post on post-election exit poll analysis: "After the survey is completed and the votes are counted, the exit poll results are adjusted to reflect the actual vote, which in theory improves the accuracy of all the exit poll results ..." To which reader Mr. Bingley replies: "Er, well, why yes, it does improve the accuracy if you adjust the figures to 'reflect the actual vote.' I found in high school that when i copied off of the teacher's answer key it improved the accuracy of my math scores, as well."
• Michael Moore's first thoughts after the election. Yeah, riiiight.
• Hey, Democrats! Relive your finest moments of Election 2003!
• How did Bush do? Compare his support in 2004 to the previous election (via political junkie):
Bush 2000/Bush 2004
Not Married: 38%/40%
Union Members: 37%/40%
Gun Owners: 61%/67%
18-29 year olds: 46%/45%
30-44 year olds: 49%/53%
45-59 year olds: 49%/51%
Reason’s Ronald Bailey attends a Joan Baez concert -- and witnesses a terrifying transformation:
Joan stopped singing and announced that she had "multiple personalities." One of her multiple personalities is that of a fifteen year old poor black girl named Alice from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. Baez decided to share with us Alice's views on the election. Amazed and horrified I watched a rich, famous, extremely white folksinger perform what can only be described as bit of minstrelsy—only the painted on blackface was missing.
Baez' monologue was filled with phrases like, "I'se g'win ta" to do this that or the other and dropping all final "g's." Baez as Alice made statements like, "de prezident, he be a racist," and "de prezident, he got a bug fer killin'." Finally, since Bush won the election with 58.7 million votes to Kerry's 55.1 million, Alice observed, "Seems lak haf' de country be plumb crazy." Since Baez was reading Alice's notes, it is evident that she thinks that Arkansas' public schools don't teach black children to write standard English.
Once Joan finished her minstrelsy riff, the audience, in which I did not see a single black person, went wild with applause and hoots and hollers. I have never felt so embarrassed for a bunch of "liberals" in my life.
It’s embarrassing enough that they were at a Baez concert in the first place. Meanwhile, among the sane: Marvel as a Gay Jewish Liberal Turns Neo-Conservative Warmonger!
CNN has issued a statement regarding yesterday's jpeg jape:
Netscape responsible for Bush photo insult
Disparaging image tags used to identify photos of President and Mrs. Bush currently circulating on the Internet were not created, disseminated or posted by CNN at any time, as is alleged. They were done by a junior-level employee of Netscape and posted on Netscape.com. CNN had no knowledge of this until it surfaced on other Web sites.
Netscape, which corrected the situation when it was discovered, has released a statement apologizing for the "inappropriate and disparaging terms" that were used in the image tags -- and saying that the company has terminated the employee.
It’s just more crushing of dissent, is what it is.
The Scotsman's Fraser Nelson reports:
For the first time in years, Michael Moore was speechless.
The film-maker and author was keeping quiet yesterday as he digested the inconceivable: his books, films and campaigns had not even dented Mr Bush’s political lead.
By the looks of him, Moore has some experience digesting the inconceivable. And how happy will Hillary Clinton be to read this:
Mr Moore has publicly called for Hillary Clinton to enter the 2008 presidential race, and is now expected to turn his attentions to supporting her.
"Could the Guardian and its Operation Clark County be responsible for a second Bush term?" asks the BBC's Kevin Anderson:
That was one topic round the water cooler today, and it seems we're not the first to think of it.
Just dipping into the Guardian's blog, someone has written in: "Just wanted to thank the Guardian for helping deliver Ohio to Bush. Cheers!"
The results in Clark County? Al Gore won the county by 1% in 2000. John Kerry lost the county by 2%, just shy of 2,000 votes, this time.
Also, as Oliver Kamm points out, the "overall vote change in Ohio was Bush up 1.0%, Kerry up 2.2% on Gore. Clark County therefore had a shift to Bush compared with the state average." In any case, as the originator of The Guardian's idiot plan, I'm pleased to have won the election for Bush. Hey, Karl Rove ... PayPal is on the left.
UPDATE. Slate's Andy Bowers: "Kerry won every Gore county in Ohio except Clark. He even increased Gore's winning margin in 12 of the 16. Nowhere among the Gore counties did more votes move from the blue to the red column than in Clark. The Guardian's Katz was quoted as saying it would be 'self-aggrandizing' to claim Operation Clark County affected the election. Don't be so modest, Ian."
UPDATE II. The Guardian complains about unsolicited e-mail.
Poor Jimmy Breslin. After nearly two thousand years as a columnist, he retires after this tragic election day prediction:
One day last May, I assigned the election to John Kerry. I said it early, and often. As I looked more, I saw that it shouldn't even be close. I said that in this space more than once. Now I am so sure that I am not even going to bother to watch the results tonight. I am going to bed early, for I must rise in the darkness and pursue immediately an exciting, overdue project.
Besides, if I was up, so many people, upon seeing every word I said of this election coming true on television in front of them, would be kissing my hands and embarrassing me with outlandish praise. So I go to bed with total confidence. I will get up and stroll to other meadows. I invented this column form. I now leave, but will return here for cameo appearances. And I leave today as the only one in America who from the start was sure John Kerry would win by a wide margin.
Why was Breslin so convinced? In part because he's out of his mind, and in part because of new voter registrations and the youth vote (Australia's Bob Ellis relied on the same crap when he told Sky News a few weeks ago that Kerry would win in a landslide). More on this from Mark Steyn:
There was a big increase in turnout, adding something upwards of 15 million people to the polls. We were assured by all the experts that an increase in turnout foreshadowed a Kerry landslide. Why, everyone knows an increase in turnout must be that big youth vote we always hear about, roused by elderly gentlemen like Mr Springsteen playing songs that were hits when their parents were courting into stampeding to the polling booths to vote against a return of the draft and Bush’s intolerance of gay marriage.
