HERE'S MARGO Kingston on June 12 writing about developments in the alleged Australian Navy scandal:

I'll be at the hearings tomorrow, and report to you tomorrow night.

Three days have since passed, but Margo hasn't posted a word. Does she have the easiest job in the world or what?

THE LATEST worrying social issue to trouble the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australian women should be concerned: their breasts are getting bigger.

Yes, all Australians - women and men - are absolutely traumatised. Via Gareth Parker and Bailz, who pay close attention to such matters.

THE OMBUDSGOD continues his great work ombudding the ombudsmen. Recent targets: Orlando Sentinel ombuddy Manning Pyle, NPR omwonk Jeffrey Dvorkin, and Doug Floyd, who oms for the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Win a Free Hat!

IN-GER-LUND! IN-GER-LUND! Make that 3-0; a Beckham pass to Heskey results in another goal minutes before half time. It's been 12 years since England last scored three goals in a World Cup finals game.

IN-GER-LUND! An own goal and an Owen goal gives England a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes still to play in the first half of their knockout World Cup match against Denmark.

SPOKEN WORD artists, poets, visual artists, and several playwrights – a powerful coalition of the ignored and irrelevant – have signed a petition decrying the War on Terror.

Three things about this: is there anything more impotent and egotistical than the modern activist petition? Nobody pays attention. Nobody cares what these people think. A petition signed by the United American Corner Grocers would carry greater weight.

Point two: ever notice how the Artistic Wank Left, who constantly invoke the greatness of the Common Little Citizen, somehow imagine that their own views are of such importance that a petition bearing their names will shift US policy? Give it up, Ed Asner.

Point three: Laurie Anderson has signed, but her partner, Lou Reed, conspicuously has not. No surprise there. Lou isn't an idiot with a flashlight in his gob.

READER Rob L., of Seattle, sends this in response to Joanne Jacobs's daughter, who commented from England that "nothing in America" inspires as much devotion as Britain's Queen:

"Well, I'll agree that no PERSON inspires this much devotion. But the 200-odd year old piece of parchment called the 'Constitution' comes pretty close. Note that we always capitalize it. Other countries have mere 'constitutions.'

"It's practically a religious totem over here. Not many people have actually taken the time to understand it, but we worship it all the same. I think that's a good thing, in a way, but you won't see our object of devotion out lighting torches or giving speeches on TV."


METAPHOR MAGIC WITH MISS MARGO. In her latest slab of Webdiary, Margo Kingston shows how a clever metaphor can enliven dull reportage:

It's like the captain sitting on his easy chair watching his troops die on television in the war he ordered and directed.

See? In the hands of a master, the metaphor makes clear and vivid to us what otherwise might be boring or obtuse. Let's try a few ourselves, shall we?

It's like the general standing on the deck watching his troops swim in the film he produced and directed.

It's like the admiral sitting in his moon buggy watching his troops eat the pizza he ordered with anchovies.

It's like the captain who sits on, rather than in, an easy chair, watching his troops die on television in the war he ordered and directed – although, of course, it makes little sense for someone to order and direct the death of their own troops, and even less sense for a captain to be in charge of those troops at such a remove, unless perhaps those troops are naval personnel, in which case television coverage of their deaths is wildly unlikely.

It's like Margo sitting at her computer watching the screen fill randomly with words for a story she's barely in control of.


A LIE ON EVERY PAGE™ RETURNS! Today: page eight of John Pilger's mighty New Rulers of the World

Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Tony Blair and his Tory predecessors … have caused the deaths in Iraq of 'more people than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction in history', to quote the conclusion of an American study.

Or, to quote the conclusion of a believable American study, they haven't.

The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, says that every month up to 6,000 children die mostly as a result of the blockade.

Again, I refer readers to this study.

What is it with the Pilgers and the Noams and the Fisks? They spend half their lives complaining about free trade and the other half complaining about trade barricades. If trade is such an evil, why aren't Cuba and Iraq – safely quarantined from the taint of global capital – the finest places on earth in which to live, instead of cockroach-states ruled by murderous, semi-evolved slumlords?

Maybe Naomi Klein knows the answer. Me, I'm as stumped as Heather Mills.

JAMES LILEKS has discovered a Shari'a Starbucks operating in Minnesota. Hit the links. Be completely weirded out.

KNOWN NEO-STALINIST Bjørn Stærk exposes the Mystic Circles of Oslo:

The World Bank protesters in Oslo will walk in several concentric rings of increasing age, each more wacky and evil than the last. In the outer and first circle, children wearing flowers of red and yellow will disarm police officers and reporters with their cute rendition of the Internationale. In the second circle, stylish teenagers move the crowds to pity with posters of starving Third World children. In the third circle, bright young students shout monotoneously out of their recently acquired Chomsky tomes at three syllables per second, placing unprepared listeners in a hypnotic trance.

The sixth circle is the spookiest. Go read.

