WINONA’S EXCUSE: "It was research for a movie."

In related news, latest analysis of the Osama bin Laden confession tape has picked up a previously unnoticed conversation between the terrorist leader and an unidentified, pony-tailed American:

OBL: "So that's my take after percentages, or before? I don't want to get screwed on the points here, Allah be praised."

UPTA: "Before, Binny baby, before! And, hey, we can bump that number up a little if you commit to a sequel. Townes is developing a script that looks really …"

OBL: "Not so fast, Hollywood infidel! We must analyse the test screenings of 'Cave Critter' before I even think of committing to 'Critter 2'. Or I will be … how do you corrupt Western filth say it … "

UPTA: "'Jim Belushi'?"

OBL: "Exactly! Exactly correct, putrid spawn of imperial tyrannical power! So, have you heard from Disney? About the buddy picture? God is great."

UPTA: "Oh, yeah … the buddy picture … it's … it’s moving along, Binny. Ummm, some casting problems, but nothing serious …"

OBL: "Problems?"

UPTA: "Well, Heston is reluctant, and Willis – hey, you know what he's like – and don't even mention Crowe … "

OBL: "What about Robin Williams? Don’t head-fuck with me, product of corrupt Zionist forces! Williams signed as soon as we showed him the preliminary treatment, honour to Islam."

UPTA: "Yeah, but his people are telling me the role is a little too cutesie for Robin … he wants to do some serious acting work."

OBL: (mumbled aside to an aide) "You're sure we've run out of anthrax?"

THE 11am BLOG UPDATE: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Bourbonized angel "confused" re Sully politics; mercurial conservatism; tape release is signal of Cave boy’s end days; pro-gay Dubya; dim twins Scheer and Molly

Moira Breen: Debasing herself for Layne and Penny’s online pleasure

Charles Johnson: Little Green Footpoll; His Bowler not holding back; Arabs need to address root causes; bin Laden training camp – part terror machine, part McDonald’s playpen

Glenn Reynolds: Canada accepts Afghans, shames Australia; Sunera Thobani’s softwood dreams; Winona’s root causes; Arab journalist drunk on the job; not Lenny!

Natalie Solent: Multiple errors, including embarrassing Latin gaffe that absolutely everybody noticed; sorry, poor Swamp Thing; That Osama Video

Matt Welch: Au revoir, blogsteurs

Perry de Havilland and pals: History exposes Eddie Heath as even greater buffoon; cheery Pashtun greeting for tyrannical Western oppressors; almost as many attacking Goldberg as attacked Fisk

Steven Den Beste: Germany’s nuclear paradox; WW2 theories; look out, Yasser; hoping for better special effects in terror sequel "Osama Confesses Again"

Rand Simberg: Bourbon wars continue; Zionist mastery of shoddy video technique; new Moussaoui-flavoured Kool Aid

Ken Layne: Bin Laden tape needs jeep-chasing dinosaurs; closing in on Sammy; Cracker Barrel run by crackers?; Reuters quivering, as usual

Brian Linse: Blonde alert; killing Binny; Supreme Court memories; Solent’s loveless marriage; what was Clinton thinking?; 85 per cent agreement with The Prof

Andrew Hofer: Tragic gulf between haves and have-nots root cause of Winona’s defiant heroism; surveillance video of Ryder theft clearly fake; Fisk attacked by Screen Actors Guild refugees, "understands their anger"

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna Canada ideal location for Siberia-style prison camp; c’mon, Rummy, give us one more war!; Vehrs subject to vile sexist slur; NMD mini-feud threatens Vehrs-Adragna partnership

Damian Penny: Ashcroft’s ’Nam dodge; debunking Osama video myths; Canadian politician loses mind, credibility; let's beat up Fisk again

Dr Frank: Useful new phrase; British art almost as horrific as British cricket team; Johnnie Walker remains inexplicable, but parents bring to mind aforementioned useful new phrase; face to face with The Guardian

James Lileks: The Winona-Walker connection; Abbie Hoffman, pig; video response from the MetaFilterarians; porpoise-polishing prankster;

Iain Murray: Luddite barriers to free trade; Good Blair linked; short attention span is a modern cur … hey, look over there! A kitty!

Jay L. Zilber: For and against NMD; twenty-year anniversary of unremarkable business interview

REINVENT THE DISCOURSE! REINVENT THE DISCOURSE! Margo Kingston, online voice of the Sydney Morning Herald, has been worrying about Australia’s recent election, which the conservatives easily won:

"I've been thinking a lot about how the `progressive' discourse not only converted no-one, but alienated many."

So she issued a call at her Webdiary for lefties to come up with snappy new ways to make progressive issues attractive. Remember, as Margo says: "Reinventing the discourse is crucial to a fight back."

With a rallying cry like that, no wonder her readers’ responses are so … well, alienating. Here’s one, from Mark "buy a vowel" Pengryffyn:

"The absurd oversimplification of a bipolar political model was encouraged by the propaganda excesses of the cold wars but has never really been of much use for understanding the political scene …

"However, if you start to add a few more axes (thats plural of `axis'), then you start to get a more interesting picture. The classic is of course the Totalitarian-Anarchist axis, which gives you Right-Wing Anarchists (Libertarians), and Left-Wing Totalitarians (Stalinists). I tend also to think in terms of a `Green-Brown' axis, and a `Nationalist-Globalist' axis. I believe it was Tim Leary who came up with the `Neophile-Neophobe' axis, and you might be able to make a case for a `Tolerance-Bigotry' axis."

Yep. That’s won my vote.

STONED: Oliver Stone has had a lucky run with his sort-of-semi-based-on-almost-true-stories movies. Born On The Fourth of July, for example, was about the Vietnam War, so lots of people who may have contradicted Stone’s 1989 version of events were dead.

Anyone who hung out with The Doors can’t remember anything from 1967 to 1972, so Stone could’ve cast Don Rickles as the Lizard King and who would know to object? And there are so many insane JFK fantasies flying about that Stone’s hyper-conspiracy almost made sense.

I guess Stone figured that with Ronald Reagan not giving many interviews these days, the coast was clear for his latest TV picture: The Day Reagan Was Shot. Time to crank up the conspiracies, get the cameras rolling, and film this sucker in full Distort-O-Rama!

But Richard V. Allen, Reagan’s first national security adviser, is still lucid. And he has audio tape of every significant moment following the 1981 assassination attempt.

Oliver Stone, you are soooooooooo busted.


