9.14.2002

MEDIA WATCH Executive Producer Peter McEvoy, whose program is blind to the errors committed by host David Marr's leftoid pals, recently sent this note to Crikey.com.au:


"We try to be balanced and we're more than happy to come down on some lefty columnists if we catch them stuffing up.

"If you or your subscribers have any decent examples send them to mediawatch@your.abc.net.au. We check out all the tips we receive, and while we won't whack it on line as quickly as Crikey, we'll give it a good run if it stands up."



Well, let's see. Here's lumpy lefty columnist Phillip Adams in today's Australian:


George W. Bush is, God help us, US President, despite receiving fewer votes than Al Gore. For this he can thank his brother, Jeb, the devious Governor of Florida, and his father's conservative friends on the US Supreme Court. Having stolen the election, one of the most mediocre men to hold the office was given unprecedented power by, of all people, Osama bin Laden.



It's illogical to claim that Bush is President despite "receiving fewer votes than Al Gore", as the popular vote has no bearing on Presidential elections. Adams may as well write that Bush is President despite a decline in Maine's lobster population. And the "stolen election" myth has been erased by comprehensive recounts.


Indeed, the only thing holding Bush back is that many senior Republicans think the plan to attack Iraq is utterly bonkers. The President might shrug off the views of Henry Kissinger and a chorus of Republican congressmen …



Henry Kissinger is in favour of a war against Iraq. The New York Times apologised for misrepresenting Kissinger’s stance on this subject some while ago. Try to keep up, Phil.


Clearly the lunatics are running the US asylum and will brook no argument. "You're either with us or you're against us," they say, insisting that unilateralism in foreign policy is justified by September 11 – as are the attacks on human rights and due process within the US.



Care to offer any examples? No?

Phil's anti-Americanism is so profound that it overwhelms his vision, ruins his ability to perform simple mathematics, and corrupts his knowledge of the alphabet, as we learned from his July 6 column, in which Phil imagined how Australia might become part of the US:


Yes, it does present a design problem for Washington, squeezing a 51st star on to Old Glory. There are five neat rows of ten and 51 isn't easily divisible. But if the Americans can put a man on the moon they can fit Australia into their flag. Sorry, our flag.



The US flag has nine horizontal rows, not five. Those rows include, alternately, five and six stars, not ten. The last five-row US flag was the 38-star flag of 1877-1890. The last flag with five neat rows was the 35-star flag of 1863-1865.

Incidentally, 51 is easily divided by 17 and 3.


Australia will simply join the list of other states, like Texas, Kansas and California. With alphabetical order in our favour, we will enter the list at No 3, just after Alabama and Arkansas.



No, we'd enter the list fifth, after Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas.

A junior reporter would be fired for making such elemental errors. Adams doesn't even apologise. And Media Watch lets him get away with it, preferring to point out such momentous gaffes as a radio presenter's confusion over September 11 news replays and spelling mistakes at a university website.

Over to you, Peter McEvoy. Oh, if you want more Internet mistakes, here's some from Radio National:


'Last Night in New York' is a unique take on the events of September 11, a traumatic event scene through the eyes (& ears) of a Australian romantic in love with the idea of New York.



Scene through the ears. What a way to witness an "event."

THIS IS what happens when you hire John Pilger:


Sales of the Daily Mirror have slumped to a new low one year after September 11, the event that prompted editor Piers Morgan to turn his paper into a "serious" read.

Between March and August the Mirror's circulation dropped to an average of 2,114,666 copies, a 4.13% decline year on year.


9.13.2002

WORLD HUG DAY EXPOSED AS CULT SCAM! John Safran reveals the truth behind the hugs:


To hype us up for the global snuggle, "World's Biggest Hug" provide us with quotes from people such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and, hang on, a disproportionate few from some guy named Sri Chinmoy. And over at its Web page, several links take us to sites associated with Sri Chinmoy. Sri Chinmoy? That's the name of a spiritual teacher born in Bangladesh and now living in New York, and of his movement.

When contacted, "Biggest Hug" organiser Sabine Holt acknowledged that both she and the other person named in press releases, Surnirmalya Symons, were followers of Sri Chinmoy.

It's hard to deny that the supposedly non-religious "Hug" Web site encourages schools to get involved, and tilts the surfer towards Chinmoy material, where you hear a lot about how it is of "paramount importance" to have "faith in one's Guru" even if what he wants you to do is counter-intuitive.



Kids, please, just say no to hugs.

KEN LAYNE reports that someone showed up at a September 11 memorial in Singapore wearing a Saddam Hussein mask. Cute.

Even cuter: one of the subeditors at the Sydney Morning Herald turned up for work on the eve of September 11 wearing an Osama bin Laden t-shirt. (Note to SMH staff: my spies see all.)

ABOUT WARREN ZEVON … Eric Olsen has awful news.

BRITISH LEFTY Neil Clark blasts ignorant anti-Americans in the op-ed pages of today's Australian.

FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS ON SALON: From gloating about broke dotcoms to enjoying the "to hell with you!" reaction of web readers to hating on-the-make C-grade feature writers: A spectrum of improper responses to Salon's decline.


