HO, HO, HO: According to this BBC story, Australian companies are providing employees with Christmas bonus prostitutes. "December is our busiest month," brothel owner Mary-Anne Kenworth, of Perth, Western Australia, told the news organisation.

In a late bid for The Most Unfortunate Quote of The Year award, Kenworth added:

"We increase our turnover by at least 25% during the festive season."

FISKY BUSINESS: Human punching bag Robert Fisk continues the good work of the late Melvin Burkhart, who was famed for his ability to drive a five inch nail into his head without flinching.

In his latest piece, Sideshow Bob reveals that his prime source on Afghanistan is a grouchy old Dublin hack. No wonder Fisk’s war coverage varies so greatly from other accounts; he’s getting his information directly from Paddy O’Sozzled.

The nail is already a couple of inches into the Fisk skull halfway through the first paragraph, and Sideshow keeps hammering away for all he’s worth. The bin Laden video? It’s "utterly incomprehensible to every Arab I’ve met." (Attention CIA: next time, hire someone other than Robert Altman to direct your propaganda tapes.)

Civilian deaths? Why, according to an utterly worthless study by someone who used Fisk himself as a guide, they’re massive! Burqas? Sounding vaguely upset that Playboy hasn’t already run a "Hot Chicks of Islam" pictorial, Fisk claims that almost all Afghan women continue to wear them.

And the Taliban? Like Mussolini, they are to be applauded, at least for their efficient transport policies: "If nothing else, the Taliban made the roads and villages of Afghanistan safe for Afghans and foreigners alike. Now, you can scarcely drive from Kabul to Jalalabad."

Especially if you’re aboard the unreliable Fiskmobile, a vehicle that is to highways what Fisk is to journalism. It was that damn car that caused Fisk to become stranded within range of actual Afghans, who took the opportunity to smack the great crusader upside the head and steal his stuff.

Except that wasn’t what happened, says Sideshow, unflinchingly bashing that nail deeper and deeper. He’s still sticking to his "Fisk as symbol of Western evil" line, describing his attackers as being "outraged at the killing of their families". Presumably they took his cameras, notebooks, and glasses so Fisk couldn’t continue killing people with them.

Sideshow ends his self-slamming screed on a hopeful note, seemingly happy at the prospect of a bin Laden revival: "Don't worry about bin Laden – he may be back just in time to participate in Part Two of the War for Civilisation."

Way to go, Hammer Boy. What’s your next stunt? Biting the head off a live chicken?

BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Ominous Osama silence; Beautiful Mind a crock; don’t have a cow, straights; San Francisco’s hated minority identified

Glenn Reynolds: Ted Rall can’t draw, think; Iraq a safe anthrax bet; drink-driving risk multiplied by Nigerian presence; Tony Blair lashes out Blog-style; primacy of Western culture proved; Merry Christmas, Prof, and thanks for the ad deal!

Natalie Solent: Reynolds evil; feline confession; pre-mad Caligula OK; tips jar exists

Bjorn Staerk: Three months of quality Blogging; primitive Laskar Jihadists use modern communications; Indians call (again and again) for attack on Pakistan; Arab intellectuals seduced by The Nation

Virginia Postrel: Christmas light displays sweep US; the importance of objects post Sept. 11

Ken Layne: German tongue monster; Binny apparently knew those aircraft terrorist guys; slight sounds of annoyance equals crushing tyranny; elf books underwhelm; traitor exposes Australian national naming secrets

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Osama bin Santa; some 9/11 families fuming; Fienberg fine; Tony seeks top-level clearance

Lawrence Haws: Nutty Professor Farley masters the email machine!

James Lileks: A Xerox day; diorama delays; Simpsons suckiness; Ted Baxter cruelly mistreated by ice-bitch Mary; we are more than lively meat

Iain Murray: Legal winners 'n' losers for 2001; freedom for Somalia, Gibraltar; doing people in with chair-legs; EU revives much-missed qualities of Soviet Union

Jay L. Zilber: Astonishing details of WTC attack; outing Mom as a Seegerista; "vote for Hillary" and "rational" used within two paragraphs; scrumptious Ru Paul; Dwight Samples, genius

Watch more Blogs at BLOG WATCH II

RICH, POOR, STUPID: This anti-US poll that’s going around contains some absolutely golden responses to September 11.

The best so far is that "the United States bears some responsibility for the gap between the world's rich and poor", and that "the world's wealthiest country does too little to help the least-advantaged."

Have the people who’ve worked this out examined the difference in wealth between Osama bin Laden and the people his drones murdered? It’s a simple equation, simple enough for even intellectuals to understand.

Osama is a multi-multi-millionaire. Nobody killed on September 11 was as rich as he. Most of them were common wage slaves like you or I, without access to anything close to Binny’s massive inherited riches. Word up, progressive journalists, lefty opinion leaders, and Indymedia anti-capitalists: bin Laden is your enemy, not your friend. He be the rich dude. He be killing working folk.

As I understand it, in your world that’s usually a bad thing.

BEYOND HEARTBREAKING: Sixteen women whose husbands were killed on September 11 have since given birth. They were brought together for a TV program. One of the women, Baraheen Ashrafi, a Muslim whose husband Mohammad died in Tower One, had this to say:

"On my own, I'm a woman who lost my husband and my children lost their daddy. But in here, 16 babies and their mummies are just like me. It's so sad."

The photograph via the link above is yet another reminder, if any reminders are required, of the ongoing pain of September 11. It also speaks of the profound resilience and power of those seared by terrorism. These women, and their children, will prevail.


LEADERS WITHOUT FOLLOWERS: In almost every version of this global poll story currently polluting many of the world’s newspapers, the pundits surveyed are referred to as "opinion leaders" or "people of influence".

But are they? Whose opinions do they lead? Over whom do they have influence?

Nobody, from what I can see. While opinion leaders remain resolutely anti-American – and, according to the survey, believe America deserved to be attacked on September 11 – those they seek to lead support the war and show deep sadness over the attacks.

Sometimes it pays to look elsewhere other than newspapers for your opinion leaders. In Italy, for example, while intellectual lefty opinion-leading columnists rail against Bush and the US, a far more eloquent and popular pro-US statement was made without using any words at all.

At the Italian Formula One Grand Prix on September 16, in a display of support and sympathy for America, the Ferrari entries ran without any sponsorship logos and with the noses of both cars painted black. This was no small gesture; Marlboro alone pays $63 million per year to place advertisements on Ferrari’s racers, plus another $12.5 to cover half of lead driver Michael Schumacher’s salary.

The team (led by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who once studied law in New York) simply removed every single ad. Sponsors were told the decision was non-negotiable.

Forget Catholicism. Ferrari is Italy’s primary religion. You want opinion leaders, go talk to the guys in the fast red cars.

IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, STARRING GLENN SACKS AS "REPORTER #4": Picture the SF Chronic’s finest newshound in this recent SNL Rumsfeld press briefing sketch:

Reporter #4: We're being told that Northern Alliance forces are firing back at Taliban troops who have fired on them, even though the Taliban troops have missed. Does the U.S. condone that?