BINNY, OLD BEAN, YOUR TIME IS ALMOST UP. Tough decision this weekend: whether to watch Australia defeat South Africa in the First Test, or watch CNN until I see someone running around with bin Laden’s head on a stick.

INDEPENDENCE IS A GOOD THING. And journalism is a good thing. But the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism is a very, very bad thing.

The taxpayer-funded ACIJ is run by the University of Technology, Sydney, and claims to be "fully committed to the principle that democratic societies require independent, critical and investigative journalism of the highest standard. The ACIJ's Mission is to support this principle as actively and broadly as possible."

Its magazine, Reportage Online, is produced by the university’s journalism students. It, too, has the loftiest, most noble aims: "We recognise the importance of open dialogue and debate. No topic or question is beyond the boundaries of Reportage Online."

No topic? No question? Why, you lying little student punk bastards …

Here’s the complete range of opinions expressed in Reportage Online’s special report on September 11 and the US assault on the Taliban:

Alan Ramsay of the Sydney Morning Herald donates a piece titled "America’s Chickens Come Home to Roost", featuring the usual SMH line:

"Americans are reaping the consequences of a monster they helped create but could not control … nobody should be blind as to why the US is now counting the cost, in the unthinkable thousands, in the lives of its own citizens cut down on home soil in their very place of work."

John Pilger, despiser of democracy, takes a balanced approach:

"Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims - principally the victims of US fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth."

Former Prime Minister (and pantsless Memphis tourist) Malcolm Fraser moans about Australia’s inhumanity towards Afghan refugees (who arrive without documentation and after bypassing several other nations en route):

"The tragedy in the United States must not be allowed to blur the inhumanity of our official attitude to boat people, themselves fleeing oppression and terror. Australians are being led in the wrong direction about asylum seekers."

Geofrey Robertson, lawyer and human rights holy-man, worries that Osama bin Laden "could not be fairly tried by a New York jury", because they would be "too emotionally involved in the crime". His solution:

"A special prosecutor can be appointed to head an international team of investigators to present evidence collected by the US and its allies to an existing panel of international judges (some from Muslim countries) at the Hague, under protocols which already guarantee fair trial."

Tamim Ansary’s notorious global email ("We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age") is there, as is a worshipful interview with Ansary.

An asinine piece by UTS journalism graduate Vanessa Muir, who was in New York on September 11, demonstrates what becomes of young minds exposed to the UTS agit-prop machine:

"New York is really pulling together. It’s also a relief to have Bill Clinton back in town – he and Chelsea are going around everywhere, talking to everybody. Hillary has been impressive too, but there is just something so comforting about Bill – apparently people at the Amoury, holding photos of those missing, just wanted to hug him, be near him."

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan gets to add its voice, unimpeded by any logic or facts (or proper punctuation or grammar):

"It was the government of the United States who supported Pakistani dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq in creating thousands of religious schools from which the germs of Taliban emerged. In the similar way, as is clear to all, Osama Bin Laden has been the blue-eyed boy of CIA …The US government should consider the root cause of this terrible event …We believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people."

Being dumb students, the UTS crowd are suckers for Michael Moore:

"The pundits are in full diarrhea mode, gushing on about the ‘terrorist threat’ and today’s scariest dude on planet earth — Osama bin Laden. Hey, who knows, maybe he did it. But, something just doesn’t add up.

"Am I being asked to believe that this guy who sleeps in a tent in a desert has been training pilots to fly our most modern, sophisticated jumbo jets with such pinpoint accuracy that they are able to hit these three targets without anyone wondering why these planes were so far off path?"

Robert "Sugar Ray" Fisk is lovingly included, of course:

"The malign influence of history and our share in its burden must surely stand in the dark with the suicide bombers. Our broken promises, perhaps even our destruction of the Ottoman Empire, led inevitably to this tragedy. America has bankrolled Israel's wars for so many years that it believed this would be cost-free. No longer so."

And that, my friends, is the entirety of the UTS journalism school’s exhaustive examination of September 11: a few cut-and-pasted articles (all from the left), an email from a friend, and an activist homepage. There’s no analysis. No investigation. No contrasting views. Not even a single question asked.

As well as showing why it’s important to keep attacking the arguments of mouth-breathers like Moore, suntan socialists like Pilger, unpanted former politicians and punch-drunk Brit ideologues – because these are the leftists who kids think actually make sense – this Reportage disgrace reveals at least one other thing:

That the UTS journalism course isn’t a journalism course. It’s a political movement.

IS THERE A HANDWRITING EXPERT IN THE HOUSE? We need expert opinion on the similarity between the infantile penmanship of Australian Taliban doofus David Hicks and insufferable anti-war cartoonist Michael Leunig.

Hicks, incidentally, was rejected by Australia’s armed forces because he was an illiterate idiot and habitual chicken boner. He was accepted by the Taliban for the same reasons

Partial vindication: a couple of days ago I speculated that Hicks may have been a member of an Australian commie activist group. No evidence emerged yesterday to support that, but according to the latest interview with his ex-girlfriend, Hicks did have anti-commerce, anti-future ideals:

"He didn't like the way things were going in the world. He didn't like computers and the economics of the world. He just wanted people to be heard. I guess it shows you there was method in his madness. He probably believed what he was doing was right."

"He just wanted people to be heard." No wonder he joined the Taliban, then, with their devotion to liberty and freedom of speech.

The Guardian, by the way, ever sensitive to the feelings of terrorist scum, politely refers to Hicks as a former "poultry processor". He was a chicken boner, you fools! That’s the actual job title. Every day David Hicks would bone hundreds of chickens. He’d bone ’em good, then come back the next day and bone hundreds more.

He was also a kangaroo boner.

THE (slightly delayed) 11am BLOG UPDATE: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Joanne Jacobs: Walgreens’ wisdom; Professor Unpopular; underestimated Hobbits; Luci Williams Houston

Andrew Sullivan: Bin Laden and his Cave Nazis respect nothing but force; Salon thinks Bush’s murder is a jolly lark; Gipper foresight; Sully foresight; The Witches of Marin County; who is this Ashcroft fellow?

Moira Breen: Mullah Omar and Sammy bin Laden’s freaky family ties; The Guardian expresses displeasure with the war for the 5,937,863rd time

Charles Johnson: Is The Onion ever wrong?; highly-credentialled source believes latest Laden tape is fake; Arab News running bullshit 24/7; Layne ablaze!