But, as noted here last week, the 'Rock The Vote' crowd didn’t show up for Howard Dean, and they didn’t show up for John Kerry either. They never show up. Or, to be more precise, if they do show up, they're not a monolithic voting bloc.
Indeed. A friend in New York told me yesterday that his teenage son, a student at Fordham Prep, took part Tuesday in a mock election. His teachers also voted. The faculty result: 90% against Bush. The student result: 68% for Bush.
Yasser's in a coma:
Arafat's immune system appeared quite weak as his health, which had at first stabilised after he arrived at the hospital, suddenly deteriorated on Wednesday, they said.
"Deteriorated"? Sounds like an improvement to me.
These "blogs got it wrong" stories -- about dissemination of that Kerry-boosting exit poll -- make the error of treating bloggers as a mass, with shared values. Here's Paul Sheehan:
Chalk up the 2004 election as another strike for the subversive mischiefmakers of the internet, even if they got it wrong.
By early on Tuesday afternoon, New York time, long before the polls had closed, political bloggers began running stories about a likely victory for Senator John Kerry.
Something had gone wrong with the exit polling. And the internet had swallowed it whole.
Well, no. As Charles Johnson writes: "The blogs that hyped the bogus exit polls were all on the left bank of the blogosphere." Also via Charles, this magnificent Google translation of a Le Monde election piece. Key lines:
• "Matt Drudge, the star of the bloggers with low blows ..."
• "Little Green Footballs, a preserving blog, is delighted in advance by the head that Chirac and Kerry will make when they will learn the victory from Bush ..."
• "As for the blog Daylikos, it releases at 6.47 GMT its last post and its irritation: "More I think of it, more I am irritated that the TVS give results for Ohio whereas they are still clearly undecided. Let us leave these whores votes be counted."
UPDATE. Take a look at this, from Matt Howell.
Intelligent and informed Melbourne Age readers react to the election result:
"Curious about the massive vote for GWB in the Southern States of the USA. Are not these the same states that have the largest numbers of executions of African Americans for oftn very minor crimes. These would also be the same last states to outlaw slavery are the home of the KKK and so the list goes on, radical right wing extremists."
"Howard, Bush and maybe Blair's re-elections is an insult to humanity. Ignorants got what they deserve."
"you idots are the minority...middle amercian voters ARE indeed ignorant, insular, fundementalist, rightous, bigoted and simply plain stupid.
Democracy is a farce when the masses are as screwed in the head as the average american."
"Why do we have doplomatic relations with these monsters?"
"America is as it always was: founded by ignorant, greedy religious bigots hell bent on walking over anyone who gets in the way of their instant gratification / profit, with a love of guns, drugs and shooting each other. In America these are called values."
"If Al Gore had won the previous election, more than likely Sept 11th would never have happened."
"Both Bush and Howard have taught us it is ok to hate someone who has different beliefs, color and social status."
"very dissapointing! A mass murderer, low IQ nd alcoholic as the most powerfull man in the world."
And my favourite, from Age reader Leonard Smith:
"If another '9/11' doesn't happen - and let's not forget this event happened nearly a year AFTER George took office 1st time round - then Americans may concentrate on his abysmal domestic record of the past 4 years. If another '9/11' does happen - a distinct possibility - then Bush's re-election credentials are shot to pieces."
I'll go further than that, Leonard. I don't think there's any chance of Bush being re-elected. Hideous British artist Tracey Emin is similarly upset, but at least she has impressive Hollywood pals:
"I was out last night and I was with some friends I knew, including Val Kilmer, and they looked as if they were going to start crying. It's an overall landslide for Bush, which is really bizarre."
UPDATE. Iran has its say:
Chanting "Death to America" and "Death to corrupt Western culture" the crowd of mostly young students given a day off school listened to speeches deriding the "Great Satan", as Iran's clerical leadership routinely calls the United States.
UPDATE II. Given the absurd UK reaction to Bush’s win, it appears the Brits have decided to ignore this wise advice from Mark Passwaters:
Good people of England, listen up: your reputation is being destroyed by a bunch of neo-socialist twits who like to lob rhetorical hand grenades then cower behind their computer screens when real people--Americans--get angry. Since they don't have the nerve to face the heat, we can only assume you are all gutless cowards or drunken barbarians. We Americans suggest you just scrap everything and start over. Maybe ask the Irish for help on developing a civilized society.
Doesn't feel real good to hear that, does it? Then have some decency and tell your media to stop bugging us with their senseless prattle. Otherwise, we may have to whip you a third time.
A caption typo in the Washington Times:
You’d be sad, too, if only 18.5% of the candidates endorsed by your hobby activist group managed to be elected. Back to the Times article:
"Sure, I feel terrible," said New Yorker editor David Remnick, whose published endorsement of Mr. Kerry was a first for the magazine. "There are a lot of long faces today."
You’d think an editor would be more sensitive in his choice of words.
Check the file name of the Bush image at this CNN page.
UPDATE. The file name has been changed, but Rob Corr has a screenshot.
I'll be talking about the election on Steve Cannane's radio show at 5.30pm local time. (Streaming details here.) Also on the program: Julian Ninio, who fled Bush's AmeriKKKa only to find himself living in John Howard's dissent-crushing downunder gulag. Speaking of losers, here’s Maureen Dowd:
The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riff-raff who disagree to heel.
W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq - drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or "values voters," as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.
Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy, won on "moral issues."
The president says he's "humbled" and wants to reach out to the whole country. What humbug. The Bushes are always gracious until they don't get their way. If W. didn't reach out after the last election, which he barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has what Dick Cheney calls a "broad, nationwide victory"?