Donald Rumsfeld: Now, what kind of question is that?

Reporter #4: Thought-provoking?

Donald Rumsfeld: Noooo.

Reporter #4: Incisive?

Donald Rumsfeld: Noooo. Remember what I said about your question the other day?

Reporter #4: That it was ... idiotic?

Donald Rumsfeld: And?

Reporter #4: And that I'm an embarrassment both to myself and my newspaper?

Donald Rumsfeld: That's right! [ acknowledges reporter ] Yes, you have a question?

Reporter #5: [ shaking head ] No. No.

Donald Rumsfeld: You had your hand up!

Reporter #5: Well, I did ... but I don't want to ask my question any more.

BLOG WATCH version 1.0: Your brief guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Geffen boldly promotes gay agenda; Derbyshire’s fond Christmas wishes; Dialectizer deployed

Glenn Reynolds: Gunshow visitor encounters normals; SmarterTimes commences next phase of NYT assault; Saddam’s novel redundancy; attack France!; tank ownership denied; Hillary support not evident among the armed

Natalie Solent: Fish have fingers?; the kindness of strangers; Guardian takes wild guess at national mood; Santa packs Christmas stockings, heat

Rand Simberg: The Independent on why we deserve bad things; Gov. Davis defies national happiness trend; world’s funniest joke somehow unrelated to Robert Fisk

Ken Layne: LA Examiner circulation scam; open Hearn surgery

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Decent legislation predicted; Bush approval remains stratospheric; Slate applauds the quasis

Lawrence Haws: Saddam’s military lab generates second novel; Blogs good, free

James Lileks: Official Cheer braces for Oprah Book Club invite; author name options limited to hideous scar tissue, trauma; Absolutely Fabulous a grimly misleading title; death bag DVD; Great Gaping Maw of America

Iain Murray: Thus far and no farther, EU!; total bunkum database; Mbeki calm, but perhaps should not be; Falkland Islands an economic haven

AMERICA CAUSED SEPTEMBER 11, SAYS WORLD: According to a global survey of "opinion leaders" conducted for a project run by Madeleine Albright, American policies provoked the deaths of thousands on September 11. These "opinion leaders" are also happy that America feels unsafe:

"Opinion leaders from around the world believe American policies caused the September 11 attacks and are pleased that the United States now feels a sense of vulnerability, according to a new survey of ‘elite’ opinion in 24 countries."

Mrs. Trembly’s survey omits the precise policies that caused the September 11 attacks, however:

"The US policies seen as responsible for the attacks were not identified in the survey, conducted by the Pew Research Centre and The International Herald Tribune for a project on global attitudes headed by the former US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright."

Help us out here, Maddy. Your government's Waco policy apparently caused Timothy McVeigh’s insane attack upon the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma. How is provocation-by-policy different in the case of September 11, 2001, than it was in the case of April 19, 1995?

Answer: it isn’t. Both atrocities were committed by madmen convinced of the justice of their murderous cause. Provocation wasn’t an issue in 1995. It isn’t an issue in 2001.

Except now you’ve been able to locate more "opinion leaders" to support your cause. Is Gore Vidal among them?

TALKBACK SACKS: Glenn Sacks, whose innovative defense of Tali-Boy John Walker resulted in hundreds of Blog-blasts, has written a defense of his defense, and emailed it all over the place.

Here it is. My comments are enclosed [in these].

Dear Critic:

I sent this out to the hundreds of people who've written to me voicing disapproval of my defense of John Walker. You may (or may not) find it interesting.

Best Wishes,

Glenn Sacks


Thanks you for your letter regarding John Walker [thanks you? You’re welcomes]. Since my article "In Defense of John Walker" was published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Philadelphia Inquirer last week I've received hundreds of e-mails [good for you!]. While it is obviously impossible to respond to even a fraction of these letters personally [not even a fraction? Why?], I have tried to select the dozen or so most common questions people have asked me, and to answer them below.

Best Wishes,

Glenn Sacks

Question #1: Most reports have described John Walker as a Taliban foot soldier. What will your reaction be if it turns out he was involved in terrorism?

As I have made clear on several radio shows, I sympathize with Walker only if he served as simply a foot soldier [the Nuremberg defense would work if Sacks was on the jury]. If evidence comes out that he was a terrorist, or that he committed atrocities against civilians, my sympathies for him end [but hey, Sacksy boy, as a foot soldier he would have assisted in defending terrorism. Same thing, Glenn]. In my San Francisco Chronicle/Philadelphia Inquirer column "In Defense of John Walker" I referred to him only as a foot soldier, which is what the information at the time indicated [he was a volunteer soldier from the nation that was attacked. Different, Glenn.]

Question #2: You wrote "Those who are willing to sacrifice for what they believe in deserve respect, even if what they believe in is foolish."

This statement has been singled out and blasted in several newspapers, numerous radio shows, and on many Internet sites. "Doesn't the same thing could apply," your critics have written, "to a Nazi SS officer, an abortion clinic bomber, or even to bin Laden himself?"

My critics have a point – my statement was far too broad, and I left myself open to this criticism. I do not have sympathy for "a Nazi SS officer, an abortion clinic bomber, or even to bin Laden himself" because their acts are atrocities against defenseless civilians. However, if in 1942 a 19 year-old German kid was told that fighting in the German army (not the SS--which acted against civilians) during WWII was the noble and right thing to do, and he did it, I do have a certain sympathy for the sacrifices he made, even though it was for an abominable cause [Walker wasn’t remotely similar to a "German kid in WWII". He was an American kid fighting against Americans in 2001]. The same can be said, as I noted in the original version of "In Defense of John Walker," [enough self-referencing, already] for young soldiers who fought in defense of slavery [ignorant clown] for the traitorous Confederacy during the Civil War.

Question #3: What if Walker, instead of being a white, middle-class kid from wealthy Marin County, had instead been a poor black kid from Oakland? Would he still have as many defenders? Would you still defend him?

I think he would probably have less defenders, because I believe these critics are correct in saying that our society, in general, identifies and sympathizes more with people who are white and middle class. However, were Walker a poor black kid from Oakland, I would have defended him just as earnestly [and just as stupidly].

Question #4: Many other critics have pointed out that while you cite Walker's youth as a mitigating factor, most of those Americans who fought in WWII, Vietnam, or Afghanistan today are no older than Walker. What about them?

They clearly made better choices [!!!] than John Walker did, and they should be honored and respected for their sacrifices. They were young and naive [naïve? How do you know?] but still managed to make the right decision [so they weren’t naïve after all]. My grandfather, a sixteen year-old [you mean he WAS a sixteen-year-old] who lied about his age so he could enlist in World War I (and who was wounded and received the Purple Heart for his service in the decisive Battle of the Argonne Forest) made a better decision. John Walker didn't [disgraceful … as though personal choice is the only issue in selecting a side to fight for in wartime].

