THE REVIEWS ARE in on Phillip Adams. US reader Joe G. writes:
"Thanks, man. I made it through a full 18 minutes of that crap. Now I need to go bust my fist open on a brick wall.
"P.S. Your John Howard must be a real peach if Margo Kingston doesn't like him."
She's an infallible reverse indicator, Joe. Brad of Texas endured the whole noxious program:
"I can't believe I sat through all 55 minutes of that aural beating without losing my lunch. What an asswhip.
"My favorite part was when Adams suddenly realizes he's out of time at the end and interrupts whatever the other dummy was saying. Way to watch the clock, Phil.
"Please tell me that this shit is on public radio because no one listens to it. That's how it works here."
And that's the way it works here, too. Some things – like unpopular radio programs funded by people who never listen to them – are universal. Adams, a millionaire, earns $120,000 per year (entirely from taxpayers) to produce four hours of this swill each week. One day the working class he exploits will rise up and smite him.
COMPARE THE Sydney Morning Herald's coverage of the death of a Palestinian policeman – third item online – with the paper's treatment of the death of an Israeli policeman: fourth item online, following local news about a swimming coach's legal problems. Not so great a difference, but in the SMH's afternoon online edition, the murdered Israeli was relegated to the World News section.
And the suicide bombing that killed five in Tel Aviv? That's hidden in the SMH's alleged Middle East full coverage zone.
I get a huge kick out of Mr. Howard — John, he would want me to call him. I'll tell you why. And it goes to my fondness for Australians generally, some of the friendliest, most enjoyable people on earth.
A few years ago, my wife and I were invited to a party hosted by the Australian consulate in New York, at the time of the U.S. (tennis) Open. It was to honor Australian tennis greats, which is almost to say tennis greats, including the greatest, Laver. We were invited because I had come to know Michael Baume, who was serving as the Australian consul in New York.
And then came the prime minister. Here I was, meeting the head of state of a significant country. Referring to my friend and host, the consul, I said rather stiffly, "Mr. Prime Minister, we're so glad to have Mr. Baume here in New York. He's a wonderful asset." And Howard threw his head back and said, "That old son of a bitch? You know, he's part Catholic, part Protestant, part Jew, part everything. He's all mixed up, that son of a bitch. His ancestors are all over the map." And so on. They were great old friends and political comrades. And the prime minister was letting loose on him, talking so freely — to us, journalists, no less.
Hard to imagine Howard describing anyone as a "son of a bitch", although the Prime Minister is notoriously lively among friendly company. And very informal; Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh once greeted Howard with "G'day, mate" when the Prime Minister wandered into the cricket team's dressing room after a game.
Howard seemed delighted. Ceremony isn't a big deal here.
WELCOME TO MY WORLD. Sure, I'm a twisted, brutal person, but I've been made so by decades of exposure to the likes of Phillip Adams and his friends. Click here and you can listen to Phillip interviewing Margo Kingston, Robert Fisk, and Richard Neville about America's sordid, globe-screwing evil.
Once you recover from Phil's shocking radio manner – no commentator on earth can match him for smothering pomposity – pay close attention to Neville's contribution. Highlights include his claim that weapons trade generates one quarter of America's GDP, his mispronunciation of Fisk's name as "Frisk", and this puzzled, unanswered question: "Why do [US] bombers get medals but suicide bombers get despised?"
Phil interrupts at one point to ponder how it is that US television champions liberal values (on shows like Cheers and ER) but America elects George W. Bush. Why? Why?
And don't miss Neville promoting the Internet as a means of "peeling back" the layers of misinformation delivered by the US media. This from a man who believes the Marc Herrold death count.
Even Phil zones out as Numb Nev – who declares that freedom of speech in the US collapsed with the twin towers – tries to build some sort of case for something or other, leading to one of the clumsiest interview conclusions you've ever heard. This is must-listen radio. Australia's taxpayers are proud to have financed it.
WONDERING WHY posting has been so light 'n' lame lately? It's because I'm grimly obsessed with today's Collingwood-Adelaide finals match, that's why. If we – that is, Collingwood – win, we play in the AFL Grand Final.
If we lose, the terrorists will have won.
Whenever I've been in charge of editing articles, newspapers, or magazines, I've always tried to be fair – even to the point of tilting coverage to the Left, lest I be accused of a fascist bias. But I freely admit to frequently and deliberately deleting anti-Collingwood copy. Words of shame and filth have no place in modern journalism, and I will not allow them.