While Mr. Bush was making his little speech about reaching out, Republicans said they had "the green light" to pursue their conservative agenda, like drilling in Alaska's wilderness and rewriting the tax code.
Ah, the tax code. Like Alaska's wilderness, it’s one of America’s splendid natural wonders.
From the Guardian, which relentlessly jeers at Bush’s poor language skills:
Emma Brockes on how George Bush's victory catapaulted liberal Britain into collective depression ...
I know a LOT of people in the US, some of whom voted for him in 2000 and NONE of them voted for him this time - very suss!
UPDATE. Look what's up for sale on eBay ...
John Kerry has conceded:
President Bush won four more years in the White House on Wednesday, pocketing a quiet concession from Democrat John Kerry that closed out a loud and long campaign fought over the war on terror and the economy.
It's all the fault of the voters, of course:
When asked what he planned to do if Kerry lost the election, [George] Soros said that he plans to enter a monastery for a time because he will need to contemplate what is wrong with the people of this country.
Goodbye, George. Please spare some time to contemplate, along with Mark Steyn, some electoral perfection:
A perfect hat-trick: a Republican President, Republican Senate and Republican House were re-elected for the first time since President McKinley and the GOP Congress in 1900. Daschle's so far behind even "late votes" from the rez won't do it, and Bush is on course to win more votes than any candidate in the history of the Republic.
G.W. Bush is the first presidential candidate since G.H.W. Bush in 1988 to win more than 50% of votes. Elected, not selected! Here's something I wrote for The Bulletin in advance of the result (with another piece premised on an unlikely Bush loss):
Take that, Lefties! After an unprecedented four-year propaganda war aimed at demolishing his presidency and ruining his chances of re-election, George W. Bush is set for another term in the White House. Consider the massed forces that opposed him: The New York Times, Michael Moore, CBS, billionaire George Soros and the army of zombie activists he funded, CNN, and The Washington Post, among many, many others. Dozens of creepy celebrities campaigned against Bush or raised funds for John Kerry's campaign, including Linda Ronstadt, Whoopi Goldberg, Matt Damon, Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Affleck, Eminem and Martin Sheen. A new radio network, Air America, featuring hosts Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, was launched with the express purpose of throwing Bush out of office. Anti-Bush books (sample title: The Empire of Ignorance, Hypocrisy and Obedience) clogged bookstores nationwide.
And that was only in the United States. Internationally, Bush was opposed by France, Germany, Phillip Adams, The Age, Osama bin Laden, the ABC, Mark Latham, the BBC, Helen Clark, a tragic sector of the British population that believes The Guardian and The Independent, Saddam Hussein, Noam Chomsky, The Sydney Morning Herald, the UN, many of my friends at The Bulletin, Hans freakin’ Blix, Greenpeace, SBS, Richard Neville, millions of unbathed nose-pierced half-educated protesters, Malcolm Fraser, John Pilger, and the homeless guy at my local mall who thinks Bush stole his pants.
And Bush still won. We all did.
UPDATE. John Edwards' concession speech was a graceless, bitter disgrace.
Clark County votes Republican. Thank you, Guardian!
And thank you to everyone who dropped by today, and during the past three years. You rock. Hey -- you rock the vote!
Okay, I need a drink. More election updates later.
Love from Australia,
Do people have a vague feeling that this is coming back to Bush?
"If you believe, as I do, that America's best days are ahead of us, then join me tomorrow and change the direction of America."-- John Kerry in Milwaukee yesterday. Via WSJ Opinion Journal.
Zogby's final election prediction: Kerry beats Bush 311 to 213 ... and Bush wins the popular vote. Whoa! How would Margo Kingston ("how bad is it that Bush could win the White House but lose the popular vote?") and Phillip Adams ("the candidate who'd lost the popular vote got the glittering prize") cope?
Australian readers without cable TV: Nine is now presenting CBS coverage (featuring Dan "Microsoft Word" Rather) and Seven has NBC. The ABC is showing a documentary about enzymes.
UPDATE. British gamblers are plunging for Kerry:
During yesterday afternoon British time, Senator Kerry was even money to be voted president, slightly worse odds than the 8-11 on offer for the re-election of President George W Bush.
However, a flurry of bets meant Senator Kerry's odds were slashed to 1-3 a few hours later, with Mr Bush pushed out to 9-4.
"If money talks, Kerry wins," Warren Lush, a spokesman for Ladbrokes, one of Britain's biggest chains of betting shops, said.
"We have taken a huge amount of money on the Democrats in recent hours."
Reuters reports: Blogs Send Stocks Into Reverse ...
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks reversed course suddenly on Tuesday and drifted lower as chatter on the Internet speculated that early exit polls had Sen. John Kerry leading the presidential election in key swing states.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 42 points, or 0.42 percent, at 10,012. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2 points, or 0.20 percent, at 1,128. And the technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.69 of a point, or 0.03 percent, at 1,979.
Traders said that part of the slide was due to Internet blogs indicating that Kerry was ahead in key swing states.
"That's what we're hearing," said Lisa Hansen, head trader at Transamerica Investment Management. "Apparently the blogs are saying that Kerry is ahead in one or two of the swing states and that's why the market dipped."
If we’ve got this sort of power, now's the time to abuse it. Hey, investment people! I've heard on the internet blogs that everyone who donates more than $1,000 to me via PayPal somehow wins a brand new Ford GT! And it gets 58 miles per gallon ... of water.
UPDATE. Hugh Hewitt on those exit poll numbers:
Bad news that became good news: Drudge posted a "Kerry's up in early exit poll data," and then we discover the "sample" for those numbers was 59-41% female/male. Which means that Bush is up in early exit polling when you factor in the huge male gender gap. But what it really means is that these are nonsense numbers.
