WHERE are all the Left-wing Bloggers? You'd think they’d be everywhere, given that Blogger technology is essentially in sync with leftist economic theories; ie, it's given away to The People for free, and often collapses.

But they are scarce. Scarcer than Irish porn. One of the few is the Westerby Report, which tries to make up for an absence of fellow travellers by supporting almost every commentator and source commonly sliced 'n' diced by the rampaging Warblog collective.

Westerby lists the Guardian and the Independent as "reputable newspapers", admires Terry Jones, Howard Zinn, John Pilger, and Barry Crimmins, defines Christopher Hitchens as a "dissenter" only when he attacks the Right, and has this to say about Robert Fisk:

"Robert Fisk is without doubt the foreign correspondent of the century, maybe the last century inclusive. While dispatching the most comprehensive, knowledgeable, balanced, relevant, informative, and current reports from amidst the smoke and blood of the Afghanistan other journalists fear (and are forbidden) to tread, he still finds time to cover the proceedings in Belgium concerning the 1982 Lebanon massacres with not one, but two stories. Make that two excellent stories."

Westerby has chosen to follow the road less travelled, and apparently left his medication behind. No matter; Blogdom is a broad church, and it is interesting to read lefty views from an actual Blogging human rather than a media drone. Not that this makes Westerby any more correct; just a little more interesting.

THE only Winter Olympics event I'll be watching is the skeleton.

I don't know why it's called the skeleton. Presumably that is all that remains after you've ploughed head-first through an ice bank at 100 km/h and had every gram of meat flensed from your body.

IT HURTS when you discover that your idols not only have feet of clay, but heads full of the same dense, claggy matter.

Bruce Wilson inspired me to become a journalist. As a kid, I used to read his wonderful column in Melbourne's old afternoon Herald every Monday. Wilson was News Ltd.'s Washington correspondent in those days, and his writing – aimed at politicians and politics of all shades – was clear, sharp, and damned funny.

A few years ago, as a chief of staff at Sydney's Daily Telegraph, it was my honour to work with Wilson, nowadays based in London. He turned out to be a decent bloke, as lively and engaging as he appeared in print, and he tolerated my occasional story directions with only slight grumbling.

Too bad he's become an idiot.

In Wilson's latest column, he announces that, faced with the choice of being with the US or against her, he's against. Here are some excerpts:

"France this week became the first important power to break ranks and decry the 'axis of evil' unilateralism devised by George W. Bush."

"Washington no longer treats its allies on an equal footing."

"It is perfectly clear Mr Bush is an incompetent at best. Osama bin Laden has been considerably more intelligent than Mr Bush in the 'war against terrorism'."

"The chants in America today resound of Nuremberg, not Gettysburg. Colin Powell, the quiet, still voice of reason within the Bush administration, has been shouted down by Donald Rumsfeld … who has ruled over an operation in Afghanistan that has failed in all its major missions."

"Aid agencies now agree the civilian death toll in Afghanistan … exceeds the number killed in the Twin Towers."

"North Korea for the first time in decades is making diplomatic ground with South Korea. It is a sad, starving, impoverished third-world dictatorship."

"Iran has quietly re-entered the world community on speaking terms. Now, it seems, Bush plans to bomb it."

"Bombing and sanctions have deeply wounded the Iraqi people, killed their children, and filled them with a hatred of the USA."

"Bush's list of enemies excludes the filthy regimes the USA has supported over the years. It also fails to mention Israel as a nation that really does have weapons of mass destruction."

"Unilateralism – in which there is only one superpower in the world – threatens all of us, especially when it is, as France says, simplistic."

"Conservative columnist Matthew Parris said last week America was creating a position where it was the USA, and friends, against The Rest of the World. Parris decided to join the Rest. Me too."

What's happened to Bruce? Perhaps he's been hanging out with John Pilger and Robert Fisk, and become brainwashed.

In any case, just as he did years ago, Bruce provides sound career instruction. Australian journalists now know to avoid, at any cost, being assigned to London. Something about the place does your head in.

TALIBAN LEADER SURRENDERS: Back in October, when Taliban foreign minister Mullah Abdul Wakil Muttawakil tried to make a deal which would hand Osama bin Laden over to a foreign power, his gang's hardliners dismissed suggestions that the Taliban was cracking up and said Muttawakil would be killed before he had the chance to surrender.

"There is no rift within the Taliban," Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, told The Guardian. "Muttawakil is in Kandahar. He can die but he cannot defect."

Think again, Z-man. According to AP, "the Taliban's foreign minister turned himself in to U.S. forces on Friday, becoming the highest ranking official of the former ruling militia to do so."

Muttawakil surrendered to Afghan officials in Kandahar, US officials said. He's now being questioned at the U.S. military base at Kandahar airport.

He could end up sharing some Gitmo quality time with his old pal Zaeef, who was arrested last month. Play nice, Mullahs.

CAT-HATING, TOBACCO-SMOKING ANARCHISTS NEED NOT APPLY: HOUSING REQUESTS AND OFFERS FOR ANTI-WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM DEMONSTRATORS. – further evidence, from McSweeneys.net, that the anti-globos have become International Figures of Fun. Via alert reader J. Thomas.

DAVID Hicks – variously known in these pages as the Al Qaeda Dingo, Taliban Dundee, the Wombat of Islam, and Dave, That Australian Guy Fixing To Be Shot To Death In Cuba – has sent a letter to his parents apologising for causing them any anxiety, and begging for legal help.

What's the matter, Dave? The Taliban's lawyers not taking your calls?

AMERICA just won't listen. Poor Gay Alcorn, the Sydney Morning Herald's Washington correspondent, tirelessly advises the US to change its course, but does anyone pay attention? No!