ATTA BOY! He threatens to kill you, he hails Osama as a great leader … well, it's just the way of his people! Here's Mark Steyn on Johnelle Bryant, the culturally-sensitive US Department of Agriculture official who can't spot a terrorist even when one is literally terrorising her:

"I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she says. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could" … Ms. Bryant has come forward now because she thinks "it's very vital that the Americans realize that when these people come to the United States, they don't have a big 'T' on their forehead." No, indeed. In some cases, they have a big "T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-T" flashing in neon off the end of their nose.

PAUL WRIGHT gets it right:

The rationale behind seeking refugee status might be summed up as "I don't want to be here, but I can't go home. Please let me stay".

The UN has ruled that only 10% of the Tampa boat people are refugees. Not the evil fascist non-elected Australian Government. The UN. The reason is clearly that the US and Australian efforts in Afghanistan has turned that country from the seething shithole of religious primitivism it was in August, to somewhere that people can return to. So the "I can't go home" bit has been fixed.

It's not as nice as Australia. But very very few places are. Wanting to be someplace better is not enough, according to UN standards, to get you a refugee spot. This is for the very good reason that it debases the standard by which you measure persecution.

I'll be talking about the UN with James O'Loghlin tonight at 9.30 Sydney time on – yes! – the ABC. It's an in-studio deal, so maybe I'll run into my dear friend Amanda Armstrong from the good old Radio National days.

PITY THE pride of Argentina, swept from the World Cup and humiliated online.

RECORD VISITS today – 6,000 and climbing. Big thanks to all the people who've donated. Speaking of which, reader and donor Anne A. of Los Angeles asks:

"Now that you're an official blog whore, does this mean you'll be posting more often?"

Yes. Yes it does. However, as a devotee of the free market, I'm also open to cash inducements from anti-Blairs who want me to post less often. Let the bidding commence!

VAARA the Eurosocialist offers his opinion on leefties, caars, and mootorbikes. Waay to go, Vaara:

I generally drive in such as way as not to endanger anyone else. Socialism, you see. We actually care about that nebulous thing called "society," a concept to which righties give lip service only when they're telling people what they shouldn't do with their penises. But put me on a motorcycle, and it's a different story. Because when I'm on a bike, the only person I'm endangering is myself. (Mostly.)

You wanna see some incredibly daring drivers? Come here to Europe, land of latter-day Trotskyites, where every single driver is a Schumacher wannabe.

And finally, if NASCAR drivers are all so conservative, why can't they turn any direction but left?

UPDATE: Labor Party member Mathew Bates CAN drive and craves a Bentley (with the new multicam supermotor, not the ancient pushrod boat anchor), while reader Stephen W. asks:

"Who is this Vaaaaara and why doesn't he understand that when you are on full right lock you have nowhere to turn but left?"

Who is Vaara? Only the Shadow knows.

THE STRANGE, Wickerman-like inhabitants of Newfoundland have incinerated Damian Penny's favourite bar.

ROBERT MUGABE, David Marr, and Fidel Castro's Gilligan Gulag all are mentioned in today's column in The Australian.

AUSTRALIAN PRIME Minister John Howard’s speech to Congress was a good one, touching on the war against terror, free trade, and the redundancy of Ye Olde Europe:

Like America, Australia enters this new century strong and prosperous. Over the past decade, the productivity and growth of our economy has exceeded that of most other developed nations. Our pioneer past, so similar to America's, has produced a spirit that can overcome adversity and pursue great dreams. We've built a society of opportunity, fairness and hope, leaving – as Americans did – the divisions and prejudices of the Old World far behind.

Like your own, our culture has been immeasurably enriched by migration from the four corners of the earth. We believe that nations are strengthened not weakened, broadened not diminished, by open debate and diversity of opinion. Most of all, we value loyalty given and loyalty gained – the concept of mateship runs deep within the Australian character.

We have taken our place beside you in the war against terrorism, knowing beyond doubt that it was an attack upon ourselves and our way of life as surely as it was upon your own.

I'VE BEEN sending the following e-mail to random Nigerians:

Dear Friend,

I am Mrs. Timbi Sese-Blairo, wife of the former President of Bondi, now known as the Democratic Republic of Mongo (DRM). I am moved to write you this letter concerning my present circumstance and situation.

I escaped along with my husband and two of our sons, Wally and Bingo, out of DRM to Parramatta where my family and I settled, while we later moved to Lithgow where my husband died of the cancer disease. However due to this situation we decided to changed most of my husbands zillions of dollars deposited in Swiss Cheese Bank and other countries into other forms of money coded for safe purpose because the new head of state Dr Macca-Macca Bruce has made arrangement with the Swiss government to freeze my late husband’s family jewels.

I have deposited the sum of eighteen zillion United State dollars (US$18,000,000,000,000,000,000.00) with a security company for safekeeping. The funds are security coded to prevent them from knowing the content.

What I want you to do is to indicate your interest that you will assist us by receiving the money on our behalf. Acknowledge this message, so that I can introduce you to my son (Wally) who has the out modalities for the claim of said funds. I want you to assist in investing this money, but I will not want my identity revealed. I will also want to buy pizza and beer and stock in multi-national companies and to engage in other safe investments.