"When I first heard Salon was going bankrupt, I thought how it might be cool if all the writers' children were forced to become prostitutes." – Andy G, 25, a pervert in New York

"My boyfriend is literate, so he really hated that crap they always try to write. I can hear him laughing now from the other end of the house." – Mary L, 32, Texas

"I get really turned on by failure. Like, really turned on. The last two years of Salon have been dynamite." – Louise Probe, 41, a housewife in Boston

"Man, you should see those kids. You'd want change from a nickel, I swear. Soooo – eeeee!" – Andy G, 25, a pervert in New York

"When the first reports came in about the collapse, I was horrified. Then I thought: Hey, this is Salon we're talking about. Fuck them." – Paul M, 21, a waiter, New York

"Salon … that's a television show, right? With puppets?" – Elroy Graham, 48, media investor, New Jersey

"When I moved into my boss's office I got to use his computer, but he had Salon as his homepage. It took me weeks to track him down and kill him. Weeks." – Alison K, 36, death row, San Quentin

"I kinda thought, you know, with Salon going broke, they might not be able to afford people to handle their mail. So, like their mail would go direct to the Salon staffer it was addressed to, without any security checks or anything. That's when I began buying Semtex." – no name or address supplied

"We have this thing where we take off an item of clothing every time Salon's stock value drops. Oh, baby – we been naked since '99." – John "Johnny" Johnson, 35, man about town, Johnville, Utah

"I felt sorry for the Salon victims at first, but then they all tried to play us the pity card. 'Nobody reads us', 'Nobody buys shares', 'Nobody likes our premium deal.' So I tuned right out. Are they still going? And, more importantly, do you have the time?" – Jill Potts, 29, late for happy hour, Los Angeles


TEX IS BACK, after an ISP-enforced layoff. And he has one of the most heartbreaking items you'll ever read.

DETROIT READER Alex Bensky fears the inevitable wrath of the Dissident Police:


I stopped in at my local Border's book store yesterday. The magazine rack still had The Nation, In These Times, Mother Jones, and for that matter they also carry The Communist Voice. I also noticed a number of books critical of the president generally and his foreign policy in particular.

This may be my last e-letter to you, Mr. Blair. Any moment the police may come crashing through my front door and haul me off to a labor camp in Alaska.



Pray for Alex!

9.12.2002

"FRASER" IS Australian for "flip-flop". Ken Parish puts the sword to ex-Prime Minister Malcolm "Pants" Fraser, who wasted his time in office – he at one point had control of both houses, and took barely any advantage – and now wastes everybody else's time with contradictory, self-serving newspaper columns.

"IT BEGAN slowly. First authorities came for the Arabs …"

When I write my satirical screenplay about the "crushing of dissent in America", this will be the first line spoken by the narrator. It's from a non-satirical opinion piece in the Seattle Times located by Juan Gato.

For the screenplay's title, I'll steal from Gato again: AmeriKKKa! Maybe it should be a musical …

FORMER UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has recently become a popular guest on Australia's ABC network. Who knows why? Also mentioned in this week's column for The Australian: George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Richard Butler, Brit Hume, Janet McCalman, Osama bin Laden, Matt Welch, Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Fisk, Howard Zinn, Alexander Cockburn, Jonathan Schell, Terry Lane, and charming 16-year-old Sydney schoolgirl Amira Sbbet, who thinks Amina Lawal should be stoned to death for getting pregnant.

Much thanks to the Blogosphere for links, tips, and e-mails. These days, no good column is 100% blogger free. Or even a column by me.

UPDATE. U-Turn Scotty was on ABC's Radio National again this morning.

NEW YORKER/SYDNEYSIDER James Morrow looks ahead:


I'd like to see everyone concerned spend a little less time living in the past and a bit more time focusing on the next step: namely, ousting Hussein and the wildly overprivileged and decadent Saudi "royal" family, who in between drinking and whoring in European resorts managed to create and fund bin Laden and give birth to 15 of the 19 hijackers.


"ANTI-AMERICANISM in the Arab world reaches new peak", The Age reports. The same thing appears to be happening at The Age.

SOME PEOPLE apparently believe that the US is an all-white billionaire collective devoted to racist division. Wise up. Others maintain that the US has no support in Europe. Click here.

WE'D JUST come home from drinks with a friend, Stewart McCure. It was a little after 11.30pm. The phone rang. Nadia answered. Stewart told her to turn on the television.

The first images were vague and distant; the suicidal aircraft seemed to be small, from the footage shown. I wrote an editor at the Online Journalism Review in California – I'd recently sold them a few columns – volunteering to cover the story of the lone pilot and the skyscraper. Maybe a couple of hundred words.

Then I heard Nadia say, through hands held to her face: "No. God, no."

Second tower. Second aircraft.

A few hours later, I filed this, now archived in OJR's tech section. It isn't much good, despite the enormous input from Matt Welch and Ken Layne and total strangers who e-mailed updates throughout the night. But you've got to write something.

I caught one of the first available flights to New York about a week later.

9.11.2002

DON'T MESS with the clever, tough women. Joanne Jacobs has words for weak sister Susan:


Susan Sontag gets a column on the New York Times op-ed page to say virtually nothing. She flirts with moral equivalence, noting the French Resistance were considered "terrorists" by their opponents and calling good vs. evil rhetoric "jihad language." But in the end, Sontag supports taking action against our "vicious, abhorrent enemy." It's just that she doesn't want to call it "war." She can't reflect properly if it's a war. Well, OK. Let's call it a "banana." Thinking any better?


THE EIGHT AM phone call. Stephen Green remembers.

JAMES LILEKS on the year since 9/11. Beautiful and right.