It is possible that at times I've overdone things. It is true that I altered one journalist's copy in 1994 to anticipate a Collingwood win rather than the defeat he predicted, but that was because he was wrong, and I was editor. I stand by this despite Collingwood's eventual loss in that particular game.
We will win in 2002. This is our year.
GREENS SENATOR Bob Brown thinks Australian Prime Minister John Howard should meet with Saddam Hussein; you know, to get Saddam's side of this whole Axis of Evil story. He was interviewed last night by an incredulous Tony Jones:
TONY JONES: Bob Brown, you don't seriously think a prime ministerial visit to Baghdad would achieve anything, do you?
BOB BROWN: I think it would, and I think I will still could have.
Will still could have? Bob's babbling. Later, talking about chemical weapons, Bob makes this point:
It needs on stopped.
You tell 'em, Bobby. Even when his words aren't emerging all a-mangled, Brown doesn't make sense; check this argument for avoiding war with Saddam:
If he does have weapons of mass destruction, the attack might be the thing that gets him to use them.
Go back to talking about trees, Bob. Or talking to them.
JIM CAIRNS, former deputy Prime Minister, should give back the money.
Well, seeing as Jim didn't collect any cash, he should perhaps only apologise to the people he earlier sued. But Junie Morosi collected heaps. Give it back!
THIS IS A FIRST. I've just received a Nigerian scam e-mail that acknowledges Nigerian scam e-mails. What’s more, the author appears to be drunk:
This mail, I know may embarrash you. By embarrashment, I mean coming from somebody you never know or met before, even coming from a country - (Nigeria) noted for dishonest and Fraudalent practises.
Embarrashed? Why should I be embarrashed (hic)? You think I got something to be embarrashed about, buddy? Well, you lishen to me, you email-sending sonofabitch, I'll goddamn teach you a goddamn leshun about embarrashment … you … come back here! I ain't finished talkin' to you yet! Hey!
Well, this is not one of those Scam letters from Nigeria, but from a group of who are in distress and require your assistence. I am Mr.Sunny Irabor the credit controller of ZENITH BANK PLC, LAGOS - NIGERIA I am contacting you basen on your specialisation - PROPERTIES ALLOCATION.
That's my specialisation, all right. Odd that the sender should be aware of that but not know whether I'm a Sir or Madam. Thereafter follows the usual promise of ten million bucks.
A BRILLIANT IDEA from reader Doug Morris:
While New Yorkers ponder the form of a proper memorial and use for the WTC atrocity site, the rest of us should begin pondering the most appropriate replacement for the UN Headquarters site in New York City ... something which could easily be funded by collecting the unpaid parking fines of the UN diplomats and staff.
North Carolina, USA
My suggestion: a gigantic statue of Robert Mugabe ordering Zimbabwean farmers to flee or be killed while UN supplicants applaud. It would be a reverse Statue of Liberty, serving to remind humanity of the values we oppose.
DUMBING DOWN DOWD. Yes, it's possible. This is the headline that ran above MoDo's most recent column in the New York Times:
It's awful and pretentious, but at least it assumes a certain amount of knowledge on behalf of the NYT's readers. Here is the Sydney Morning Herald's headline for the same column:
The SMH isn't a quality broadsheet; it's the world’s only large-format tabloid. Even dumber is the SMH's subheading:
No, not Saddam. That other gun-toting, tough-talking cowboy in the Oval Office
To remove any ambiguity – there are two cowboys in the Oval Office, and Saddam is one of them? – a comma or dash is required. The SMH is getting worse by the day.
THE LATEST column in The Australian mentions John Howard, ABC panic monkeys, Gough Whitlam, lesbians, John Pilger, Osama bin Laden, Joan Kirner, and Malcolm Fraser.
SCOTT RITTER continues to evade crucial questions over his changed position on inspections. James Lileks interviews the man who insists that no threat is present, and that the technology to deliver any future threat is being successfully contained. His claims are literally laughable.
MARGO KINGSTON is attempting to improve Webdiary. Professor Bunyip explains. Meanwhile, Tex reports possibly the most shocking and graphic occurrence of Blair's Law yet observed: last night, within one bleak, ruinous hour, Phillip Adams interviewed Margo, Robert Fisk, and Richard Neville.
Why no John Pilger? Too right-wing?
JANET ALBRECHTSEN launches a two-fisted takedown in response to Media Watch's ideological jihad. Watch the political Ozblogs – already following this conflict intensely – ignite. Here's Albrechtsen's opening salvo:
In January I was interviewed as a potential candidate for what was then the proposed two-person Media Watch panel. I was intrigued. Was the ABC casting its net to include those on the other side of the political divide?