In conclusion, if you want to assist us, my son shall put you in the picture of the business, tell you where the funds are currently being maintained, and also discuss other modalities including billions and billions of free dollars for your services. And a handsome goat.

Best regards,

Mrs. Timbi Sese-Blairo

JON CASIMIR, the Sydney Morning Herald's intellectual wafer-weight, thinks there isn't enough bias at the ABC. He writes: "Our national broadcaster should be run by Leon Trotsky to restore a sense of balance." Great start, Jon!

The ABC, as our leaders like to remind us, is a Petri dish choking with the bacteria of left-wing thought, the broadcasting equivalent of that coffee cup you find behind a pot plant when you come back from holidays.

Whoa! Slow down, awkward metaphor boy. Are you sure it's just our leaders who are saying this? Don’t you read letters pages? Submissions to parliament? Blogs?

Politicians bleat about balance, but what does that word mean in the context of this ongoing debate? Because it's one thing to provide balance according to the vacuum-sealed parameters of a particular program or a network, but what about the job of the ABC to provide balance in the broader sense?

What about it? Find me the section of the ABC’s charter that anoints it with a responsibility to balance any content other than its own.

I've always believed, no doubt naively …

No doubt.

… that the ABC should offer us an alternative to the programming of the commercial networks, in both radio and television. And if you look at the media landscape on that basis, any niggling sleights of left-wing bias seem pretty comical. In truth, the ABC would need to be three times the size and 300 per cent commie to provide anything approaching balance.

The assertion here that the non-ABC media represents a hotbed of conservative bomb-throwers is pretty hard to take. The vast mass of electronic media in Australia barely concerns itself with politics at any level. And Jon isn’t up to providing evidence or examples.

While reserving their right to complain about any expression of left-wing views, the conservatives somehow manage to overlook the fact that if the Australian media have a bottom-line skew, it isn't to the southpaw.

Maybe we'd complain less about left-wing views if the ABC ever presented anything from the right.

Oh, I forget; a few years ago the ABC did present a right-wing documentary series, Against Nature, that exposed deceitful environmentalists. The ABC – and this is the only time I can recall this happening, for anything presented by our state-funded dipshit broadcaster – ran a disclaimer stating that the "views in this program are those of its makers, and not necessarily those of the ABC."

Because this disclaimer doesn't run after every ABC appearance by Scott Burchill, Tariq Ali, or John Pilger, we may conclude that the ABC agrees with them.

You wouldn't, by any stretch of the imagination, refer to commercial television current affairs as leftist. Night after night it demonstrates contempt for society's vulnerable, picking on the weak, the disadvantaged and the voiceless.

Any examples, Jon? By the way, nice default method of defining leftists: they're the ones who don't demonstrate contempt for the weak. And why limit your examination of commercial television to the 30 minutes of current affairs presented each night by only two networks? Where's the rest of the satanic right-wing bigotry? Hidden in the clues on Wheel of Fortune?

Talkback radio is dominated by microphone jockeys, jacks of all tirades, who would rather make balloon animals out of their own intestines than allow a left-wing caller to make a point. (Phillip Adams is regularly namechecked by the anti-lefties, but try listing other Left hosts. Then see how quickly you can number the right-wingers.)

The main "right-wingers" to whom Jon alludes are John Laws and Alan Jones. Both are protectionists. Laws has sided with arch-protectionist leftie unionist Doug Cameron over trade barriers, and is a close friend of former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating. The NSW Labor state government grovels to Jones. Jon Harker, Stan Zemanek, Steve Price and Neil Mitchell would probably also fall under Jon's right-wing description, although at least one has cast his vote for Labor in more than one election. There are other right-wing hosts in Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth.

And here's that list of Left hosts you asked for:

Angela Catterns

Sally Loane

John Highfield

Eleanor Hall

James Valentine

Richard Glover

Sarah MacDonald

Virginia Trioli

Julie McCrossin

Mick O’Regan

Adam Spencer

Francis Leach

I could go on, but it's easier to just point readers towards the ABC website. Find a right-winger, win a prize.

The columnists of News Limited newspapers, organs which cater to about two-thirds of the national print market, unopposed in most of the state capitals, are not exactly known for their pinko views either, except for the above-mentioned "I am an island" Adams.

Plus Bruce Wilson, Jill Singer, Elizabeth Wynhausen, Graeme Leech, Bill Leak, Jonathan Este, Emma Tom …

And though the Herald is said to be another incubator of leftie weirdness, if you tally up our columnists according to their apparent allegiances and the regularity of their input, this paper is not so far from the centre.

Name the right-wingers, Jon! You’ve got Miranda Devine and Paul Sheehan each writing once a week (and Paddy McGuinness, now semi-retired, writing less frequently than that). But why restrict analysis of the Herald's right-wing content to the op-ed pages? Why not look at the general news pages, the sports pages, or even the stupid Herald television guide, featuring Doug Anderson and Bruce Elder?

If the Government is so interested in notions of fairness and debate, why doesn't it complain about right-wing bias outside the ABC? Is it because the rest of the media doesn't swallow taxpayers' money, or is it because it's conveniently "on message"?