KEN LAYNE is one of my dearest, closest friends. (Well, who doesn't say that? A couple of weeks ago Nadia and I went to see US singer-songwriter Steve Poltz perform in Sydney, and after the show Poltz screamed: "I love Ken Layne!" Women were puzzled.) But people who've never been lucky enough to meet Ken will still be moved to tears by this September 11 piece. I was.


I recall driving through the neighborhood a few days later and seeing all those flags sprouting from car windows and front lawns and apartment balconies. There was a grim-faced middle-aged black guy getting out of a mechanic's pickup down the block, and as I drove slowly up the street I saw his American flag on the ladder rack, and he looked at me and waved and gave a little nod and it would've been laughable in a John Cougar Mellencamp video from the 1980s. But I just started weeping like a jackass.



Ken is a pro; he'll watch the misery and the agony and calmly take notes on it all, then write 30 paragraphs so sharp and precise you could use them to carve your initials on a carbon molecule. Afterwards, because he's a human being, he'll cry. He won't sleep. He'll drink till dawn. And he'll send you e-mails so damn wonderful that you read them aloud to whoever's nearby, just to hear the words spoken.

Whatever. More Ken Laynes. Less murdering bastards. Roll on October, and 2003 and beyond.

LILEKS IMAGINES blogwriting as it might appear on op-ed pages:


Screw This

by William Safire


Do NOT mix gin and Jack Daniels, no matter how good looking the bartender is. My head feels like the last stake in the Transcontinental Railroad, hammered in place by fifty guys who had to have their picture taken swinging the hammer and swinging it hard. I need a hamburger.

posted by krusty bill 2:47 pm (permalink)



Which leads one to wonder … what if the op-ed pages were published in blogs? You'd end up with no-hit clunkers like these:


WIMPS! You might think the United States would have an elevated debate before deciding to launch a major war against another country. But it's simply had a childish game of chicken, with different factions sneering at one another: "You're a wimp!" "No - you're a wimp!"

posted by MooDoo 1:03 pm (permalink) Comments: 0

SCEPTICISM OR APPREHENSION OR INSECURITY? For most of the three decades since Watergate, Americans have retained a healthy, democratic skepticism about their Presidents. In this new era of apprehension and insecurity, however, White House flacks and their friends in the national media have seized on the changed public mood to encourage an opposite tendency.

posted by Jo Jo the Dogfaced Boy 4:26 pm (permalink) Wanna be sayin' somethin'? (sayings: 0)

EFFECTIVE SPEECH MADE: Tony Sanchez, Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, made an effective speech at the state convention here.

posted by Hag Lumpster 11.:55 am (permalink) Please comment. Please.


SLOWLY IT BUILDS:


Australia will send two RAAF P-3C maritime patrol planes to the Persian Gulf to join the war on terror, Defence Minister Robert Hill said today.


FREE WILLY II: THE AVENGENING

PROFESSOR BUNYIP has a primordial vision: the Sontagasaurus approaches.

CRIKEY cops a Fisking!

AUSTRALIAN ARTIST George Gittoes was commissioned to produce a public work marking the anniversary of September 11. What did he come up with? Here's George's description:


I wanted these images to say the biggest, most powerful nation in the world has gone off to Afghanistan, one of the most poverty stricken, desperate places, tried to find an elusive enemy and failed … That's why in the other two panels I've focused on a young boy and woman who were casualties of the violence in Afghanistan.



Sounds like a dandy bit of September 11 art, doesn't it? No mention of 3,000 dead. Nothing of New York. Nothing about September 11 at all, in fact.

George is now upset that the people who commissioned his bunch of junk have decided not to display it. Naturally, the ABC has rallied to George's cause; this latest crushing of dissent was the lead item on last night's 7.30 Report. Said reporter Mick Bunworth:


It's a curious decision given that Mr Nonda Katsalidis, considered to be one of Melbourne's most avant-garde architects, has previously commented that he wants the Republic Tower's artwork to challenge people and make them stop and think.



Apparently George's work made the tower's residents think about stopping it. Good for them. George, meanwhile, is bereft:


I felt crushed by this. I think the one thing an artist has to sustain is their sense of self-esteem. Like, I'm a pretty poor artist.



You said it. By the way, George's "art" is titled "War on Terra" – a mocking reference to George W. Bush's Texan pronunciation. George perhaps hasn't realised that most Australians pronounce "terror" exactly the same way. (Maybe that's why a disproportionate number of donations to this site come from the Lone Star state; we share a common language).

Melbourne's St Paul's Cathedral has decided to display the worthless paintings. Fools.

BELLA! Italy loves women:


ROME, Italy (AP) -- Rome has conferred honorary citizenship on a woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in Nigeria but was acquitted on appeal following an international outcry.

Safiya Hussaini, carrying her infant daughter, Adama, received the honour from Mayor Walter Veltroni in the capital's Campidoglio square.



Not everybody is happy about this.


Back home, the news of Hussein's voyage to Rome angered some.

"I was against the invitation from the beginning," the state governor said on Monday on Sokoto State Radio. "I will write to President Obasanjo and ask him to explain why Safiya was allowed to travel to Rome."



Go suck a rock, governor.

LAWYERS on linkage. David E. Sorkin defends the linky against the unlinkables.

WELL DONE, Melbourne Age. Two of the worst anti-West columns you've ever published, and you had to do it on September 11. This letter to the editor almost counterbalances them, however:


The scenes of September 11, 2001, brought our values to the surface - values that for too long had been buried too deep to find expression, values shared with the grieving New Yorkers. But soon, other values were exposed as well, in scenes that we observed with incredulity.