Question #5: Walker took up arms against America. Why shouldn't he be tried for treason and shot?

Walker traveled to Afghanistan and joined the Taliban at a time when nobody [nobody except Osama bin Laden] could have imagined that the US would end up fighting a war in Afghanistan. How many readers could tell us, honestly, that they believed back in the spring (when Walker went to Afghanistan) that we'd be fighting a war there? Nobody [except, perhaps, the relatives of the seven people who were killed by bin Laden’s bombers in the 1993 car park attack on the World Trade Center, or the people who’d read bin Laden’s denunciations of the US, or anybody with any brains at all].

Question #6: But what if American was at war with the Taliban and then Walker went to Afghanistan and joined the Taliban? Would you consider him a traitor then?

Yes [Glenn, the CNN interview – in which Walker refuses to back down from his pro-Holy War position – would seem to indicate that Walker was a determined traitor.]

Question #7: But once America entered the war, shouldn't Walker have refused to fight against his own country?

Walker could not simply have told his commanders "Sorry – gotta go now." He would have been shot as a deserter [how ironic!]. We know what the Taliban did to deserters. Walker's only hope of survival was to stay with them and try to escape at an opportune time, and we don't have any evidence that he did anything but that [except that he didn’t].

Question #8: Walker joined the Taliban, one of the most evil regimes in modern history. Even if the US never got involved in Afghanistan, isn't this enough to condemn Walker?

Walker certainly bears responsibility for supporting such a vile regime, but I would cite three mitigating circumstances [of course you would]:

1) In Pakistan, where Walker was studying Islam, the Taliban were very well thought of [in certain areas of the Deep South, the KKK is very well thought of. Your point, Glenn?]. The Pakistanis who went into Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban were cheered as heroes in the Pashtun villages [Hitler was cheered – is this how we measure goodness?], and were often given a hero's sendoff. No doubt Walker was told that the Taliban were these legendary, holy warriors who had set up the world's first morally pure Islamic state based upon the Koran [so we should excuse the dumb fuck for believing it?]. If millions of Pakistanis could mistakenly believe that the Taliban were a force for good, it would seem plausible enough that a naive young American might [and thus I conclude my defense for the Manson Family, the SS, and everyone else who has ever done anything bad].

2) In Afghanistan, the Taliban were originally welcomed into power by most of the population [see "History of WW2"]. Tired of years of Northern Alliance/Mujahedin civil war, violence, and rape, the Afghan people believed that the Taliban would bring peace, stability, and a certain amount of justice to their country. Obviously they were very wrong, but if the Afghan people themselves could have been fooled into supporting the Taliban, again, it seems easy enough to believe that a naive young American could [Walker joined long after these obviousnesses had vanished].

3) For over a decade the US supported the Afghan Mujahedin/Northern Alliance and gave them billions in aid. Much of the Mujahedin were radical Muslim fundamentalists, too. They were known for throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women or for skinning school teachers alive for the "crime" of teaching young girls to read. Yet they were our allies, and many Americans armed them, trained them, and some even fought with them side by side. None of those involved in this have ever been questioned or called to account for their actions in support of radical Muslim fundamentalism – why is only John Walker blamed? [because there is a difference between real politik assistance of a lesser evil, and an individual’s decision to revolt against his homeland.]

Question #9: Walker has made anti-American statements at various times. Granted, that when he joined the Taliban he never could have imagined that he'd fight the United States, but he had to have known that the Taliban had an anti-American world view. Why should we excuse him for joining a group known to be anti-American?

If one travels outside the United States to anywhere except England, Israel, or maybe Luxembourg, one is going to be exposed to a lot of anti-Americanism [no, you’ll never encounter anti-Americanism in England! Read the papers, idiot]. I saw a tremendous amount of it when I traveled the world at age 19, and I doubt if it is any different today. It would not surprise me at all that the Walker bought into it, and I don't see that as particularly damning [!!!].

Question #10: What about 18 year-olds who commit crimes? Or gang members? We don't use their youth as an excuse to justify their actions. Shouldn't John Walker be punished, just as they are?

We need to make a distinction between committing a crime and fighting in an army. Fighting in an army is not a crime [words completely fail me].

Question #11: Was Walker "brainwashed," as his mother claims? If so, does this excuse his actions?

I know little about "brainwashing" in the psychological sense [on the contrary, I expect you know a great deal about it]. Internationally recognized brainwashing expert Steve Hassan, a former cult member, claims that Walker was brainwashed. In his statement "John Walker: American Indoctrinated with Cult Mind Control Techniques by Taliban" Hassan, the director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center in Somerville, Massachusetts, says that Walker was a victim of cult-like techniques. Readers can see his statement at and judge for themselves. While I think what Hassan says sounds plausible, I don't know enough about brainwashing, cults, etc., to offer an informed opinion [you’re qualified – you work at the SF Chronicle].

Question #12: Is Walker simply a right-wing religious nut – sort of a radical American Christian fundamentalist with a Muslim twist?

Andrew Sullivan, a senior editor of the New Republic, advanced this theory as a possible explanation for Walker's bizarre behavior. Sullivan, who was none too kind to me in his daily Internet column (see "Glenn On-line" page), may well be right [Sullivan is only ever right when he ATTACKS the right, right?].

Question #13: If Walker is simply a right-wing religious nut, do you still have respect for Walker?

Again, as long as he is only fighting in an army, and not part of a terrorist group [definitions, please], I'd give Walker some credit for being willing to put his life on the line for his religious beliefs, not matter how insane they may be [so anything goes as long as it’s dressed up in religion? Glenn Sacks, defender of abortion clinic bombers!].

Question #14: Doesn't it offend you that Walker may well end up on talk shows like Oprah and write a book about his life? Does someone like him deserve to be allowed to do that?

My copy of the constitution [you’ve got a personal copy? Signed by Jefferson?] doesn't say anything about talk shows and book deals. There are plenty of immoral and/or idiotic people in America [I can name at least one] who become famous because of their unsavory actions, and yes, they do get to go on talk shows, write books, etc., etc. I don't like it, but I accept it as one of the costs of living in a free society. John Walker is entitled to be judged based upon the law and the constitution, not by the possibility that his bad decisions may, in the end, make him something of a celebrity.



AUSTRALIA CANNOT LOSE IN AFGHANISTAN: We’re fighting on both sides!

The government announced today that another pair of marsupial Muslims were among Al Queda forces currently running away and hiding behind rocks. One is an ex-Army guy; about the other, little is known. They join Aussie David Hicks as brave defenders of Osama bin Laden.

As none of these fellows were raised in Marin County, I suppose this blows Andrew Sullivan’s theory of environmental degeneracy completely out of the water.

BLOG WATCH (SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE EDITION): Your guide to who is saying what, where

Today's list is shorter than usual. This isn't because Blog Watch now secures its wisdom behind a premium pay deal, or because I've decided to cut certain Blogs. In fact, quite the opposite.