No. Simon West, the ABC television executive who interviewed me, was astounded to hear I was a self-proclaimed conservative. Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, West probed a little further. Surely I was just economically conservative. Surely I was not socially conservative. Across-the-board conservative, I said. The interview was not going well.
Albrechtsen's detailed rejection of Media Watch's claims should give pause to those who've already determined her guilt. Albrechtsen is neither down nor out.
THE ABC thinks it has a story about racial profiling in Australia. But the ABC doesn't know what racial profiling is:
The New South Wales Police have begun racial profiling of criminals. For the past three months, the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and New South Wales Police have been recording criminals' country of birth and that of their parents.
The racial profiling involves gathering information on the ancestry of people arrested by police. The research was partly prompted by the series of gang rapes in Sydney's southwest last year, involving men of Lebanese-Muslim background.
Gathering racial information on all people arrested is far from racial profiling. This helpful definition is provided by the American Civil Liberties Union:
"Racial profiling" occurs when the police target someone for investigation on the basis of that person's race, national origin, or ethnicity. Examples of profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations ("driving while black") and the use of race to determine which motorists or pedestrians to search for contraband.
Until such time as that happens, there's no racial profiling here.
I am very nervous about internet (e-mail) and hope you will not use this method in future disputes. I have a key on the whole espionage, and I'll tell you soon there will be big trouble which is why we are having to act very fast in a speedy fashion. These crazy killers are on a loose! Here is what happen to another man who sends honest offer by Internet (e-mail). First they stick him with snake-stick in his privates, and then the blood drip, then the night pool, then finally the scream-and-holler and the push-push. I cannot believe and hope you are in good health to escape the CIA (e-mail) to run quick and close bank accounts.
Like JKT, Layne is a product of New Orleans. Must be something in the water. Besides murdered tourists, that is. Scream-and-holler!
A SMALL CONTROVERSY is festering here over claims of inaccuracy in coverage of crimes involving Muslims. It's being driven by the ABC program Media Watch, which purports to present a non-biased examination of the press.
Most pundits have overlooked the real controversy, however, which is Media Watch's taxpayer-funded investigation of dissenters and their thought crimes. A couple of weeks ago, Media Watch sent this letter to 11 conservative commentators:
Media Watch is examining reporting and commentary concerning Muslims in Australia.
We have been reviewing your work in the course of our research, and we were hoping you could answer a few questions to help us clarify your opinions on these matters:
1. Do you think that the religion of the men who perpetrated the gang rapes in South Western Sydney was relevant to their crimes? If so, how?
2. Do you see any connections between the attacks of September 11, the flow of boat people to Australia and the gang rapes in South Western Sydney? If so, what are those connections?
3. Do you believe Muslims are more likely to commit crimes than Christians? If so, why? If not, can you direct us to places in your work where you've made it clear that Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than Christians?
"Do you think …" "Do you believe …" Excuse me, but what have the thoughts of journalists got to do with their work? Why were similar questions not sent to left-leaning columnists? (Just because they write the nice friendly things doesn't mean they don't secretly seethe with racism. I know more than one closet bigot lefty). And who are Media Watch to demand evidence of correctness? Do your own research, Senator.
Miranda Devine's response to the Media Witch Hunt was perfect. Meanwhile, nobody seems to care that freedom of thought, much less freedom of speech, is being challenged.
TERRY LANE quotes a report that claims conservatives more often experience nightmares during sleep, while leftoids dream contentedly:
Pinkos, especially the female of the species, have dreams of good fortune in which nice things happen. Fascists hardly ever have women in their dreams. Socialists dream of the ladies all the time.
That's as close as they usually get. Lane, himself a lefty, throws doubt on the study by confessing that his dreams align more with the Right. He suffers nightmares aplenty.
And, horribly, I am a dream commie. My unconscious life is unstoppably gleeful. It's a whole freakin' world of grinning elves and delightful antics going on in there. Beloved relatives, some of them long deceased, often drop by.
The explanation for this is simple. The study was conducted in the US. Here, in the southern hemisphere, the political dream polarity is reversed.
THIS WASHINGTON POST article on the similarities between George W. Bush and Andrew Jackson includes something of which I was not previously aware:
Bush keeps a scorecard with photos of wanted terrorists and checks them off as they are killed.
LOCAL GREENS are trying to stop certain groups running for office in an upcoming state election. Their argument: small, so-called "front parties" dupe voters into giving them support. My counter-argument: the Greens are a front party, and they dupe voters into giving them support. So go ban yourselves, lumberheads.