Scenes such as "peace protesters" abusing servicemen for defending their country – the country that paid the protesters unemployment benefits - against dictators who would herd them off the streets and into their armies.

Scenes such as privileged students denouncing the United States for defending a way of life that funded their universities and protected their freedoms from regimes that prescribe dress and behaviour according to the dictates of the Koran.

Scenes such as Green politicians piously demanding that we sacrifice our industries, jobs and living standards to protect endangered species of rodents and lichens, while denouncing the US for going to war to protect its endangered citizens.

Scenes such as media icons using their freedom of the press to malign a mourning US for its alleged aggression against terrorist-sponsoring countries.



There's more. Go read John Dawson's entire missive.

THAT WEIRD FLAG with the snake and the stripes … what's that about? A reader in Washington DC sends, for the benefit of Australian readers, this Pentagon memo explaining why the First Navy Jack will appear on U.S. naval vessels from September 11. You'll see the flag during coverage of the commemorations. The "Union Jack"* referred to is naval talk for the Stars and Stripes:


SUBJ/DISPLAY OF THE FIRST NAVY JACK ON BOARD ALL U.S. NAVY SHIPS//

1. PURSUANT TO REF A, THE FIRST NAVY JACK WILL BE FLOWN ON BOARD ALL U.S. NAVY SHIPS IN LIEU OF THE UNION JACK DURING THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM. TO HONOR THOSE WHO DIED DURING THE ATTACK OF 11 SEP 01, ALL AFLOAT COMMANDS WILL COMMENCE FLYING THE FIRST NAVY JACK AT MORNING COLORS ON 11 SEP 02. THIS DISPLAY OF THE FIRST NAVY JACK IS AN AUTHORIZED EXCEPTION TO SECTION 1258 OF REF B.

2. THE FIRST NAVY JACK IS A FLAG CONSISTING OF A RATTLESNAKE, SUPERIMPOSED ACROSS 13 HORIZONTAL ALTERNATING RED AND WHITE STRIPES WITH THE MOTTO "DON'T TREAD ON ME." THE JACK WAS FIRST EMPLOYED BY COMMODORE ESEK HOPKINS IN THE FALL OF 1775 AS HE READIED THE CONTINENTAL NAVY IN THE DELAWARE RIVER. HIS SIGNAL FOR THE WHOLE FLEET TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY WAS THE STRIPED JACK AND ENSIGN FLOWN AT THEIR PROPER PLACES. THE TEMPORARY SUBSTITUTION OF THIS JACK REPRESENTS A HISTORIC REMINDER OF THE NATION'S AND NAVY'S ORIGIN, AND WILL TO PRESERVE AND TRIUMPH.

3. NON-DEPLOYED SHIPS AND CRAFT AUTHORIZED TO FLY THE FIRST NAVY JACK WILL RECEIVE AN INITIAL FIRST NAVY JACK VIA THEIR LOCAL FLEET AND INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY CENTER'S LOGISTIC SUPPORT CENTER REPRESENTATIVE. DEPLOYED SHIPS WILL RECEIVE THEIR FLAG VIA FPO. DISTRIBUTION COMMENCED 27 AUG 02. THREE ADDITIONAL FLAGS, ONE HOLIDAY AND TWO REGULAR, WILL BE FORWARDED TO EACH AFLOAT COMMAND THROUGH COMMERCIAL VENDOR AT A LATER DATE. ADDITIONAL QUANTITIES WILL BE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE STOCK SYSTEM AFTER DEC 02.

4. AN ACTIVE PUBLIC AFFAIRS POSTURE IS ENCOURAGED TO HIGHLIGHT THIS INITIATIVE. LOCAL COMMANDS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICERS SHOULD FACILITATE COVERAGE TO INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL MEDIA ON THE FLYING OF THE FIRST NAVY JACK ON BOARD U.S. NAVY VESSELS 11 SEP 02.



*UPDATE. My error: "Union Jack" is navy jargon for just the stars, not the stripes, and is more generally known as the Naval Jack. Thanks to the many who wrote to correct me.

NICE PICTURE of Damian Penny, except the The Telegram Online airbrushed out his fangs.

9.10.2002

MORE ON WORLD HUG DAY: Juan Gato has discovered a way to crack open the hug website's Pledge-A-Hug section. He's removed six pledged hugs.

Also, check out the celebrity hug endorsements. Here's one from Australian Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja:


Congratulations on coordinating an attempt at the 'World's Biggest Hug'. This hug for peace is timely in light of the uncertainty, domestically and internationally, and the need for tolerance and compassion. I applaud your sentiment and wish you the very best.



Stott Despoja was recently railroaded out of the leadership of her party following accusations by party members that she was "dictatorial". Every elected member of the party hates every other member. Another endorsee is freak show pianist David Helfgott:


I love hugging as it makes me feel nice and happy, also feel snug, safe and sound with arms around people. It is much better than fighting and so it is better to kiss than kill. In the 60's they said "make love not war". Let us do that. Just keep it simple.



Well said, Forrest Gump. Independent member of parliament Robert Oakeshott offers this observation:


Ever tried to make the victory 'V' symbol with your fingers? How about the peace 'V' symbol? Ever wondered why they are the same? Maybe because peace is victory. Let our generation be the one to win the peace!



Maybe we will, once you hugbunnies quit feeling each other up and start talking war.

UPDATE. Jim Treacher has submitted his own hug poem to Hug Head Office:


We've got the War on Terrorism,

Got the War on Drugs,

But now the time has come to wage

A War on Fucking Hugs.