It's almost as though the opinion of a one-note leftist crank doesn't matter at all in the Land of the Free. Alcorn's latest piece rails against military spending:

"When George Bush pledged that 'whatever it takes, whatever it costs' America would win 'the first war of the 21st century', he meant it. The mammoth military budget the President proposed his week - a $US48billion boost after inflation - was in the context of a budget of nips and tucks, shaving money from highway building and food for the poor, and putting off dealing with old problems such as the lack of universal health coverage."

Not to mention the crisis in overdue library books. Alcorn has done some serious work analysing this budget, and provides compelling data:

"The world's only superpower, unchallenged since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, now accounts for about 40 per cent of the world's total military spending, up from about 36 per cent a few years ago."

"About36 per cent"? "A fewyears ago"? You can't argue with this sort of precision. For readers who pine for the heady days of last November, Alcorn drags a beloved phrase out of retirement:

"The French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine, this week accused the White House of a 'simplistic approach' to terrorism that took no notice of root causes such as poverty."

Ah, those old root causes. Has anyone ever told Alcorn that Osama bin Laden isn't poor? And that she's probably better suited to a career in something else other than journalism?


THE World Economic Forum in New York was a total bust for the anti-globo protest movement, and not just because numbers were down and the protests themselves weak and incoherent.

The movement's main loss was in public perception. The serious, concerned response that followed protests in Genoa and Seattle and Melbourne has been replaced by mockery and derision. The anti-globos are losing the culture war.

As an example, here's a sketch from The Conan O'Brien Show, which began with three WEF militants heckling O'Brien from the studio audience:

Conan: Who are you guys?

Protester #1: Who, us?

Conan: Yes, you guys in the masks. Who are you?

Protester #2: We're protesters.

Protester #1: Yeah, man. We're here for the World Economic Forum.

Conan: So what are you doing in here? Shouldn't you be outside protesting?

Protester #2: It's pretty crappy … it's kinda raining outside.

Protester #1: It's totally gross out there, man. It's no fun. It's like, uh, gross. So we thought we'd come in here and check out the show.

Protester #2: Yeah. We went to see Rosie this morning.

Conan: Did you protest her and her show?

Protester #1: No. It was pretty fun, actually. We had a good time.

Protester #3: Yeah. They gave out Twinkies. What do you give out?

Conan: We … nothing. We don't give out anything.

Protester #3: Well, maybe you should think about that!

Protester #1: Yeah, man!

Protester #2: Yeah! Think about it! Anyway, after Rosie we tried to find that diner, from the Seinfeld show. Have you ever seen that episode, with the diner?

Conan: It's in every episode.

Protester #1: Hey man, we know that! Don't tell us what to think!

Protester #3: Yeah! Hey, look at all these seats … they’re all exactly the same. Mass produced, cookie cutter seats. Bet some huge corporation made these seats.

Protester #1: Yeah, man, you're a corporate seat buyer!

Conan: Would you guys just be quiet? You're not accomplishing anything by coming in here and yelling at me. I'm not the enemy.

Protester #2: Hey, where'd you get that suit?

Conan: It belongs to the show. It's the show’s suit.

Protester #1: No, man! You belong to the show!

Conan: What … what does that even mean?

Protester #2: It means your name should be "Corporate O'Brien".

Protester #3: "Conan O'pressor".

Protester #1: "Jerk".

Conan: Guys, I don’t have time for this. I have to go to a commercial now.

Protester #1: Oh yeah, yeah. Time for you to make some more money, dude. Who's your big evil corporate sponsor this time?

Conan: Um … it's an ad for Aquafresh.

Protester #2: That's … that’s actually pretty good.

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

Andrew Sullivan: An expert discusses Church pedophile shame; Reagan 91 not out; blacklisted by NPR McCarthyites; bizarre Australianism – "stone the crows" – creeps into Sullivan copy; Tim Noah commences spinning on email; eloquent, visceral response to anti-war crowd; strange posturing from civil rights groups

Glenn Reynolds: Sensible Enron-avoidance advice; Nigeria invisible to non-blog media; Cuban group accused of misrepresentation; helpful Jordanians; your guide to Al Qaeda membership; inevitable Ken Lay-bin Laden hideout story written; PC era all but vanished; Bill Quick coins apt new term; the return of Quagmire; NYT conflicts continue; the last Berlin Wall runner remembered; Instapundit delivers more hits than Elvis

Natalie Solent: Skiing as anti-blog therapy; life-analysing blog launched; self-Googling tips; Hessian conflict; decimating the deaf; the New Statesman's new low

Matt Welch: Saudi Graffiti; massive Sully-related hits boost; Herold study still foolin' 'em; John Walker is unimportant and should not be written about

Virginia Postrel: Class size no guide to class quality

Ken Layne: Shocking hatred for San Francisco; Phil Hendrie, funny guy, expands empire; tall guy – maybe Binny – dead; Reagan revision; pro-Target in LA; missing girl helpline; readers love their country tunes; Reynolds clones required

Shiloh Bucher: Lying with numbers; the male-female wage gap myth

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Maureen Dowd revived by Enron debacle; the Left's mortgage on prison reform debate; pro-Pickering

James Lileks: "Service industry" ill-named; trapped with an infant and Elmo; orange is the new lemon; Gnat takes the Pledge; crayons are the devil's work; old New York; O'Hara beats Fitzgerald; McInerney's ancient fiction; desirous of waking up in a city that never sleeps

James Lileks in Print: Hello, Mr Fence!; untold riches in Alabama; Internet scams explored

Iain Murray: Crush the lazy, bad-writing bureaucrats!; drug research scam alleged; Her Maj's ties that bind; Valéry Giscard d'Isgusting; PM Blair open to African idea; the good Brit press

Juan Gato: Shared loathing of Michael Moore's Batshit Brigade; lively Blog debut; why isn't everything nice and non-commercial?