ROB McGEE'S otherwordly giggle-Gothic comedy-horror blog has risen from the ashes "like some kind of Cinderella, who stirs to consciousness at the hearthside after a coke-fueled 48-hour bender in the back of the pumpkin limo with Prince Charming and a phalanx of bi-curious bodyguards."
Rob is now turning his attention towards the world of current events. This does not bode well for the world of current events.
SCOTT RITTER is twisted and bitter:
Scott Ritter, the former United Nations arms inspector, has become increasingly irascible in his attempt to challenge America's case for going to war with Iraq.
His ill-temper was all too apparent yesterday when an interview on the BBC's Today programme on Radio Four turned into a long exchange of accusations with the presenter, Jim Naughtie, over who was "playing games".
Asked by Mr Naughtie whether "nobody seems to be telling the truth except you in your own mind", Mr Ritter replied: "Back off just one second, buddy. Don't start playing this game either. I have not been contradicted on a single point of fact in four years. If you want to play this game, then play fair, OK?"
Scary. Prolonged exposure to Saddam Hussein is turning Ritter into a Saddam replicant.
McDONALD'S RESTAURANTS promote diversity. Alan Wood explains:
The number of McDonald's outlets is a pretty good global index of economic prosperity and cultural diversity. Australia has hardly become a culinary monoculture because of the spread of the Golden Arches.
Although there are 712 McDonald's, there are more than 4000 Chinese restaurants, more than 2000 other Asian restaurants, more than 2500 Italian restaurants and 10,600 that style themselves as modern Australian.
Australian Jews today won a landmark court case after a judge ruled material published on the internet by a Holocaust revisionist was insulting and racially motivated.
In what is believed to be the first case involving the internet and the Racial Discrimination Act, Federal Court Justice Catherine Branson ruled Adelaide Institute director Fredrick Toben acted illegally by publishing his claims.
HEALER, ACTIVIST, GURU and new age satire blogger Derek Sapphire condemns Janet Albrechtsen for suggesting "we all wanted to kill the bastards" after 9/11:
If the "bastards" she speaks of were the "terrorists" (i.e. freedom fighters), then I certainly did not. I wanted to give those guys a big, squishy, life affirming hug and say, "Well done, fellas! You just struck a blow for humanity and freedom!" But I couldn't, unfortunately. They were all dead, along with their "victims" (i.e. oppressors).
So I couldn't hug them. But I danced. I danced in the garden with my cat Jocelyn.
BLOG IS thicker than water. Lefty blogger Robert Corr alerted me to weird Blogspot problems at my site last night. Given that we're absolutely opposed on almost every political issue, it was a very gentlemanly thing to do.
Those problems, by the way, seem to be spreading. Now, back to the mutual loathing with the attacking and the abuse and the laughing and the mockery …
REMEDIAL ASSISTANCE has arrived. Margo Kingston need struggle no longer, thanks to the kind help of wordsmith Imre Salusinszky:
Like you I am constantly frustrated by Margo's inability to master the use of the apostrophe in combination with the word "Yanks".
Indeed, as an English professor, and co-author of a widely used textbook on undergraduate writing (readily available from Nelson Australia), I am probably even more annoyed by it than you are.
I should add that, luckily, most first-year students do not exhibit writing problems as severe as Margo's.
What Margo needs to do is to memorise a set of "sample phrases", and bring these to mind as she employs different cases, or inflections, in her writing. I suggest the following:
•"Iraq has caved -- the Yanks were right again!" (plural, subjective case)
•"In fact, I think I might need to get down on my stinking commo knees and apologise to the Yanks." (plural, objective case)
•"And what's more, it turns out that President Bush isn't stupid after all. In fact, the Yank's a genius." (singular, subjective case)
•"No, where Dubya is concerned, my comrades and I are not even worthy of polishing that Yank's leather cowboy boots." (singular, possessive case)
•"It boils down to this. I've spent the last 12 months ritually denigrating the Yanks (plural, objective), but now that the Yanks (plural, subjective) have come through for Australia and the world yet again, it is high time that I kissed those Yanks' (plural, possessive) perspicacious arses!"
I would be grateful if you would communicate these suggestions to Margo via your blog.
In lesson two, Margo will receive instruction on the correct spelling of Paul McGeough's name. Despite working alongside Margo at the Sydney Morning Herald for years, McGeough is reduced by her to a Mc-less "Geough".