You think I want you touching me,

You stupid hippie freak?

I'll shoot you in your hippie face

And dump you in a creek.


But as the bullet hits your skull

And tears a hole right through it,

Just keep in mind that YOU'RE the one

To blame -- you drove me to it.

ANTI-AMERICANISM runs so deep at the Sydney Morning Herald that even its television guide is infected. Here's an excerpt from Herald TV writer Bruce Elder's preview (no link available) of a September 11 documentary, published in Monday's SMH:


Just remember that while terrorists killed more than 3000 people in the events of 9/11 that 150,000 die each year (that's nearly 3000 a week) because of drunk driving throughout the United States.

Perspective. That is what is needed most but today is just an opportunity for everyone to engage in hyperbole, sentimentality and emotional dishonesty.



Let's talk a little about perspective, hyperbole and honesty. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 17,448 people died in alcohol-related road accidents in the US last year – around 2,665 fewer per week than Elder alleges. The total of all traffic fatalities is less than a third of Elder's claim for fatalities resulting solely from drunk driving.

Stupid Bruce Elder thinks a town the size of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is erased every year by drunks. Actually, the thought of that probably makes him quite happy. Click here to send a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald.

ON SATURDAY, the Sydney Morning Herald published this Chomskyite drool by Geoff Kitney:


As the US Administration's attention shifts from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, the atmosphere remains unconducive to frank and open debate about the reasons for the September 11 attacks and the underlying causes of terrorism.

Patriotism, unity in the face of external threat and moral revulsion are powerful forces working against objectivity, sceptical analysis and raising uncomfortable questions. Questioning is too easily labelled as appeasement or, worse, sympathy for the evil-doers.



On Monday, the Herald rewarded Kitney by appointing him political editor. Bring on the frank and open debate …

THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION meets for informal talks here in mid-November. In preparation, those peaceful Indymedia imps – who are never violent and wouldn't dream of, say, throwing marbles under a police horse, or firing objects from slingshots – have just published their complete WTO protester equipment list.

Included are marbles. And slingshots. And baseball bats.

OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD, and al Qaeda confirms it. In the Sunday Times article referred to here – not available from the Times unless you pay a fat subscription fee, or if you have a print edition of Monday's Australian – the fifth-last paragraph contains some dandy information. The writer is al-Jazeera television's Yosri Fouda, and the people he's talking about are al Qaeda honchos Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:


Before I met Khalid and Ramzi, I had thought the chances of [bin Laden] being alive were 50-50. Now … I have changed my mind.

Khalid made a slip of the tongue, referring to bin Laden in the past tense.



Even The Australian, in its online summary of Fouda's piece, apparently missed this. Hot enough down there, Osama?

UPDATE. The Times has realised it missed its own scoop, and published this in Monday's paper:


A slip of the tongue by one of Osama bin Laden's top henchmen seems to have betrayed al-Qaeda's most potent secret: its charismatic leader is dead.

The blunder was made by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has confessed to being the operational mastermind behind the September 11 attacks.



9.09.2002

BRUCE HILL reports from deep within enemy territory – an Australian media organisation:


People are starting to look at me oddly when I don't join in the ritual daily condemnation of George Bush, and the few times I've said that I agree with Howard about attacking Iraq, there's been a stunned silence. Most people put it down to me being identifiably Jewish I think. "Oh, that's Bruce. He's Jewish" they'll say.

I barely kept it together the other day when one particular loud, obnoxious and almost invariably stupid sub-editor held forth on how the Iraqi army was going to be dug in in the cities and would whip the US military like a red-headed stepchild "because they'll be defending their families against invaders". This man chooses what news you will hear! He's the one who selects the stories, re-works them into the right style, and puts the bulletins together.



Oh, the stories I could tell … about the Sydney Morning Herald reporter phoning in news of John Howard's election victory in 1996: "We've lost." Or The Age writer who vowed to never write a bad word about Greenpeace, "because there's still so much work to do." Or the senior News Ltd editor who refers to Keating's prime ministership as "the good old days". Or the News Ltd columnist who will argue for hours that Cuba is not a dictatorship. Or the ABC staffers who told me that John Howard is racist because he reduced funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

No wonder I became a freelancer. Any other journalists have some crazy bias stories? Send 'em in. All identities will be concealed.

THE SECRET to hug avoidance is not to shun the hugger, but to use the hugger's tactics against him. You know, kind of like karate. When the unwelcome hug occurs, simply hug back, and continue hugging – harder and harder. Don't say anything; use all your energy for the hug. Concerned friends will soon be slapping at you and screaming, "He's turning blue! You're killing him! Let him go!"

Word will quickly spread within the hugging community. You will never be troubled again.

Why am I telling you this? Because Wednesday is World Hug Day. Certain people would have you believe that hugging will solve the problems of September 11. Huggers are anti-Western scum:


We are not completely blameless for this situation, after all it was the CIA that has trained the accused Osama Bin Laden, and the insensitive policies pursued by the west that awoke their rebellion. Let us all see and treat each other as human beings in the one family with the love and respect we deserve.



The key word is deserve. While you're checking out the site, be sure to visit the poetry page:


As long as there is a world

There will always be war and peace

The more one is desired

The more likely is the other



So to ensure peace, we must desire war? I can live with that. The huggy people generously allow you to contribute samples of your own verse. I've been sending them infantile peace poems all day:


If I could meet Osama

I'd ask if it was brave

To kill so many people

And why he lives inside a cave


If I could meet Osama

I'd say, "Please be nice instead."

