NO POSTING from me today. I'm driving down to Melbourne for the Big Game.
WAR AS an act of responsibility – Christopher Hitchens presents the moral case for destroying Saddam:
We have inherited, along with the right to destroy an illegal system of aggressive weaponry, a responsibility for the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples.
They are compelled to live with scarcity and fear in their daily existence, as a result of the policies of a homicidal megalomaniac.
One day, this man's rule will be at an end. On that day, we want to be able to look these people in the eye and tell them that we cared about them, too.
And to the people who continually demand "evidence! Show us fresh evidence! Shiny new evidence!" when evidence already abounds, Hitchens has this rejoinder:
It is almost certainly a mistake to assume anybody's position on Iraq is determined by evidence alone.
After all, last year there was overwhelming evidence of the connection between the World Trade Center aggression, al-Qaeda and the Taliban - and a decisive UN mandate for action - but many on the left opposed military action in Afghanistan, and still do.
The antiwar left don't want evidence. They want avoidance. Nice that this item appears in John Pilger's Daily Mirror; nice, too, that Hitchens has left The Nation. His rehabilitation is almost complete.
THE SEPTEMBER edition of the Sydney Morning Herald staff newsletter (no link available) contains this rousing call to arms:
"We need to continue to think like winners and be front-footed in our pursuit of quality journalism and service of our customers."
The item runs below this quality headline: "Strategic Strategy".
TAXI DRI-DIDDLY-IVER: Like Ned Flanders, Robert De Niro is the son of New York beatniks. "Are you talking to me? Well, hi there, neighbourino!"
TODAY'S COLUMN in The Australian mentions the Collingwood football club (nineteen times), George W. Bush, Eddie McGuire, Jimmy Carter, Ranald McDonald (correct spelling), Mick Malthouse, Donald Rumsfeld, Ron Barassi, the Kennedys, John Wren, Tim Lane, an unnamed Greek communist, Robert Ray, Bruce Ruxton, Paul Keating, Jason Cloke, the UN, and Jarrod Molloy. The theme of the piece should be obvious.
GREG SHERIDAN on the evidence delivered by Tony Blair:
The Blair dossier should transform the debate over the Iraq threat. Either Tony Blair is a monstrous liar or Saddam Hussein is. Take your pick.
PREDICTION: In 2004, every single iVotronic computer in Florida will explode when a dimpled swinger named Chad tries to cast his Presidential vote in Broward County.
HAVING STUDIED United Nations announcements dating back 20 years, Israel has hit upon a foolproof method of doing the right thing – simply do the opposite of whatever the UN would do:
Israel has answered a United Nations demand that it pull its troops out of the West Bank by sending armoured bulldozers back into the besieged headquarters of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, and issuing a public statement that virtually ignored the Security Council's demands.
Once this catches on globally, the UN might finally serve a purpose.
UPDATE. Mike DeWitt, of The Revere Group, writes:
The Israeli policy of doing exactly the opposite of what the UN wants is a corollary to 20-year old American 'Carter Principle'. In matters both foreign and domestic, the best possible course for the US government to take is do exactly the opposite of whatever Jimmy Carter says to do.
It has yet to fail. And it never will.
THIS SITE just recorded its 700,000th hit. At twenty cents per hit, that works out to … let's see now … holy moley! I'm rich! Rich, I tell you!
UPDATE. Several reader e-mails, plus a note from the people at Blogspot, point out that I am not entitled to receive twenty cents per hit. The actual sum is somewhat less than that. In fact, it is not a "sum" as such.
There may be some delays in posting while I revise my blog business plan. And return the Ducati.
TEN REASONS to be glad Al Gore isn't President.
Only ten? I was with Welch and Layne at the Democrat Applause and Balloonathon Convention in LA two years ago, and between them they were easily able to come up with fifty reasons why Al Gore should be locked away forever with the tragic Kennedy woman. And that was before Gore's speech.
Also, of course, it was way before Welch or Layne came to be identified by many as right-leaning. Neither is a conservative; Welch voted for Nader, and Layne's perfect candidate – I'm guessing – would probably combine New Deal idealism with some southern LBJ craziness, just to make things interesting.
Both were appalled by Gore. Independent thinkers had Al worked out a long time ago.
MILLIONS ARE starving in Zimbabwe, and the government is blocking food donations because it's illegal to import maize without a licence.
"WHAT IS all the talk of starting an unprovoked war on a country posing no threat to the United States?" asks Ann Arbor attorney Kurt Berggren, a guest columnist in the Ann Arbor News.
Other potential questions from the Berggrensphere:
"What are these rumours I hear of talking cola bottles and sentient hamburgers?"
"Why is the news full of stories about goats getting their own cable network?"