Post away! I'll return in a few hours.
In his pre-Election Day message to the gullible, Michael Moore complained that "Bush refused to go after and capture Osama bin Laden", and gloated that "Bin Laden surfacing this weekend to remind the American people of your total and complete failure to capture him was a cruel trick or treat. But there he was. 3,000 people were killed and he’s laughing in your face."
And in Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore blamed Bush -- as Christopher Hitchens noted -- for sending "far too few ground troops to Afghanistan and thus allow[ing] far too many Taliban and al-Qaida members to escape."
Yet in 2001 Moore opposed sending any troops to Afghanistan. He opposed the war. Here he is in October of that year:
The last four weeks was worse than a bad classic rock extended drum solo. NOW we have resolution. NOW we know the ending -- the bombing to smithereens of a country so advanced it has, to date, laid a total of 18 miles of railroad tracks throughout the entire country! How very 19th century of them! I hope our missiles were able to take them out. I don't want this thing going on forever. Best that we obliterate them before they come up with some smart idea like the telegraph.
Also, from December 2001:
Buy! Buy! Buy! Tora! Tora! Tora! Bora! Whoo-hoo, Prince O' Peace!! Fight Team Fight! Go get 'em, George, Jr. -- we're counting on you to kill all evildoers!
Moore is the most grotesque hypocrite ever horked up by the Left, which isn’t exactly short of hork-worthy hypocrites. Osama bin Laden seems to have joined their ranks, as Mark Steyn points out in Irish Times:
If I were a Democrat, I would be deeply ashamed at the way my favourite talking-points have been taken up so enthusiastically by my country’s enemies. Not just My Pet Goat, but the whole Bush-stole-Florida thing. In the heat of partisan politics, the left has failed to understand that these are arguments that diminish not just their target but an entire political culture. Whoever’s writing Osama’s scripts doesn’t give a goat’s butt over Jeb Bush and Florida recounts – or, as the bin man calls it, "the rigging experience" in Florida - but he’s seen a Michael Moore bootleg and he’s watched CNN and he’s read month-old copies of The Guardian and he believes that this is the way you have to talk to Americans. He’s condescending to them.
CBS reports some happy market shifts:
An Election Day health-sector rally Tuesday could be tied to hopes that a perceived "market-friendly" President Bush will keep his job, plus renewed investor optimism over some key health-care firms.
Shares in a multitude of companies among health insurers and pharmaceutical distributors were up several percentage points in morning trading, a few hours after polling sites opened.
UPDATE. Also via CBS, Blogads founder Henry Copeland discusses blogs and the election:
During the presidential debates, we saw traffic double. People are tired of sitting there listening to the talking heads and they want to do a little talking themselves. They want up-to-the minute information, unbridled, unmediated, full of vitriol. The best place to go for that is blogs.
Election Day seems like we're going to have a lot more. If you want the latest rumor, you're going to go to the blogs. If you want the latest tidbit, you're going to go to the blogs.
My bet is we're going to see double the traffic that we saw during the debates. I think we're just going to get, basically, a hurricane.
He's right about that. A friend in Sydney e-mails to say his dial-up connection won't load any major US blog. Traffic be big.
UPDATE. S.E. Brenner in the UK reports similar dial-up grief. We have killed the Internet!
The Sydney Morning Herald refused to endorse either candidate in the Australian election, and continues its awkward fence-sitting over the US election. The SMH is unique among newspapers worldwide; it editorialises in news pages, but declines to editorialise in editorials.
I can't believe that a tragic gambling accident has forced me to subscribe to this rag.
UPDATE. In the SMH, Bill Bryson writes that the Bush twins look like "the sort of young women you would expect to see jumping out of a cake at a bachelor party". Well, if appearances are any guide, Bryson looks like the sort of middle-aged man you would expect to dive into a cake at a bachelor party, on the chance there might be a svelte boy inside it.
• Natalie Solent is much more confident of a Bush win after considering historic underpolling for conservatives. This is a standard feature in Australian elections, and was evident in the last -- perhaps to a greater degree than usual.
• Moveon.org has been ordered to move on.
• Joseph Bottum on South Dakota Tom: "Last night, Tom Daschle threw his campaign into the shredder. What is it that makes South Dakota politicians do this kind of thing? There must be something in that Missouri River water that makes even the best of political pros tuck their thumbs into their armpits and squawk like demented chickens."
• Burning Bush! Well, burning Bush campaign vans, anyway.
• Sheila O'Malley has a November surprise.
• Matt Welch supplies ten last-minute reasons for voting against George Bush.
• Ken Layne supplies one reason, after a spitefully ill-timed Reno visit by Dick Cheney: "Thanks for blocking off half the town while my wife and I tried to get downtown for a childbirth class. Good work, hater!"
• Andrew Sullivan promises to support the winning candidate ... the same way he supported both (at different times) during the past few years.
• Vote for Bush! Avoid speeding tickets!
• Ever get Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel mixed up? One’s fat, one’s skinny, but which is which? Andrew Bolt has the same problem with Osama stan Laurel and Michardy Moore.
• Colby Cosh projects a media projection: "There is a tiny but not negligible chance that we will never know who won, and that the republic will devolve into a bloodied quilt of warring statelets ..."
Kevin Brady said his District 8 opponent Jim Wright's "crazy" Internet postings are a cause for concern, especially comments he described as anti-Israeli.
Throughout the campaign Wright, a New Caney Democrat, has taken down more and more of the controversial postings on his site.
In one removed link, Wright wrote, "There exists a group called JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) that controls the actions of (President George W.) Bush and the American congress [sic] in fear of their lives. This group is Jewish out of Israel and are one real causes [sic] of the Middle East problems."