Then I'd whip out my revolver

And shoot the motherfucker dead


-- by Timmy T. Timson, age 5



They haven't published any of my Timson poems yet. Maybe they will on World Hug Day. I can hardly wait!

IN ORDER to protest inadequate progress on environmental issues at the World Summit in Johannesburg, Greenpeace demonstrators hung banners from the statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Makes sense. In their next protest, against Japanese whaling, Greenpeace activists will cook marshmallows in Belgium or scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge humming Enya tunes.

"'ISLAM' IS HOW MY ARAB BROTHER SAYS 'LOVE'". Colby Cosh exclusively reveals Frampton Central High's September 11 tribute plans.

JOHN HAWKINS presents another collection of his excellent Quotes of the Damned. This time he explores the animal rights movement.

GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE: Researchers have discovered that alcohol makes members of the opposite sex seem more attractive.

HEED THE teachings of wise man Osama bin Laden, urges this letter to The Australian, which also claims that the murder of 3,000 people on September 11 was a "monument to peace":


On the anniversary of September 11, it is of value to reflect on the causes of this event, particularly as they are still present and likely to provoke similar attacks in the future.

At about the same time as George Bush was asking why the US was hated, Osama bin Laden was trying to explain it to him.

Bush was told the US would know no peace until US troops were out of the Islamic holy land, the punitive sanctions against Iraq were ended and a solution was found for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees resulting from the formation of Israel.

Unfortunately, Bush didn't listen, or if he and his Government did hear, they were too arrogant to even contemplate the effect that US foreign policy might be having on the Islamic world. As a result, we find ourselves on the brink of another war. There is a tragedy perhaps greater than the innocent lives lost in the September attack, or greater even than the number of innocent Afghanis killed by US bombs.

The real tragedy was that the attack did not make US more introspective and as a result, more just in its dealings with the Arab world.

The deaths of all those in the two towers should have been a monument to peace; instead it has become a monument to war-mongering.

Bob Lane

Warwick, Qld



Bad us. We don't know a monument to peace when bin Laden puts one right in front of us.

NORAH VINCENT, online for all of five minutes, has already become quite the blog snob:


I must say that the so-called blogosphere, liberating as it can be, is—as I have had the misfortune of discovering in recent days—also full of nasty riffraff and wannabe pundits who because they haven’t an earnest, original idea in their heads, fill their empty existences sniping impotently at legitimate targets. By legitimate targets I mean people who have actually had some measure of success in their professional lives, people who get published regularly in the mainstream press because, yes, they have a certain degree of talent, but moreso because they have something more to say on a weekly basis than "boo hoo" or "look ma, no hands."



That's an unusual definition of "legitimate targets". Vincent continues:


Sadly, as one friend of mine put it recently, the internet is something of an "echo chamber," and this means that even the flimsiest vitriol gets posted and reposted, annotated and updated ad nauseam until the accumulated pettifogging becomes a kind of beslobbered palimpsest that looks and reads like a snot rag.



Some do, some don't. It's a big bloggy world. And what does Vincent mean by this:


Web real estate is expensive! If you like the site, toss me some coin to help put a virtual roof over my head!



Her site is hosted by BlogSpot. It's free.

THE ADVERTISING squeeze isn't the only reason Fairfax profits are down 58%. Consider what they're selling.

FORMER UN BOOSTER Colin Powell is now suggesting a unilateral attack on Iraq. Australia, meanwhile, seems prepared to back the US in either case, meaning that unilateral may not be so unilateral after all. And Britain would most likely be part of the "unilateral" assault as well.

RADIO NATIONAL host Phillip Adams is Australia's most politically correct media personality. Not for him the crude antics of the shock jock, or the degenerate behaviour of the popular.

Phil is only interested in big, important issues. According to British crime novelist Lauren Henderson, these include breasts. Specifically, hers. This is Henderson's account of her appearance on Phil's show last October, as recorded in her online diary:


Then I have the last interview of the day, a late-night show hosted by a bloke called Phillip Adams who is very big over here. As soon as I walk into the studio, he says to me: "But you're attractive! I thought you'd be an old feminist boiler!" Off-air, natch. This is rich coming from a bald old guy with a bushy beard and a paunch like a kangaroo. The interview, which is done live, is an obstacle course. He does his best to patronise me (and the other interviewee, Sue Turnbull from Sisters in Crime) by referring repeatedly to crime novels as trash. Finally I decide there's no point playing nice and point out firstly that Somerset Maugham repeatedly sang the praises of crime novels. Doubt Phillip has ever read any Somerset Maugham, so this holds him for a moment. Then he says that people get addicted to them, disapprovingly, and I say that Ian McEwan says that Angela Carter is his favourite drug, so being addicted to books is no indication that they're cheap and nasty. Finally he says he likes to read Patricia Cornwell but not in public, so I fix him with a beady eye and say, 'But Phillip, you should come out!' He boggles at me and I add: 'Take that Patricia Cornwell out of the brown-paper jacket and read her on the bus with pride!' Although I hold my own this is very wearing and I'm glad when it's over -- he clearly wanted us on the show just to show off at our expense, so I hope I knocked that on the head. Afterwards, off-air, he says to me: "You're good on the radio..." and staring at my bosoms, he adds thoughtfully: "You're very bouncy." Stagger home to Robert who is ensconced in blissful harmony reading some intellectual tome after a healthy day of gym and steamed vegetables, and decompress by slagging off Adams and all his works for half an hour. At least Adams' producer came out to me afterwards and said she wanted to interview me for a series she's doing on crime novelists, so something good came out of it.