Blog Watch is actually expanding! Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna, the combative Quasipundit duo, will now run a US edition of Blog Watch that covers all the Blogs I don't. Our shared ambition: one day we will only watch Blogs, and not write them.

Andrew Sullivan: Elderly man capable of research; Canada’s enlightenment begins; latest Chomsky crushing; Republican airline socialism

Moira Breen: Missing Cuban cuisine; latest Floridian blog announced

Glenn Reynolds: NPR unfair, imbalanced; op-ed intro prediction will prove horribly accurate; hit-whore Jonah’s transparent scam; Borders wins community affection, is free of pasty staff; offended Pratt

Natalie Solent: Incredible "incredulous" error by once-cool Brit; mysterious ad remover strikes again; Ansary-kicking begins; Solent regrets inadequate Googling of Ansary, threatens Blair with government job

Rand Simberg: Moonless for nigh on three decades; wake-up call for Islam; server irritated, impolite; bearded tyrants meet

Ken Layne: Princess Bunny al-Saud reveals relaxed attitude to Islam, skin; Mojo enters Libertarian debate

Shiloh Bucher: Send our boys a book!; surname spelled correctly here for first time

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Identifying the agriculture moochers; mystery ad slasher at work again; US Blog Watch launched, soon to overwhelm Net Starbucks-style

Lawrence Haws: Gadhafi’s lunatic claim; Kinsley celebrates traitor

James Lileks: O Kwaanza Tree, O Kwaanza Tree!; Lileks raps, demands snow; sexist shame; the lesser Burns; baby Baroque

Iain Murray: Tony no champion of freedom; move Imran up the order; Mugabe more brutal by the day; the path to authoritarianism; abysmal speech given

CHERYL KERNOT'S "BOOK": Remove all the personal pronouns and it will barely be a leaflet.

Love this line from the SMH story: "The book will be produced quickly while Ms Kernot's career still has some topicality." Look for it on Australian bookshelves by the end of the week.


A BACKSEAT PREZ: The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes makes several good points in this evaluation of George W. Bush in wartime. One, Bush is happy to cede the limelight to Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice and Cheney; two, he allows his senior staff a long leash with the media, probably assuming that, being grown-ups, they can look after themselves; and three, the end result of all of this – with Bush appearing less on television after September 11 than before – has been an sustained increase in Dubya’s popularity.

What were the smart journalists saying only a year or so back? That Bush was stupid? Yes, I think that's what they said. Seems longer ago than that, doesn’t it? And even longer if you count in Dowd years. I think they equal five human years. I’ll check with a vet.

WE STILL DON’T BELIEVE THAT VIDEO TAPE: The latest in a series of letters to The Australian dismissing the alleged bin Laden confession tape comes from Patrick Wolfe, of Melbourne:

"It would be tempting to nominate Osama bin Laden for an Oscar. The category could only be supporting actor, though.

"The person who masterminded the successful attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is not someone who would allow videos of his briefings to be made so that they could be left lying around for Americans to find.

"There is a deeply disturbing aspect to this video farce. And can it really mean that they had even less than that bodgie video to go on before starting to destroy a country?

"This would be war a crime of the highest order, a crime against humanity next to which the events in New York of September 11 would fade into the background."

Patrick’s television must pick up networks mine never shows. I saw Afghans rejoicing; Patrick sees a country destroyed.

I suppose it’s a question of perspective. If you thrill to dictatorial leadership and unspeakable oppression, having those things removed must seem "destructive".

Note, too, the admiration of Osama. Why, the man’s a genius – he made jets crash! In peacetime, what’s more! And he killed office workers and photocopier repairmen and waiters … what intelligence must he have to achieve such a thing!

Memo to Patrick Wolfe: bin Laden lives in a fucking cave, and soon he will be killed. If he’s a "mastermind", Patrick, I’d rather be as dumb as you.

CONGRATULATIONS to Doug Anderson, television reviewer at the Sydney Morning Herald, for sneaking this past his editors in a preview of the documentary Political Assassinations:

"At a time when state-sponsored killing of individuals is being condoned and the essential elements of justice are being subverted to satisfy the introspection of America’s inarticulate leader, the clock is turned back 40 years to examine the death of Dag Hammaskjold."

Anderson, the world’s oldest Indymedia kid, has been pulling this type of stunt for decades. Midway through a preview of Survivor, for example, you may encounter an incoherent 30-word denunciation of private transport. An examination of Larry Hagman’s career might suddenly veer into a tirade against banks.

And, as shown above, he never makes any sense at all. What are these "essential elements of justice" he speaks of? How are they being subverted? Why the claim about George W. Bush’s "introspection"?

And, Doug, you really should be the last person to complain about someone being "inarticulate". This reads as though someone used a Flemish dictionary to translate Japanese into English.

NATALIE SOLENT DEFENDS TAMIM ANSARY: Not really, but she does slap me around a little for being unfair to the world’s most famous unknown emailer.

Here’s Solent’s (abbreviated) case:

"When it comes to Ansary's original e-mail, it would be charitable to remember the date that he wrote it: September 12 … Ansary didn't make up the widespread wish for the Afghans to be bombed into the stone age; he just heard it said any time he walked outside.

"Also, remember the circumstances. Ansary did not expect to be famous. He expected, if I've understood right, less of an audience than I will get for this post. So it's not surprising he didn't hone every word and check every fact … He was just one scared and miserable guy, who had just seen his country sink to being an instrument of Hitlerite evil and thought he was about to see it suffer the fate of Berlin."

That Ansary heard the wish for Afghans to be bombed "back to the stone age" is undoubtedly the case. But Ansary seemed to believe that any type of bombing would be equal to an attempt to destroy Afghans and Afghanistan, as distinct from Al Queda and the Taliban. Here, I guess, we can agree that Ansary’s heart was in the right place, while his understanding of modern weaponry and likely US tactics was somewhere else.

We agree, also, that Ansary didn’t expect to become famous. But when he did, he glommed every chance he could to be interviewed as Mr Famous Email Man. One exchange at CNN.com answers Solent’s question about him honing every word and checking every fact:

CNN CHAT PARTICIPANT: "Is there any part of your e-mail you would change knowing now how much attention it would get?"

ANSARY: "I think I might word things differently, although I imagine that the strongly-worded phrases are why it was distributed. Two parts that needed more nuance was the phrase about the Nazis and the Taliban and Hitler and bin Laden … But in substance, no, I wouldn't change anything I said. In substance, that's what I think."

So much for checking his facts. Given his time again, he wouldn’t do it. He'd only adjust "nuance".

Being a wily (and unfair) person, I held something back from my original piece. I was storing it in case somebody accused me of being mean to Ansary, and of misrepresenting him as anti-American.