BETRAYED BY MARGO! Mere weeks after declaring that Webdiary is "a place for engagement, not personal abuse", the Sydney Morning Herald's Semiliterate Malcontent Harridan has allowed her sacred chatzone to be overrun with cruel insults. Here's Webdiary contributor Sean Richardson:
It is annoying to see, as usual, that those beating their chests the hardest are those least likely to find themselves holding a rifle or even knowing a soldier personally. Yes I'm talking about you, Tim Blair and Miranda Devine. I complained about this post S-11 too; the haste with which all rightists and leftists sought to prove their ideology with the corpses of the WTC and, in the case of rightists, the courage of soldiers, which they shamelessly co-opt as if it were their own. I wonder, if genetic mummery could make Tim, Mandy or PJ Orourke fit for infantry service, whether the hawkish-ness would survive.
Indeed Devine, even more safely ensconced in the north Sydney bourgeoisie than I am, wants us to adopt a new national religion, wherein we worship the Roman god of war. This brain dead psycho-babble clap trap exposes the depth of their thinking.
I'm, like, so hurt. For a look at the depth of Margo's thinking, check the first paragraph of today's entry:
The latest Newspoll shows that despite John Howard's concerted attempts to close down domestic debate on the Yank's threatened war on Iraq, Australians have gone ahead anyway, and aren't at all happy.
This isn't the first time Mongo has accused a singular Yank of terrorising the planet. Possessive apostrophes are her nemesis. In a radio debate a few months ago, Kingston said she was proud to have received a free (ie, taxpayer subsidised) university education; she sure got her money's worth.
Q: Why does Margo Kingston call them "Yanks"?
A: Because she can't spell "Americans".
Keith Wilson, another member of Australia's Algonquin Round Table, decodes recent global events:
Just who is under threat at this moment? Iraq, Venezuela, recently Afghanistan. What do they have in common? OIL, BABY!
Afghanistan refused to build a Gas pipeline across its country, Venezuela became friendly with Cuba and threatened to limit Oil supply to the US and coincidentally an attempted Coup failed after two weeks as the elected President proved to be too popular.
What's with the random capitals? Margo and her Readers are Stupid.
He smokes fat cigars.
He wears Kenzo suits.
He likes expensive cars.
He sleeps with women other than his wife during business trips.
He says that the collapse of the Soviet Union was "the biggest catastrophe of my life."
Apart from the line about "imagine no possessions", eh, Georgie?
WRIGHT ON. Paul Wright says that the only people in danger of becoming trapped in a Vietnam-style quagmire are the grey-domed boomers who led the 'Nam protests back when most of us were pre-life.
COUSIN TONY will deliver the goods, according to the SMH's Caroline Overington and David Bamber:
The British Government's long-awaited dossier on Iraq will reveal what it claims is the first definitive evidence that Saddam Hussein trained some of Osama bin Laden's lieutenants as terrorists.
A draft version details how two leading al-Qaeda members, Abu Zubair and Rafid Fatah, were trained in Iraq and are still linked to the Baghdad regime.
The dossier, to be presented next week by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is also expected to point to satellite images taken in the past few weeks showing that Iraq has rebuilt three plants to manufacture biological and chemical weapons.
THE MISLEADING HEADLINE in today's Sydney Morning Herald:
Kyoto snub will hit economy: report
The deceptive first paragraph:
Australia stands to lose more economically in the next 10 years by rejecting the Kyoto protocol than it would by signing the international agreement on climate change, according to a report commissioned by the Federal Government.
The crucial information buried in the eighth paragraph:
But Professor McKibbin said he supported the Government's claim that Australia would be hurt economically in the long-term if it ratified Kyoto.
And the unintentionally accurate comment from an environmentalist:
The executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, said the economic case for ratification was now as strong as the environmental case.
HOW DARE I criticise the ABC for lavishing attention on Scott Ritter! Reader Henry A. sends news of a northern backlash:
"Be aware that a portion of your article in yesterday's Australian was read out on our local ABC 747 Toowoomba, Queeensland.
"Some old hand-wringing leftie phoned into our morning announcer, himself an old hand-wringing leftie, Stuart Robertson. Funny how you strike that at the taxpayer-funded ABC.
"The combined hand-wringers took umbrage at your comments on Scott Ritter and his constant appearances on the ABC. They both agreed that the ABC was not in the least bit biased. Fancy that."
Hmmm. How will old Stuart react once he learns that Ritter has been withholding vital information from his ABC comrades? Here's an excerpt from Ritter the Reverser's recent interview with Time magazine:
TIME: You've spoke about having seen the children's prisons in Iraq. Can you describe what you saw there?
RITTER: The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children — toddlers up to pre-adolescents — whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.
He's waging peace. There's your explanation for Ritter's popularity with a certain corrupt Australian public broadcaster. Don't expect anyone at the ABC to ask about child prisons; they're too worried about Iraqi civilians getting hurt.