Last year Phil described a show I co-presented on Radio National as "smug, complacent, matey, boffo boy stuff". Judging by Henderson's claims, Phil knows what he's talking about.

SEVERAL READERS have been in touch with Janet McCalman, the Melbourne academic who thinks Americans who don't read quality newspapers or listen to public radio are "great dangers".

Douglas Morris (LtCol, USAF, ret.), of North Carolina (where, he writes, "there hasn't been a lynching all week") sent a note taking issue with many of McCalman's arguments, and received this in reply:


Dear Douglas,

I have visited America. I read a lot about it. I even teach some American history and I also belong to a rich racist country …



And so on. In her entire life, McCalman has probably never come close to the moral clarity Morris revealed in his response:


The good thing to come out of Sep 11 was... NOTHING! Thousands of people are dead ... fried, crushed, suffocated, incinerated, smashed to gelatin on the pavement, blown up, riddled with bullets, bled to death from shrapnel, consumed in fire, crushed and suffocated in caves ... No, nothing good resulted. We ain't doin' this for the "good" it may bring to the world, we're doing it to remove one kind of evil (I'm an atheist, so don't read-in some religious meaning here). A surgeon doesn't do "good," he removes "bad."

We certainly do regret innocent losses. Contrary to your news sources, we are very human. The damage to innocent lives has been directly caused by the insanity of their captors who, thanks to us, are no longer in much of a position to wreak havoc on them or on other innocents.

That's not "good," that's horrible.



I get paid to write, but damned if I've ever written anything as worth reading as that. September 11 was bad. It took a military man – and not a pacifist academic – to tell us.

IF YOU live in Sydney or Brisbane and are sick of being jerked around by Ten's coverage of the football, head on over to OBIS for the phone numbers and e-mail addresses you need to make your feelings known.

9.08.2002

NOAM? PILGER? Moore? Rall? The rest of you peacenik trash? It's time to report for duty.

ORGANISE AN anti-Islam movement in Saudi Arabia or an anti-Saddam party in Iraq. See how many limbs you have left after your first speech. Meanwhile, in the tolerant West


Extremist muslim clerics will meet in London on September 11 to celebrate the anniversary of al-Qaeda's attacks on America and to launch an organisation for Islamic militants.

The conference, which will be attended by the most radical mullahs in Britain, will argue that the atrocities were justified because Muslims must defend themselves against armed aggression.

It will launch the Islamic Council of Britain (ICB), which will aim to implement sharia law in Britain and will welcome al-Qa'eda sympathisers as members.



The crème de la scum of Britain's anti-British Muslim elite are tipped to appear, including Omar Bakri Mohammed, who wants to establish Islam as the planet's only religion. Hey, anti-globalists! Sounds like this guy should be on your enemy list.

Abu Hamza al-Masri, head goon from Supporters of Sharia, will also be there, as will the Islamic Liberation Party's Imran Waheed. Waheed is so wa-hated that his gang is even banned in Muslim countries.

But not in England. Three cheers for tolerant whitey!

"WE CAN'T STOP HERE, THIS IS BAT COUNTRY." Bill Quick describes a wild encounter with Hunter S. Thompson, back in the days when the Doctor was terrifying instead of terror-appeasing.

AREN'T WHALES supposed to be intelligent?


OSLO (Reuters) - Keiko the killer whale, star of the "Free Willy" movies, came to the wrong place for new friends when he arrived in Norway this week -- the only nation in the world that hunts whales commercially.



Smart move, Free Willy. You'll be Norge food within days.

AUSTRALIAN ACADEMIC Janet McCalman, writing in The Age, discusses hamburgers, American ignorance, and the good things that may result from September 11:


I find myself responding to the anniversary of September 11 with mixed feelings. In the avalanche of words that will swamp the world's media, many clever and wise as well as foolish and perhaps even wicked things will be said.



Well, we can't say she didn't warn us.


Are Manhattan lives that much more valuable than Indian or Chinese or Chechnyan or Afghan or Middle Eastern ones?



Beats me. Why not ask the Chinese or Indian or Middle Eastern relatives of people who died in the World Trade Centre?


The irony is that America is itself a dangerous society for civilians. Much of the US is blighted by violence perpetrated by disturbed individuals, marginalised minorities, ideological extremists and organised criminals.



Not to mention death-crazed Islamites in hijacked jets. But I guess they don't count. They weren't American.


More people die in the US every day from food poisoning than were killed by criminally disseminated anthrax. In this past 12 months there has been more danger in hamburgers than in contaminated mail. But while the food adulteration outrages may inspire a best-selling book, death by hamburger does not impel a clampdown on filthy practices in abattoirs and cattle feeding.



Ever heard of the USDA, Janet?


The danger from terrorists is seen to be qualitatively different. First, it is random and individuals cannot protect themselves by personal decision-taking, as they can when they refuse to consume fast food and ground beef.



Thus Janet ends decades of scholarly debate on the elusive distinctions between hamburgers and terrorism. Who knew it could be so simple? One is something that you eat, and the other is a means by which people try to kill you! Eureka!


Second, it is an act of hate towards what you represent and enjoy, rather than an act of indifference to your health - a sin of commission rather than omission.



And yet another point of difference! Why, it's as though hamburgers and terrorism are almost entirely different things!


