INSTANTMAN has returned from the Caymans to find his InstantMansion damaged by lightning. To the InstantMerc, InstantMan! Go buy a new InstantModem!
WEDDINGS, PARTIES, BAR MITZVAHS, ANYTHING! Make your next family celebration extra-special by inviting Al Gore, America's favourite sentient lifeform! His wisecracks will make you laugh:
"Hello … everybody. I … am … Al … Gore."
His profound knowledge will make you think:
"Pollution … is … bad."
And his touching stories of human endeavour will make you cry:
"Let … me … tell … you … about … the … Dingle … Norwood … Bill."
Yes, it's crazy Al, available anywhere, anytime. Book him now! Discount rates for seniors and retards!
HERE'S A NOVELTY. It's a column by Phillip Adams that disses the US. And, proving his versatility, Adams writes it from the imagined point of view of John Howard. Hilarity ensues!
My fellow Australians. Don't think of losing five stars on our flag. Think of it as gaining dozens. Think of it as a profit of 46 stars. That represents a return on our investment of almost 500 per cent. And there's the bonus of those attractive stripes.
Yes, it does present a design problem for Washington, squeezing a 51st star on to Old Glory.
Australia has been, for generations, a hybrid society, taking its inspiration and leadership from Washington and, yes, Los Angeles. The US dominates our cinema with about 92 per cent of the box office and a similar clout is observable in television, pay TV and video rentals. Our tastes in popular music and fast food are as American as apple pie.
As is Phil's taste in cliches. Who would Adams prefer us to listen to – Slovenian transvestites? And I'll believe his line about our taste in fast food as soon as we get a damn Fatburger outlet. Please, Jeebus, let there be a Sydney Fatburger. I'm dying here.
Admittedly, there'll be minor problems with our most popular sports – so we'll legislate to have union, league and AFL played by blokes wearing huge shoulder pads and crash helmets. And if my greatest hero, Donald Bradman, was alive today, I know he'd endorse my decision to have cricket played with baseball bats.
With our populist approach to law and order, we're already largely integrated into the US system of jurisprudence.
Well, you know, apart from having no death penalty, and not electing judges, and not having Constitutional rights to free speech or bear arms, and only about a million other points of difference.
Not only do our young people take the same drugs as American youth …
Downtown Sydney is just one big crack ghetto.
… but we follow the American example in policies of prohibition and interdiction. It's true these policies have proved as counterproductive here as they have in the US but we've shown our blind loyalty to Washington by clinging to them. Blindly.
The heroin injecting room that's in Kings Cross … did Washington tell us to open it?
Saying goodbye to Her Majesty will distress many on my side of politics … but they'll be thrilled by the reintroduction of capital punishment and, of course, by the dumping of all those left-wing trendies in our High Court. Michael Kirby, Mary Gaudron and the rest will be replaced by the solid conservatives in the Supreme Court who, voting on party lines, made my friend George President in the first place. Thus showing their complete contempt and indifference not only to the voters of Florida but to the entire US.
Whatever helps you sleep, Phil.
US-style clothing has been as mandatory as detention in this country for many years. I myself have two pairs of Levi's while my children have, from time to time, reversed their baseball caps.
Phil has been venting about reversed baseball caps since they were briefly fashionable in 1986.
How long ago did Phil write this crap? Toyota has been the top-selling car maker in Australia for 12 years.
As of today, I am the Governor of the 51st state. And as the Governor, I may well decide to run for the Republican presidential nomination in due course. In the US, age is no barrier to the highest national office. Look at Ronald Reagan.
Look at how old this column is. It probably had to be translated from Middle English.
So there. We're now locked in to the world's greatest economy. Our farmers can enjoy unlimited access to the US market and I can look forward to another 15 years of active political life. Have a nice day.
Have a new idea.
THE RUNNING OF THE FOOLS. It's that time of the year again when ignorant bovines take over the streets of Pamplona, Spain:
A dozen animal rights activists have run naked through the streets of the Spanish city of Pamplona to protest against the annual running of the bulls fiesta.
Their bodies painted with slogans like "let bulls die in peace", the young activists from across Europe and the United States stopped traffic and drew curious crowds with a call to ban bullfighting from the festival.
"We are trying to draw attention to the suffering of the bulls during this run. They have no choice but to be here, and we do," Kristie Phelps, wearing a pair of plastic horns, said on Friday.
AFGHAN VICE-PRESIDENT ASSASSINATED. From AP:
Gunmen assassinated Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir on Saturday, the interior minister said. His driver was also killed but the gunmen escaped.
Qadir, one of three vice presidents chosen by last month's grand council, was gunned down outside the Ministry of Public Works, according to Interior Minister Taj
Qadir played a leading role in last year's ouster of the Taliban.
Qadir was the brother of legendary rebel commander Abdul Haq, who was captured and hanged by the Taliban last year after slipping into the country to organize resistance to the Islamic militia.
CHERYL KERNOT used rumours of an affair between Australian Democrats leader Janet Powell and colleague Sid Spindler to destabilise Powell and claim leadership of the party, according to various pundits, including – bizarrely – Margo Kingston's brother, who before commencing a career in anarchism was a Democrats staffer.
And today we discover via ex-Kim Beazley chief of staff David Epstein (who I went to school with; is there anybody in Australia without a link to this story?) that Kernot thought she'd be able to grab the top Labor job after Beazley lost the 1998 election:
Mr Epstein recounts being told by "a senior ALP figure" of a conversation with Ms Kernot in the run-up to the 1998 election. In that conversation, Ms Kernot allegedly stated that Mr Evans expected Mr Beazley to lose and that in the aftermath Ms Kernot would be "most likely to become ALP leader".
I wish to apologise to Tim Palmer for any inference in this post that the quotes he attributed to Shimon Peres were concocted or invented, and to acknowledge that his report as originally submitted to the ABC was accurate and reliable.
RUN FOR your lives! Genetically-modified seeds are coming! They'll destroy us all!
PERCY SCHEMEISER, CANADIAN CANOLA FARMER: It has destroyed our market of canola in many countries of the world.