It is the Tamim Ansary Email of Total Shame, a follow-up to his original letter, and it appears (bizarrely) at the website of folk singer Rickie Lee Jones (which also features contributions from Jimmy Breslin and John Pilger). Here is Ansary’s Email II, in full:

"Some things CNN won't tell you, as the government hustles to create an enemy out of an organization they just handed forty million dollars to five months ago. The Taliban! And guess what? We also harbor enemies of our own government right here in the USA.

"Remember Waco, Chicago, Philadelphia? Will this new policy give our government the right to seek out and kill Americans in America? Will the people realize, only after it is too late, the potential for the destruction of democracy this bombing really holds? Destruction from within? Are we really prepared to change the rules of our society, to become what we behold, to condone the bombing of any country because we don't like what they stand for? If we judge this bombing to be an atrocity, surely we cannot react in kind. I, for one, don't want to be included in this horrific rallying for a ‘new war.’

"I see people out on the street, it's like they are going to a football game. Hooray, honk for the flag. I wonder if they'll be honking when their kids, their neighbors kids, and peoples kids they don't know are laying dead on some rocks somewhere because Bush wanted to take over the world under the opportunity of attacking the elusive terrorists.

"Who is the enemy? If it is Taliban, then why did Bush just give them forty million dollars? If there are terrorists, and we know who they are, let us take them out without mercy, without hesitation. But to use this tragedy as an opportunity to aggress potential enemies in unconscionable. To play with potential nuclear war is unacceptable to me. Is it acceptable to you?

"If we are a better nation that the nations we plan to attack, and I think we are, or can be, we will not let warriors tear down our national morality in the name of patriotism. I am a very patriotic American, but I have no taste for this propaganda, that unity means war. Unity, my friends, means peace. War means death. Period.

"I hope you will join us, people who are horrified by this, but who, in watching the great tragedy unfold, saw all too clearly the potential for the end of the world, how quickly and silently it could come, and how, at any cost, war must be averted. Join me in imagining there is no War to be fought, and hold on to that banner. Where is that Christianity when you need it most? God Bless the lone California congresswoman who voted against giving Bush unlimited funds and power to declare War."

After reading that, I think Solent will agree I was entirely too fair on the fame-hungering, fact-distorting, God-bless-idiots children’s book writer. He deserves a righteous kicking, and I think Natalie might be first in line with the Fisking boots.

JOHN PILGER, FASTEST GUN IN THE ANTI-WEST: Remember those first few hours after the attacks on September 11? Remember the confusion, and the alarm, and the desperate search for information, and the panicked phone calls, and the tears, and the awful wondering about who the hell did this, and why?

Some of us, apparently, were able to remain calm, and keep a coldly rational perspective. Australian expat journalist John Pilger’s first published words after September 11 appeared in the New Statesman, as follows:

"If the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can be surprised? … Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims – that is, the victims of American fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic, and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth."

As Keith Windschuttle points out in the latest edition of Quadrant (not available online):

"What made this particularly reprehensible was not so much what it said – similar sentiments were subsequently expressed by a number of Western intellectuals in the days that followed – but its timing. The statement was published on September 13. New Statesman is a weekly magazine and on weeklies the copy deadline, especially for regular columnists like Pilger, is not the day before publication but the day before that.

"This means Pilger must have written these words on September 11 itself, while the horror of the events was still unfolding on television. The fact that he offered no gesture of sympathy for the victims, and refused to condemn their murderers on the very day itself, displays a complete lack of moral principle.

"It destroys the credentials of all the appeals he has made over the years on behalf of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Palestinians, appeals purportedly made under principles of universal humanitarianism, and reveals his motivation as mere anti-Americanism."

That it does. Pilger’s most recent article, by the way, hints at US collusion in the attack:

"The twin towers attacks provided Bush's Washington with both a trigger and a remarkable coincidence. Pakistan's former foreign minister Niaz Naik has revealed that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, was then travelling in central Asia, already gathering support for an anti-Afghanistan war ‘coalition’."

Where is that gang of bloodthirsty Fiskers when you need them?

CYBERTERROR: According to the Melbourne Age, more than 70 per cent of Australian parents worry more about Internet content corrupting their children than television or video programs.

They are right to worry. The Internet is loaded with sites designed to corrupt and destroy young minds. They should be closed down.

THE PM BLOG WATCH: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Joanne Jacobs: Doglike perversion of SF Chronicle; Cohen moved to hissy fit by mass killing; common sense produces uncommon results in schools

Andrew Sullivan: Fisk Osama before we kill him; British Left increasingly dumb, squalid; to and fro with Jonah; old school pal’s mind eroded

Moira Breen: Extremists are losers; peaceful Islam incapable of badness; creepy Belgians advance bleak, anti-human agenda; Mrs Black should name and shame the anti-Semites

Charles Johnson: Saddam’s desperate survival ploy; Hamas snubs Fisk; Egypt’s Jim Carrey stars in cinematic tour de force

Glenn Reynolds: Mumia dodges the needle; InstaPundit fashion range; Europeans cede authority, dignity to Belgians, other bureaucrats; vote for zombies; shooting holes in political correctness

Natalie Solent: Pony-shouting contest, illness stall blogging

Perry de Havilland and pals: Irony festival – academic cautions against living "in echo chambers"; EU’s cloying deceit; severed communist heads

Steven Den Beste: Green Berets as ambassadors of multiculturalism; European difficulty in comprehending the rights-responsibilities nexus; ex-Prez of Iran speaks out after apparent vodka binge

Virginia Postrel: Amber lights explained; Guns R Us; ex-Cali governor’s skyjacking plot foiled; cast against type, New Zealand actor plays man who can count

Ken Layne: Lensmaster Lowney and the great photo agency; Guardian writer admits to admiration of US, should anticipate sacking

Dawson Jackson: Coulter pics promised; titanium knee first step towards Six Million Dollar Dawson; fine flag raised at Kandahar

Andrew Hofer: Common delusions; "immaculate infection" a central tenet of bin Ladenism

Shiloh Butcher: Who rapes babies? Everybody except the baby-rapers; the last non-Starbucks town

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Cleveland rocks, riots; don’t get me started on Opies; the spy who shagged on TV

Damian Penny: Mumia fans bereft, causeless; Maude "the Fraud" Barlow now quiet on media domination; Newfies mocked; Margolis invites mockery

Dr Frank: Analysing the Left’s lust for destruction; Egypt allows that, yes, its bathrooms are filthy; enjoying the Grauniad

Lawrence Haws: Alderperson redistricts right there in front of everybody; new Napster thing

James Lileks: Cute baby becomes hurlmonster; liberating Flotsam Cove; mystery of the wealthy skeletons; bribes from Layne, Welch, Reynolds, Johnson, Den Beste and self pay off handsomely

Iain Murray: Christmas not worth it for misery-Brits; Belgians continue assault of all things free and good; liberty costs $12


THE HORROR, THE HORIN: Earlier this year I read a column by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Adele Horin that contained good news. Naturally, I assumed I’d been transported to some sort of parallel reverse-world, and began to search for other reverse evidence: a profitable Salon.com, maybe, or a funny Australian comedian, or a Kennedy who could drive, ski, or fly without killing anyone.