Bill Quick: Responsibility and the individual; reclaim the Olympics, people!; pilots are idiots; belief in government abandoned by today's letter writer

Rallying Point: Turkey talk; Buzzing the Martians; chlorine dioxide a leading cause of panic, hysteria; prayer won't save you

Christopher Johnson: French niceness moratorium ends; flaming idiot; Canadian journalist celebrates the joy of Cuban child sex

Jason Soon: Australians not evil

James Morrow: Saudi women relieved of driving chores; NYT all wrong on Olympics; genius Viagra plan to make Blogging pay; whip it, whip it good, in Malaysia

Downtown anywhere in the USA

You can find yourself a Blog Watch Café

Put your money on a number, anyone can play

Come on and read all about it inBlog Watch IItoday

At the Blog Watch Café

come to the Blog Watch Café

I hope you can find your way to the Blog Watch Cafe

After a hard day's work I guarantee

there just isn't anywhere better to be

If you're unable to find good company

You can always sit down and load upBlog Watch III


SPHERICAL millionaire author Michael Moore, host of TV's "My Grotesque Hypocrisy", has a message for his readers:

"Dear Friends,

"I'd like to tell you a little tale, a personal story of what it is like to fear losing your freedom of speech, how it feels to be drowned in a wave of patriotism which threatens with all its might to suffocate your ideas and stifle dissent."

The hallucinating calorie processor goes on to complain about the difficulty he had getting his new book, Stupid White Men, published in the wake of September 11. Why, HarperCollins wanted him rewrite a few things, maybe even change the title! Tubbs wouldn't stand for it:

"I refused to rewrite a single word of my book. I was proud of everything I had written. In my opinion, Stupid White Men seemed even more relevant than before."

Does this guy have an ego or what? As we read on, we discover that free speech isn't the issue at all. If it was, Moore Food Please would simply have published his thoughts on the web. But he wants loadsa cash – and is prepared to censor himself in order to get it:

"I have avoided writing this letter to all of you for weeks. In part, I did not want to say or do anything that might jeopardize the good working relationship I have now with the publisher. I have put nearly a year of my life into this book, and the thought of it not being available because of what you saw in this email just didn't seem worth it."

Sell out! Corporate lickspittle! Lapdog of the multinationals!

Demonstrating typical self-regard, Moore ends up crowing that HarperCollins' decision to publish is a victory against oppression:

"I started getting a lot of mail from around the country (and the world) as this story spread. People wanted to know the truth about what had happened. Some had seen the issue of Entertainment Weekly a few weeks ago which had named me their Winner of the Week for succeeding in getting my book released. I decided it was best to let you know from me personally what has transpired – and that the outcome was a good one, a rare victory these days for our side, and for the cause of free expression."

Wow – mail from around the world. You're an important man, Chunko. Witty, too:

"Needless to say, the publishing industry, much of which believes that now is NOT the right time to be selling a book of political humor like this, will be watching to see just how well people respond to an author who thinks it's funny to suggest that falling off couches usually has something to do with a beverage, and not a solid salted food product."

Ha. Ha.

FROM the always-excellent obituaries page in the UK Daily Telegraph comes this startling intro:

"Desmond O'Hagan, who has died aged 92, adopted a baby elephant which insisted on sleeping in his bedroom when he was a young district officer in Kenya."

In Chicago: fraud Hyman Tucker, who scammed $102,563 from city taxpayers, has been rewarded by having a street named after him

In Australia: Prime Minister Harold Holt, who drowned in 1967, was honoured by having a pool named after him.

GIRL, INTOXICATED: Via the entertaining British spite-site Popbitch, we learn a little something about Winona Ryder's drug of choice:

"Everyone's been laughing so much at Winona Ryder's shoplifting bust that they've failed to notice that she was also found in possession of Oxycodone.

"Oxycodone is a bit like codeine, but six times stronger. It can be snorted, injected or eaten and induces opiate-like effects and 'striking euphoria' (such as 'Weeeee, I'm so happy that I could shoplift ...')

"The drug's popularity in places like Appalachia has led to its nickname 'hillbilly heroin'.

"Unfortunately, it does tend to kill the hillbillies: in Virgina the perscription drug death rate has increased 90% since Oxycodone's introduction."

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

Andrew Sullivan: Non-existent anti-war Left just keeps on existing; Amazon crushed by the Sullivan Book Club steamroller; lawyers spin for the Walker boy; Tim Noah is a cad, and probably also a bounder; Ted Kennedy quote was possibly uttered post-lunch; wicked Wodehouse words; the one man who turned down Enron cash

Glenn Reynolds: Anti-Semitism throughout Europe; US citizenry must mobilise; Gene Simmons demands that NPR interviewer "confront life"; the Olympics are a crock; bogus feminist study; evil is evil; when will we know the war is over?

Natalie Solent: Mad Cow blood; Hessian debate flares; where Pearl's kidnappers got their ideas

Matt Welch: Lustful searchers seek hot Havrilesky images; putting Michael Kinsley on the counch; Atlantic Monthly is a Good Magazine; Napoleon was a Good Ruler; take HST's advice and avoid being consumed by large animals

Rand Simberg: Space policy issues dissected; Sheila Jackson Lee's march to the White House; email etiquette – when is publication acceptable?; anti-male nude bigotry in Maine

Virginia Postrel: Why competition works, and why Woolco doesn't; flyover fellow wants LA to burn, baby, burn

Ken Layne: World's Tallest Thermometer signifies coffee availability; lose weight the Willie way; Internet shows signs of life; September 11 book will mine the Web; looking for "punxsutawney groundhog satan"? Look no further

Shiloh Bucher: Taking a stab at domestic violence; there's ironing, and then there's Extreme Ironing; individual achievement shunned by the Smithsonian; the curse of Whole Language

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Defending Punditwatch against brutal accuser; Gergen hits Enron target; campaign finance reform wouldn't have altered Enron; who will trap the fearsome snipe?