SO, WHAT are we going to call those people who routinely refer to the September 11 attacks on civilians as attacks on America or the US government, but characterise US attacks on al Qaeda leaders or Iraq's government as attacks on civilians? Readers have several excellent ideas:
Carthaginian Peace writes:
How about "Hananites", in honor of Palestinian Jew-murder apologist Hanan Ashrawi?
Catchy! Almost Biblical, in fact. Tim S. suggests "selectivist equivocrats" before deciding:
Nah, "fucking stupid bastards" works so much better.
Tom R., of Albuquerque, NM (say hi to Little Al!) proposes:
"moral epileptics" … probably insensitive to epileptics, but it shows the involuntary incapacity to think.
Vanessa C., who lived in Australia before returning to her native US, clearly picked up some local dialect:
How about "doublespeaking fuckwits"?
But the best suggestion so far has come from New York City's Maureen D.:
Let's see if "mook" becomes accepted in the high-stakes world of international blogwriting. If it does, we might need to begin a MookWatch.
UPDATE. Scholarly James Morrow joins the debate, presenting various cultural, linguistic, and sociological reasons for his choice of name.
ALL IT TOOK was a few encouraging words from Dubya …
The Saudi foreign minister said Sunday the kingdom would be "obliged to follow through" if the United States needed bases in the kingdom to attack Iraq under U.N. authority.
The comments to CNN by Prince Saud al-Faisal would mark a dramatic change in Saudi policy. In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Saud declared that U.S. facilities in the desert kingdom would be off limits for an attack on Iraq.
MORAG FRASER, editor of unreadable lefty lit-crit-crap-puke journal Eureka Street, has discovered the way to avert war. Apparently there exists in Victoria, Australia, a schoolteacher blessed with magical powers:
In the limbo week that led up to September 11, I met a woman who could tutor George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard to their profit - if only they would stop and listen.
She was not a politician. She wasn't a stateswoman or a sage. She was a schoolteacher. She may never have travelled much beyond the place where she lives and works, but she was articulate, and astounding in her sane tenacity.
Brace yourself for the next line:
We were in a workshop, talking about forgiveness.
Bet whatever money you've got that I'll never willingly find myself in the same situation. Anyway, Morag or Gomog or Ragmop or whoever the hell she is started talking to the magical schoolteacher lady – who only has to deal with Western leaders, not Saddam Hussein or any al Qaeda dude – and quickly discovered the path to peace:
I can tell you a bit about anger, she said. I have this kid in my class. He is the angriest little boy I have ever known.
Do you get angry back? we asked. No.
I am going to stick with this little boy day in day out, she said, stick with him until he is whole. I am going to nurture him, I'm going to love him until he turns back into a happy child.
Sure, Mogog. Saddam Hussein and every other war-begging bastard are just angry children who need love. Lots of hugs for li'l baby Saddam! Then he will be happy, and all humanity will live as one.
In a world that pursues conflict like a snake eating its own tail, she was a model of liberation, a woman who understood, quite simply, how to break chains.
No, she's a schoolteacher with a tough case on her hands. Now get out of the way. The serious people have some regimes to change.
A CERTAIN CLASS of Australian – the artistic elite, we might call them – has come to regard September 11 as one might a television series that's hung around for one season too long. For these people, September 11 is so September 10.
Columnist, arts festival czar, and fatal bore Leo Schofield leads this sensitive, creative class. He's tired of September 11. And that George W. Bush fellow … why, he's so provincial:
Well, it's over and thank God – whose name and assumed approbation seem to have been invoked relentlessly in the sometimes moving, often mawkish and mostly opportunistic commemoration of the bitter events of September 11.
"Events" is the morally-neutral term du jour to describe September 11. Leo's surfing the zeitgeist like a pro.
In a speech that might have been crafted by a fundamentalist preacher or a television evangelist, the Leader of the Free World spoke of "newborn children who will never know their fathers here on earth" and of "gratitude for life and to the Giver of life" and declared that his "deepest national conviction is that every life is precious, because every life is the gift of a Creator who intended us to live in liberty and equality."
His hammy rhetoric seemed secular and exclusionist. It was about the "us" of the US.
Was it? Seems to me that by "every life", Bush may have been referring to, you know, every life.
Bush spoke of and for America and Americans, not for us who are doomed to live in what he and his audience might deem other less fortunate parts of the world.
Well, he is the American President. There’s a clue in the title somewhere.