Glenn Reynolds: Don’t take your eyes offa them Algerians; InstaPundit aces Steyn; the booze war; craving Rachael Klein; there’s no topping Welch; James Morrow on falling fascism; Cohen’s outstanding lameness

Natalie Solent: Wearing dresses, shooting guns; BBC "terrorists"

Matt Welch: Web beats Mainstream into bloody paste; pleasant wishes for Messrs Rubin and Krugel

Perry de Havilland and pals: Boy Jonah is way uninformed; Look out! He’s got a table leg!; baklava, cigarette ash, and unconscious blogman erotica

Steven Den Beste: Specious vaccine arguments; Karzai thinks work more important than press; Stockhausen Syndrome

Rand Simberg: Criticism of that Nazi Hobbit movie; real Americans drink rum, Mr Pundit Man; a Clinton ousting fantasy; Mullah Omar’s Whirlpool of decadence

Virginia Postrel: Irv Rubin is scary, strange; universal agreement on nutso Libertarians; misidentified rock guitarists; Chuckie Schumer’s latest offence against taste, reason

Ken Layne: Brief Layne note sparks smart Kepple essay; kneeing Phil Donohue in the groin; Great Buddha of the Internet

Andrew Hofer: Bjorn Lomborg critics who don’t read his book; shaking down Amazon; Dudley Moore and the missile shield

Shiloh Butcher: Fomenting dissent at LBJ; fondness for the No Spin Zone; Bono’s macro-economic theories questioned

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna Christmas light legal dispute reversed; brutal refrigerator cull; remove their tongues!

Damian Penny: 72 black-eyed virgins? We buy that. The bin Laden video? Utterly bogus!; medicines sans brains; ultra-boring book generator Ralston Saul blames western "aggressivity" for Sept. 11; all-seeing, all knowing Dalton Camp

Dr Frank: Lagged in London

James Lileks: Car wash descends into Dante-like horror quest; Glenn Sacks was a Boy Warrior, too

Iain Murray: No trial for Binny the Caveman; unhappy Indians; Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys

Jay L. Zilber: I will meeeow for you; Zilber aces InstaPundit; yet more Welch huzzahs


A FINAL THOUGHT here before we set up the barricades for our annual Christmas street party, an event that last year ended deleriously at 3am in Max's backyard:

Back around 1996 an editor of mine of mine delivered his verdict on the Internet. It would be a good thing for publishing, he said, because it would hive off all the fringe thinkers and unreadable, ego-driven columnists into little computer ghettoes where they could be safely ignored, leaving the mainstream wide open for sensible folk.

Hasn't happened, has it? We've instead seen the opposite occur; newspapers and mainstream media have become more dominated by illogical, cranky, feeble thinkers, ideologically-barren editorialists, and people whose views would be echoed by perhaps five per cent of the reading public. Hello, Robert Fisk. Pleased to meet you, Margo Kingston. Glenn Sacks, lookin' good!

And the Net? Sure, there are nutcases aplenty, but what about all these blogger people? Does ever a day go by without a Layne, a Welch, a Reynolds, a Solent or another blogster providing something cutting, logical, well-researched, informative, and sweetly written?

Not in all the time I've been reading them. Not one single day.

HARRY POTTER IS TO WITCHCRAFT AS HOBBITS ARE TO HITLER: "The appeal of the Lord of the Rings is fundamentally racist," writes Chris Henning, in a wicked parody of the current children’s book alarmism.

Henning’s column, published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, becomes even funnier – in fact, hysterically so – once you realise that he isn’t joking. He’s totally serious.

If it had been up to him, Henning would’ve had those bastard Hobbits dragged out of Middle Earth and tried at Nuremberg. "Tolkien's entrancing vision has long been extraordinarily popular, not least with the far Right," he claims. "If you have doubts, call up a few white supremacist sites on the Web."

I’ve noticed other things about those white supremacists. They wear clothes. They own VCRs. They have websites. Slowly, a pattern begins to emerge …

Potter is racist too, says Henning: "The reader quickly identifies with this genetic elite, the wizards such as Harry, and despises the talentless, boorish muggles. How we laugh when the Dursleys get into difficulties!"

And how we laugh when Henning gets into difficulties attempting to link his Potter/Hobbit racism theory to frightening economic changes he imagines are sweeping society:

"Globalisation tells us that nothing has a value unless it can be expressed in dollars, that flexibility, change and choice are all the highest virtues …

"For many people, the consequences of this - communities destroyed or undermined, values set at nought, habits despised - have been profoundly dispiriting …

"Harry and the hobbits, with their takeaway racism, offer the same comfort for the whole world: join our tribe, be special with us, despise our subhumans."

Which is almost exactly what my eight-year-old niece told me after she’d read her first Potter book. "I feel better now about the destruction of my community, Uncle Timmy," she said. "Now can we please go out and kill some Jews? Please, Uncle Timmy! You promised!"

BONING CHICKENS FOR ISLAM: Will Vehrs at Quasipundit writes:

Here's what I would say if my son was John Walker: "I love my son and always will, but what he has done horrifies me. I ask John with all the love I have in my heart to cooperate with US forces in Afghanistan and to renounce the Taliban and al Qeda. Until he does that, I cannot offer him any support, moral or otherwise. I love my country. My son must know that I will never compromise on that."

Fat chance of getting that kind of sense from Old Man Peace 'n' Love in Marin County. But here in Australia, the father of local Talibanner David Hicks has taken a decidedly Vehrsian approach. These quotes from the Daily Telegraph:

"We don’t support him on the fact that he was fighting … I don’t believe in it and I told him what I thought of what he was doing. He’s 26 years of age. He’s his own man … He’s so adventurous, it’s only the latter part that wasn’t too bright. Now it looks as though he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison."

Well said, Terry Hicks. By the way, now that we know something of the Aust-Queda’s background, we can examine my predictions from yesterday … and discover that I couldn’t have been more wrong on almost every count.

Far from being the spawn of hyper-educated cranks, Hicks’s parents were plain old suburbanites. Hicks left high school at 14 to work on farms, and has variously been a rodeo bullrider, a horse trainer, and … what the? … a chicken-boner.

Briefly married, he has two children, now aged nine and seven.

It was during his chicken-boning years that David converted to Islam, taking the name Mohammed Dawood (trans.: "boner of chickens").

Here’s how some Australian newspapers have covered the story:

The Sydney Daily Telegraph: An excellent headline - "Meet David Hicks. An ordinary Australian boy who became a TRAITOR" – feeds into a solid story loaded with quotes and background. A classroom picture from 1985 underscores Hicks’s ordinariness, especially when contrasted with an image of Hicks alongside fellow soldiers in Kosovo.