Lawrence Haws: Inactivity alert

James Lileks: Remembering Cpl. Russell Haakenson, killed in Korea

James Lileks in Print: Ban basketball bagginess; Britney cute, but pudding-like; hail TiVo!; the improbability of two John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidts co-existing in the same town utterly destroys song's premise

Iain Murray: Pre-teen exercises rights, saves grandmother's life; the Iain Murray Book Club is born; reforming the House of Lords; piqued about Pique; name Osama's day of reckoning, win a prize

Juan Gato: Fine slash-apart of the Star Tribune; Cuba's bountiful wonders; Ted Rall a tragic example of the unfunny, can't-draw generation; Gato joins Layne/Mazza blog-monkey axis; diagramming, the importance of, etc

Bill Quick: Bush, Blair Nobel notion dismissed by BBC poll; exposing Snuffleupagus's Atta link; Newsweek loves a dissembling, off-point President; SUVs cause terrorism

Rallying Point: Individualist website recommended; private Shuttles mooted; old-time media running scared; the rallyingpoint SUV brutalised; environmentalists are humanity's foes; fire Powell

Christopher Johnson: Taliboy Walker's legal team sashimied; Jesus invades Kabylie; Norman Mailer, an idiot for the ages

Jason Soon: Chicken Bin Laden a popular dish at the Tora Bora Café; get Saddam now; poverty not to blame for radical Islam; Radio Jeff welcomed

Goin' down toBlog Watch, gonna have myself a time

Friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation

Goin' down toBlog Watch, gonna leave my woes behind

Ample Parking day or night, people shouting 'Howdy Neighbour!'

Headin' on down toBlog Watch, gonna see if I can't unwind

So come on down toBlog Watch, and meet some friends of mine


HE FLOATS like a butterchurn and stings like a bidet. John Pilger's latest is an attempted bashing of the Australian government, but, as usual, the maladroit journalistic heavyweight ends up tripping over his own feet and landing face-first on the canvas.

We're not even out of the second paragraph before the errors commence:

"When [Elizabeth] Taylor and her then husband, Mike Todd, the Hollywood producer, told the [Australian] press to sod off, they were dogged by negative publicity and their visit was, in show-business terms, a disaster. Something similar happened to the great star Ava Gardner, filming Nevil Shute's On the Beach in Melbourne, about the nuclear apocalypse. Asked what she thought of Australia, she replied: ‘I cannot think of a better place to make a movie about the end of the world.’"

There's a couple of things wrong here. One, Gardner's famous quote referred to Melbourne, not Australia. And two, she never said it. Melbourne journalist Neil Jillett made up Gardner's comment, and confessed his crime 20 years ago.

"The 2000 Olympics [were] regarded as an ultimate rite of passage to the rest of the world. Small-time politicians pressed the flesh of the international great and good, Sydney's traffic lights were fixed on green for the motorcade of the International Olympic Committee, and civil liberties were suspended so that the authorities could control those who might interrupt the joy."

None of us who survived will ever forget the suspension of our civil liberties. The nights were the worst – that was when the death squads would arrive.

"Alas, all those warm millennium feelings are long forgotten as the Government of John Howard has, at a stroke, demolished the national image with racist and inhumane policies, shamelessly and aggressively implemented, currently against desperate refugees."

John Howard's government didn't introduce the mandatory detention policies to which Pilger refers. They were introduced in 1994, by the previous Labor government.

"In their attempts to justify this contravention of the most basic of human rights, the right of refuge, Prime Minister Howard and his ministers lied that another group of refugees had thrown their children overboard as a sacrificial means of attracting attention. 'I find that [the refugees' behaviour] is against the natural instinct,' said Howard. These people, said a senator, 'are repulsive ... and unworthy of Australia'. The then Labor Party leader, Kim Beazley, joined in the condemnation, to the disgust of almost everyone."

Almost everyone? Polls show 70 per cent support for the government's refugee policies. As for Howard's "lies", well, claims that children were thrown overboard seem a little more believable following reports that children in detention centres have had their lips sewn shut.

"In their desperation, the refugees, many of them unaccompanied children, have resorted to suicide, starvation, arson and mass escapes."

Not one single suicide has occurred, despite the media's urging.

"The minister responsible is Philip Ruddock, a man who speaks in a strange, congealed jargon, usually with a smirk. Three years ago, Ruddock boasted to me that Aboriginal infant mortality was 'only' three times that of white children."

This is disgraceful. Ruddock's "boast", as Pilger characterises it, followed the government's success in bringing infant mortality down to three times the white figure from a rate previously 20 times worse.

"The treatment of 'white' illegal immigrants is very different. In 2001, there were 6,160 Britons who had overstayed the duration of their visas, and as many other Europeans. None goes to a detention camp."

Leaving aside the difference between tourists who overstay their visas and illegal immigrants who deliberately destroy their passports and identification, let's examine Pilger's claim that no white visa-overstayers go to detention camps.

It's bullshit.

"The Murdoch newspapers' campaign against an Australian drifter, David Hicks, who fought with the Taliban, is matched by Howard's disgraceful refusal to demand that the United States hand him back to his own country or treat him as a PoW."

Key words: "fought with the Taliban". Sympathy: zero.