Democrat James Wright contemplates the Jewish menace yesterday
The site also linked to articles such as "Wake up America: Your Government is Hijacked by Zionism" and "The Roots of the (Middle East) Conflict are Zionists, Not the Arabs."
Wright denied Friday claims that he was anti-Israel.
Take another look at Wright's site; note how it bears the multi-coloured, random-font design only permitted for use among the mentally ill. Puce's copywright lawyers will be interested in his theft of the CLICK™ motif, too.
UPDATE. Read the third post in reply to The Courier's news article. Are any Houston-area bloggers on to this clown?
Michael Moore makes a film critical of the bloodthirsty, dissent-crushing Bush regime -- then turns up at the Republican National Convention without incident. Consider the fate of a director who made a film critical of Islam:
Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, who made a controversial film about Islamic culture, has been stabbed and shot dead in Amsterdam, Dutch police say.
Police arrested a man in a nearby park after an exchange of gunfire.
Van Gogh, 47, had received death threats after his film Submission, on violence against women in Islamic societies, was shown on Dutch TV.
Eyewitnesses quoted by Radio Netherlands said Van Gogh was attacked while cycling by a man dressed in a traditional Moroccan jallaba.
Why on earth did John Kerry keep this concealed until the election campaign was almost at an end?
In an interview broadcast Monday on CBS' "The Early Show," Kerry said voters should reject Republican charges that he's not tough enough to take charge, and he recalled HIS OWN VIETNAM EXPERIENCE.
What a vote-winner! And there’s more:
"When I turned my boat in Vietnam into an ambush and I went straight into the ambush and overran it, I didn't see George Bush or Dick Cheney at my side," Kerry said.
Maybe Bill Clinton was blocking Kerry’s view.
UPDATE. John Kerry’s aides, according to the Boston Globe, have become "increasingly superstitious":
The Massachusetts senator has even forced one of his speechwriters -- a diehard Yankees fan -- to wear a Red Sox cap full time for more than a week now in hopes of conjuring some special Boston magic.
Elsewhere on the trail, he pulls out his lucky buckeye on nearly every stop in Ohio, and still carries a four-leaf clover given to him as he bounced back in Iowa caucus polls to a surprise victory.
Where's the magic hat?
UPDATE II. Republican wonks are feeling unlucky:
I spent the better part of Monday on the phone with Republican Hill staffer after Republican Hill staffer after … well, you get the picture. I was on the phone a lot. The question we all asked each other: “What are you hearing?” The conventional wisdom from the DC GOP kids? House Republicans will be fine, pick up of maybe three in the US Senate, but Bush will lose. Again, this is not based on "inside" numbers, it's just the feelings of those Hill staffers we talked to. (Bear in mind, Hill staffers tend to think everyone is stupid except them, so take it for what it’s worth.)
People, you may notice a block of numbers right below the "post" button in the comment section. I had no time to put up directions, but you have to enter the number into the field below it in order to post your comment. This is an anti-troll/spammer device. Thanks for your cooperation.
Counting is underway:
HART'S LOCATION, N.H. -- The nation's first Election Day votes were cast and counted just after midnight Tuesday in this mountain hamlet, with President Bush and John Kerry each receiving 15 votes. Ralph Nader received one.
Minutes later, the 26 registered voters in Dixville Notch, about 50 miles to the north, split 19 for Bush and 7 for Kerry.
That's good enough for me. I'm calling New Hampshire for Bush.
UPDATE. MegaPundit reports Bush leading in Ohio:
Bush: 49.87% with 800,950 votes.
Kerry: 49.12% with 788,799 votes
That's after about 34% of votes -- mostly absentee/early -- have been counted, based on the total four years ago.
UPDATE II. As goes Dixville Notch, so goes the nation? John Quiggin sees hopeful signs for Kerry.
UPDATE III. Via contributor J.F. Beck -- who is helping hold this site together tonight, along with fellow contributor Alan R. M. Jones, comments czar Andrea Harris, and a torch-wielding mob of e-mail correspondents -- we learn: "There has been a recount in Hart's Location New Hampshire. The new totals: Bush 16, Kerry 14, Nader 1. This is the verified total."
A Mr. Jordan was just testifying at the hearing in Daschle's lawsuit to stop poll watching. He worked for Howard Dean in Iowa. He said that poll watchers would "roll their eyes" and make a "negative face" at times and that, in his opinion, this constituted "intimidation" of voters.
UPDATE: Another report on Daschle's first witness, the Howard Dean worker. He's a lawyer from Virginia who works for Lexis-Nexis and has been in South Dakot for 48 hours. He testified to "note-taking" and "faces" being made. He said nothing was said to voters and nobody was disenfranchised. They are taking a short break before the next witness. Lawyers in the courtroom think this is an absurd joke.
Lots more, including many quality links, in Jon’s report.
UPDATE. Why does Ohio always attract stupid meddling Europeans?
About 60 mainly European election observers have taken up their posts in six states, including Florida and Ohio, saying they hope their presence will serve as a "preventative to the shenanigans" during voting tomorrow.
"We will tell the people of Ohio whether their election is free and fair," said one of the observers, Hugo Coveliers, a Belgian senator who plans to monitor voting in Cleveland.
How wonderfully non-arrogant of you, Hugo.
In Sweden, the government has agreed to help one Guantanamo veteran sue his American captors for damages.
Meanwhile, Osama is on tour to promote his new tape:
The finale to a children's pantomime of Aladdin at a New Zealand theatre was Osama bin Laden belting out the Frank Sinatra hit "New York, New York".