"How many times must we be told about Pink's world land speed record bid?"
"I for one am tired of the endless chatter regarding yacht-induced psychosis."
"Why all the brouhaha over edible lumber?"
This attorney, you get the feeling, would run some killer defences. As in, his clients would be killed. For parking infringements. Look out – here he goes again:
We need to turn off our government and corporate-controlled TVs and other media, put down our love-it-or-leave-it beers, arise from our sofas and end our indifference. We must make an effort to stop this insanity.
Turn off government-controlled media – stop the PBS and NPR brainwashing machines! Good advice, actually. Does Love-It-Or-Leave-It Beer™ come in lite?
CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON has called for cruel new German slurs in the wake of Sunday's election result.
Ordinarily I'd never attempt this kind of cheap ethnic mockery, but Christopher asked so nicely:
Poland-harvesting bunker monkeys
Welfare-scarfing nature babies
Slap-dancing Fahrvernugen goblins
Order-following command munchkins
EU-lusting sausage honkies
Scrabble-busting maxosyllabic Gemeinschaltzentrum spellers
Luther-boosting Riesling huffers
MARGO KINGSTON is attempting to rewrite history:
Al Gore, the man who nearly beat Bush for US presidency - and who did beat him according to analysis of disputed votes in Florida - this week presented his alternative to the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive, unilateral wars to protect America from terrorism.
According to what analysis, Margo? Most every examination of Florida votes since the election – including official recounts and analysis by media – gave the state to Bush.
It gets worse when Margo attempts a clarification following reader complaints:
A London Telegraph report published in the Herald on October 22, 2001, reported that a detailed analysis commissioned by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN had been withheld from publication.
Investigative journalist David Podvin, who runs a web page called Make then Accountable, is quoted in the Telegraph report as claiming that the media groups were covering up the results because Gore was the indisputable winner.
Incredible. Margo thinks that the analysis in question, conducted by the National Opinion Research Centre, has never been released. She's almost an entire year behind the news. Here's your analysis, Margo. Take a look.
The SMH's Internet specialist doesn't know how to find things on the Internet, even at her own paper; she's republished the whole Gore speech, all 3,978 shifty, flip-flopping words of it, although the SMH had already linked to it off the front page of the SMH site.
The great student of US politics is also unaware that the Bush doctrine she so despises is essentially identical to the Gore doctrine of only seven months ago.
(Gore link via Henry Hanks, who can be bothered to do research. No Sydney Morning Herald job for him!)
UPDATE. Reader Stephen J. writes:
"I think it's inaccurate to say that Margo is rewriting history: she's living it a few years after the event. You notice that she quotes from a newspaper report of October 2001; perhaps it explains why her world is so wild and scary. If she only reads back issues of papers she's getting the predictions of ancient Margos: "The world will run out of fossil fuels by 2000," the 1972 edition of the paper might say. Margo looks at her day/date watch and screams: "Oh my God, it's ALREADY HAPPENED!" Have pity on her.
MISS UNIVERSE has been fired:
For the first time in its 52-year history, the Miss Universe Organisation has fired the woman wearing its crown.
Oxana Fedorova, a 24-year-old Russian law student, was ousted four months after she won the pageant, the organisation said.
The Miss Universe people won't reveal why Oxana was booted until tomorrow. I suspect some kind of fantastic vice involvement. Meanwhile, Oxana is claiming that she quit:
Fedorova denied she had been fired and said she gave up the title herself.
The emergency replacement Miss Universe, Panama's Justine Pasek, will be crowned on Tuesday. This dispute has all the makings of a brilliant Tony Pierce photo essay.
ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is "arrogant, racist, undiplomatic, crude and rude". No, wait; that's what Mugabe's henchmen are saying about Australian Prime Minister John Howard:
HARARE, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe launched a blistering attack on Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Monday, accusing him of racism and treating Africans in the same way Australia treats its Aborigines.
Government ministers defended President Robert Mugabe's snub of a special Commonwealth meeting in Nigeria on Monday where the leaders of Australia, Nigeria and South Africa were expected to weigh tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe.
"No serious person expected us to be part of that kind of a circus," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was quoted as saying in the state-owned Herald newspaper.
The Herald quoted a Zimbabwean official as saying Mugabe's unsigned invitation letter from Howard was "arrogant, racist, undiplomatic, crude and rude".