All of the European common market will not buy one bushel of canola from us. That means 30 per cent of our exports have been lost just to Europe alone.
SARAH CLARKE: Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser became a GM canola producer by accident.
His crop was contaminated by pollen from a neighbouring genetically modified crop.
Any complaints he may have had were steamrolled by Monsanto, which successfully sued to seize his crop.
PERCY SCHEMEISER: I lost it all to a contamination because a judge ruled in my case it doesn't matter how Monsanto's genetically modified canola gets on my land or any farmers land.
SARAH CLARKE: Australian farmers are now being warned by Percy Schmeiser that they too could become victims of genetic contamination.
Did The 7.30 Report research Mr. Schmeister's claims? Far from being a tragic target of the genetically-modified seed bullies, a court in Canada found that he'd used GM seed without payment. The claim that his crop had been accidentally contaminated was convincingly refuted. Schmeister is a common seed fraud.
SBS TV chiefs yesterday said they agonised over the decision, but in the end it came down to their assessment that the story was about private lives. There was not enough of a political dimension to justify transgressing that privacy boundary, they said.
SBS's director of news and current affairs programs, Phil Martin, said it was one of the most challenging decisions his team had faced. "As the story broke we, like a lot of journalists, agonised about it," Mr Martin said.
"Our editorial team spent many hours discussing what our approach should be, in the end it boiled down to our assessment that this was a story about private lives, two people no longer in Parliament.
"We examined it closely for a political dimensions and we agreed there wasn't a sufficiently compelling angle. If one emerges we will run it, but we haven't seen one."
How touching it is to see journalists showing such concern for politicians. Sweet.
CHILL OUT. The British "art" world is all in a tizzy over some idiot's unfrozen blood-head. The Guardian explains:
The art world was last night trying to establish whether builders had accidentally defrosted a seminal piece of Britart by unplugging collector Charles Saatchi's kitchen freezer.
Rumours spread after suggestions that Saatchi had stored a blood sculpture made by Britart's enfant terrible, Marc Quinn, among his frozen peas. The work, Self, consists of Quinn's head cast in nine pints of his own frozen, congealed blood.
Builders who arrived to extend Saatchi's London kitchen at the request of his partner, the television chef, Nigella Lawson, are said to have unplugged the appliances to find red liquid oozing across the floor.
So why doesn't Quinn simply exhibit the blood-oozing refrigerator? He could re-title it Selfridges.
THAT NICE MR. MUGABE. He's only fighting for the rights of his people, you know. And were you aware that Zimbabwe has a really high literacy rate? Almost as high as Cuba's! It's a swell place to live. Just so long as you aren't gay:
Robert Mugabe has ordered his spy agency to investigate and compile a list of possible gay ministers and officials in the Zimbabwe government.
President Mugabe is well known for his hatred of gays and lesbians, and has described them as being worse than "pigs and dogs". He said the British Government was made up of "gay gangsters".
He has ordered the Central Intelligence Organisation to spy on possible gay people in his administration. How CIO officials will arrive at their conclusions is unclear. "That is inside information ... those tasked with the job know how best to achieve it," one said.
Maybe Mugabe's CIO death goons will devise a Judy Garland lyrics-recognition test.
VIA AP. Details of the LAX gunman emerge:
LOS ANGELES - An immigrant Egyptian national armed with guns and a knife opened fire Thursday at the Los Angeles International Airport ticket counter of Israeli airline El Al, killing two people before an airline security guard shot him dead.
The gunman was identified as Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, a resident of Irvine, Calif., who came to the United States from Egypt 10 years ago, the FBI announced after an all-day investigation.
The man also goes by the last name Ali, the FBI said. Authorities were searching a townhome in Irvine, in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, late Thursday.
The gunman walked into the terminal with a .45-caliber handgun, 9 mm handgun and a six-inch knife, but carrying no identification, said Ron Iden, assistant director of the Los Angeles FBI office.
HAVING RUSHED to be first to publish the Kernot/Evans allegations following Laurie Oakes's tip that Cheryl Kernot withheld a "big secret" from her memoirs, fearless cyberjournalist Stephen Mayne is now retreating faster than a Frenchman. On Thursday night he sent an email to Crikey subscribers announcing the end of Crikey’s "excessive" Kernot/Evans coverage.
In fact, Mayne – who usually demands "full disclosure" of any or all information, and who volunteers details of his own sexual past if he believes it may be relevant to a story – seems vaguely embarrassed by his Kernot/Evans revelations, and has even turned on Oakes, calling on him to "move on", sounding regretful over "doing Laurie's dirty work", and (inexcusably) encouraging readers to forward details of Laurie's sex life.
Perhaps Mayne (full disclosure: I'm a friend) feels forced to do this to maintain the faith of his readers, most of whom are angry at Oakes. Mayne should ignore them. They're confusing the evidence (sex) with the crime (conflicts of interest, failure to disclose information, attempting to smear journalists for problems of her own making, and attempting to cash in on a false record of events).
LATEST ON the LAX shooting, from the LA Examiner:
CNN, which earlier fell for an telephone prank about the LAX killer being an overweight white guy with a ponytail, is now reporting that three independent witnesses have described the shooter as an "Arab male".
CNN.com reports that one of the two murder victims at LAX today has been identified as 46-year-old LA resident Yakov Aminov, who died from multiple gunshot wounds. His pregnant wife fainted at the hospital, and is receiving treatment.
THREE ARE DEAD following an Independence Day attack at LAX. The Washington Post reports:
A gunman opened fire at an El Al Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday. Three people were killed, including the attacker, who was shot dead by an airline security guard, authorities said.
El Al is the national Israeli airline. The LA Examiner is running updates as they are reported; although Israel immediately described the killings as an act of terrorism, US wire services seem to indicate that the gunman may have been motivated by something related to his job.
JASON SOON thinks the Kernot/Evans deal is a "yawn" and that I should "settle down". Hey, Jase, just because your favourite obscure Austrian economists Hugelhoff, Von Grotten, Krauss, or Sporgel aren't involved doesn't mean it isn't fun! The story of Cheryl and Gareth's forbidden love is beautiful. I pray hourly for new developments.