"When an Aboriginal boxer, Anthony Mundine, remarked on television that Americans had 'brought [terrorism] upon themselves [for] what they done in the history of time', he was all but lynched."

For "lynched", read "criticised by some in the media". Mundine also had plenty of media support, from idiots.

"Last week, Pauline Hanson retired from politics, mainly because the Howard government pre-empted and absorbed her populism. Her openly racist One Nation party at its peak captured 10 per cent of the national vote: about a million people. Now they are Howard's people."

Yeah, sure. One Nation's policies always more closely resembled those of the leftist Australian Democrats, another party sliding in popularity. Hanson retired because she couldn't win a seat in Parliament, in either the Senate or the House of Representatives.

"She also had middle-class support, though this is seldom mentioned. 'Pauline, you made us more honest', said the headline over an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. The writer, Margo Kingston, who apparently thinks of herself as a liberal, waffled about 'the unfinished legacy of the redhead from Ipswich (Queensland)' and about Hanson's stimulating contribution to a national 'debate'. In fact, Hanson encouraged dishonesty by giving bigotry credence."

Pilger versus Kingston! Bring it on!

"Murdoch owns 70 per cent of the capital city press; and journalists and broadcasters who speak too freely must consider the consequences, especially those in the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation."

The only people recently fired by the ABC for "speaking too freely" are me and Imre Salusinszky. It may have been something to do with the fact that our radio show was the only conservative program on the entire ABC schedule.

"Over a year ago, almost a million people filled the Sydney Harbour Bridge in protest against the treatment of the Aborigines."

In Pilgerland, "almost a million" means 850,000 less than a million. If Pilger's figure is accurate, it means one out of every 19 Australians marched on the Harbour Bridge. This didn't happen.

"It is difficult to find anyone not appalled by the policy on refugees."

No, it isn't. The policy is supported by nearly three quarters of the population.

Apparently the Sydney Morning Herald is considering running this article, originally published in the New Statesman, this weekend. It will interesting to see how they rewrite it.

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

Andrew Sullivan: Book club experiment rocks the culture; pro-choice burqas; Krugman kraziness; the withering wit of Winston; Gitmo a veritable Holiday Inn; George W. is a new John F.

Glenn Reynolds: It's hip to be anti-Semitic; US still keen to fight, poll shows; Fleming, Hemingway rewrite The Lord of the Rings; give Welch money!; shock – NYT writer suffers gigantic, overblown sense of self; Concerned Shamans address fire issue

Natalie Solent: Rewriting the Star Spangled Banner; hessian awareness; Royal appreciation of US national tune

Matt Welch: The Herold Death Count Litmus Test applied to numerous commentators; Ben Stein's understandable lapse in decorum; give me money, and lots of it

Rand Simberg: Slowed down by upgrading; knee-slapping pretzel gags aplenty at the Ban Everything WEF rally; increase immigration, and Will Warren's output; wit, pith shortage averted

Virginia Postrel: The inside word on K-Mart's collapse; defending Wal-Mart; David Brooks lives in a parallel universe

Ken Layne: Pierce's glowing Black History; Daniel Pearl's exceptional journalism; Fly Naked with HST; and here's Layne's take on Time's Blogger review:

"That fruit pie from Time Magazine thinks a personal Web site should revolve around 'whatever ramblings come to mind – what they had for dinner, how their grandparents are getting along, their 10 favorite songs of the year – all sprinkled with links to cool Web pages they have discovered.'

"Sure thing, Pablo! My 10 favorite songs are all by Wagner and Mandy Moore, my grandparents are long dead but still incredibly dangerous, and for dinner I drove down to the sewage plant and drowned a terrorist. Eewww! And the new 'cool Web page' I've discovered is the United States home-office tax code. Check it out! ;-)

"And check back soon for new updates! The prom's coming up, I'm wondering about getting my ass pierced, and I've conjured some sort of blood-sucking devil monster out of the pile of chicken heads in the living room! Love ya lots, jackass! Stay cool!"

Shiloh Bucher: Europe needs US more than US needs Europe; fun with Sudafed

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Letter-to-the-editor secrets revealed; dead tree review; Ken Lay vanishes; some emergency legislation that just might be needed; Virginia's part-time, partially-able politicians; please, no Virginian baseball team

James Lileks: New site host is an answering machine; Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire recalls time when unions had purpose; globalise American values; what counts is doing good

Iain Murray: Ideas that made US, UK powerful; Satan in charge of BBC newslog; democracy through rapid turnover; Guardian "weblog" a mere list of links

Juan Gato: Author condemns self as "damn idiot"; 1.5 hours of slavery every week under cruel Bush regime; Tonyblair, the one-word Brit PM; noodle-baked nobs ain't terrorists; new site design promised to be ugly; Kenneth Lay's slave monkeys stole my t-shirt; author admits cowadice, dullness

Bill Quick: Why does the US support Israel?; The American Spectator returns!; gay priorities difficult to comprehend; SF Chron's attention to detail mainly confined to matters ballistic; another reason to mock politicians; go back to Pakistan, Fisky; sense invades Canada's parliament

James Morrow: France surrenders, spooked by Bush speech; do not yield to communist midwives; sexless Salon adds humourlessness to armoury; some protest, losers

The Blog Watch backlash begins!


TIME'S latest edition carries an item on Blogging, by Chris Taylor. Some, uh, highlights:

"Users typically add to a scrolling list of entries a couple of times a day with whatever ramblings come to mind -- what they had for dinner, how their grandparents are getting along, their 10 favorite songs of the year -- all sprinkled with links to cool Web pages they have discovered."

"The best blogs are often those that deal honestly with the trivia of ordinary lives."