The Australian.: "A Soldier of Misfortune" is the soft-ish headline, although "traitor" appears above another page one piece. Some tame lines from an ex-girlfriend ("I was totally shocked. I couldn’t believe it") and good legal analysis. An editorial calls for tougher penalties for Australians convicted of terrorism.

The Sydney Morning Herald.: Wimps! Pussies! They’ve described Hicks as a former "poultry worker", rather than opt for the mocking fun of "chicken-boner". And it isn’t even the main front-page story; all we get is a single column spilling to page six. The headline -- "Australian Journey To The Heart Of Darkness" – is woefully non-committal. And not a single quote from any family or friends.

The Sydney Morning Herald: chickens or boners? Take your pick.

THE 9am BLOG UPDATE: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Trey Parker and Matt Stone confess to Republicanism; compassionate conservatism defined; NYT spins, and spins, and spins; Barbra Streisand identifies diet as central issue of Sept. 11

Moira Breen: The many unidentifiable, unnamed enemies of Yvonne Ridley; motherless computer, and kicking of; fact-check those Simpsons quotes

Charles Johnson: Tareq Tahboub, incoherent ranter; Robert Scheer, quagmire abuser and Dropped Ball nominee; Salon publishes a good story

Glenn Reynolds: More Mullah Muppets; Van Hoffman’s lament - we are mapless, we are lost; Tokyo Rose Buchanan; anyone seen any massive civilian casualities around here? Anyone?

Natalie Solent: Rant #23c has been stolen!; incompetent British athlete defended; I Was A Teenage Socialist; Charles Johnson merger to form littlesolentgreenfootballs.com

Matt Welch: Paris beckons; Postrel praised; technical difficulties overwhelm

Steven Den Beste: This is more the Cold War than WW2; closeted straights; ancient Den Beste postings retrieved from the Pre-Web era; Newsweek’s accuracy celebrated

Rand Simberg: Where are all the dead civilians?; Pfaffing around; going postal porcupine-style; Reuters’ Fiskette

Virginia Postrel: Childrens’ books as measures of dynamism/statism; Ashcroft the Clintonite; go away, stupid Libertarians; once elected, New Democrats turn Old

Ken Layne: The reliability of Jackhole John; eloquent New York ramblings; Gene Simmons, the Tongue of Democracy

Andrew Hofer: Moving NYT piece on WTC survivor (one of only 12); Vietnam Artie’s death-or-glory bid for the Dropped Ball Grand Prize; bloggers are exhibitionist nobodies, claims buttheaded linguist

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Sterilise the Bay area; the DeLay delay

Damian Penny: Quagmirists Jeffrey Simpson, Judy Rebick, Heather Mallick, and Rick Salutin join the Dropped Ball nominees; bipolar Eric Margolis; whoa, even more Dropped Ball nominees … well, that’s Canada for you

James Lileks: The Mattel L’il Blinder Sharp Stick Collection; modern "art"; taste deadly steel, zombies!

Iain Murray: Two-faced Tony Blair; doomed Daschle; elitism is the solution, not the problem

NEWSFLASH: EGYPTIAN NEW ANCHOR ALMOST AS ANTI-AMERICAN AS AMERICAN NEWS ANCHORS: Hamdi Qandil is one seriously malevolent anti-US newsdude, according to this AP report.

Nothing the US does will ever earn praise from ol’ Hamdi, Egypt’s Dan Rather. Food parcels for Afghans? Just a ploy to "fatten them up before they slaughter them," he says.

"It's my pleasure if my program is responsible for more than 50 percent of anti-Americanism in Egypt," Qandil boasts. "The fact that my views are identical with my audience's is God's greatest gift to me."

Man, does the Hamdi-man ever hate Americans. "I won't be terribly sad if one or six of (America's) planes plunged, if one or sixteen of its soldiers are captured, because what we are witnessing in Afghanistan is terrorism," he said during a recent broadcast.

And the "avowed leftist" ain’t no hypocrite, neither. As the report reveals: "During an interview, Qandil flipped over the lapel of his own jacket to reveal a German designer label - proof, he said, that he rejects American products as he has counseled viewers to do. His apartment is furnished with pieces from Italy and France. He quit Marlboros for German cigarettes and drives a Jaguar."

He drives a … what?

A Jaguar?

Hamdi, pal, it says in this AP thing that you read for 12 hours every day (although this boot-sucking profile says you only read for six). You should spend a little more of those 12 or six or whatever hours on the finance pages.

Ford bought British carmaker Jaguar eleven years ago. For 2.6 billion poisonous US greenbacks. That Jag you’re driving was produced by a 100 per cent evil American multinational.

You’d best go trade it in on one of those sleek Egyptian roadsters before any of your excitable viewers read this blog. Infidel!


ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN TRIUMPH: Instapundit's Dropping the Ball contest - for the boldest errors in post-September 11 coverage – deserves some Australian input. This proud nation yields to none in its wealth of error-prone commentators.

But one towers above them all. Margo Kingston, Webdiarist for the Sydney Morning Herald, is the Empress of Error, a Monarch of Misunderstanding, and also, as you will see, the Queen of Denial.

Dropping the ball? Hell, Margo didn’t so much drop the ball as kick it out of play and refuse to retrieve it. Here’s how her coverage of September 11 and its aftermath evolved:

September 12

"I am still in the shock phase of grief. Fear isn't allowed in yet. Some people in Australia have hit out and are threatening fellow Australians. Others have used the tragedy to bolster their case against allowing any Muslims into Australia, including the Tampa boat people … others have written making judgements about the United States and suggesting it is responsible for last night's events."

A reasonable start. The Tampa boat people issue - Afghan refugees boarded the Norwegian vessel in Indonesian waters and compelled its captain to take them to Australia - was a big deal here, and people reacted as Margo says. The anti-Americanism kicked in early, but that was Margo’s readers, not her. Let’s move on …

September 13

"I can't stop crying. I know - we all know - that we are at the beginning of a journey which could destroy our hopes for a better world and plunge us into a religious war. I don't believe in God, but I'm praying that the world's leaders - including the leaders of the Muslim world - will find a way to avoid world catastrophe."

Now we’re getting somewhere. Military reaction to the attacks is a Bad Thing and will only have awful consequences. Nice of her to point out that it’s not just Western leaders who might be capable of causing "world catastrophe".

September 17

"Discussion deepens on the why of it and how to respond. Many readers have recommended the website of Mike Moore, of 'The Awful Truth' TV fame for his views on the New York bombing. His website is http://www.michaelmoore.com"

Moore alert! Moore alert! (also Crap Writing alert! and Don’t Know How To Do Links alert!) From here on, you know where we’re headed …

September 18

"A Webdiary debate is unfolding on the causes of the catastrophe, and whether the United States must take some responsibility for it."