BERNIE SLATTERY may have coined the first Kernot-Evans joke: If Cheryl had Gareth's baby, who would keep the bastard honest?
AN ANGRY ABC insider wrote today to blast me for describing the squeamish, politically-correct network as squeamish and politically correct, and to point out that the ABC wasn't trying to paint the Kernot-Evans ghastliness as a media story.
So what angle did the ABC's 7.30 Report take tonight?
After leading with Gareth Evans's apology, The 7.30 Report focussed entirely on the reporting of the affair:
KERRY O'BRIEN: Both are out of politics now, so the political fallout is contained, but in or out of politics, the question remains -- is it any of our business?
Veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes obviously thought it was when he opened up the issue this week.
But does knowledge of the private affair significantly change our understanding of public events?
Who can really argue that the private relationship between these two senior politicians affected their professional conduct?
HAPPY FOURTH of July, you bloodlusting citizens of a Rogue State! John Pilger celebrates American independence by recycling great steaming piles of his usual bullshit in the Daily Mirror:
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 62 innocent deaths a day", according to a study carried out at the University of New Hampshire in the US. This is now estimated to have passed 5,000 civilian deaths: almost double the number killed on September 11.
Yep, it's those Marc Herold statistics again, repeated lovingly by the world's most dupable dupe. An idea, once impressed upon the Pilger mind, remains there forever, in the manner of footprints on the lunar surface.
In recent months, the American rogue state has torn up the Kyoto treaty, which would decrease global warming and the probability of environmental disaster.
Sure it would, John. By the way, the Kyoto treaty was shredded years ago.
I have just visited the United States, and it is clear many people there are worried. And many dare not say so. Their views are seldom reported in the American mainstream media, which is self-censored and controlled, perhaps as never before.
And the dissenters' bones lay bleaching in the sun.
Instead, the air is thick with the views of the likes of Charles Krauthammer, of the Washington Post. "Unilateralism is the key to our success," he wrote, in describing the world of the next fifty years: a world without protection from nuclear attack or environmental damage for the citizens of any country except the United States; a world where "democracy" means nothing if its benefits are at odds with American "interests"; a world in which to express dissent against these "interests" brands one a terrorist and justifies surveillance and repression.
Is this the only example Pilger can find of the views apparently filling American air? He also cites this Krauthammer article (written at least six months ago) in his crap book, and in almost exactly the same terms. Pilger is plagiarising himself.
X-RATED CHERYL! Following revelations of her affair with Gareth Evans, this extract from Cheryl Kernot's book seems downright lewd. Adding some quotation marks helps, too:
I had a lot of 'contact' with Gareth in his role as Leader of the Government in the Senate. Negotiations with minority parties were his responsibility in the first instance. And he often held 'working dinners' to keep 'lines of communication' open and, no doubt, to strategically assess the 'relative ease of passage' of proposed 'key pieces of legislation'.
THE SQUEAMISH, evasive, politically correct ABC has decided that the Kernot-Evans Affair is a media story rather than a political story. ABC radio is running news of the grotesque coupling as its seventh or eighth item, and even then framing it as a question of press ethics. It's hilarious – this is the only story Australia is talking about, and the ABC is burying it.
Happily, enough commentators keep reminding the ABC of the obvious: that Cheryl Kernot invited media scrutiny. She wrote a book claiming to give an accurate account of her time with the Labor Party. The book attacked many of her former colleagues and members of the media. Kernot sought to profit from her claims. Here's Australian Broadcasting Authority chairman David Flint talking to ABC radio:
"By writing the book which purports to be a complete picture of what happened then she has put those in the media in the position of being able to say 'we are entitled to bring this matter forward.'"
Limp Linda Mottram, one of the ABC's lamest, asked Canberra journalist Rob Chalmers if coverage of the ghoulish, horrifying romance represented "a new low point in Australian journalism". Chalmers pointed out:
"This is different because it touches on the question of whether this alleged affair affected their public performance and public duty. I mean it obviously raises the question, did the alleged affair in some way lure Kernot from the Democrats to the Labor Party and the alleged email from Evans is a confession of a lie to parliament."
Where is Australian journalism headed, pondered grey-haired ABC smarmoid Tony Jones on last night's Lateline. It's headed away from Tony Jones, thankfully. Try as he might, Moany Tony couldn't get Margo Kingston to join him in condemning Laurie Oakes:
TONY JONES: Was the reporting of these essentially private allegations justified? Or have we now plumbed the depths of America's Clinton-Lewinsky-style reporting? Is there any justification there your point of view of what Laurie Oakes has done in reporting this, Margo Kingston?
MARGO KINGSTON: He's completely justified.
TONY JONES: Do you believe that Laurie Oakes has crossed a line that we have never crossed before in political journalism in Australia?
MARGO KINGSTON: I don't believe he has crossed the line. Cheryl has invited this … Cheryl has enough experience with the media to know what's possible … The fact of this matter is, Cheryl – a tragic figure, really – has chosen to write a tell-all book, and has not disclosed something that is clearly of enormous relevance.
TONY JONES: Are you saying that it's history and therefore it's an unwritten history, we need to know all the truth and therefore that justifies this personal exposure?
MARGO KINGSTON: No, not at all. That's why I say if it's a precedent, it's a very particular precedent. Cheryl Kernot put out her jaw to have it punched by writing that book, and, you know, it's Cheryl all over.
For once I agree with Margo. Frightening.
CHERYL AND GARETH – all you be needin' to know about Australia's "grand consuming passion"!
The Sydney Morning Herald's Mike Seccombe and Peter Fray provide a solid, fact-filled outline of the whole sordid affair:
Gareth Evans, the former foreign minister and deputy Labor leader, lied to Parliament about a five-year affair with Labor's star recruit Cheryl Kernot, according to an email he sent her after they broke up.