The Gospel according to George was about "love for our families, for our neighbours, and for our country" and of a "world of liberty and security made possible by the way America leads, and by the way Americans lead our lives", and by implication said "We are the lords of the universe and screw the rest of you."
That's some implication.
"Americans value life," he told us. Wow! So, one assumes, do Bosnians and Serbians and Colombians and Kurds and Muslims and Jews and Inuits and Africans and Australians and just about everyone on the planet.
Not everyone, fat boy. Remember this time last year? Nineteen suicidal jerkoffs? Four hijacked jets? Buildings falling down?
But sometimes there comes a point where life is not worth living, and to sacrifice it to a cause, no matter how bizarre, is an attractive option.
Presumably Leo is talking about our middle-class Islamoid killbot friends, who were funded by a millionaire. They didn't sacrifice themselves because their earthly lives were miserable; they did it to secure everlasting glory in the hereafter as triumphant destroyers of infidel secretaries and devil firemen. Before you condemn Bush as a fundamentalist, check out some of things Osama's bin saying.
It's not as simple as good and evil. It's about having a life worth living or not having one.
Poor kids. The September 11 murderers killed 3000 people because "life was not worth living". Except, of course, they weren't motivated by despair at all. Leo Schofield is getting Mohammed Atta confused with Kurt Cobain.
ROBERT FISK has composed a column so rich in Fiskian goodness that Fisking it is almost redundant. This one's got the lot – paranoid hyperbole, lazy reporting, and, of course, Fisk's sociopathic need to make himself the focus of all the world's concerns. We begin …
This week was a bad week to be an Arab in America. It wasn't, frankly, a great week to be an English journalist either …
Is any week a good week to be Robert Fisk? If he isn't getting whaled on by starving Afghan refugees, he's being forced to speak at a university. The suffering never ends.
George Mason University is in Fairfax, Virginia, just across the county line from Arlington, where Patriot missiles were positioned to ensure America's attackers did not return.
The action is never far away when you're an international superjournalist. Missiles just across the county line!
Hanan Ashrawi, among the sanest and least radical of Palestinians …
That's some high standard you’re holding her to, Bobby. Sort of like being the slimmest of sumo wrestlers, or the least flamboyant hairdresser.
… was in Virginia, lambasted in a co-ordinated campaign by pro-Israeli lobby groups and Christian fundamentalists so virulent in their remarks that the Bush administration gave her bodyguards.
Watch Bush's polling drop once news of this gets out.
"Never have I experienced language like this," she told me. Her daughter Zena – a student at George Mason – says that she did not leave home for days after the attacks last year.
Maybe someone stole the Warrior Princess's horse.
Other Arab students said they could not bear to watch television for the past year.
Why? Upset that XFL got canned?
"The coverage is so anti-Muslim, so anti-Arab that it is disgusting for me to watch," a young woman – who wore an Islamic headscarf – announced. "You can see the effect of the television, the way people look at us. They don't say anything. But it's in their eyes."
Reckless eyeballs are evidence enough of racism for Fisk.
I spoke about the international crimes against humanity of 11 September – as well as the wickedness of Palestinian suicide bombers. I also talked about the massacre of Palestinians in Beirut 20 years ago, with its death toll well over half that of 11 September. Would those Palestinian victims be commemorated, I asked?
Ask this: would Palestinians commemorate September 11, with its death toll of double the Beirut massacre?
I could sense eyes moving suspiciously over the faces of the Muslim students with whom I breakfasted this week.
His spider senses … they're tingling!
But I could also feel the same gaze on a Jewish friend who had lunch with me in New York. All, I suppose, were of "Middle Eastern appearance". Or was this my imagination?
Who knows? How can we tell? What are you talking about?
I flew from Washington National to New York's La Guardia airport. In the pre-flight security check queue, an Egyptian was in front me. He was dark-skinned and his English was poor. The security staff could hear him speaking in Arabic. But they took his boarding card without a word and cheerfully wished him a good flight on this, the most terrible anniversary for anyone – let alone an Arab – to fly to New York. It was I with my distinctly European features, who received the random check; shoes off, computer examined, passport scrutinised.
Butt kicked. Oh, sorry, that wasn't Americans; that was those friendly Afghans.
There were almost 200 empty seats on the flight – the skies over New York must have been haunted by more than enough ghosts that morning – although it's still eery to find how, on the approach to La Guardia, you still instinctively look west over Manhattan and search for the twin towers.
They're not there any more. You might have heard something about it on the news. And it's "eerie".
On my way back to Washington, I took a cab for La Guardia driven by a Korean. He wanted to talk about 11 September and Arabs.