If Arthur Chrenkoff could vote in the US election, he'd vote for:
(according to, respectively: Al Gore's daughter Karenna, Teresa Heinz Kerry's son Chris, Teresa herself (before a retraction), the Deputy Chairman of the DNC Ben Johnson, the Kerry campaign, John Kerry himself, and John Edwards's wife Elizabeth)
Nice people. As Tom Wolfe (see post below) observes: "You are considered twisted and retarded if you support Bush in this election. I have never come across a candidate who is so reviled. Reagan was sniggered it, but this is personal, real hatred." Yet the Democrats complain about a divisive President ...
Tom Wolfe on George W. Bush:
"I think support for Bush is about not wanting to be led by East-coast pretensions. It is about not wanting to be led by people who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment."
And on John Kerry:
"He is a man no one should worry about, because he has no beliefs at all. He is not going to introduce some manic radical plan, because he is poll-driven, and it is therefore impossible to know where or for what he stands."
John Kerry talks a lot about "outsourcing" the pursuit for Osama bin Laden, and complains that the US shouldn't have attacked Saddam Hussein before bin Laden was captured. But let's see what he was saying in December 2001, when the assault on Tora Bora was at its peak:
BILL O'REILLY: One of the possible Democratic presidential candidates next time around, Senator Joseph Lieberman, told THE FACTOR last week he wants to go in and get Saddam. Joining us now is another possible presidential contender, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. And do you feel the same way as Joe Lieberman, senator?
JOHN KERRY: Essentially, yes. I’m not sure exactly what Joe means by that, but I think we ought to put the heat on Saddam Hussein. I’ve said that for a number of years, Bill. I criticized the Clinton administration for backing off of the inspections when Ambassador Butler was giving us strong evidence that we needed to continue. I think we need to put the pressure on no matter what the evidence is about September 11. But I think we have to do it in a thoughtful and intelligent way.
O'REILLY: How would you put enough pressure on him to open up inspections again?
KERRY: Well, I’ll reinvigorate that process as step number one, and I think the administration is now suddenly starting to move in that direction. I think you have to work our allies sufficiently to pull that component of the effort back together. But the second thing I would do, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it, is back opposition more openly, and do it in a way that begins to put a counterinsurgency in the country itself.
There are other members of the opposition. There are people who are outside of the country prepared to go in, there are others inside the country. And I believe -- I mean, I was in Safra (ph), I went there when the signing of the armistice took place at the end of the war. And I remember seeing that land, which lent itself, in my judgment, considerably, to the creation of almost an enclave, which I thought we should have done then, and I think is one way to begin to approach things now.
Via Jon Henke, who notes: "Today, John Kerry criticizes Bush for 'divert[ing] critical resources to Iraq' and 'outsourc[ing] the job [of getting Osama Bin Laden] to Afghan warlords'. But, at the very time we were involved in the job of getting Osama Bin Laden, John Kerry was advocating the diversion of resources to Iraq ... in order to outsource a war to Iraqi warlords."
Al-Jazeera has released a complete translation of Osama bin Laden’s latest video. In it, the cave-hopping beardo lists his trusted journalistic contacts:
This is the message which I sought to communicate to you in word and deed, repeatedly, for years before September 11th.
And you can read this, if you wish, in my interview with Scott in Time Magazine in 1996, or with Peter Arnett on CNN in 1997, or my meeting with John Weiner in 1998.
You can observe it practically, if you wish, in Kenya and Tanzania and in Aden. And you can read it in my interview with Abdul Bari Atwan, as well as my interviews with Robert Fisk.
The latter is one of your compatriots and co-religionists and I consider him to be neutral. So are the pretenders of freedom at The White House and the channels controlled by them able to run an interview with him? So that he may relay to the American people what he has understood from us to be the reasons for our fight against you?
Congratulations, Robert! At least one person on this planet considers you to be neutral; too bad he’s a psychopath. More from your friend:
So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future. He fits the saying, "Like the naughty she-goat who used her hoof to dig up a knife from under the earth ... "
" ... with her stunning hindquarters raised tantalisingly towards the village chieftain." Also in Osama's speech: a telling pop-culture reference to "black gold".
From reader Seph:
A few of us Sydneysiders who happen to be on Karl Rove's payroll are having a get together at the Rocks on Wednesday night to celebrate or mourn the US election results. if anyone's interested in coming, email me.
I'll try to be there. My election prediction, by the way: narrow popular-vote win to Bush, biggish electoral college win to Bush. But he will need unearthly good fortune to overcome Teresa's Portuguese gypsy magic. US reader Julie has a plan:
I'm going to find me an Aussie, grab 'em, and rub their head for good luck.
Ha! Not a chance. I saw it last night (media preview; the film is yet to open in Australia). It's hilarious -- and a guaranteed Bush vote-grabber, as sour Daily Kos seemed to realise:
The apparent goal of the movie was to make it a satirical jab at every facet of the "war on terror". Problem is, I think our side got the worst of it.
Take this as a personal invitation from me to you (you can ask Dennis Miller along for the ride as well) to escort you on a trip, which I took last Christmas. We'll fly to Amman, Jordan and I'll ride with you 12 hours through the Sunni Triangle into Fallujah and Baghdad and I'll show you around. When we return, make all the fun you want.
Penn deserves to be mauled by housecats. Old media was troubled by a perceived lack of balance:
New York Times critic A.O. Scott sides with those who espy a "pronounced conservative streak amid the anarchy," noting that while the film skewers numerous liberal figures in the media, including Sean Penn and Michael Moore, "right-wing media figures escape derision altogether." Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe & Mail makes a similar point: "Hollywood liberals who criticize their government's foreign policy are gleefully decapitated, dismembered and demolished. Right-wing apologists, never mind George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, are unscathed."
You know, someone could make a lot of money with a film that mocked Bush and Rumsfeld. Anyway, Team America; go see it.
UPDATE. More good cinematic news for Bush:
Filmmaker Michael Moore and distributors behind Fahrenheit 9/11 have clinched last-minute deals to bring his anti-Bush documentary to pay-per-view television and the internet on the eve of the US presidential election.