Seccombe analyses past allegations of unthinkable Evans/Kernot lust:
On March 12, 1998, in Parliament, a Liberal MP, Don Randall, delivered a spiteful speech about the new ALP recruit in which he questioned the nature of her relationship with Gareth Evans.
The sequence of events was this: Randall had condemned her for having had an affair, years earlier when she was a teacher, with a former student - an affair she admitted, but said did not begin until after the young man had left school.
Then Randall went on to ask, sarcastically: "Does this affection extend to the member for Holt?" Randall finished up by accusing Kernot of having "the morals of an alley cat on heat".
Evans said the claim was "baseless, beneath contempt and a disgraceful abuse of parliamentary privilege … It takes more than an apology to heal the hurt, particularly to our families, that this sort of performance causes."
Woo hoo! Michelle Grattan, also writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, paints background to the seamy entanglement:
Even when she first defected, Cheryl Kernot's infatuation with Gareth Evans seemed an obvious key to her decision.
It went a long way to explaining her great leap into the political unknown.
It also helped to explain why she allowed Labor to persuade her not to properly forewarn Democrats colleagues and her staff. This was bad behaviour and deepened their anger at the betrayal.
Kernot laid herself open to the Oakes revelation that will hurt her, her family, Evans and his family, by publishing her book of blame.
Andrew Probyn (great name for a journalist) and Rick Wallace of the Herald Sun get comments from Don Randall:
Don Randall, a little-known Liberal MP from Western Australia, famously described Ms Kernot as having "the morals of an alley cat on heat".
In the same speech, he used parliamentary privilege to suggest Ms Kernot was involved in an affair with Mr Evans, who was then Labor deputy leader.
In a doorstop interview with journalists the next day, then opposition leader Kim Beazley said of Mr Randall's comments: "That's a lie. That is an absolute lie."
Prime Minister John Howard forced Mr Randall to apologise to Ms Kernot and Mr Evans for the outburst.
Yesterday, Mr Randall said: "I am not going to make any comment other than I wish Mrs Kernot well."
Apologise to Don, John. The Herald Sun's Jason Frenkel and John Ferguson cover reactions from a couple of old stagers:
Two former Victorian premiers last night criticised journalist Laurie Oakes for reporting the alleged affair between Cheryl Kernot and Gareth Evans.
Former Liberal leader Jeff Kennett and his Labor predecessor Joan Kirner both said the veteran political reporter was wrong to reveal allegations of the relationship.
"That's pretty grubby stuff. It's pretty tacky. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," Mr Kennett said.
In The Australian, I write about Kernot's self-described ability to gaze into the future:
The wonder of it is that Kernot never foresaw any trouble coming her way. As she said at her book launch this week: "I have good vibes. I'm good at anticipatory politics."
It's clear Kernot didn't anticipate much from 1997 to 2001, and also that she didn't anticipate the publication of Laurie Oakes's Bulletin column yesterday.
"Cheryl's Secret" sounds like a range of feather-boa lingerie.
The Australian's Jamie Walker gives due credit to web maven Stephen Mayne:
The Bulletin magazine had hardly hit the stands before the news was out: Cheryl Kernot's dark secret was an extramarital affair with Gareth Evans, the man who brought her into the ALP.
Oakes wouldn't say what the alleged secret was, however. That was left to former political apparatchik, finance journalist and self-styled stirrer Stephen Mayne, operator of the website Crikey.com.au.
In an email to his 3600 subscribers yesterday morning, Mayne wrote: "Crikey only regarded it as an unsubstantiated rumour but Oakes has come out and effectively said, 'Gareth and Cheryl had an affair, which was pivotal to her defection and subsequent political failure'."
Annabel Crabb, Louise Dodson, and Peter Fray, in a mess of a story at The Age, challenge the right of Laurie Oakes to publish his claims:
Amid an outcry from supporters of Ms Kernot, Oakes last night defended his intervention, saying the affair with Mr Evans - who engineered Ms Kernot's defection to Labor - should not have been omitted from her recently released autobiography.
Oakes, political editor for the Nine Network, said he "worried" about the story but eventually decided to publish it because Ms Kernot had blamed others for the failure of her career in the Labor Party, without disclosing what he believed was a major factor in what happened to her. "The point is that Cheryl chose to write a book. . . which was based on a falsehood," he said.
The Age also exposes Kernot's inexcusable sexism and ageism:
In her autobiography, Mr Kernot wrote: "Like many older male commentators, Oakes makes the mistake of applying conditioned, masculine interpretations to his analysis. For example, it's interesting to note that, for him, women 'whinge', but presumably men raise valid issues consistently and forcefully."
SO MANY terrible lyrics! It'll take a day or so to sort and rank them. And then, oh yes, they shall be posted. "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some feces in your hair ..."
CHERYL AND GARETH, sitting in a tree … come and join the ALP. On Monday, former leader of the Australian Democrats Cheryl Kernot launched her latest book. It was, she claimed, a tell-all about her doomed decision to leave the Democrats in 1997 in order to join the Australian Labor Party.
Kernot's book is an attempt to blame everybody but herself for the ensuing collapse of her political career, and to settle scores with various individuals she felt had wronged her. One of the people targeted was Nine Network political correspondent Laurie Oakes, whom Kernot accused of several intrusions into her privacy.
Oakes is an exceptional journalist. He is fair, accurate, fast, clever, and hard working. The accusation that he had treated Kernot unfairly must have stung. Oakes noted an omission in Kernot's book: Kernot had failed to reveal something central to her decision to join the ALP. Her book wasn't a tell-all; it was a cover-up. Specifically, it covered up this:
Kernot, married with a teenage daughter, had been having an affair with senior ALP identity Gareth Evans (also married, and with two adult children).
It was Evans who first suggested to then ALP leader Kim Beazley that Kernot might join the Labor Party. Yesterday, Oakes wrote in his column for The Bulletin that Kernot had not revealed "the biggest secret of her life":
If made public, it would cause a lot of people to view her defection from the Australian Democrats to the Labor Party in a different light.
While it is one thing for journalists to stay away from such a matter, however, it is quite another for Kernot herself to pretend it does not exist when she pens what purports to be the true story of her ill-fated change of party allegiance.