"It has been 18 months since I bought the website name DailyBlah.com, and in all that time I never mustered the courage to knuckle down and learn enough HTML (the language of the Web) to turn it into the irreverent news-and-views site I had in mind. After five minutes on Blogger, Daily Blah was finally in business."

Taylor doesn't mention any warblogs. Just as well; warblogs would upset him, as becomes clear when you visit Taylor's DailyBlah:

"BBC News … is my new homepage, edging out CNN since September 11th when my corporate bretheren in Atlanta got just a wee bit too patriotic and unquestioning for my news tastes."

CNN? Too patriotic?

By the way, Chris, a tip from an ex-Time hand: the folks in Atlanta are your brethren.

AUSTRALIANS have reacted with rage, dismay, and ignorance to George W. Bush's State of the Union address. Brian Everingham, of Engadine in New South Wales, sent this letter to the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Does anyone else out there think that the Bush 'axis of evil' speech is not just an exercise in plagiarism (see Reagan!) but a convenient distraction from the embarrassment of the Enron scandal?"

Another SMH reader, Steve Birdsall of Mona Vale, warns that we are on the verge of another Vietnam:

"In his State of the Union speech last week, President George Bush said: 'I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer'. He went on to promise on behalf of the American people that 'we will not tire and we will not falter'.

"On April 7, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson spoke at Johns Hopkins University, a couple of months after American aircraft began a sustained bombing campaign against targets in North Vietnam. He spoke about 'the deepening shadow of communist China'. He also promised that 'we will not grow tired'.

"It all sounds too familiar."

It sure does. David Smith, of Ashgrove, Queensland, writes to The Australian to demand that the US attack itself:

"I've talked to a number of people regarding President Bush's recent speech indicating likely future war against such countries as Iran, North Korea and Iraq. Quite independently, all of these people had exactly the same reaction to the speech, namely that given the list of criteria that Bush was applying, there was one glaring omission from his list of offenders – the US itself.

"The main criticisms levelled against Iran, North Korea and Iraq were that they were developing and/or stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, they had a history of attempting to interfere in the affairs of other independent countries, and that there were sections of their own population getting decidedly below-par treatment.

"I think just about any student of world politics, asked to name a country fulfilling these criteria, would nominate the US as the most obvious qualifier."

J. Hopper of Tasmania (also writing in The Australian), an apparent believer in the Marc Herold Afghan Civilian Death Myth, wants all the badness to just go away:

"So now Bush wants to extend his war to more evil countries. And is our Government again unquestioningly to go along with this?

"How many more people have to die to avenge the 3500 who died in September, no matter how dreadful that was?

"Already more than that number of people in Afghanistan have been killed and now, are we to wage war on the innocent people of Iran, Iraq and Korea, most of whom are already suffering one way and another?

"I suppose that it will be easier for many of us to go along with this rhetoric because we do not mourn the people of Afghanistan as we mourn those killed in America, we prefer to treat them as criminals, especially if they are silly enough to end up on our shores.

"I am really afraid that the world could be dragged into major conflict if Bush is taken seriously."

Hopper's fellow Tasmanian, Graeme Dean, calls for Australia to disentangle itself from the war on terror:

"The Texan cowboy has now got the bit between his teeth. His film star popularity has gone to his rather limited head, and we who call ourselves 'allies' should now get off the Bush bandwagon before he leads us into more disasters.

"The use of the word 'evil' has a Reaganesque ring to it and is the dangerous sort of pejorative word that fundamentalists use when about to go on a religious crusade."

Another Oz correspondent, Ian Parmenter, of Western Australia, uncovers the main issue:

"Fighting words indeed from George 'Nucular' Bush on weapons of mass destruction.

"However, if he's serious, why doesn't he address the most dangerous threat of mass destruction to US citizens: guns? More than 30,000 Americans are killed each year in gun incidents."

Leave it to teenager Joanna, in the Melbourne Herald Sun's online forum, to make some sense:

"I am only 13, but this is my point of view: Bin Laden did us a lot of wrong, and it is time for our revenge. We shouldn't only fight for revenge but for our protection. They need to understand that we are stronger, and we don't run. They thought that if they attacked, we won't do anything, but we have to prove them wrong."

"We are stronger and we don't run." Someone get this girl a White House speechwriting job.

WHOEVER is logged on at dev62-170.colapl.org, congratulations. You've recorded this site's 100,000th hit.

Who can make your blood boil

With all his commie lies?

Who invents more crazy theories

Than all the other lefty guys?

The Pilger Man!

Yes, the Pilger Man can!

JOHN PILGER tried all his old moves last week in the Daily Mirror, dancing to a familiar anti-American theme. These days, however, the 62-year-old isn't reaching anyone beyond his front row of adoring fans. Soviet-era shuffles don't play well to a techno audience. Online reviews were damning.

Pilger even had the advantage of a familiar stage – the Mirror, which fired Pilger in 1986. Since then Pilger has repeatedly slammed the present editor, Piers Morgan, and the Mirror's tabloid formulation. "Under Piers Morgan, a Tory, the paper's backing for New Labour has been slavish," Pilger wrote in 1998. He described the Mirror as "a dog's breakfast of the usual television gossip, 'love-cheat' stories and warmed-over indignation."

He continued: "The Daily Mirror gives the powerful impression that it is dying. Death throes may continue for several years, but all the terminal symptoms are evident. The circulation is below 2.5 million and falling." Circulation is now down to 2.2 million, but a more certain sign of the Mirror's ill-health is its decision to revive the dormant Pilger.