Um, it's the tax thing, Jon. Obviously.

Jon Casimir is a Herald journalist.

Very obviously.


AM I STEALING ideas from Matthew Bates? Nope, but he was clearly the first to note Scott Burchill's Australian Bolshevik Collective appearance, beating me by several hours.

HOW TO LIVE AS A NON-SNOB. Wise words from Joseph Epstein in the Washington Monthly:

Care only about one's work, judge people only by their skill at their own work, and permit nothing else outside one's work to signify in any serious way. View the rest of the world as a more or less amusing carnival at which one happens to have earned – through, of course, one's work – a good seat. Judge all things by their intrinsic quality, and consider status a waste of time.

YELLOW CAB. Ibrahim Sarahna was a taxi driver for three Palestinian suicide bombers. The UK Telegraph reports:

His first task was to take Ayat Akhras, 16, one of the first female suicide bombers, to a supermarket in west Jerusalem where he once worked. It was on March 29, a Friday when it would be packed with shoppers.

She sat next to him in his red Toyota pick-up, a shoulder bag full of explosives at her feet. "I told her, if you don't want to do it, I'll throw the bag out of the window and drive you home.

But she replied, 'I'm not afraid. I want to kill people'."

He dropped her off by the supermarket and headed home. "Five minutes later I heard ambulances and police cars and I turned on the radio. I was happy that she had succeeded on that day when 1,500 police were deployed to prevent attacks. All those police had failed. On the radio, they kept asking, how did she get into Jerusalem?"

We keep asking: how did primitives like Ibrahim Sarahna get into the 21st century?

LEFTISTS AREN'T against driving cars, writes UK blogger Ross Fitzgibbon:

"They are against you, me and other oiks driving cars. A classic case is Britain's silver-tongued Deputy Prime Minister John 'Two Jags' Prescott, whose hobbies include buggering up people's ability to drive their cars while expanding his fleet of Jaguars.

"Since you almost certainly do not follow British cabinet ministers, Prescott is the fat bloke who during our last election over here got into a fantastic punch-up with a protester."

Hey, I follow British cabinet ministers! I have to, with all the bets I've got on about who'll be the next one outed for gay rent-boy parties or sordid dungeon sessions with Toothless Dominatrix Enid.

WHY DOES everything always lead back to Florida? Turns out Broward County was a terrorism starting point for Abdullah the Padilla, aka the "Dirty Bomber":

Al Muhajir's journey to the Middle East may have begun at two mosques in Florida's Broward County. Darul Uloom Institute was one of the places where he attended Saturday morning courses in 1995.

"He used to dress with a shawl over his head. He always had his head covered," said Maulana Shafayat Mohamed, leader of the institute. "It is very unique. It is one out of a million who would do that."

One in a million? Sounds like the odds of finding a rare three-cornered hanging chad

NOBODY HERE but us unbiased professionals: Who did the Australian Broadcasting Corporation go to yesterday for some detached, reasoned commentary on the arrest of "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla?

None other than Marxist academic Scott Burchill, who claimed – without evidence – that the arrest was an attempt by the FBI to silence coverage of its pre-September 11 bungling. The ABC's World At Noon host Jane Hutcheon nodded passively at Burchill's assertion of a conspiracy, and the "analysis" of the arrest continued.

Burchill is a regular commentator on the ABC, where he is neutrally described as a "specialist on regional affairs and international relations". Naturally.

CAN YOU name the media program that pokes fun at spelling and punctuation errors?

That would be Media Watch. Visit their website if you have any "tip off's".

ARE LEFTIES BAD DRIVERS? No, writes Jocob Helderman; they're actually homicidal:

"When a left winger sees a right wing bumper sticker or other such nonsense, they do their best to run the other car off the road. This results in the impression of left wingers as bad drivers among right wingers, while the soaring auto insurance bills of right wingers give the left wingers silent pleasure."

Reader Steve Skubinna has a competing theory:

"Being a good driver, like being good at anything else, requires skill, judgment, dedication, and work. It just isn't fair, but there's no known government program capable of mandating skill by a stroke of the pen. Lefties hate anything that requires a person know something and be good at it. It's, you know, elitist."

And Possum Blogger Terry Oglesby sheets the blame home to old Ralph:

"Since some cars are 'Unsafe at Any Speed,' it is a safe assumption (if you are a Leftist) that ALL cars are unsafe, and evil. If all cars are unsafe, they must be handled with the circumspection given to radioactive dog turds."

UPDATE: Dan Dressel has several notions about bad leftie driving.

HOW TO SPOT A TEENAGE TERRORIST: The Ken Layne column every concerned parent should read.

RADLEY BALKO compares the theories of charity economist Bono with those of Peter Bauer, who, in addition to a surname, also has logic, history, and book learnin' on his side.

IT'S ONE of those fancy new share-blogs everybody is talking about! Welcome to the Common Sensers.