But everything else was as normal. Horin was actually happy. Specifically, she was happy about work hours in France:

"More than a year after France legislated a 35-hour week, the economy is flourishing, unemployment is falling, consumer confidence has hit a historic high and most French say their lifestyle has improved.

"People are spending more time at the gym and more time with their kids; they dine out more often, take more holidays and spend extra leisure hours sprucing up their homes."

Oh, joy! More time at the gym! Vive la France!

Of course, Horin then compared wonderful France with terrible Australia. Comparing is what Horin does. She’s a master of the Comparative Misery Method of journalism. Present her with any data and Horin the Equity Aunt will instantly identify injustice and evil. Consider these recent Horinisms:

"Compared with Australia … the US has much greater inequality, twice the proportion of working poor, seven times as many men in jail and a much higher divorce rate."

"In the nine months to March 31, 1,292 Afghans and 1,962 Iraqis were accepted as refugees. In contrast, the overwhelming number of applicants from countries such as Iran or China were rejected."

"Our 25 gold medals over the last five Olympics came at a cost to the taxpayer of between $40 million and $50 million each … a gold medal would buy Australia 200 world class professors, finance a new division of the CSIRO, or provide annual budgets for two world class research facilities."

"It would cost less than 4% of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world to satisfy the basic needs of the world's poor."

"If every Australian sacrificed a cappuccino a week it would put a dent in world poverty."

"If Cheryl Kernot had been a member of the Queensland Labor Party all these years instead of a Democrat, it is almost certain that her political career would have gone nowhere."

"Baby boom women … have missed out on significant superannuation benefits, will not be eligible for a pension till 65, and will face a user-pays world for health care, nursing homes and services that today’s older women have taken for granted."

"The total research budget [of the Co-operative Research Centre on Aquaculture] is less than what is spent to upgrade 35 kilometres of four-lane highway."

And my all-time favourite, from a story on Sydney’s poor:

"There are only 132 crisis beds for women compared with 699 beds for homeless single men".

Curse those greedy homeless men! They should be thrown out into the street where they belong.

In the spirit of Horin, let’s compare her French article to one written by Prague-based freelancer Siegfried Mortkowitz (link via Drudge). Mortkowitz found a different France to that applauded by Adele:

"A startling rise in the crime rate, a wave of violent attacks on policemen and a series of high-profile murders of young women … just how mean the streets of Paris and other French cities had become was confirmed in a study published in June. It revealed that more criminal acts per capita were committed in France in the year 2000 than in that traditional hotbed of crime in the streets, the United States … former interior minister Charles Pasqua [declared] that France was experiencing ‘a wave of murders in the street without precedence'."

This was the place that made Horin all happy for once? By comparison, I prefer not to be murdered. And, if the Third World will please look away, now I’m going to make a cappucino.

WELCOME, NYC FIREYS: That’s what we call them down here. It’s part of the Official Australian Naming Code, as identified by Ken Layne.

Twenty-five ground zero fire fighters will will arrive in Sydney next February, following an invitation from state premier Bob Carr. They can expect to be hailed as the heroes they are.

Carr, a Civil War obsessive and close observer of American politics, has also invited King Rudi. As yet, the mayor has yet to decide whether he’ll show.

He should. This is going to be one sweet ride. Hotels and rental car companies are beating each other up to offer free rooms and transport to the fireys, who – I guarantee – won’t have to buy a single drink the entire time they’re here.

We could have used their skills yesterday, when a bunch of illegal immigrants set 15 buildings ablaze at the detention centre where they are being held.

Apparently they were chanting "Visa! Visa! Visa!" shortly before lighting the fires, which demolished four buildings.

We should worry if they begin chanting "Mastercard!"

It means they have The Bomb.

JOKE IN SPORE TASTE: Send some washing powder to your neighbour, pay $1,000.

ANSARY SPEAKS! As soon as I’d completed my assessment of Tamim Ansary’s stupid email (below) the man himself appears in Salon, still furiously hunting for negatives.

Ansary doesn’t acknowledge the flaws in his email (the closest he gets is to say: "Now, thanks to American intervention, the educated, Westernized, urban elite will come back to power. This is good news.") For the most part he simply moves along, as though his famous email had never been written. For example, remember those crippled orphans America was going to kill? Well, the US clearly has some work to do on its orphan-targeting weaponry:

"Someone will have to take in the orphans - half a million of them, and many of them disabled. Someone will have to tend to those broken bodies, mend their hearts and make them feel important and loved, because if those kids don't get a stake in peace and a chance to grow up healthy, we're looking at another generation of emotionally damaged troublemakers 15 years down the line - more Taliban."

Ansary’s primary concern in his email was that schools and hospitals would be razed, and his homeland "bombed back to the Stone Age". Now his main worry is whether women in post-Taliban Afghanistan will be sufficiently "empowered".

Next he’ll be sweating over Afghanistan’s access to cable television. "With no Home Shopping Network, how can this land be called free?"

CAT STEVENS, Muslim, is donating proceeds from a greatest hits compilation CD to victims of September 11 – and he has this to say:

On the attacks, he is "horrified that this was a terrorist action being committed under the slogan of Islam. The people weren't going to war; they were going to work. These kind of incidents, I have no reference for them. Not in the Koran".

On radicals who have claimed Islam: "It is a time for Muslims to reflect on how we have almost been forced to be radical in the absence of a clear expression of middle Islam. The large silent majority have left it up to the radicals to speak on their behalf. The moderate voice needs to be heard, which is in the Koran, in so many verses indicating mercy, peace, justice, tolerance, patience. All these virtues have to come into focus."

WILL ANSARY SAY "I’M SORRY"?: The modern fashion is to apologise decades after any wrongdoing, and only then if you weren’t actually involved. Bill Clinton apologised to Japanese who’d been sent to internment camps during WW2; the Canadian government apologised to Canadian Indians; thousands of Australians have signed "sorry books" for crimes committed against Aborigines in the 1950s.

Perhaps the reason for these delayed apologies is that sometimes it takes so long to realise that wrong was done. Or it may be that people just can’t bear to face their terrible errors, and leave it to subsequent generations to make amends.

I wonder how long it will be before Tamim Ansary apologises.

On September 12, Ansary, an Afghan-American writer who lives in San Francisco, sat down at his computer and slapped out a bunch of random thoughts loosely connected to the previous day’s terrorist attacks and what he imagined would be the US response. He sent his note to about 20 friends.

It became the email heard around the world. Within days, Amsary’s illogic had so charmed editors, journalists and pundits that his hasty note was reproduced in Salon, the Sydney Morning Herald, the LA Weekly … it was everywhere. He was interviewed by CNN and by Australia’s ABC, which also provided a reverential reading of his email. The SMH’s Peter FitzSimons wrote that Ansary’s message contained "strong arguments".