America has only lately been exposed to Pilger, at least in a big way. It must be difficult for Pilger newbies to imagine, given how psycho-lefty he nowadays appears, but not so long ago Pilger was widely respected. He certainly was in his home country; no '80s Australian university student's bookshelf was complete without at least one of his earnest tracts. Pilger's Secret Country and Heroes were mandatory, like copies of Tapestry in a secondhand record store. Other staples of the student shelves were Sally Morgan’s My Place and – weirdly – Linda Goodman’s Love Signs.

Some of the people then reading Pilger have since become senior journalists, which explains a lot about the Australian press. I never paid much attention to to the sonorous mope until I found myself trapped in a room full of concerned young adults in 1988, watching a much-anticipated (by some) Pilger documentary.

Australia celebrated its bicentenary that year. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation thought it best to mark the occasion by hauling Pilger back from the UK, where he'd been quietly festering for a few decades, and paying him to smear his homeland as a godawful racist disgrace.

The Pilger Man fakes

And exaggerates

Every fact that he uncovers

Did you know the US kills grandmothers?

And that Pinochet and Bush were lovers?

The ABC got what it wanted. Pilger's documentary, packed with hyperbolic "revelations", provoked gasp after shocked gasp from the concerned young adult viewers. Then this happened:

Big John was shown skulking before a sign warning of radioactivity in the South Australian desert, where nuclear testing had been conducted some many years prior. "The warnings are in English, French, German, Indonesian and Italian," Pilger said (I'm paraphrasing). "But there is no warning in the Aboriginal language."

My friends were appalled. This was clear evidence that the authorities didn't care if Aborigines wandered into a radioactive deathzone.

But there is no such thing as "the Aboriginal language". Pilger's research hadn't uncovered a fact known to every Aboriginal scholar in the country. Not only is there no written form – except for a few examples, among tribes far from the area being discussed, of what might be called "illustrated communication" – the spoken varieties of Aboriginal language number in their thousands.

I mentioned this research error at the time, which turned out to be the wrong thing to do. People yelled. There were ugly words. None of them as ugly as Pilger's, of course, which amounted to a grave accusation without evidence, but there you are.

He's still as ugly. Take these paragraphs, from his latest Mirror article:

"The day the Wall Street stockmarket opened after the destruction of the Twin Towers, the few companies showing increased value were the giant military contractors Alliant Tech Systems, Northrop Gruman, Raytheon (a contributor to New Labour) and Lockheed Martin.

"As the US military's biggest supplier, Lockheed Martin's share value rose by a staggering 30 per cent."

Pilger is a frightening hypocrite. The very same events that have driven up Lockheed Martin's share value have also returned Pilger to the Daily Mirror’s front pages. Since September 11, Pilger’s earnings – from the Mirror, articles republished in other markets, and from his website, where you can buy his anti-capitalist books with your Visa card – have probably increased by more than 30 per cent.

Looking back at the '80s and student bookshelves, Linda Goodman's astrology guide was by far the more worthwhile text. Pilger's star sign, by the way, is the Arse.

Who can take a conflict

Dip it in deceit

Separate the logic

And predict the West's defeat?

The Pilger Man!

The Pilger Man can

'Cause he mixes it with fear and makes the good sound bad

SURE, Ferrari might have the best driver, and Williams-BMW might have the most powerful engines, and McLaren-Mercedes might have a future world champion … but Minardi has the chicks.

Specifically, they have this chick, Sarah Jane, said to be the "most downloaded woman" on the whole entire crazy Internet. Sarah is from Melbourne, so will join the Australian-owned, Australian-driven Minardi team as a cheerleader during the upcoming Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

It's a little-known fact that in the late '70s, the Bin Laden construction firm – run by Osama's father - was a prominent Formula One sponsor, along with several other Saudi concerns. Their burqa-clad pit babes are spoken of to this very day.


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

Andrew Sullivan: Sully moves in on Oprah's book turf; U2 provokes weeping (the good kind); Ken Lay, Wuss of the Year; simpleminded liberals continue getting things wrong; Republican House and Senate tipped for 2003; youngster disses Clinton; classic Mencken malice

Glenn Reynolds: A non-boring Super Bowl; Saudis don't need no troublemaking Palestinians around here; open source parallels Blogdom; Altman's altered states; Gore develops Nixon-like tic; the Sarge declares; women not taking any crap; Red Cross debacle; evil multinationals plant pliant idiot people amongst NYC protesters; FedEx your luggage

Natalie Solent: 20 Questions (via Dawson); Lizzie's line of descent

Matt Welch: Tom Tomorrow's odd blog; petroleum geoblog

Virginia Postrel: The purpose behind Bush's bossiness; rule haters who crave rules; UN urged to run our lives; Dallas fake drugs latest; LAPD wimps; bad teachers actually fired; Brooks wide of mark on K-Mart

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Transfixed by C-SPAN; Tom Clancy talks tough; all the papers, from sea to shining sea

James Lileks: Feel the burn, alien space freaks; you will not believe the improvements soon to be wrought at this site, I’m telling you; new buoyant matter cast ashore at Flotsam Cove

Rallying Point: Remember this image. Remember that day.

Christopher Johnson: Gracious yet grudging applause for New England sporting team; Rhodesians continue grim pursuit of global domination

James Morrow: The Great Sydney Flood of '02; envirodrones suckered by suckerfish; two-faced Yasser Arafat (his other face is on permanent loan to Ringo) spouts nonsense in the NYT

And so I quit the police department

And got myself a steady job

And though she tried her best to help me

She could steal but she could notBlog

Didn't anybody tell her?

Didn't anybody see?

Blog Watch IIhas spawned another

This one we callBlog Watch III

Oh yeah

A REMINDER of British journalism's Golden Age from Stick It Up Your Punter!, a history of the London Sun by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie:

"A memo to local freelance photographers from the Sun picture desk read: 'No pictures of [Labour leader] Michael Foot unless falling over, shot, or talking to Militants' … Foot did not oblige but the Sun got what it wanted when members of a fox-hunt angry at his opposition to bloodsports unleashed a pack of hounds on him, and provided pictures of him haplessly thrashing about with his stick."