The "honorable discharge" on the Kerry Web site appears to be a Carter administration substitute for an original action expunged from Mr. Kerry's record, according to Mark Sullivan, who retired as a captain in the Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps Reserve in 2003 after 33 years of service as a judge advocate. Mr. Sullivan served in the office of the Secretary of the Navy between 1975 and 1977.
On behalf of the Kerry campaign, Michael Meehan and others have repeatedly insisted that all of Mr. Kerry's military records are on his Web site at johnkerry.com, except for his medical records.
"If that is the case," Mr. Sullivan said, "the true story isn't what was on the Web site. It's what's missing. There should have been an honorable discharge certificate issued to Kerry in 1975,if not earlier, three years after his transfer to the Standby Reserve-Inactive."
Another retired Navy Reserve officer, who served three tours in the Navy's Bureau of Personnel, points out that there should also have been a certified letter giving Mr. Kerry a choice of a reserve reaffiliation or separation and discharge. If Mr. Meehan is correct and all the documents are indeed on the Web site, the absence of any documents from 1972 to 1978 in the posted Kerry files is a glaring hole in the record.
Read the whole piece for further less-than-honorable-discharge theorising. The conclusion:
All officials with knowledge of what specifically happened in Mr. Kerry's case are muzzled by the Privacy Act of 1974.The act makes it a crime for federal employees to knowingly disclose personal information or records.
Only Mr. Kerry can do that. As of this writing, Mr. Kerry has failed to sign a Standard Form 180 giving the electorate and the press access to his Navy files.
Sen. John Kerry has gotten the white-glove treatment from the press, garnering more praise from journalists than any other presidential candidate in the last quarter-century, according to a new analysis of almost 500 news stories released today by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
"It's not just that John Kerry has gotten better press than President Bush before this election, he's gotten better press than anyone else since 1980. That's significant," said Bob Lichter, director of the D.C.-based nonpartisan research group.
(Via non-partisan researcher J.F. Beck)
The Guardian's Nick Cohen on polling:
The reason why pollsters fear their racket is 'on the way to extinction' is that the public is fed up with being pestered by hucksters. If you think about it, talking to a polling company is an odd way to behave. Strangers ask you to give them time and personal information for nothing so that they can profit from it.
Hmmm. Isn't that also what journalists do?
UPDATE. Speaking of profits, the Bill Murray movie promo at left is the first blog ad placed by the Disney company. Click the ad to see Murray punch Owen Wilson.
Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks is on the brink of insanity, suffering severe mood swings and not able to comprehend reality.
Sounds like that was Dave’s problem all along. Maybe he’s run out of mice. If you have any spare mice, or know anybody in the mouse trade, please do what you can. Send all mice to Crazy David, c/o Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Three hundred kilos should be enough.
Roger L. Simon attends a Hollywood dinner:
Naturally, the subject of the election came up and I decided - maybe it was the vodka - to let it rip and say I was voting for Bush. One woman shrieked at the top of her lungs. The others just looked at me in incredulity.
Lots of fun on this in Roger's comments, including an update on Christopher Hitchens: "An email from Christopher Hitchens to my friend Ron Radosh indicates that Hitchens's comments on the election in Slate, which we posted here, were actually intended as an endorsement of Bush not Kerry as the editors indicated. When my daughter first sent me the Hitchens comments I told her they didn't look like an endorsement of Kerry to me, but then she sent me the Slate headline which indicated that they were. Now the record is clear. Hitchens is voting for Bush."
UPDATE. A prominent Wall Street Journal commentator is opposed to Bush's re-election.
Look at these ridiculous hypocrites:
An adviser to the Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry has criticised John Howard for publicly wishing for victory for George Bush in this week's election.
A senior defence official in the Clinton administration and prospective senior official in a Kerry administration, Kurt Campbell, said this was "a little inappropriate"
"I've always said that American politicians should stay out of Australian politics, particularly election campaigns, and the reverse applies – that we shouldn't be trying to meddle or play favourites when other countries have got their democratic decisions to make," he said in Sydney.
That would be the same Mark Latham who described George W. Bush as "the most dangerous and incompetent president in living memory".
Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd says Mr Howard has angered US presidential hopeful John Kerry with his decision to endorse his opponent.
Point one: How the hell would Rudd know?
Point two: Oh no! Kerry is angry! Howard better get some extra bodyguards.
Barbara Plett is a foreign correspondent for the BBC -- in the sense that her views are foreign to anyone with any moral capacity:
Though full of uncertainties, Mr Arafat's life has been one of sheer dedication and resilience.
And terrorism. Don't forget all the terrorism.
To be honest, the coverage of Yasser Arafat's illness and departure from Palestine was a real grind. I churned out one report after the other, without any sense of drama.
I agree; the event needed more drama, which could have been supplied by the IDF.
We hovered around the gate to his compound, swarming around the Palestinian officials who drove by, poking our microphones through their dark, half-open windows.
Car swarming? In the Palestinian territories? That's unheard of.
But where were the people, I wondered, the mass demonstrations of solidarity, the frantic expressions of concern?
Barbara is more Palestinian than the Palestinians.
Was this another story we Western journalists were getting wrong, bombarding the world with news of what we think is an historic event, while the locals get on with their lives?
She's completely missed the news angle here: locals don't care about Yasser! His era is over!
Yet when the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry... without warning.
Oh, please ...
In quieter moments since I have asked myself, why the sudden surge of emotion?
Because you're a reason-handicapped BBC hag?
I suppose there was a pathos about the strong contrast between this and other journeys Yasser Arafat has made.
His journeys to the local plastic explosives warehouse, his journeys to Suicide Belts R Us ...