As it turns out, Ansary was fantastically, outrageously wrong about almost everything. Here’s a few excerpts:

"We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that."

There was never any intention to "bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age", nor to target schools or hospitals. The schools are now full of female students, for the first time in five years. Female doctors have returned to the hospitals. Wrong, Ansary.

"New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely."

Yes, likely. Wrong, Ansary.

"In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs."

They Taliban haven’t slipped away, and they have nowhere to hide. And the US forces have yet to commence their ambitious anti-orphan campaign. Wrong, Ansary.

"Flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban - by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time."

Unless those bombs proved so accurate as to only hit Taliban targets, which they largely did. Wrong, Ansary.

"To get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely."

Not likely? Not even required. Wrong, Ansary.

"The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West."

Just plain WRONG, Ansary.

"Bin Laden … figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die."

Hasn’t happened, won’t happen. Wrong, Ansary.

"The Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country."

For once Ansary is right! The Afghan people DID exult! So where’s Ansary’s follow-up email, the one where he thanks US forces for ridding his homeland of the Taliban and apologises for getting everything else wrong?

I’ve got a feeling old Ansary’s gone back to writing the children’s books he was into before he struck global fame as a fear-maker. No apology has been forthcoming. I suppose, then, that I’ll have to write one myself, on his behalf (feel free to send it to global news organisations):

"Hi. I’m writer Tamim Ansary You may remember me from such emails as 'Random Bombing Will Destroy The Hospitals!' and 'I Have Absolutely No Idea What I’m Talking About.'

"Firstly, thanks to everyone who enjoyed my earlier work, especially all the people who’d never heard of me before and described me as a 'noted Afghan writer'. I write books for grade school children, for Allah’s sake! But thanks all the same. ;)

"Now, about that earlier business … look, I made a few little mistakes, and I’d like to say sorry for that. I live in San Francisco, so naturally I assumed Bush Jr would respond to September 11 by killing disabled orphans. That’s just the way we think here.

"Actually, I’m kind of uninformed about a lot of things, including the military capabilities of America. I’ve only lived here for 35 years, so you can understand me not knowing about these super-accurate bombs you guys have. They’re way cool!

"Beats me what I was thinking when I wrote all that stuff about invading Pakistan, and for that I’m sorry too. Oh, and the line about all Muslim nations supporting bin Laden in a Holy War, as though all Islamic people are just as craven as Osama? Boy, I should really get a handle on that ‘delete’ button, don’t you think?

"Anyway, thanks everyone for reading this, and check out my sales at Amazon – through the roof!

"Best wishes,

"Tamim Ansary, San Francisco, November 16"

Well, that’s Ansary dealt with. Now we only have to wait for the apologies from all the media who ran his email.


THE AM BLOG WATCH: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Joanne Jacobs: When Pacifists Attack!; crazy airline price differences; Hofer bitch-slaps New York Times; Iranians for freedom

Andrew Sullivan: Capitalism incompatible with Islam; Howie Carr still confused

Moira Breen: Edward Said abandoned for zesty dessert dish; cheering Klingons; Arabs must stop lying

Charles Johnson: Anthrax origins; Israel to collapse "like Soviet Union"

Glenn Reynolds: "We’re all nailclipper confiscators now"; support the Sufis

Natalie Solent: Linse-Reynolds shootout; 1-800-PUFFED WHEAT; Tony Blair smears self, wife with filthy ooze

Perry de Havilland and pals: Lynchian, blue neon memories invoked in Blogger slur; terrorists can defeat sheep

Steven Den Beste: Kenwe, shouldwe invade Kenya?; Falwell criticised (again)

Ken Layne: Unmistakable signs of total quagmire; puppet regime topples UN

Dawson Jackson: Ted Rall; mucus

Brian Linse: Uh-oh … Linse is heavily armed, and "just don’t like nobody"

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Tony confesses to past life as vocalist "Greg Orion"; agreeing with Brooks

Damian Penny: Maybe Islam isn’t incompatible with capitalism after all; Osama one big dope; Taliban do detention; RIP, Minnie White; comedian attempts joke

Dr Frank: Speaker’s Corner full of usual British types

James Lileks: Confronted by a Reader; racism halts TV career; slicing Ted Rall apart with the sharpest Ginsu knife in all Christendom

Iain Murray: Behead traitorous Tony, ala Charles I

BINNY VID NOT FOOLING US: Prevailing opinion in the letters pages is that the bin Laden video is fake. Here are a couple of examples from today’s Australian:

"Is the just-released videotape that shows Osama bin Laden 'gloating' over the September 11 carnage to be believed?

"In the 1994 American movie Forrest Gump, the main character, Tom Hanks, meets up with important but deceased persons such as George Wallace, presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, and even murdered Beatle John Lennon – all thanks to the miracle of visual effects.

"Perhaps we should blame Hollywood for us not necessarily believing what we see and hear."

What I like most about the above letter, from Henk Verhoeven, of Beacon Hill, is his astonishment that "even" John Lennon appeared in Forrest Gump – as though dead Beatle footage presents a challenge far beyond anything involving politicians and Presidents. Why, if technology continues at this rate, Disney may one day devise a singing mouse!

Here is the opinion of Alice Springs resident Dick Thew:

"George W. Bush and his merry men release a video in which matinee idol Osama Baby is incriminating himself in the WTC air rage.

"Now this is a bloke with a well-known pathological hatred of TV, who has himself video-taped, then leaves the tape on the kitchen table in a house where the CIA troops just happen to find it.

"Four-year-old kids who've seen Independence Day, the computer-generated tigers in Gladiator, the morphs in Matrix and, of course, Wag the Dog, roll around on the floor laughing at this nonsense.

"But then The Australian says some Hollywood special-effects guru says the Bush Administration wouldn't fake it, because ‘that would be illegal’. Oh, well, then it must be real."

I wonder if Thew believes anything – anything at all – that he sees on TV. Hollywood generates everything, Dick! We’re all watching lies! George Bush isn’t real! Keep taking your tablets!

POLITENESS POLICE STRIKE AGAIN: A cartoon series featuring a family of "differently abled" individuals has been yanked from Australian television schedules after being shown only once.

Go here to read the Melbourne Herald Sun’s story and oh-so-sensitive headline …

LAST OF THE RED-HOT QUAGMIRERS: Retired Australian army guy Brigadier Adrian D’Hage is a pacifist’s dream. Not only does he always say the Right Things – we can’t win in Afghanistan, send aid not bombs, bin Laden is too clever to be caught, where are my Peter, Paul and Mary cassettes, etc – but he also has Military Credibility. Adrian knows what he’s talking about; he was an advisor in Vietnam!

(Exactly how that gives him credibility is a mystery. Vietnam wasn’t exactly a triumph for Western military tacticians.)

His anti-war mongering has made D’Hage a minor celebrity. Barely a week goes by without him appearing in print, on radio, or on television decrying events in Afghanistan. He’s like a broken record. No, much worse than that; he’s like a broken Tom Lehrer record.