THIS NEW YORK POST story, about Bill Clinton's Harlem friends getting all upset about Bill's inability to fix everything, is a little unfair:

Deep down in the streets of Harlem, the former president's embattled neighbors desperately need his help.

Grandmothers, single mothers, kids are indiscriminately being tossed out of their homes by landlords who evict, fix and cash in on the Harlem renaissance.

Whether the globetrotting Clinton can help is unknown. But his traditionally staunch supporters seem disenfranchised, almost heartbroken, by the man they thought could slow down the gentrification.

Attention, people; refereeing Harlem feuds ain't Clinton's job. He's a former US President. He's got more important things to do than argue with landlords about overdue rent or leaking pipes. Much more important things, like … well, like meeting other important world leaders.

FROM Webster's Dictionary of Blog :

Dorn n. abbrv. Dornography. Pornographic blog writing, as produced by Dawn Olsen; "I was reading some way-hot dorn last night."

REMEMBER THE free-trading George W. Bush all of us right-wing goons fell for during the 2000 election campaign? Australian Prime Minister John Howard is in Washington to remind Bush of what he once was, and what he could still become. Sara Fitzgerald writes:

Washington is well aware of the purpose of John Howard's visit to the US this week. His address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow night – the first by an Australian prime minister since Bob Hawke 14 years ago – will be one that the Congress and President George W. Bush need to hear and heed.

Howard's message will be an invitation for a free trade agreement and hopefully a stern reminder of the benefits of free trade. Considering recent US decisions affecting trade, most notably the farm bill and the steel tariffs, Washington deserves a solid kick in the pants.

Howard is often mocked in Australia as weak and mild, but he is an excellent, tireless negotiator. His speech to Congress might be more interesting and important than many expect.

CAN LEFTIES DRIVE? Reader Millie B., from Canada, thinks not. She writes:

"Motor racing is as Joe Saward so rightly puts it not a friendly place for politically incorrect touchy feely wusses. Furthermore lefties can't drive. I lived in Vermont for a time and avoiding cars laden with Clinton/Gore or other leftie bumper stickers was like trying to steer clear of hay bales on the track."

Millie might be on to something. I know of only a few lefties who are truly good drivers. Mark Day, a former boss of mine, could probably be classed these days as a leftie – he's pro-ABC, which is a fundamental requirement – and is an excellent driver. He once owned a street-legal Kremer Porsche, which tend to expose poor drivers by killing them.

Commie-turned-advertising millionaire Philip Adams is also alleged to be a superior wheelman, owning various Ferraris and Jaguars. Alas, Adams has fun no longer. These days all he does is complain about the US. And he drives an SUV.

Racing drivers lean overwhelmingly to the right. A journalist who once shared a cab with Michael Schumacher emerged pale with shock having listened to the four-time World Champion's political views. Ex-Formula One driver Carlos Reutemann, a right-wing Peronist, may run for the Presidency of Argentina next year. NASCAR in the US is a Republican stronghold. In Australia, drivers Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, and Murray Carter have all campaigned for conservative political parties. Larry Perkins once said that if he was elected Prime Minister, he would privatise the public service. Allan Grice quit racing to become a conservative politician.

I once asked Grice why racers were right-wing. "Because we're businessmen," he said, "and because we understand the value of risk." So what explains the fact (or perception) that lefties are bad drivers? Any theories?


BOLSHEVIK BLOGGER Atrios posts a reader's rejoinder to my comments about Media Whores Online and fretful Wurlitzerphobe Tamara Baker:

This is a bit embarrassing for Tim Blair, but the term "the Mighty Wurlitzer" is not a laughably stupid analogy made up by Baker or by Robert Borosage, whom she quotes in the article.

The extremely well known phrase was coined by Frank Wisner who ran covert operations for the CIA.

Who said Baker made it up? Not me. I only said she believed that the US press was run by the aforementioned Wurlitzer. Go get someone to read the piece to you again, and this time ask for help with the big words.

Q: What has 22 feet but can't kick?

A: The French soccer team, out of the World Cup after failing to score a single goal.

THE UNPREDICTABLE Jack Robertson has contributed a handsome sum to the Keep Tim Blogging donation-a-rama, despite opposing just about everything I've ever written. He has this to say:

I'm expecting a nice generous link and an arse-kissing public cyber-dance for my wodge of Lefty dough.

Sorry, mate. The dance is $200. A private room, $300. And I never kiss.

A LIE ON EVERY PAGE™. Today: page seven!

That Afghan peasants have the same right to life as New Yorkers is unmentionable, a profanity.

So how are you able to mention it, Pilger, you blasphemer?

Certain human lives have greater worth than others and the killing of only one set of civilians is a crime. The terrorists of Osama bin Laden and George W Bush are sustained by this ancient lie.

What ancient lie? Who are Bush's "terrorists"? And Bush isn't Harry S Truman – his middle initial is an abbreviation, rather than Truman's single letter. So throw some punctuation in there, John.

The CIA's 'Operation Cyclone' trained and armed at least 35,000 zealots who became the Taliban and al-Qa'ida … the cost to the American taxpayer was $4 billion. Rescuing these facts ought to be the job of journalists and scholars, but this has not happened.