Great work, Detective Kingston! Only seven days since the attacks and the responsible party has already been identified.

September 19

"Bush's rhetoric gets more disturbing each day."

I guess it was, if you were Osama bin Laden. A couple of days later Margo wrote that she’d decided to ignore the subject: "I was deliberately not keeping up with this topic because I couldn't see the validity of comments on a phoney war."

It was all becoming too much to cope with:

October 8

"Sitting in news conference this morning, I realised I didn't want to hear the news. The war begins. We fire our first actual shots in the war against refugees. Coles Myer profit tumbles. A tourism rescue package to be announced. The police integrity commission inquiry opens … Too much news. All of it bad."

All of it? Even the tourism deal?

October 17

"Now our troops are heading off, everything changes. Today, as the young men in my office worried about conscription, I finally rejected the separation of international and domestic issues in the campaign, and realised the [Australian federal] election is about our place in the world … Today, we commit 1,550 defence personnel to ‘the operation'. What is it? … How will we know when the war is over? How will the world have changed when that day comes?

"The enemy is stateless. Just as global capital is stateless. Just as the world's ever growing hordes of refugees are stateless. The enemy uses the mechanisms of a globalised world to wreak its havoc, and plays the global capital market to finance its evil. Revenge is pointless - the enemy wants to die to destroy us."

I don’t know where she got the conscription idea, but Margo may as well panic over that while she’s panicking over everything else. And what’s the big problem with statelessness? Hey, Margo – oysters are stateless! Duct tape is stateless! Coleslaw is stateless! Run for your life!

October 23

"Do WE support the overthrow of the Afghani government? What do WE want to replace it with? How do WE want to handle the war's victims? What is OUR vision for a new world order? What role can WE usefully play? Why should WE send our troops when only the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world - the Brits and the Canadians - are with us? What is OUR plan to handle Indonesian instability?"

What is this, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"? How many questions do I have to answer before I score the cash? And do I get a bonus for pointing out that the correct word is Afghan, not Afghani?

October 30

"The war is getting messy. It's hard to find victory or exit strategies or any other sanity in what's happening. Innocent bodies pile up. Moral certainties dissolve. Regional tensions mount. As expected by everyone except the Yanks, the Afghans are too tough to avoid sending US troops in. As predicted by everyone except the Yanks, it appears, it's supposed be a LONG war, requiring PATIENCE and INTELLIGENCE. American double standards now scream for attention."

This was written shortly before America began to take control in Afghanistan. Because Margo had been so upset about "moral certainties dissolving" and "innocent bodies piling up", I looked forward to her ecstatic relief as Kabul was liberated and the Taliban was driven from power.

But when these things happened, Margo didn’t write about them.

In fact, she never wrote about the war again.

Oh, she sometimes mentioned it in passing, as on November 6:

"The boat people sure have dominated the Webdiary during the election. When the SAS boarded the Tampa, my readership trebled overnight and contributors buried me in emails. It didn't let go even when the bombs hit America."

Essentially, Margo's war ended when the first burqa was joyously cast aside. (By the way, when did those bombs hit America? I remember some jets, and the anthrax, but I’m drawing a complete blank on bombs.) It was as though the campaign’s success somehow displeased her.

By yesterday, she’d seemingly scrubbed the entire event from her mind. September 11 and the successful assault on the Taliban didn’t even make into her list of Major Happenings for 2001:

December 12

"The big four events for me, apart from the election, were the Geoff Clark scandal, the instant death of the Knowledge Nation manifesto through a laugh-in on the diagram, Peter Costello's decision to stop Shell taking over Woodside in the ‘national interest’ and, of course, the Tampa. I'd love some personal wrap-ups."

I’m sure I don’t have to explain those events to anyone. They all received massive global coverage. The Swiss have had it up to here with the Geoff Clark scandal, and could all you Americans please stop bothering us about Shell and Woodside?

Here’s a personal wrap-up, Margo: I'm happy that we're winning. And I'd like to think that makes you happy, too.

UNINTELLIGENCE: Mark Steyn, the other good Canadian, points out that Johnnie Walker – and, by extension, our own Wombat of Islam – destroys the idea that Western infiltration of Al Queda wasn’t feasible:

"If nothing else, he's usefully nailed one of the self-serving myths peddled after the awesome intelligence failure of September 11th: Awfully sorry we failed to see it coming, said the high-ranking suits, but it's impossible to do any covert deep-cover stuff out in Afghanistan; these fellows are all cousins and brothers-in-law - a guy from Jersey would stick out like a lap-dancer in a burqa. As we now know, instead of being full of fearsome Pashtun warriors renowned down the centuries, the Omar/Osama ranks were like a novelty Gap ad, ‘Losers of Many Nations’ - misfit Saudis and Pakis, Brits and Californians. Anyone can walk in off the street and be assistant supervisor of the third-floor latrine in Tora Bora by nightfall. The only distinguishing feature about John Walker is that he's such an obvious compendium of clapped-out cliches from America's Left Coast the wonder is the mullahs didn't automatically take him for a CIA plant."

The rest of the column is similarly sharp, and includes this rebuke to the Walker apologists:

"When a 13-year-old girl wants an abortion, the Marin County crowd insists that ‘a woman's right to choose’ is sacred. Twenty-year-old men make choices, too. John Walker chose to go to war against his own country. Americans should respect his 'right to choose' and let him live with the consequences."

SWEET HOME TALIBANNA: Andrew Sullivan has been musing on Tali-Boy Walker’s decision to fight in Afghanistan being linked to his upbringing by ultra-liberal ’Frisco airheads:

"I think we have a classic case of being brought up with really permissive parents in a really permissive culture. You want to rebel, but your authority figures approve of 'rebellion' so you have to find some sort of anti-liberal rebellion. Islam fits the bill perfectly. Hip-hop was a mite too predictable and you can imagine his parents almost approving. The extremism with which he pursued his rebellion is probably inexplicable out of psychoanalysis. But the link between his chosen lifestyle and the culture in which he was born is still valid, I think."

This phenomenon, known in science as Alex Keaton Syndrome, is witnessed often. A childhood friend whose parents were elegant jazz musicians became a heavy metal devotee; Dan Gurney, the American racing driver, is the son of New York opera singers; Susan Sontag’s kid is pro-war. Usually the syndrome is benign, or even – as in the case of the Sontag offspring – beneficial.