Had Beazley, Faulkner and other ALP leading lights been aware of it when then-deputy leader Gareth Evans proposed bringing Kernot into the Labor fold, they would have thought twice about the idea and probably said 'no'.
Kernot's response? There was no secret! Everything was in the book! She was hiding nothing!
Later, Oakes appeared on the Nine Network News to make more clear his claims:
A leaked email confirms that when Gareth Evans, then deputy leader to Kim Beazley, brought Ms Kernot into the Labor fold in late 1997, they'd been having an affair for several years.
At this point the craziness began. The publishers of Kernot's book called off her book tour, citing the Princess Diana defence: journalists had chased her in a car at dangerous speeds. The ALP's Bob McMullin said that the affair was nobody's business but that of the couple involved; his leader, Simon Crean, disagreed, demanding that Kernot and Evans explain themselves.
Evans, it should be noted, reacted angrily when accused of an affair with Kernot some years earlier. He told Parliament there had been no such thing, and demanded an apology. Evans – now the president of the International Crisis Group – may have misled Parliament.
So, as Jerry Springer might summarise, what have we learned today? We've learned that if you are concealing a "secret" that is widely known among political journalists, it is probably best not to taunt and goad them by drawing attention to yourself in a graceless, selfish biography. We've learned that if you claim to be honest, you probably should attempt to be honest. And we've learned that Cheryl Kernot is completely incapable of facing her own faults, even as she attempts to make money by finding fault in others.
OMAR KARSOU is a Palestinian businessman and founder of Democracy in Palestine. He is also extraordinarily brave, as his call for Arafat to be ousted shows:
These days, the tightly controlled Palestinian media are trying to suppress the fact that many ordinary Palestinians are heartened by the calls for democracy for Palestinians from around the world. In the West Bank and Gaza, people are whispering that there might be an end to the repression and corruption that have characterised the past five years under the Palestinian Authority.
Exasperated after years of suffering and exhilarated at the idea of having our own state, I and many Palestinians were willing to tolerate the autocratic ways of the Palestinian Authority for the ultimate goal of freedom. But that did not happen. Our legitimate cause was eventually hijacked by the despotic rule of the Palestinian Authority and by those who want to speak through violence.
IS THE BBC still British? The groaning, commie-hampered broadcaster has abandoned the annual playing of Rule Britannia during Last Night of the Proms, apparently because of public "indifference" to the tune, according to The Independent. Perhaps the paper will encourage Robert Fisk to sing a version of Beat Boy instead.
A TERRIBLE racist government in Australia wants to repel immigrants. The twist here is that the government in question is the New South Wales state Labor government, and the immigrants it opposes would be brought to Australia by the inhuman Howard regime.
CANADIAN CUSTOMS officials led authorities to an Australian al-Qaeda link two years ago, says former NSW police chief Peter Ryan. What happened to the Aussie al-Qaedians? They were allowed to quietly depart the country. No muss, no fuss. There may be some reaction to this.
READER Kevin H. provides a translation for this slab of Jack Robertson brainy-talk:
"Sadly, as far as I can see, in the blogosphere as in every other
word-based medium we have, to date the post-Goebbels, post-Mass Meeja, postmodern poisoning of language persists. Most writers still seem to regard the clever and eloquent words they write as somehow isolated ends in themselves, rather than mere tools for investing abstract ideas with passion and meaning enough such that those ideas might be translated into action."
Kevin's scholarly deciphering reveals Jack's actual meaning:
"Dammit, what happened to obscure references, indulgent clever language that hides the lack of any actual point? If this clarity thing catches on, what the hell will I do for a living from now on? Did anyone think of that? Huh? And anyway, I'm smarter than you; look at me, I'm typing. Ha! Damn, I look good."
And blogger Jim O’Grady addresses Jack's claim that "Most writers still seem to regard the clever and eloquent words they write as somehow isolated ends in themselves, rather than mere tools for investing abstract ideas with passion and meaning enough such that those ideas might be translated into action":
"Of course writers 'regard' the words they use as isolated ends in themselves. That's what writers do! If words weren't the end, they wouldn't be writing them. They'd be driving cabs, or involved in arbitrage, or teaching preschoolers about the nobility of Mobutu. When you get paid for a column, you get paid for that column, I'd imagine, and not whether that column leads to counter-demonstrations to the anti-globos gathering in Davos.
"Ah, but the next clause – 'rather than ... tools for investing ... ideas ... such that those ideas might be translated into action' – that's where, as the Rock might say, Mr. Robertson lays the smackdown. For one thing, how can words which are not clever and eloquent invest ideas with passion and meaning?
"With Mr. Robertson, Mr. Deeds must always go to town, and unless you back up your writing with some kind of heroic selflessness, or your writing leads to huge crowds singing the 'Intenationale' in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart superstore, then that writing is meaningless.
"This is the same school of criticism – that something is only 'real' if it leads to 'real' action – that gave us operas about the joys of the collective farm. I bet my appendix that if the words emanating from the blogosphere were unanimous in concern for the detainees at Guantamano, or were defending Bin Laden as a great fighter against Western imperialism, Mr. Robertson would think those words were investing ideas with more meaning than there is in a copy of Webster's."
Over to you, Jack, for your right of reply. Or my right of delete of your right of reply, depending on my mood.
DON ARTHUR, the Mary Whitehouse of Australian bloggers, complains that I'm uncivil. What a butt munch. However, to accommodate Don's desire for polite discourse, the following post is written in an entirely non-insulting Arthurian tone:
Politician and gentleman Mr. John Budd, known to you as a former member of the Australian Labor Party's esteemed Queensland branch, has been spared a custodial sentence following unseemly carryings-on of a family nature.
It seems that Mr. Budd, at one time the elected representative of the citizens of Redlands, had by means of borrowing monies from the Australian Labor Party procured various medicines for his son, Mr. Shane Budd. Certain of those medicines were restricted by law from widespread availability.