And placing those facts in context – the 'zealots' were armed to help them fight off the Soviets – ought to be the job of journalists, too. By the way, since when does a socialist worry about 'the cost to the taxpayer'?

Next: page eight. Can't wait!

ONLY LAST week, ratchet-jawed anti-nuclear crank Helen Caldicott said:

"The terrorists don't need nuclear bombs anymore. They've got 103 deployed around the country, which are the nuclear power plants."

I guess Helen forgot to tell the terrorists. Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Investigators have arrested a US citizen closely linked to the al-Qaeda network and suspected of planning a radioactive dirty bomb attack on the United States, Attorney-General John Ashcroft said early this morning.

UPDATE: Reader Michael W. – thank you for the donation, sir – writes with the terrible news that old lady Caldicott once marched naked through San Francisco to protest against the Y2K bug. It worked, apparently.

SALON'S STORY about the anonymous howler monkeys at Media Whores Online has drawn the attention of delusional paranoiac Tamara Baker, who believes that the US press is controlled by a giant invisible jukebox:

Ah, yes. The conservatives' Mighty Wurlitzer. It plays the tune, and the rest of the media follows suit. It says to "Jump!", and the rest of the press says "How high?" As several people have said to me recently, "Nobody ever lost their job by catering to the right-wing, while plenty of people -- Mike Malloy among them -- have lost their jobs for daring to contradict the right wing." Left-wing media sites like Salon feel they must cater to the conservatives by allowing David Horowitz and Norah Vincent to pollute the same web page once graced by Murray Waas and Mollie Dickenson, while right-wing sites don't feel any sort of need to cater to lefties.

This is probably why, of the eight anti-MWO stories that are alleged to be in the works, the very first one of them appeared, not in Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard (as Eric Alterman thought it might), but as the lead story for the June 3, 2002 issue of Salon.com.

This is how the Mighty Wurlitzer operates: agree on a theme -- to judge from the hit-piece by Jennifer Liberto in Salon, the theme is "you can't trust anonymous opinions, even if they're extremely well-sourced, and all Clinton/Democrat defenders are evil" -- and then spring it in several places at once -- with the first story seeing print just a little ahead of the others, as a sort of trial balloon in case the spin doesn't take for some reason.

Fear the Mighty Wurlitzer, people! It probably caused Baker to become the wretched cliché junkie and plain lousy writer that she is. And what a thinker! According to her, Salon is now part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy – for publishing something about a pissy little whine-site nobody outside of Idiot Town has ever paid attention to.

Still, Baker could prove inspirational. I bet that within a few days somebody will launch mightywurlitzer.blogspot.com. And it won't contain dismal lines like: "It says to 'Jump!' and the rest of the press says 'How high?'" Or cite as authorities several unnamed dumb people who all implausibly mention the same radio presenter while commenting about political attitudes, commerce, and the media.

SURE, it was little embarrassing when Matt Welch discovered that Palestinian Indymidiots were posting my articles. But imagine the shame of appearing in a Joe Conason column

MANDY LOVES MAGGIE. Peter Mandelson on the Left, globalisation, and a former hated political foe:

"No serious challenge on the Left exists to Third Way thinking anywhere in the world. This is hardly surprising as globalisation punishes hard any country that tries to run its economy by ignoring the realities of the market or prudent public finances. In this strictly narrow sense, and in the urgent need to remove rigidities and incorporate flexibility in capital, product and labour markets, we are all 'Thatcherite' now."

I AM THE PEJMAN … I am the Pejman … I am the walrus: We are all mere walruses compared to Pejman, who's been partying in an LA bar with Playboy playmates. Damn him to hell.

GUNS ON PLANES. Turns out they work just fine:

Two men who tried to hijack an internal Ethiopian Airlines flight were shot dead by national security agents on board yesterday, Radio Ethiopia reported.

One of the plane's two stewards was slightly injured during the attempted hijacking, the official radio said quoting Ethiopian civil aviation security chief Bekretsion Habte.

The hijackers,both from Bahir Dar, tried to seize the Fokker 50 half an hour into the flight and were shot dead by national security agents, Habte said.

They clashed with the stewards on the way. The security men then "took measures against the two men," he said.

Those Fokkers got just what they deserved. Air safety officials in the US and Australia should follow Ethiopia's lead.

"THANKS FOR the blog," writes reader Stewart Kelly. "It's usually a fun read, even if you are a thoroughly disagreeable character."

Stewart specifically disagrees with my reasons for the failure of the republican referendum (ie, that Australian republicans are creepy losers). He blames it on the model for the republic that Australians voted on:

"Given a choice between a popularly elected president and retaining the current system I suspect the elected president model would have gotten up by a mile. With support for a republic running as high as 75% (in polls), [Prime Minister] Howard's tactic was to split the republican support by helping the less popular model get up at the constitutional convention, and hope the public would reject it."

Howard, a monarchist, supported neither model. The "unpopular model" Stewart speaks of was supported by the creepy loser Republicans I mentioned earlier. Either as the public faces of the campaign or its tacticians, those guys are the problem. Howard did nothing but allow people to vote on the issue.