It will be fascinating to learn the background of Australia’s Tali-Boy. Adelaide is no San Francisco (it’s known as the "city of churches") but it does have some creepy progressive elements, and a history of weird and troubling crimes.

I’m betting that the Al Queda Dingo was born to academic parents, that he didn’t follow AFL, was a member of Resistance, and was probably taken to demonstrations by his folks before he could even walk.

Legal opinions about what might happen to Tali-Aussie depend on whether he fought or merely trained with bin Laden’s men. If he only trained with them, he may go free; if he fought, he could be tried by the US under a Geneva Convention law that provides for a life sentence, or he could face charges under a local law designed in the ’70s to stop Australians becoming mercenaries in such places as Africa and Timor.

That law only carries a 14-year maximum penalty. More than 20 Australians died in the World Trade Center. Hand him over to the Americans.

REUTERS provides the most information thus far on Taliban Dundee.

The Adelaide Advertiser has at least three energetic, crafty reporters. Find the parents of this idiot, and grill them mercilessly.

ANOTHER report on Australia's home-grown Tali-Boy.

AUSTRALIA’S JOHNNIE WALKER: A second Westerner has been found to be fighting for Osama bin Laden – and this boy’s an Aussie.

The unnamed 26-year-old reportedly trained and fought with bin Laden’s now-routed troops following a stint with the KLA in Kosovo and a visit to Pakistan.

Government officials are revealing little, but ABC radio is claiming the Australian held a higher position within bin Laden’s forces than did the scabby Walker.

He is now being held by Northern Alliance troops, "held" presumably being journalistic shorthand for "held up against a wall and whipped with sticks".

The kid is from Adelaide, the same city that spawned Australian Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja, who claimed during the recent election here that women in Afghanistan enjoyed more rights than women in Australia.

THE 11am BLOG UPDATE: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Joanne Jacobs: Excellent book title suggestions; blaming madrass madasses; kvetching in Kabul

Andrew Sullivan: The blue/red Spann/Walker divide; Dick Morris writes something worthwhile; a confounding Brit-ism; Rummylove

Natalie Solent: Edward Said, swamp-thing of moral relativism; sympathy for Scientology

Matt Welch: I was Fisked!; Jeff Jarvis and the black cloud

Rand Simberg: Dubya undoes Nixon; Puerto Rico's Hillary; I eat bugs

Ken Layne: Cease NPR funding until they let Heather speak; Salon's sexless sex column; the joy of fisking; Australian critters

Will Vehrs: Filthy NY politics; Tony resists the siren call of the Taliban

Damian Penny: Arianna Huffington is bizarre and insane; one remaining person believes the war to be a failure; Mullah Omar's Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous

Glenn Reynolds: Fear of New York Times editorial board meetings; violent toys; one of the these days, Allah, pow! Straight to the moon!

Iain Murray: Bloggie Awards; drinking and flying; British police to supply heroin

FISK OF FURY: Step aside, Kabul Bob – a real reporter is on the way to Afghanistan.

Time magazine’s South Pacific wing – for which I once worked – has sent Australian reporter Michael Ware to the bin Laden capture zone. Ware was apparently so overjoyed on learning he’d finally been assigned to Afghanistan that he leapt over his editor’s desk and hugged the fellow.

Ware loves his work. He’s covered wars and violence in the Solomon Islands, central Australia, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor– where he befriended Harry Burton, the Australian photographer who was recently killed in an Afghanistan ambush.

And he’s done it all without lugging a Robert Fisk-sized backpack loaded with bogus ideology.

Ware is the Real Deal. When I returned to Time last year, to help out with Olympics coverage, he became outraged when I dismissed a story he’d uncovered about a small-time local political scam somehow linked to the 2000 Games. It wasn’t a big enough story to run in an international magazine, I told him – and it really wasn’t. But that didn’t stop Ware chasing the story for weeks, even as he was filing on the Games every day.

Pity the wasted Afghan hoodlums who’d try to Fisk this tough Queenslander. Ware played rugby at a senior level, and has the busted (many times, I suspect) nose to prove it. He can take care of himself.

Ware is also among the last reporters in Australia who haven’t been cowed by political correctness. Beside his desk he keeps a disgracefully exploitative photograph of babelicious Italian volleyballer Maurizia Cacciatori.

Watch for his reports, and wish him well.


ONWARD AND UPWARD: Glenn Sacks’s inept, indescribable column in the SF Chronicle has been dissected by some expert scalpel-wielders, and to their work I offer this small extra slice:

If you render the Sacks column in California Uptalk, it much more clearly conveys the author’s struggle with ideas that are obviously beyond his comprehension. Just throw in some question marks to suggest uncertain rising inflections, and voila! Content and form come together in a seamless whole that correctly presents Sacks as the mental pre-teen that he is:

Those willing to sacrifice? For their beliefs? Deserve respect? Even if what they believe in is foolish?

Walker became disenchanted? With the American way of life? So have many teenagers? Of previous generations?

Young people sometimes don't realize? Or appreciate? How hard their parents worked? To provide them with a comfortable life? Some see our consumer society? As empty? And devoid of meaning?

I bet Sacks is an Uptalker.

AN EMPTY ROOM, periodically illuminated by a flickering light.

A pile of wood.

Slum-dwelling, alcoholic relatives.

An accurate representation of my life? Well, yes, but also the main contenders for this year’s prestigious Turner Prize for art in the UK.

The empty room – titled Work 227 by its creator, Martin Creed – won.

Creed picked up $US25,000 or so for his efforts. He’s been building up to Work 227, previously exhibiting a balled-up sheet of A4 and a wad of Blu Tak.

Next year’s likely winner: Osama bin Laden, for his innovative and challenging Bamiyan Buddhas (Redux).

THE 10am BLOG UPDATE: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Matt Welch: Proves yet again his unerring ability to locate stupid, poorly-argued columns; celebrates the ’90s

Ken Layne: Names Chianti the ‘Drug of Democracy’; more fun James Bond theories

Joanne Jacobs: Invites readers to suggest a name for her book of collected news columns; raises a glass of Chianti to toast the tenth anniversary of the very first web page

Rand Simberg: Don’t skimp on the basic materials when building your fake bear suit; calls lobsters 'big bugs’ (I get the feeling Rand would enjoy Australia’s honestly-named seafood)

Glenn Reynolds: Cipro-inspired fear and loathing; is Johnnie Walker a CIA stooge?