Mr. Budd's interest in his son's pharmaceutical wellbeing also saw him risk the Australian Labor Party's funds in short term investment ventures undertaken during luncheon hours.
The contrite Mr. Budd will serve a sentence not binding him to gaol. His son is deceased.
READER TREVOR A., an ex-pat Brit ("and glad of it") now living in California's Simi Valley, writes on the subject of Billy Bragg:
"I lived through the whole dark night of Thatcherism, hated her policies, hated the destruction she wrought, hated her manner, hated her lackey press (you work for one of her acolytes), but she was always honest and forthright and, curse-me-to-hell, she was probably right. Dammit.
"Did us the power of good, in the end, like a lance-happy doctor who doesn't believe in anaesthetic. But Bragg was always a dick – wrapped himself in the cloth-cap of the working man, just a regular bloke clinging to a working class accent when 'working class' had no more relevance than serfdom or the landed gentry. I guess he's still at it. Oh, and his music just sucked!
"But let's be honest – ingratitude breeds fortunes. Bragg without Thatcher, Limbaugh or O'Reilly without Clinton – what would they be without their nemeses? Hoary old buffers, holding court at the dark end of the bar, sport for drinkers and fodder for students."
Good point. Big enemies make people rich!
FIRST THEY confiscate our nail-clippers. Now they want our boomerangs. The Age reports on the latest airline security triumph:
A world-class competitive boomerang thrower faces a criminal charge after trying to take boomerangs through a security checkpoint at a United States airport.
Betsylew Ross Miale-Gix, 43, of Brier, Washington, was arrested yesterday after arguing with a security screener at Bradley International Airport, Connecticut, police said.
Miale-Gix became irate, began cursing, and then grabbed her bags from the screener, state police said.
She was arrested for breaching of peace, and released after posting a $US500 ($A894) bond.
Miale-Gix is a lawyer and a two-time member of the US Boomerang team.
It's unclear whether Ms. Miale-Gix was told never to return.
WE ARE a tolerant nation. Yesterday a man named Peter Hore was arrested for allegedly assisting Woomera Detention Centre detainees to escape. This is not the first time Mr. Hore has come to the attention of the authorities:
He once invaded centre court during the Australian Open.
During the Olympics, Hore attempted to disrupt the marathon.
Australia's bid to qualify for the World Cup in a match against Iran was ruined by Hore's hijinks.
Hore has tried to become a television star.
The South Australian Parliament was treated to a Hore floorshow.
A Screemfeeder concert at Newcastle was enlivened by Hore's antics.
Crowds at music festivals have thrilled to Hore's tuneful tunes.
Michael Hutchence and Tommy Smith – God rest their souls – received touching farewells from Hore.
He claims to have barged onto the court during the German Open, and to have wrecked a Clinton speech in Florence.
And his first appearance in Australia was during the running of the Melbourne Cup.
Why isn't Peter Hore in hospital, or jail? Like I said: we're tolerant. And maybe a bit dumb.
DON ARTHUR says that I'm stupid for describing Australian bookstore buyers of Michael Moore's book as stupid when they could get it cheaper at Amazon. Jason Soon suggests that Don might be stupid for supposing anyone would buy just one book from Amazon. The fact remains: anybody who buys Michael Moore's book from anywhere at any price is stupid.
YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI detects a changing mood among the Israeli left:
Even the left isn't immune from the growing sense of siege. In a recent interview, the liberal novelist Amos Oz confessed he's haunted by his father's observation that, before the Holocaust, European graffiti read, "JEWS TO PALESTINE," only to be transformed in our time into, "JEWS OUT OF PALESTINE." The message to Jews, noted Oz: "Don't be here and don't be there. That is, don't be."
MUSICIANS, ARTISTS and film-makers are supposed to rally against right-wing governments – aren't they?
So says academic Michelle Arrow in the Sydney Morning Herald. I guess that's why Western artists, musicians and film-makers so rarely complain about torture in China, or the death penalty in Cuba, or decades of censorship and terror in the former Soviet Union – they're just not supposed to.
Michelle wants people to attack the Howard government. They aren't protesting enough! Start screaming and yelling, all of you:
Why has everyone in Australia gone so damn quiet all of a sudden? Where is the response in pop culture to what are becoming known as (shudder) the Howard years?
Here's something to protest about: Michelle received $20,000 of our taxes to study the popularity of old radio serials.
Without Margaret Thatcher the British probably wouldn't have got Billy Bragg, that wonderfully talented songwriter and passionate critic of her economic rationalism and cold-heartedness. So where is our Billy Bragg? What have we got to show for our six years of right-wing government?
Sure, we've had a couple of clever dissenters in theatre: Max Gillies and Guy Rundle's savage and smart satire, Your Dreaming: The Prime Minister's Cultural Symposium … There was Belvoir Street's production of King Ubu, which recast the grotesque buffoon Ubu as Howard … My personal favourite was the spectacle of two large John and Janette puppets stripping to the Bee Gees' song Guilty in the Barrie Kosky-directed NIDA graduation show during the Olympics.
So smart. So spectacular. Imagine – puppets stripping!
The unfortunate thing is, the people who come to these performances are rarely challenged by them, and tend to simply agree with them.
Or they're put to sleep by them.
It was a hopeful sign when one of the biggest Australian bands, Powderfinger, tackled Howard in their song Like a Dog … If you treat me like a dog, they sang, "I'm not relaxed or comfortable, I'm aggravation and rage."
Wealthy pop stars are being treated like dogs? Good!
But where has this rage gone? Popular culture can and should galvanise popular opinion. So why has this failed to happen?
Because, Michelle, these days we're not angry at your enemies. We're angry at you.
Hours after they jemmied their way out of the Woomera detention centre, detainees were dumped by the activists who helped them and left in the freezing desert night with neither food nor protection.
Ten were left to run out into the darkness across Coober Pedy's mine fields – an area pitted with deep unmarked shafts – after a police roadblock stopped the minibus in which they were travelling. The two activists who told the escapees to run drove off.
Another group of 13 detainees huddled around a makeshift campfire by the side of the Stuart Highway 25km outside Port Augusta for two nights, waiting for the activists who left them to return as they had promised.