"The replacement of Foot as Labour Party leader by Neil Kinnock in 1983 was hailed by the Sun as set to take Labour 'further down the road to Marxism and oblivion'. Kinnock was described as 'The Nowhere Man' and dismissed as a windbag with 'the gift of the odd colourful phrase'. A profile was headed 'Funnyman Kinnock is Jester Born Loser' and his followers summarised as 'Kinnock's Party of Plonkers'. He was then put through the mill of the paper's innovation of amateur psychoanalysis, which concluded under 'Crusty Kinnock on the Couch' that he was 'too touchy to lead'."

WOLVES, a jackal, 12 different species of birds of prey, two owls, and a troop of macaque monkeys. The Guardian's editorial staff? No, the contents of Kabul’s zoo, currently being tended by Australian Hayden Turner.

AUSTRALIA, LAND OF EVIL: According to Sydney's Sun Herald, recent events involving illegal immigrants have destroyed our glittering international reputation. "Once again," a Sun Herald editorial fumed, "we are being condemned at the court of world opinion as callous and inhumane."

Owen Harries does a great job dismantling this theory in today's Australian:

"Who is it exactly who regards us as 'callous and inhumane'? Who is it who sits in that 'court of world opinion'?

"Is it perhaps Japan, which is notoriously hostile to accepting immigrants? Or is it China, with its improving but still very bad record on human rights? Or India, which operates an informal caste system and has made a practice of burning villages in Kashmir? Or again, it might be Indonesia's shock at our behaviour that we have to worry about, now that it has stopped killing people in Timor and only occasionally indulges in assassination.

"Add to these four countries an Africa soaked in its own blood, a Middle East that contains no democracy other than Israel and Turkey, and a Latin America that has still not completely kicked the habits of dictatorship and torture, and one has accounted for more than three-quarters of the world's population."

WHETHER you're in a German opera house or the wild New Mexico outlands, the result is the same: dead chickens.


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

Andrew Sullivan: Coulter demands liberal deaths

Glenn Reynolds: Goldberg savaged; Kathy Ireland corporate collapse scam; Lomborg web wars; Martin the Pratt writes again; new Natalija pic; the greatness of Groundhog Day; cyber attacks on Stryker, Sullivan; rook three to burka five; the tyranny of low taxes

Natalie Solent: Historic 25,000th hit ruined by ill-timed reader

Matt Welch: Rev. Tony’s Goldberg-beating history lesson; one New Yorker’s fury; Welch insured!; bringing life to Afghanistan

Rand Simberg: Blogdom under attack?; naysaying NATO nabobs

Ken Layne: Protesters display some charm; no Louima treatment for the WEF crowd; Dr. Frank’s alter-ego, Dr. Punk; Blogger mass shifts fellow Blogger into shadowy new lodgings

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Forget Afghan death tolls – count the lives saved

James Lileks in Print: Star Wars and Enron freakishly connected

Bill Quick: Sven Swenson’s bløg; Den Beste winning streak continues; private individuals are by nature corrupt; sometimes missile defence is just missile defence

Christopher Johnson: Arab News needs clarification on the question, "What is terrorism?"

James Morrow: Recession hits whining industry; gavone Tony

Everyone's a winner, baby, that's the truth

Watching Blogswith you is such a thrill

Everyone's a winner, baby, that's no lie

They never fail to satisfy

"AMERICA is a cancerous society with a runaway rate of productivity which inundates the country with increasingly unnecessary commodities."

- Susan Sontag, Paris, 1983

That's the worldview of the tyrant intellectual left neatly summarised. You stupid hicks with your cars and DVDs and fishing rods and things – you don't need that stuff! Why are you buying it? Why are people making it? Stop it, all of you! I am Sontag!

Of course, Susan herself would only purchase the most necessary commodities. No frivolous nonsense for her. I wonder what a Sontag shopping list would contain …

Marxies Dried Gruel Breakfast Crunch™ cereal

Sour cream

Sour milk

Tora Bora Storer™ ethnically-correct wardrobe organiser

Bolt of hessian

Dog Loaf™ third world sausage mix

Punnet of forest sweepings

Latest edition of "Modern Burka" magazine

"Chomsky 2004" bumper sticker

'62 Wartburg bumper, on which to place sticker

THAT "Weakest Link" taunt is really catching on

LEO SCHOFIELD, the Sunday Telegraph's roving blowhard columnist, has been to China. He breathlessly reports:

"I first visited Shanghai in 1991 and found it an extraordinary place. On revisiting a decade later, it seems even more extraordinary."

Incisive! But not all was fun for Leo, who encountered the dread force of free trade infecting the formerly pure commie economy. Shaanxi province is a particular victim:

"The place is packed with lots of young women from rural families. They are more quiescent than young men and have good eyesight, an important consideration when assembling minute components of a computer. And they are willing to perform mind-numbing, repetitive tasks for $US7 a day.

"To qualify for this salary, they must assemble their assigned component in two seconds flat. It's called globalisation."

No, it's called "a job". Another problem for half-aware Leo was Australia's reputation in the eyes of his Chinese hosts:

"During my few days in China the only news reaching there from Australia was bad, with the mess at Woomera headlining most international news bulletins and Australia cast as a nation of heartless, unfeeling souls. This whole sorry episode has been a public relations disaster for the Government."

We wouldn't want China, with its pristine human rights record, to think ill of us. Perhaps we should run the refugees down with tanks.

LOOKS like Australia has its own mini-Enron.