Jason Soon, not a monarchist, says Mark Steyn and I are wrong, wrong, wrong about almost everything. The mercurial libertarian writes:

In the extract of Mark Steyn's article reproduced by Tory Blair, Steyn argues that one reason the republicans lost was because 'it was a defeat for the hyper-rationalists - the types who are tone-deaf to what Lincoln called the "mystic chords". Steyn is being either extremely disingenuous here or just plain ignorant. The republican model was not defeated because the majority of Australians had any lingering affection for the monarchy, but because they were scared out of their wits by the 'power grab' rhetoric which the monarchists were cynically exploiting.

I was one of those cynical monarchists. For some reason the deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, where I worked at the time, appointed me to run a kind of daily update on the upcoming referendum; a strange decision, because I was about the only anti-republican at a paper that was furiously pro-republic.

Perhaps she didn't know about my prejudices. Anyway, while most newspapers in Australia ran tons of "Hooray for the Great New Australian Republic!" items, the Telegraph suddenly became loaded with angry folk denouncing the proposed change. At one point I wrote a Republican Crossword, with clues like: "Bitter New York arts critic, back in Australia to boss us around."

I'd like to think, given the closeness of the result, that my little campaign may have been significant. On "mystic chords" … Joanne Jacobs’s daughter, in the UK to study at Oxford, explains them well in this email home after the Jubilee celebrations:

"I couldn't believe how little security [Prince Charles] had, or that the queen had. When I asked a Brit about it, she said, 'Well, who would want to hurt the royal family? We love the royal family' … after the queen came out to light the final ceremonial flare, and we all gave her three cheers, fireworks lit up the sky. I'm telling you, I finally get the reason for the monarchy. Nothing in America inspires this much devotion."

Hear, hear!

MARGO "POT" KINGSTON accuses Mike "Kettle" Carlton of using "emotive, largely rhetorical" arguments in defence of the Australian Navy. She'd know! Margo also claims to be basing her own arguments - which implicate the Navy in some kind of refugee-drowning scam designed to re-elect the Howard government - on "logic".

This same non-emotive student of logic once declared that the Australian government was attempting to "kill the blacks" by permitting uranium mining in Kakadu national park.


ACCORDING TO the latest Pew research, the number of people who said they had read a newspaper the previous day is down to 41%. The figure was 47% just two years earlier.

Think about it; wouldn't events of the last seven months almost guarantee a boost in newspaper readership? (Circulation is up for only a few papers, notably the New York Post). It's almost as though people just don't like most modern newspapers, or the doomstruck J-school catamites who work for them. Just a theory.

JOANNE JACOBS explains the mystery of dusty yet unseen villages and rapid Texan executions mentioned in a recent (see way below) Pilger extract:

"It's a Brigadoon thing. A village emerges from the dust for one day in 100 years, and they all sing and dance and execute any foreign correspondents who happen by looking for a chain restaurant. They've only got a day, so there's no time for a trial."

Next: Pilger, the musical!

OMBUDSGOD v OMBUDSMAN. The OmGod tackles Lou Gelfand, OmGuy for the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Poor Lou seems genuinely puzzled as to why he receives so many more phone calls from readers on the right than on the left, a phenomenon he attributes to "a sort of cult thinking based on The Washington Times and stories that, sooner or later -- usually sooner -- are on talk radio ..." He asks, "Why is the political thinking on the left not as perverted or extreme as it is on the right?" OBG suggests that Lou start by asking, "When is a terrorist not a terrorist?"

OmGod also takes a look at the entrenched bias in state-owned media and the "cranial-rectal impaction" suffered by Star Tribune editor Pam Fine.

THE PALESTINIAN POPULATION EXPLOSION. Haven't these guys even learned how to make bombs properly? It's not as though they don't get enough practice …

GAZA (Reuters) - Around 40 Palestinians were wounded, eight seriously, by an explosion inside a house in the Jabaliya refugee camp early on Monday, Palestinian residents and security sources said.

They said the cause of the blast was unknown, but that it seriously damaged the house of a Palestinian military intelligence official in the camp.

Nice line about the cause of the blast being "unknown". Here's a hint: it wasn't a 17-year-old Israeli suicide bomber.

REALLY STUPID white men: John Hawkins locates some of Net's dumbest racial theorists.

FEED THE oppression! Click on the PayPal icon to your left and make the world a better place. My world, that is.

WILL THE marriage of old Beatle Paul McCartney and cute unidexter Heather Mills be televised? The appropriate technology is available: stump cam.

AUSTRALIA, unique among civilised countries, still appears to take the United Nations seriously. Well, at least our journalists do. The ABC is fretting over non-attendance at the UN's Burgers for Biafra deal in Rome:

While dozens of leaders from developing countries have descended on Rome, including shunned Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, only the heads of two wealthy Western countries - Italy and Spain - are expected to attend.

As a general rule, it's best to be where Mugabe isn't. Just ask his countrymen.