Damian Penny: Peaceful Canada loads up on armaments; predicts that Indymedia will issue a fatwa on Johnnie Walker now that Tali-Boy is spilling his guts to US marines

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU DON’T GROW UP, SON? "I want to be a suicide bomber just like Uncle Eviscerated and Grandpa Bits!"

Unbelievable images today on the front page of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph: little kids in scaled-down suicide attack attire. It’s a Hamas Halloween for these youngsters.

MAY I SPEAK FREELY HERE? My latest take on the Phillip Adams/racial vilification debacle, as run in The Australian today. Nice front page pointer, too.

God knows what Adams will make of my defence of his right to free speech. The last time Adams dealt with my criticism, during a television interview, he couldn’t even bring himself to mention me by name.

COULDN’T BE A CONTENDER: Holly Ferneley, Australia’s toughest woman, has lost an anti-discrimination case in her ongoing battle to be allowed to kickbox in New South Wales.

I once interviewed Ferneley, a triple world champion, on Australian radio. It was terrifying. Not only was she clearly prepared to belt me for asking stupid questions, but she also has precisely the same mumbled diction and nose-thumbing mannerisms of a veteran male fighter.

At least I got away from the interview unscathed. I’m told that another radio interviewer once invited her to take a shot at him. Presumably he expected a playful girly punch.

He had to be helped out of the studio by frightened staff and took the rest of the day off.

Oh, and after Ferneley finished her interview on my show, we went out for a few drinks and she beat up one of the other guests. Holly is cool.

HELP PEOPLE WHO CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES: The children at Indymedia are having terrible problems with disk drives and DNS and all sorts of things, and need volunteers to help them get things working properly again.

If can help them in any way, any way at all, please go to … oh, my. I seem to have completely forgotten how to link.

SEGWAY SPEEDWAY: An important question has yet to be asked about the Segway, and it is crucial to the success of the nerd-carrying gyro-scooter:

Will people want to race them?

Every successful mode of human transport has been adapted at some point for competition. Horses. Cars. Lawnmowers. Walking, although Australians always get disqualified for cheating. Even earlier incarnations of the Segway, in the form of tiny urban motorscooters, have been modified for track contests. This compulsion springs from our delightful human need to beat the other guy.

We even race things that weren’t intended to even move. But the Segway?

Let’s work through the specs. We’ve got a top speed here of just 19 kmh, or 12.5 mph; not exactly the sort of velocity to attract Juan Montoya. Maybe a more reclined "driving" position would improve aerodynamics to the point where you’d break the 14 mph barrier.

The Segway’s gyroscope would appear to work against any attempt to bump other Segway racers off their machines, so, tactically, the Segway 500 would be a dull event.

Can a Segway’s little battery engine be boosted somehow? Maybe a brace of fat Diehard truck batteries would work, but then you’d suffer a massive weight disadvantage, and look even stupider as children on skateboards speed effortlessly past.

Worryingly, Segway inventor Dean Kamen doesn’t seem to have noticed the need for a racing angle. Henry Ford noticed, and built racing behemoths (that he drove himself) to publicise his earliest road cars – which were faster, by the way, than this Segway machine is.

Still, there’s one reason to cheer little Segway: the Luddites at Salon.com has slammed it, because they think we should all walk everywhere, like Salon employees who can no longer afford to drive.

The whole Segway issue isn’t likely to bother us much in Australia. Transport authorities are leery of the device, and threaten to lumber it with headlights and a heavy conventional braking system (goodbye, 19 kmh top speed) before it will be permitted on our roads.

Besides, we’ve already got our own Segway, and it is only slighter slower than Kamen’s scooterette. Plus it has books.


WHY DO POSTS DOUBLEDOUBLE? The repulsive double post below is beyond my powers to correct, I'm afraid. I believe it may be something to do with Code.

Yes, Code. That would be it. More from me in a few hours, once I finish this free speech piece for Tuesday's op-ed pages in The Australian. I'll link to it here once it's available online.

Letters! I'll also post here some of the funny, clever emails that have rocked the inbox over the past couple of days. All identities will be protected, of course.

Unless there is another mysterious Code problem ...

JUST GO BROKE, ALREADY: The financially-challenged Salon has run an interview with artistically- and ethically-challenged Boondocks cartoonist Aaron McGruder. It contains the following insightful McGruder insights:

On the election: "There were reports of the massive disenfranchisement of African-Americans in Florida, which went totally unreported in this country."

On post-September 11 patriotism: "It wasn't genuine. I thought it was very faddish, and there was no real weight behind it."

On … well, you try to work it out: "They're telling us these people are bad because they hate us, and they hate our way of life. And they hate our way of life because they hate freedom, and they hate the fact that we have freely elected officials. This is what the president said. Well, he wasn't elected!"

On pure bullshit: "I don't think the American people should be worried at all about Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein or anybody."

On a Noam Chomsky historical-revisionist head trip: "FDR … lured the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor."

On McGruder’s own essential dumbness: "I don't want the news to be patriotic. I don't want to see flags on the lapels of the anchors. I don't want any of that. I want the news delivered unbiased. I thought that was the whole
point with journalism."

On understanding the subtle complexities of the current conflict: "This is war. It's serious. People are dying on both sides."

On George W. Bush, who was ridiculed because he couldn’t speak well, and who McGruder thinks should now be ridiculed because he actually does speak well: "Bush is a moron. There is no doubt about it … But now, nobody wants to call him on it. People get excited because he can speak well. What world is this? When we're happy that the president can articulate well."

On George W., continued: "He's called the terrorists 'evil.’ That's really some childish stuff. They're bad, we're good. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's so incredibly stupid."

On McGruder’s vast military scholarship: "You know what? World War II was fucked up. How many millions of people died good and bad? Could World War II have been fought differently? I don’t know. There are few wars where innocent people don't die."

There’s more, but it’s all contained within Salon’s innovative Premium deal. The sound you hear is the rapid battering of keyboards as millions rush to sign up, eager for more McGruderish wisdom.

WORDS TO LIVE BY: "In Viennese dialect," writes The Spectator’s Petronella Wyatt, "‘Ich bin laden’ means ‘I’m loaded.’"

If only the Walker kid had followed this translation instead of following bin Laden himself.

DENISON STREET IS ALIGHT: In recent years Sydney has taken to decorating homes, gardens, and whole streets with elaborate Christmas displays, some of them drawing appreciative visitors from far distant suburbs. Nadia and me just got back from a walk up Denison St, Bondi Junction, the closest street to our place that attempts Total Christmas Light Coverage.