The same people who accuse the Navy of failing to protect asylum seekers at sea are guilty of endangering them on land. Meanwhile, two escapees have shown up at Port Augusta police station asking to be allowed back in the detention centre after just three nights of "freedom". Thanks, morons!
FAILED POLITICIAN Cheryl Kernot would have us believe it is anybody else's fault but her own that she's currently unemployed. Her new book, released today, is a motherlode of denial. The former Democrats leader, who abandoned her party to join Labor in 1997, blames the Labor leadership, her own Labor staffers, the "dominant masculine instincts" of the Canberra press gallery, menopause, poor health, the alignment of the planets, and bad feng shui for her subsequent election loss last year.
Some sections are beautifully self-defeating. Take this extract, in which Kernot looks back at her time as head of the Democrats:
Being available and accessible to the media was an important part of the job … in the main I was very trusting of media intentions, opening up my home and asking my family to be generally available as well … There we were in Burke's Backyard, Women's Weekly, Ita, Elle, New Idea, in fact countless publications accompanied by thousands of words. I also appeared several times on the television shows Good News Week, Club Buggery and The Panel.
Two paragraphs later, Kernot writes:
I've never seen anyone so consciously and strategically court the media as Natasha [Stott Despoja].
Well, she did have Kernot's example to learn from. Another extract, in the Sydney Morning Herald, complains about then Labor leader Kim Beazley:
The one thing that encapsulates my greatest difficulty over the past four years has been trying to accept and understand the failure of Kim Beazley to honour any of his promises and commitments to me.
Kim was not serious about a true partnership and I was not willing to be a mere adornment.
Poor Cheryl. She never knew how badly she'd be treated. She didn't anticipate any problems. Yet, reports the SMH, she's still willing to help Labor:
She thinks she'd be suited to a liaison role, gathering ideas from party members. "One thing that others have said about me is that I have good vibes, I'm good at anticipatory politics," she said.
Sure, Cheryl. You're a regular Nostradamus.
"THANKS FOR all the insults!" writes reader Melissa K., who kindly sends a donation. Her money is welcome, but her note is puzzling; I've been through my entire archives, and the only insults I can find are these:
lying little student punk bastards
John Pilger, despiser of democracy
human rights holy-man
Australian Taliban doofus David Hicks
insufferable anti-war cartoonist Michael Leunig
Illiterate idiot and habitual chicken boner
Old Man Peace 'n' Love in Marin County
the spawn of hyper-educated cranks
seriously malevolent anti-US newsdude
the Empress of Error, a Monarch of Misunderstanding, and the Queen of Denial
Wombat of Islam
ultra-liberal 'Frisco airheads
Slum-dwelling alcoholic relatives
Human punching bag Robert Fisk
grouchy old Dublin hack
the world's oldest Indymedia kid
the fame-hungering, fact-distorting, God-bless-idiots children's book writer
John Pilger, fastest gun in the anti-West
Adele Horin the Equity Aunt
Helen Thomas, the only White House correspondent who is older than the White House
Broadsheet newspaper readers are such goddamned filthy snobs
The shrill, pun-addicted Lette woman
Kathy Lette is the worst writer on earth
A pinheaded Australian
A bewildered self-abuser
A Marxist halfwit with a pen
a confused and alienated American
whiny, preachy, holy, crappy Leunig
Leunig is a gross hypocrite
peddler of deceit
helium-voiced Australian songstress Kylie Minogue
the lumbering, hate-mongering Guardian
A local Fisko-Chomskyite
Gay Alcorn, the Sydney Morning Herald's version of a Washington correspondent
That Lawson tramp
stupid left-wing urban intellectuals
Raimondo the circus freak.
Katharine Seelye is as stupid as she looks
The Al Qaeda Dingo!
Tora Bora worm food
morally blind Sydney Morning Herald columnist
Jesus-screaming racist Nazis
the brain-damaged Arkansas crank
Leo Schofield, the leading cause of unconsciousness in Sydney newspaper readers
clueless vegetarian Alicia Silverstone
Columnist, broadcaster, ex-commie and witless bore Phillip Adams
one-eyed Afghan circus monster
mutant singer Michael Jackson
lazy, bad-writing bureaucrats
Spherical millionaire author Michael Moore
The hallucinating calorie processor
Sell out! Corporate lickspittle! Lapdog of the multinationals!
A tragic example of the unfunny, can't-draw generation
Norman Mailer, an idiot for the ages
maladroit journalistic heavyweight
Pilger is a frightening hypocrite
the tyrant intellectual left
stupid sucky Olympics
a red-headed cretin
illiterate Indymedia friends
a jargon-sucking word-mangler like Ralston Saul
Will Margo ever return to her home planet?