I have a photograph of a lynching in the southern US in the inter-war period. Two African-Americans hang by their neck from a tree, and beneath seethes a crowd of gloating men and women – revelling in their hate and intoxicated with their own power.



What? No hamburgers?


It is a terrible thing to discover that others hate and want to kill you. And it's a terrible thing to no longer feel safe, particularly when you have been told since infancy that yours is the greatest country in the world, the land of the free with the best democratic system the world has known.



As opposed to children in other lands, who are constantly reminded of their gross inferiority. "Sleep well, little Pedro, and remember: you live in a hellish deathscape, your leaders are cowardly and worthless in every way, and people the world over laugh at your shame. G'night."


Of course, many Americans are wiser than this and are appalled at the losses of civil rights, press freedom and open debate that the war on terror has licensed.



Cite one example.


But there are a lot of other good folks who don't read quality newspapers or watch public broadcasting or travel overseas unprotected by tourist buses. These are the folks enveloped in the bubble of American insularity. These are the folks who know almost nothing about the outside world and far too little about their own.



Stupid "folks". They should be forced to read the New York Times, listen to NPR, and backpack through Estonia.


Great danger for the world lies in their ignorance and naivety.



Sure, Janet. Iowa retirees reading USA Today and staying in London hotels on their first overseas vacation are a "great danger for the world". Run for your lives! Here comes old Mrs. Hermann, and she's tuned to the gospel station!


But the shocking events of September 11 may have served some good purpose if they awakened the complacent in the world's greatest democracy to their lowly place in the affections of the poor and struggling. In a ghastly way, the "war on America" may signal a belated coming of age.



Allow me to quote the byline information helpfully provided: Janet McCalman teaches history of health and medicine at Melbourne University. E-mail: janetsm@unimelb.edu.au

UPDATE. Professor Bunyip dissects McCalman's article with the precision and grace you'd expect from a senior academic.

MARGO CAUSES HAPPINESS. From Milan, Italy, reader D. says "Grazie molte!" to the Sydney Morning Herald's word-scrambling Webdiarist:


When my computer has tantrums, I panic and my English goes down the drain. Second languages are like some people, full of charm but unpredictable in a crisis. Reading Margo Kingston snippets really picks me up. Her English is like a thick wall of fog and she doesn't even have my excuse!



Fogwall Kingston has more fans outside of Australia than she does within. Perhaps she should embark on an international speaking tour: Margopalooza!

THE ROTTWEILER has located another suspect Adams. This one is allegedly named James. The earlier dubious Adams was John. Could be some kind of bunko gang. Remain vigilant.

HUGH MACKAY is talking to himself again. Lean closer, and try to decipher what the old man might be mumbling about:


"September 11" - two words now expected to bear the burden of the whole world's fears, the whole world's anxieties, the whole world's gnawing realisation that, no, we never learn: there's always more horror to come, more terror, more chilling evidence of the apparently unlimited human capacity for evil.



Problem is, the whole world wasn't frightened by September 11. A significant proportion of it was delighted.


Oh, we try to minimise the sense of doom by our use of that cheeky diminutive, "9/11", but who are we trying to fool? Are we trying to convince ourselves that, hey, it's just another date, just another milestone, just another entry in history's bleak almanac?



Yes, Hugh, that's exactly what we're trying to do. That's why we reduce every single day to a digits-and-slash combo. "So, what are you doing on 4/9?" "Wasn't 15/3 a blast!" "I want that report finished and on my desk by 3/12."


September 11's significance transcends its appalling death toll. It was also a timely wake-up call to the architects of US foreign policy, in that it was a brutal response to the perception of the US as a swaggering, self-interested meddler in the politics of the Middle East.



"Timely"? As in, the September 11 attacks were carried out at an appropriate or opportune time?


From the other side of the world, the attacks seemed stupefyingly improbable. "Hey, come and look," astonished late-night TV viewers called to their families. "A plane has flown straight into the World Trade Centre tower. Is this really happening? God, there goes another one!"



If I ever write a paragraph as lame as that, please kill me.


We searched desperately for the psychological defences, the distractions, that might protect our minds from the awful possibility that acts of terror might be visited on us, too. For a while, we avoided tall buildings and stared nervously at low-flying aircraft.



Like Santa Claus, Hugh knows everything about us. He knows if we've been good or bad, and he knows if we've been avoiding tall buildings or staring into the sky. He just knows!


The New York Times reported an upsurge in visits to New York art galleries in the days immediately following the attack. Was this because artists have always been better than wordsmiths at explaining us to ourselves, preserving our folk memory, and signposting our futures?



The New York Times also reported a massive boost in newspaper, book, and magazine sales. There's your wordsmith theory blown to hell.


In Australia, the most significant response to the events of September 11 was the declaration, heard repeatedly, that we should embrace those we love, while we have them to embrace.



Where were these declarations repeatedly made? I never heard them. The declarations I heard were about killing those who would destroy us, and as soon as we had the chance.


Perhaps Wednesday's anniversary will remind us of a universal message: we need to live as if there's no tomorrow and, in particular, we need to recognise that love's work - nurturing our relationships, making our peace - is urgent work.



Find a new line of work, Hugh. Urgently.

UPDATE. And for yet more Mackay mugging, try Tex's takedown.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO! And remember the real victims of September 11. San Antonio blogger Mark Harden is justly angered by his local paper:


With the anniversary approaching, what better subject to headline the front page of the Express-News than ... a discussion of how local Muslims have been inconvenienced since the attacks.