Nadia actually stood in the street and applauded one house – at 10.30pm – for its imaginative animated Santa Claus window puppet. We’re from Melbourne originally; it reminded her of that city’s celebrated Christmas displays in the windows of the Myers store in Bourke Street.

But Denison St is nothing compared to the candlepower on show in Sydney’s west, where mainly migrant families produce truly awesome Christmas light spectaculars.

(I used to wonder why the migrant families I grew up with craved such wild colours for their houses and cars, until my Greek friend George Sianos showed me a picture of his grandmother’s village. Every house was white. It was the law. In the old country, colour was forbidden.)

A couple of years ago, when I worked on the news desk at the Daily Telegraph, we sent reporter Adam Harvey out to the western suburbs to get a story on these Christmas lights we’d heard about.

When he came back, Adam told us to scrap whatever we’d planned for the colour pages. He’d found the proudest man in Sydney – a Lebanese guy whose Christmas display verged on the atomic. Retinas fused when we loaded images of it on to a monitor for that afternoon’s story conference. Adam went on to win a Walkley for something else, but he deserved another for his Christmas light article; it charmed readers to tears.

Some folks are a little grouchy about this latest American idea to take hold in Australia. Angela Catterns, a presenter on ABC radio, recently complained about Halloween being celebrated here, but later admitted she’d had the time of her life when her young daughter forced her to go out trick-or-treating.

That’s the spirit. It’s Christmastime, Australia. Lighten up.


"IF I HAD BEEN THEM, I WOULD HAVE ATTACKED ME": The Independent’s Robert Fisk, England’s leading anti-US voice, has been savagely beaten by an Afghan mob after his car broke down in Pakistan.

But Fisk bears no malice towards his assailants; in fact, the bashing has made Fisk all the more determined to blame America for everything, up to and including his slashed scalp, shattered spectacles, and bruised hands.

"I don't want this to be seen as a Muslim mob attacking a Westerner for no reason. They had every reason to be angry - I've been an outspoken critic of the US actions myself. If I had been them, I would have attacked me," the bloodied journalist told the BBC.

"It doesn't excuse them for beating me up so badly but there was a real reason why they should hate Westerners so much."

Fisk claims that the gang had relatives who were killed in the bombing of Kandahar. I wonder how he knows this. Maybe his attackers thumped out a few Morse code messages on his head.

My theory: the gang was a group of Afghan media analysts infuriated by Fisk’s consistently twisted and half-witted reporting.

If I had been them, I would have attacked him.

SENTENCE HIM TO LIFE WITH YOKO: Johnny Walker - the San Francisco mook turned Taliban revolutionary - was named after John Lennon, according to the UK Telegraph.

Among Walker’s other perversions: he never played with guns as a child, had no interest in girls, didn’t drink alcohol, and was "sensitive".

The Telegraph’s piece is thorough, unforgiving, detailed, and an ideal antidote to the screaming gibberish of Louis Freedberg, who is presently being torn into atom-sized particles by Welch, Layne, Jacobs, Reynolds

RACIAL SILLIFICATION: Phillip Adams, whose most recent slab of anti-Americana led to a racial vilification complaint, would be safe from such ordeals if only he lived in the hated US, writes Utah’s Ernest Wolfe:

"Phillip Adams may rip into my country all he wants. I don't mind. Nobody minds …The next time he bitches the US out, even if she deserves it, he ought to consider the fact that, here at least, he would be left alone. Sorry, Phil. Them's the breaks, I guess."

The Adams case (mentioned in an earlier post) has sparked other, less cheery responses. The editorial in Saturday’s Australian damned the whole deal as a waste of money, among other things:

"Acting on a complaint from a US citizen, the commission is spending taxpayers' dollars to decide whether the denizens of the land of the free have been vilified by our humble columnist's assertion that Americans were ‘mad’ and the US had ‘always been among the most violent nations on earth’.

"The people of the world's strongest democracy (which incidentally offers better protections for free speech than anywhere else) do not need a semi-legal, semi-government body in Australia to defend them against a piece of opinion published in an Australian newspaper."

So who does need such protection? And who gets to decide? Well, Steve Mark does, or at least he did in 1994 when he was president of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board, which oversees racial vilification cases. Mark has his own views on the Great Satan:

"We have a very multicultural society which is very tolerant compared to somewhere like America. America is a country that … grew from a principle of tolerance … and it is now bigoted. Australia is a country which is based on bigotry which has become tolerant."

That’s gotta be good news for Phil. The anti-discrimination people are just as biased as he.

Based on past vilification cases, though, Adams might be in trouble. In 1998 Tom Switzer, then at the Australian Financial Review, wrote a piece similar in tone to Adams’s contentious article:

"The Palestinians cannot be trusted in the peace process … While the Israelis have been willing to offer land for peace since the 1993 Oslo accords in exchange for dubious security guarantees, the Palestinians have pursued over 300 terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians … it would appear that the Palestinians remain vicious thugs who show no serious willingness to comply with agreements."

(Given recent developments, Tom was eerily prescient.)

The piece provoked a racial vilification notice. The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board referred the matter to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, which found last year that the Financial Review was guilty of inciting racial hatred against Palestinians.

Switzer – whose case, I understand, is presently under appeal – wrote that Palestinians were "vicious thugs" who "cannot be trusted"; Adams wrote that Americans were "mad" and lived in "the most violent nation on earth". I can’t see a massive amount of difference here. Either Adams must be found guilty, or – my favoured option – we throw this vilification garbage in the toilet and return to living like free men.

GREEN HOUSE, RED PLANET: Despite a complete absence of human life forms and the relative scarcity of Martian SUVs, Mars is undergoing its own version of global warming.

Bob Brown and other earthbound eco-apocalypters will probably find some way to blame this on insensitive US space probes. Or maybe they’ll demand that Mars ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Expect Naomi Klein to order a complete boycott of Martian-produced goods until the planet deals with its horrific environmental concerns. Martian sweatshops are a worry, too; Nike has those multi-limbed, three-eyed, four-assed Martian labour drones cranking out thousands of shoes every hour. Stop interglobalisation now!

THE LEFT IS ALWAYS RIGHT, PART II: Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds have embraced the Ellis Principle; ie, that Leftists provide a perfect guide to correct behaviour once you completely reverse whatever they say:

Reynolds: "Israel should keep bombing the Palestinians. I say this based solely on the fact that Mary Robinson says they should stop. Given her recent track record, that's probably enough."

Sullivan: "The argument about military tribunals is now over. Jimmy
Carter just came out against them. Of course they’re a good idea."