an irrelevant Indymedia imp
infamous toxic scar Elizabeth Wurtzel
Serial drug abuser and poisonous inhuman void Elizabeth Wurtzel
anti-warmongers who live in freedom as others die for it
dog scum Jew-lover pig filth
Maureen Dowd exhibits the logical powers of a slow three-year-old
absurd TV chef
Margo is a delusional hysteric
bulb-headed Canadian leftist lightweight John Ralston Saul
Mr Retarded Childhood Innocence himself, Michael Leunig
Australia's favourite grey-haired pixie-hippy-halfwit cartoonist
Michael Moore's huge reeking mass
What a sick bastard Ted Rall is
The grizzly, slack-jawed kilter
Krauts, Frogs, and Limeys
sanctimonious swamp hog
the four-eyed landcow
The shambling, dollar-drenched, penny-pinching oaf
Alec Baldwin, gold-plated idiot
Moulin Rouge sucks, blows, and bites
Buglike envirowarrior David Suzuki
the compact, high-revving envirodoomster
the laff-filled, fun-packed, surprise-on-every-freaking-page New York Times
Filthy movie people
a waddle-gaited, slobber-chinned, faux-poor compulsive deceiver
shallow Brit twink Patrick Barkham
brainwashed Palestinian suicide drones
goat-dicking Saudi sand scum
Greenpeace, the planet's self-appointed tyrant school marm
The Wiggles, a virus-like children's entertainment troupe
treble-chinned burger-processing unit
lazy, techno-shy coffin-dodgers
a timid pharmacist
The ABC is captive to a cranko-leftist mindset
Margo's new Moron Militia
corporate tyrant censor bully ghoul monster
the Great White Mope
Neville is a sloth-witted commie hippie
deranged Dr Helen Caldicott
Michael Moore, he who puts the "hippo" in "hypocrite"
Moore is a portly fellow
Random cliché generator Jane Cornwell
Elder is a zombie
French publicity farmer Jose Bove
foam-skulled '60s peace guppies
The Wiggles are from hell
Dunn is an accountant who lives with his parents
Rundle's thick-as-permafrost skull
Intellectual blastocyst Guy Rundle
Rundle's comic writing is so hilariously Engels-like
Scramble-witted Sydney Morning Herald jabbertron Margo Kingston
Margo Kingston is out of her mind
Stupid useless champion Triple Crown horse
devious greed-loving right-winger
Patrick Barkham suffered a severe panty-bunching episode
A loser collective drawn from Australian universities
Zuul, the bloodlusting patron demon of fixed-wing aircraft
Happy Sand Nazis
Barkham is a pinhead
The weedy commie academic
big dumb sea beasts
Alma-Ata, the Memphis of the world's unspellable hellzones
fearmongering midget David Suzuki
The Canadian enviromite
The strange, Wickerman-like inhabitants of Newfoundland
Jon Casimir, the Sydney Morning Herald's intellectual wafer-weight
sordid dungeon sessions with Toothless Dominatrix Enid
Abdullah the Padilla, aka the "Dirty Bomber"
charity economist Bono
ratchet-jawed anti-nuclear crank Helen Caldicott
the anonymous howler monkeys at Media Whores Online
delusional paranoiac Tamara Baker
doomstruck J-school catamites
kangaroo-felching eucalypt swine
An Indymedia wanksock
the SMH's Duchess of Dorkistan
commie weasels, bad journalists and semi-intellectual blowhards
the Loser List signed by 69 American anti-war chuckleheads
Maybe Melissa has me mixed up with another blogger. I'd better return her money.
FROM THIS week's Sydney Morning Herald list of the Top Ten Non-Fiction Bestsellers:
1. Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating, PM, by Don Watson. $45
6. Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore. $49.95
7. On Equilibrium, by John Ralston Saul. $23
And in 10th place, it's our favourite …
10. The New Rulers of the World, by John Pilger. $30
No wonder suicide rates are so high. By the way, check the price for Moore's book: $49.95! Moore's readers have obviously never heard of Amazon, where you can buy Stupid White Men for less than thirty Australian dollars. Who's stupid?
A LIE ON EVERY PAGE™, brought to you by John Pilger's bodice-ripping New Rulers of the World, today looks at page 14:
Contrary to myth, people are seldom compliant. In a survey of 30 countries, Gallup found that the majority opposed the bombing of Afghanistan and military violence as a means of bringing terrorists to justice. For all the propaganda of 'news', people remain sceptical, at least.
What the fuck? Only a few pages earlier, Pilger was ranting about the media's massive brainwashing awesomeness:
The media conglomerates … have unprecedented power … the transnational media companies, American or European, own or manage the world's principle sources of news and information … they have transformed much of the 'information society' into a media age where extraordinary technology technology allows the incessant repetition of politically 'safe' information that is acceptable to the 'nation builders'.
So which is it, John? Are the media companies mightily powerful or easily ignored? They can't be both.
Page 14 also provides this:
That the real terror is poverty, from which some 24,000 people die every day, is beyond public dispute.
So 9/11 was 'fake' terror. What a relief.
Next: page 15. John goes to Indonesia.
THE WORLD outside the US is now getting used to the fact Americans have a fraudulently elected nitwit as their president, writes The Daily Telegraph's formerly-sane London correspondent Bruce Wilson:
On this side of the Atlantic [George W. Bush] is seen as a kind of strange joke. Britons try to understand him, but in Europe they simply think of him as a sort of circus act.
They're ever so sophisticated. Bush the Hick just can't cut it with the cultured Eurobeings. Why, he's not even anti-Semitic! How dumb can the man be? Everybody in Europe knows that Jew-hating is way cool, as today's Independent reports:
A new form of anti-Semitism has taken hold in Europe, fuelled by anti-Israeli sentiment, according to a survey which shows almost one in three Europeans now harbours some anti-Jewish feelings.
Attitudes towards Jews vary across the five countries surveyed with Belgians, Germans and the French "most likely to hold a prejudiced view of Jews". Denmark and the UK are said to be the least prejudiced. But attitudes in the UK show a worryingly high level of anti-Semitic sentiment.
One in five Britons believes Jews have too much power in the business world. More than 10 per cent of those surveyed in the UK believed Jews are "more willing to use shady practices to get what they want".
Bush might be a circus act, but Europe is becoming an Auschwitz theme park.
PIERS AKERMAN dissects those who two years ago foresaw famine, disease, hails of toads, the death of everybody, and worse, as a result of a new goods and services tax (GST):
Dr Clive Hamilton, of the Left-leaning Australia Institute … predicted that at least 65 more people would die each year because of increased air pollution and traffic accidents caused by changes to fuel prices.
The then Opposition leader, Kim Beazley saw just "one dark cloud hanging over the people of Australia" on February 21, 2000: "The goods and services tax."
Ray Regan, president of the National Tax and Accountants' Association, told The Daily Telegraph that "No less than 200,000 employees will be lost in the first year."
"You're going to see record reductions in profits," he said. "We're going to see record losses coming through. We're going to see bankruptcies not going up just under 30 per cent, but more likely to 40 per cent."
As Piers points out, there have been 241,000 jobs created, profits have increased 9.6% and the number of bankruptcies – comparing the March quarter 2000 with March quarter 2002 – are down 16%.
If you're going to have any kind of tax, may as well have one that works.