Tough guy Mugabe shows up at UN dorkfests so jerkweasels can applaud him, but runs away from a meeting with John Howard. He be brave. By the way, it's interesting that Mugabe's officials share their opinion of Howard with so many Australian leftists …
IN TODAY'S SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, the dead mind of Bob Ellis offers these grey thoughts:
When George Bush says, for instance, "I'm a patient man", he means, or it seems this week he means, "I'm an impatient man". When he says, "We must be strong, and secure the peace", he means - or I think he means - we must, whatever others tell us, now go to war. When he says, "What they hate us for is our freedom", he means they hate our Hollywood-hamburger-Playboy Bunny culture and we think they should be free to adopt it, if need be by force. When he says, "Our quarrel is not with the Iraqi people", he means - or I think he means - we're going to bomb them to hell, real soon.
Words are what, among the great apes, make us the smartest. We must be careful not to use them in suicidal, genocidal or fratricidal ways. Words are either our friends or our destroyers; they cannot be fair-weather friends, they are one or the other.
Hmmm. I wonder what Ellis meant – or thought he meant – when he wrote lies about politicians' wives. And I wonder what Ellis meant – or thought he meant – when he said he wasn't the father of a child born to a woman he'd had an affair with. And I wonder what Ellis the Non-Warrior meant – or thought he meant – when he vowed to destroy my career.
If hypocrisy were jalapenos, Bob Ellis would have enough to heat up Hell.
Plain language always helps, and euphemisms are hardly ever believed. To say we're after [Saddam] because he has "weapons of mass destruction" (like Israel) and "murders his own people" (like Israel, whose Palestinians parallel his Kurds) and "uses chemical weapons" (like the US napalming the naked little girl in Vietnam) and he's a "barbaric dictator" (like Marcos, Pinochet, Yeltsin, Noriega, Batista, Nasser, Stalin and other former friends of the US; and Adolf Hitler whose rise George Bush's grandfather funded), flaws can arise in one's argument and one can look a fool.
Granddaddy Bush would be real upset to learn young George was helpin' them Jews.
The American Republican Right really hate plain words. This is why they say "liberating Iraq" when they mean seizing its oil and making a lot of money. This is why they now say "George Bush is a man of peace" when they mean he'll go to war at the drop of a hat for no good reason and he's "routinely" bombing Iraqi "installations" every day. And when they say "regime change" they mean, or could mean, "Armageddon".
Or they could mean "regime change".
I'm a patient man. And I believe that justice, will prevail; maybe after a regime change in Washington to a ruler who knows what words mean.
Words like "is"?
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SCHROEDER'S VICTORY … the market reacts:
Germany's stock market has tumbled following the election victory of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Red-Green coalition.
Mr Schroeder's coalition's narrow victory depressed stock traders who have seen shares fall to their lowest levels in five years.
Hey, Gerhard – blame the Americans!
BECAUSE I long ago stopped treating Margo Kingston as anything other than a Red Lake Mine of pure comedy gold, I sometimes gloss over her more serious journalistic flaws. Like, say, not paying attention, and over-reacting, and generally behaving like an Indymedia kid shot full of benzedrine.
Luckily, Grahame Lynch is on the case. Grahame, CEO of Decisive Publishing, was so infuriated by the incoherent wailing published by Margo on Sunday that he wrote the following letter, which he kindly copied to me:
Did you actually read the document?
It said: "We are also guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. Alliances and multilateral institutions can multiply the strength of freedom-loving nations. The United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of American States, and NATO as well as other long-standing alliances. Coalitions of the willing can augment these permanent institutions. In all cases, international obligations are to be taken seriously. They are not to be undertaken symbolically to rally support for an ideal without furthering its attainment."
A quick test. Name me the Muslim countries that moved to defend the Bosnians against Serb aggression? How many refugees and immigrants of non-Muslim faith do Middle Eastern countries accept every year, as opposed to short-term expatriates hired for short-term advantage? Name a Muslim country that would allow you to do the job you do in Australia?
Why is the United Nations based in New York and not, say, Moscow or Beijing? Is it Hitleresque to promote free trade or political freedom or do you think the United Nations does a better job of this? Name a United Nations success of the past few decades that hasn't come about with a disproportionate logistical commitment by a Western country?
How do you think Saudi Arabia – and the Arab world - would react if two planes hijacked by fundamentalist Christians crashed into Mecca and Medina and killed over 3,000 devout Moslems? Name a more reluctant hegemon in world history than the contemporary United States? How could you use the Internet as your publishing medium without the United States' industrial, military and technology leadership and its promotion of the Internet as a global communications medium?
Your newspaper is rapidly becoming a disgrace to Australia. I work as a journalist, and unlike you, run a business that employs journalists. I have also spent six years away from the insular world of Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne elite media - a move that has done as much for my personal development as anything.
In the past few years, I'd say the Sydney Morning Herald has gone from a top ten English language newspaper to an adolescent version of the Guardian. What's more, the Guardian probably has better standards of grammar and proofreading than the SMH. Who would ever have thought that?