The cab driver interview: last resort of the short-on-copy journalist.
"The Arabs here knew. You see, most of my fellow drivers are Arabs. But from 7 in the morning of 11 September, they were off the streets. They'd all been told not to work in Manhattan after 7am. I didn't see any Arab drivers after that time. Well, of course! They had been warned in advance."
First, the lie was against the Jews: American Jews had been told not to go to work at the World Trade Centre on 11 September, so this pernicious rumour went – they were behind the crimes. Now, as I bumped towards the East river, I was getting the flip side of this mendacious tale: the Arabs of New York were behind 11 September. Surely, I thought, the time must come when the Jews and Arabs of America unite to protect each other.
From Korean cab drivers. Fisk identifies the common enemy!
WE NEED a new word or phrase … something to describe people who routinely refer to the September 11 attacks on civilians as attacks on America or the US government, but characterise US attacks on al Qaeda leaders or Iraq's government as attacks on civilians. Send in your ideas. Bear in mind that "fucking stupid bastards" is already claimed for the chuckleheads over at Warbloggerwatch.
JANET McCALMAN, the Australian academic who believes Americans who don't read "quality newspapers" are a "great danger", doesn't know how to read an e-mail. Bernard Slattery has the details. Best wishes to Deidre!
THE MOTHER of the gang rapist jailed for 55 sweet, sweet years has been barred from seeing her deviant hatchling for two years after she was caught smuggling notes from prison.
JUAN FAST LAP. Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya yesterday howled around Italy's Monza circuit at an average speed of 259.379 km/h – the fastest lap in Formula One history. The UK Telegraph reports:
Juan Pablo Montoya rediscovered his qualifying form to seize pole position for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix in Monza, setting the record for the fastest lap ever seen in Formula One.
The South American broke the record set by Finland's Keke Rosberg - also in a Williams - at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone 17 years ago.
Since Rosberg's frightening Silverstone lap – preceded by Keke calmly stubbing out his cigarette on pit lane – circuits have become slower and safer, many ruined by tight chicanes and other commie-style "improvements". The cars, too, have been neutered. No turbos. No ground effects. No slicks. No 12-cylinder engines.
It hasn't worked. And today might see Montoya (or, more likely, Schumacher) claim the record for the fastest Grand Prix, currently held by Peter Gethin, who won in Italy in 1971 at an average of 242.625 km/h.
SO MANY E-MAILS unanswered. Apologies to everybody, especially the kind donation people. I'll try to catch up. Hits in the past month have been crazy - the total, since December 11, is now above 650,000 - and the inbox is way overloaded.
WHY IS the Sydney Morning Herald obsessed with massively unknown US singer Princess Superstar?
On May 29, SMH rock writer Bernard Zuel wrote this about Miss Superstar; on August 5, the SMH published a piece from the UK Telegraph by Emily Bearn; on September 7, Zuel wrote another adoring article; concerned that not enough was yet known of the Princess, the SMH also provided a video interview.
Yesterday, the SMH reprinted the entire Bearn article they’d already run more than a month ago. What gives?
FISK DOES NOT OVERSTATE REALITY. That's the unique opinion of Sydney Morning Herald liability Alan Ramsey. Pray continue, Al:
Robert Fisk writes from Beirut about the cauldron of the Middle East. He has been doing so for 25 years. Nobody writes with greater authority or standing. His newspaper these days is The Independent of London, one of the great newspapers of the English language.
Excuse me; vomiting. OK. Thereafter follows Ramsey's recitation of typically Fiskian concerns, ending with this:
I am not anti-American and I am not anti-Semitic. I am anti-bullshit. And what I do resent, deeply, is that so many Americans think and behave as if nothing ever happens unless it happens to their country, and then, when it does happen to them, that somehow it is uniquely their experience.
That, to me, is the true lesson of September 11, 2001.
Poor, sad, bitter Al. It’s no surprise that even his old comrades have cut him loose:
I had a political friend of 25 years who took sneering objection to a Saturday column dealing with US policy on Afghanistan post-September 11 last year. We had a sharp, expletive-laden exchange by phone. We have not spoken since.
That friend, not named by Ramsey, is former Labor Party minister Barry Cohen, who was kind enough to write the foreword to Blaming Ourselves: September 11 and the Agony of the Left, to which I contributed a chapter. In that foreword, Cohen describes his feelings in the days following September 11:
Nausea commenced when when I started reading the anti-American tirade in columns of the Sydney Morning Herald … having always regarded myself as being 'of the Left', I resent being lumped in with those who wrote such vile rubbish.
One year on, Ramsey is still churning it out.