Let’s review the sayings of sage D’Hage:

November 5: "This … is going to finish up in a mess. It has a fatally flawed major objective of finding bin Laden … And it is being planned by generals who have learned little, if anything, from history. Who express surprise that the Taliban are tough fighters. Who express disappointment that 4 weeks of bombing big rocks into little rocks has not produced a disintegration of the Taliban.

"Rather than chasing bin Laden onto his ground, you go in with military engineers and rebuild the country. You convince the Afghans that the west has something to offer other than misguided missiles."

November 8: "Ground troops will be absolutely essential and a lot of them. We are going in to fight Osama bin Laden and the Taliban on the ground of their choosing, a ground they know better than any satellite can possibly hope to chart. This is the start of a potentially very long war."

October 9: "Bin Laden is the terrorist and military equivalent of the grand master of chess, always planning many moves in advance. Expect more terrorist attacks … This is military chess. A vicious game of escalating violence. Until the West looks to equitable solutions to these root causes, Afghanistan is simply White Pawn G2 to Black Square G3. The next move may well be bin Laden's."

October 17: "We are making this up as we go along. Waiting to see the results of the air attacks. If they go in on the ground, and they have to to find Osama bin Laden, then they may push the Taliban out of Kabul … they will withdraw into the Hindu Kush, and you will have a guerilla war different from Vietnam in geography, but in principle quite the same. So this may go on for years and you might need thousands of troops on the ground to secure this country."

Adrian is at it again today, in the op-ed pages of The Australian. Have recent developments in Afghanistan changed his mind? Has he reconsidered his inaccurate predictions? Is he hopeful about the war’s progress?

No way. "Vietnam" appears in the first paragraph. "Quagmire" appears in the second. The inevitable "no end in sight" gets a run late in the piece. Every triumph only exposes us to greater danger; Osama's troops become doubly strong with every defeat.

With Adrian D’Hage calling the shots, was it any wonder we lost in Vietnam?

TIME TO IGNORE SCIENTOLOGY: Time magazine faces a dilemma. It shortly has to choose its Person of the Year, yet may not be able to name the most obvious contender.

A huge public backlash would no doubt follow if Time were to select Osama bin Laden. Various pundits are warning against it. Freepers are livid at the prospect.

But by the standards by which the Person of the Year is usually selected, Binny should be already be making space on the cave wall for his Person of the Year cover picture.

The award isn’t an honour. It isn’t a reward, or a celebration. It merely marks the most significant individual – good or bad - of a given year.

On that score, can there be any arguments against Osama?

(Incidentally, Time’s Person of the Year – originally Man of the Year, but lately dumbed down, natch – began only as a way to cover Charles Lindbergh’s Paris flight. Time’s deadline meant it missed Lucky Lindy’s landing, so the next week the magazine made him Man of the Year. It was simply a device to provide a new angle on an old story.)

Hitler was a Man of the Year. So was Stalin and Mussolini. Nobody complained. So how come people are getting so hyped about the prospect of bin Laden as Person of the Year?

I blame the Scientologists.

In 1991, Time ran a devastating article on Tom Cruise’s chosen faith. It found – surprise, surprise – that various elements of Scientology were slightly suspect. The church sued. And, predictably, lost.

Outside of the courts, however, the Scientologists ran a campaign to discredit Time that was slightly more successful. It called attention to Time’s selection of Hitler, Mussolini, etc, as Men of the Year, and characterised those selections as showing that Time worshipped evil. Scientology changed perceptions of the Man of the Year idea.

It didn’t help Time’s cause that it had, by the late-90s, run a series of wimpy, celebratory Persons of the Year. The magazine seemed to have decided that the title would be an honour after all.

So now Time faces a challenge: whether to remain true to the Person of the Year criteria and name Osama, or come up with a reader-friendly cop-out like, I don’t know, "the American people", or "New York City".

One thing is certain: if Osama isn’t on the cover, the Scientologists will have won.

GOLLIGONE: First they take away my guns, and now they’ve taken away golliwogs. I’d do something brutal about this … if only I had my damn guns back.

Enid Blyton’s illustrated children’s books have been republished in Australia for the first time in 20 years. This should be cause for cheer, but not with some pie-faced, sedated pervert named Mr Cubbs taking over from Mr Blacky as leader of Golliwog Village.

Worse, Dame Slap – the entertaining child abuser – has been usurped by Dame Snap, who presumably does nothing more than click her fingers at the tykes who torment her so.

Not surprisingly, Rosemary Johnston, of the University of Technology, Sydney, (see post below on UTS’s commie journalism classes) says the changes are for the better: "I think that anything that demeans somebody by the colour of their skin should be taken out."

You can take my golliwog, Rosemary, when you prise it from my cold, dead fingers.


THE 8.30am (CALIFORNIA TIME) BLOG UPDATE: A brief guide to who is saying what, where

Joanne Jacobs: Genuine hero risks death for art; The Independent sinks further into disgrace; hammer the stupid, Moira!; Fisked by the demented

Moira Breen: Grotesque BBC "analysis"; Fisk nominated for fascist apologia prize; silence, Adragna!; unspooling of intestines praised

Charles Johnson: Steyn rocks, albeit at a slower beat than bloggers

Glenn Reynolds: Sklyarov home free; exercise massive rights; Turkey emerges as potential post-Taliban superpower; Egyptians don’t fall for blatantly faked Binny vid; rich eggheads don’t like money – why?; Rand Simberg and the Burqa of Death

Natalie Solent: Awful Blair error; Solent child thrills to notorious book; Blunkett should be elevated upon self-constructed petard

Perry de Havilland and pals: Adult economics; HTML abuse; Chomsky obliterations; Solent September theory explored; Spears version 2.0

Steven Den Beste: How will Binny buy it?; traffic chaos

Virginia Postrel: Sydney Morning Herald reveals courageous Afghan story; Goldberg-bashing links

Ken Layne: AM LA; early Tabloid.net nightmares; Breslin’s decline

Dawson Jackson: Coulter a majorly Freudian "funraiser"; Winona a major keyboard threat; Reuters a major piece of crap

Brian Linse: Drunken Australian linkage flaw; Wile E. Goldberg; The Prof’s million man march; advice for Ashcroft

Andrew Hofer: Nimoy on Tolkein

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna Military school God-fear; Tony and Will’s bond will forever be unbroken, least of all over missile defence (apologies)

Damian Penny: Canada loaded with Talifans; Breen dared to attempt northern annex; beautiful Steyn column

Dr Frank: London Times analysis of Binny hand gestures; blog humor/tedium ratio explored; Simmons a hard Fox act to follow

Lawrence Haws: Angel/pin mathematical/ethical dilemmas; reason apparently not linked to suicide attacks; Al Capone likely to be found in bin Laden’s cave

Iain Murray: Binny’s increasingly terrified voice located within cave; Britain blames Brussels; Fox TV triumph!