CRUSADING JOURNALIST John Bilger has a blog! He is a fearless campaigner for social justice, as his latest post promises:

My expose of Frodo's war crimes against 19605 innocent Orcs which I witnessed in the powerful documentary "Lord of the Rings" will be up later.

A LIE ON EVERY PAGE™. Six pages in, and Pilger's really piling it on. Here's the latest from his New Rulers of the World fantasy:

Out of sight of the television cameras, 'at least 3,767 civilians were killed by US bombs between October 7 and December 10 … an average of sixty-two innocent deaths a day', according to one study.

It's barely worth checking the footnotes to confirm that, yes, Pilger is the last person alive who believes Marc Herold. As Matt Welch writes in the National Post:

Herold's study turned out to be notable mostly for being so wildly off-base, yet so enduringly popular among anti-war circles. Within days of publication, an army of amateur online writers picked through Herold's math and discovered several instances of double-counting and heavy reliance on the Afghan Islamic Press, which got its data from the Taliban. Later, The Associated Press, Reuters and other organizations conducted their own inquiries into civilian deaths, arriving at numbers between 600 and 1,500.

Despite being thoroughly discredited on arrival in 2001 ... Herold's 3,700-dead-Afghans howler has shown up, unaltered, in slim paperbacks that have been climbing the charts in 2002: Chomsky's best-selling pamphlet 9-11, and a City Lights Books offering titled September 11 and the U.S. War: Beyond the Curtain of Smoke.

And now in Pilger's war-profiteering pile o' lies. The sunlamp socialist continues:

Thousands of innocent people in dusty, unseen villages have been subjected to capital punishment without trial, Texas-style, and many more will be maimed over the years by tens of thousands of unexploded cluster bombs.

Texas executes people without trial? Well, I guess Pilger can't complain about Bush being a racist, or of having double standards; Bush is clearly prepared to kill anyone, trial be damned, no matter whether the victim is a US citizen or an Afghan. Incidentally, how do we know those villages are dusty if nobody has seen them?

The UN claims that 14,000 unexploded bomblets, dispersed by cluster bombing, litter Afghanistan. Despite the UN's Pilger-like capacity for exaggeration, this falls short of "tens of thousands". Pilger's problem is that he can never leave the facts stand as they are, even when he might be on to something; here, all he had to do was record the existence of "thousands of unexploded cluster bombs" and he'd have been accurate.

But he couldn't do it. Pilger never can, for his is a restless, creative spirit.

Tomorrow: page seven heaven!

FROM READER Humphrey, a dedicated Lie On Every Page™ follower, comes this:

"Your attacks on Pilger I think tell us more about your own bias than Pilgers. He really does get up the nose of you right wingers doesn't he? Pilgers support of Timorese independence for all these years has certainly won me over. Was he wrong about this? Having spoken to old diggers who were on Timor during WW2 and believe that the Timorese helped selflessly to hold up the Japs at a critical time in our history I think that we owed them more than to become slaves to the Javanese."

Humphrey continues:

"I went to the website honestreporting.com after reading about it on Crikey. Talk about irony – it is run by Jews! Now they would be even handed wouldn't they!! Their claim to Palestine being based on some ancient mumbo jumbo. I can't understand how the right wing can support ancient Jewish land rights, by this reasoning us whities should certainly be packing up and going back to Blighty."

I get the best letters, don't I?

A POLL at Jim Treacher's site asks a question so troubling and profound that reasonable people, having heard arguments in support of both views, may support either with equal intellectual rigour. Myself, I am torn; having voted one way earlier, I now feel swayed to the alternative.

SOME SWEET LINES from VodkaPundit:

Free trade is always better. Always. I won't get into why, because it's a Friday night and I'm only blogging until Melissa gets here in a few hours. But free trade is always better than protectionism, "fair trade," "starve the darkies," or whatever they're calling it this week.

Melissa or no Melissa, he's got a gift.

AND YOU thought India v Pakistan was a big deal. Here's an ominous update from Australia's always reasonable, never hysterical ABC:

Relations between Australia and Nauru are close to breaking point tonight.

Who knows how this awful confrontation between the Pacific superpowers will end? Nobody in Australia is sleeping easily. We are on the brink of a spat.

A LIE ON EVERY PAGE™. Page the fifth from John Pilger's whimsical The New Rulers of the World:

Disguised state power provides the conditions and privileges that protect western markets while allowing western corporations to intervene where they like in the world … today, the imperial state's enduring power is both as 'hidden hand' and iron fist of rampant capital.

Corporations never go broke in Pilger's world. No, they simply become ever larger, and ever more tyrannical. Market forces never reduce their profits or power. The people who buy their wares or work in their employ are forced to do so. And what do governments do about it? Why, they actively help them. That's why you never hear any business complaining about government regulations or legislation. It also explains the ongoing success of the mighty Enron company, the triumph of Arthur Andersen, the rise of Pan-Am, and the frightening power of Dow Corning.

The iron fist of rampant capital has been smacking Pilger's head around for too long. He's as punchy as Mild Steel Mike.