I remember well when the Israelis re-conquered the West Bank more than two years ago, how they drove their tanks and bulldozers into Mr Arafat's headquarters, trapping him in a few rooms, and throwing a military curtain around Ramallah.
I remember how Palestinians admired his refusal to flee under fire. They told me: "Our leader is sharing our pain, we are all under the same siege."
And so was I.
Maybe you should apply for Yasser's job once the old bastard dies.
Despite his obvious failings - his use of corruption, his ambivalence towards violence, his autocratic way of ruling - no one could accuse him of cowardice.
He's bravely refused to come outside for three years.
Throughout his years of revolution, peace, and uprising, the Palestinian leader has been an enduring national symbol.
Which is something of an achievement ... for someone who doesn’t have a nation.
But as he boarded the helicopter with faltering steps, he also stood for something else: for a people exhausted by war, bereft of hope, abandoned by their brothers, and fearful of the future.
Perhaps that is why so few Palestinians saw him off. In him, still, they see themselves.
Or maybe they just don't give a fuck.
(Via Norm Geras)
Australian poll-monkey Malcolm Mackerras predicts a Kerry landslide:
My key prediction in an article published in February this year was this: "On Monday, December 20, 2004, the Electoral College will meet and 327 votes will be cast for John Kerry and 211 for George W. Bush."
The article went on to predict that the 327 votes for Kerry would be made up as follows:
"First, he will win 260 votes by carrying every state carried by Al Gore in 2000. Second, he will win 27 votes in Florida, four in New Hampshire, 11 in Missouri, 20 in Ohio and five in Nevada."
Subject to a quite minor revision, that remains my forecast.
Mackerras has been known in the past to be mistaken. Story via the always-excellent Currency Lad. Meanwhile, emotional academic Chris Sheil writes that John Kerry is a dog. A dog that is also a "compaignon", which I think is some type of miniature French mushroom. All hail President Fungus le Canine!
Got a call on Friday night from John Martinkus. A very angry John Martinkus.
We had an interesting, not entirely hostile conversation. Martinkus was furious that I'd described as puzzling several aspects of his abduction; I replied that, well, some aspects were puzzling. For example: why no attempt to lock the doors as kidnappers approached his car? His answer: there was an attempt. The early '80s Mercedes had driver-operated central locking, which the driver failed to operate. Martinkus was screaming at him to lock the doors. In his panic, the driver simply didn't.
I asked Martinkus if he'd been struck during his struggle with the gunman in his car (there is no mention in any account I've read of Martinkus being hit, which seemed odd given he was outnumbered and trying to wrest a gun from one of his attackers). Turns out he was hit, and at a crucial moment; the blow caused him to lose his grip on the gunman's hands, ending his attempt to grab the weapon. In earlier interviews, Martinkus explained, he'd been exhausted. An understandable lack of clarity resulted.
Martinkus is opposed to the war and is sympathetic to what he describes as the "resistance"; I find this abhorrent, which is as he finds my pro-war views. He now rejects his post-capture comments, however, as "wrong" and said in "the heat of the moment". Fair enough. I apologised to Martinkus for causing him any hurt, but do not agree with his assertion that, because I haven’t been to Iraq, I'm not qualified to question his reporting -- or, by implication, the reporting of any other journalist based in Iraq. This applies especially in the case of journalists who are also activists (a category Martinkus would argue does not include himself). Soldiers and military leaders are far more involved than journalists in the Iraq conflict, and their actions and statements are routinely questioned by journalists and commentators.
For a more expansive account of Martinkus's capture and release, read his piece in this week's Bulletin (subscription required).
The late British actor Kenneth Williams wasn't merely an entertaining presence in Carry On movies; he was also something of a Pinewood Studios Nostradamus. Via Birdman, here's a July 27, 1981, extract from Williams's diary:
"Watched the Panorama [BBC current affairs] programme about Iraq and it was the usual pious rubbish about Saddam Hussein being a tyrant and a torturer. When such a leader is removed, the ensuing chaos is deplored by the same censurers."
(Hat-tip to reader Alex Lasky)
I’m usually in favour of kicking students, as a matter of general principle, but this seems a little excessive:
A part-time college instructor has apologized for kicking a student because he was wearing a Republican shirt.
Fort Lewis College student Mark O'Donnell said he was showing people his College Republicans sweat shirt, which said "Work for us now … or work for us later," when Maria Spero kicked him in the leg at an off-campus restaurant.
Spero then said "she should have kicked me harder and higher," said O'Donnell. "To physically take that out on someone because you disagree with them, that is completely wrong."
Spero later explained in a letter to the kicked O'Donnell that her action was a literal knee-jerk reaction:
"I acted entirely inappropriately by kicking you, giving vent to a thoughtless knee-jerk political reaction that should never have happened," she wrote.
UPDATE. Tony Pierce faces a kicking, too.
Josh Marshall explains why the Democrats are a bad choice during a time of war:
One of the Democrats' greatest weaknesses: their vulnerability to getting knocked off stride by the rush of events, their tendency to fret that all is lost, almost to indulge in it, when the car hits a simple bump in the road.
For a year and a half, they've told us there were no WMD, Saddam wasn't a threat, and "BUSH LIED!!!!!!!!!" about it all. I happen to disagree with that, but there's no doubt that simply by hammering it home all day and night the Dems had some effect. Now they're saying whoa, let's back up, yes, as it happens, these non-existent weapons that Bush lied about the non-threatening Saddam having he did, in fact, have -- and that fool Bush let the non-existent weapons get away.
The Guardian reports:
'We don't believe anyone can argue about the newsworthiness of this latest Osama bin Laden recording. Any news organisation would have aired the tape if they had received it,' Jihad Ballout, an al-Jazeera spokesman, said.
Er ... Jihad Ballout?