Margo has run Grahame's letter on her worthless, quality-gouging, anti-journalist shriek machine Webdiary, and not answered a single question.
AVIGDOR HASELKORN, writing in the LA Times, makes a good point:
The more the U.S. acts unilaterally and the greater the perception that the U.S. is an unchecked and unpredictable power, the better it is for U.S. security and for world peace.
He's right. People may taunt a big guy, but nobody messes with a big crazy guy. Word on the street is he's got guns. Don't go near his house!
WILL BAGHDAD be the next Berlin? Condi Rice maps out postwar plans for a nation far more screwed up in peacetime than Japan and Germany were after firebombing and nuclear attacks:
The US will be "completely devoted" to the reconstruction of Iraq as a unified, democratic state in the event of a military strike that topples Saddam Hussein, said Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser.
Reinforcing the Bush administration's message that the values of freedom, democracy and free enterprise do not "stop at the edge of Islam", Ms Rice underlined US interest in the "democratisation or the march of freedom in the Muslim world".
Some western idiots will call this tyranny. Then again, those idiots have never lived under Saddam Hussein.
ACCORDING TO the conventional unwisdom of the anti-Americanistas, the US must examine why it is so hated by Islamic extremists. After all, they point out, the extremists don't hate anyone else.
Except they do. They hate Italians, for example, as this LA Times piece – quoting wiretaps of Milan-based al Qaeda goons – indicates:
"I want to eliminate these pigs, these swine," Ben Soltane said. He told Es Sayed that he despised everything about Italy: "I hate the people, I hate the documents .... I want to go anywhere else."
And they're not so keen on Russians, either:
The way other men might watch pornography, they sat in a seedy apartment chortling at videos of moujahedeen slaughtering Russian soldiers in the snows of Chechnya.
"Look, look how they cut his throat," a suspect named Khaled exclaimed, according to the transcript of an intercept March 22, 2001, in an apartment in suburban Gallarate.
Turning back to the video, Farid marveled: "This cassette is really scary.... You can see the [Russian] commandos realize they are having their throats cut by real soldiers.... The best commandos in the world would tremble if they saw this."
Why do they hate Americans? Because they hate everyone.
THAT'S ONE national stereotype blown to hell. It seems Germans aren't rational and logical after all.
C-BOY TAKES THE ADAMS CHALLENGE – and beats it. This no mean feat; at least three correspondents have quit before the 55-minute test is over, citing headaches, disgust, weeping fits, and "angried-up blood". Speaking of which, Damian Penny keeps his fury contained just long enough to post this excellent piece on the latest celebrity anti-war campaign. Who'd have guessed that Mumia Abu Copkilla is opposed to violence?
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD today celebrates The Feast of The Hating of The Americans, a religious occasion observed at least once a week by Australia's worst newspaper.
We begin with this chunk o' Chomsky from Yale academic Jack Balkin, who – in the manner of genius wordster Maureen Dowd – first lures his readers into a comfortable haze of shared assumptions, only to spring upon them a conclusion that inverts all previously held beliefs and totally changes everything, man:
The world faces a single man armed with weapons of mass destruction, manifesting an aggressive, bullying attitude, who may well plunge the world into chaos and bloodshed if he miscalculates. This person, belligerent, arrogant and sure of himself, truly is the most dangerous person on Earth.
The problem is that his name is George Bush, and he is the President of the United States.
See? See what he did? Whoa! Next, it's over to the readers; here's comic book guy Ken Webb:
The President of the US has unbelievable military and economic power at his disposal. Why is there no analysis of the consequences of having in that position a man who is, at best, of average intelligence and limited education, and whose understanding of the world beyond the US before he took office stretched little further than Mexico or Hawaii?
He views the world through the prism of a Wild West comic book. There are good guys and outlaws, "injuns" and the seventh cavalry. The vocabulary of his inarticulate utterances are peppered with comic book jargon ranging from "he can run but he can't hide" to "the axis of evil".
Yet this is the reality facing the world today. We have at the head of the US, whose power is totally unrestrained, a man of mediocre stature who intends to run the world on the basis of comic book rules.
Not to be out-lamed, Michael Haisman weighs in with this:
How can we trust the US to prosecute a war on Iraq when it now appears as if a rabid and dangerous fundamentalist, hell-bent on world domination, has been able to infiltrate its presidency?
Margo Kingston has her hysteria generator cranked up to infinity, warning of a global US government and obliterating various rules of grammar:
Now we know. The Americans have spelt it out in black and white. There will be a world government, but not one even pretending to be comprised of representatives of its nation states through the United Nations. The United States will rule, and not according to painstakingly developed international law and norms, but by what is in its interests.
What are these "painstakingly developed" norms of which Margo croaks? Possibly the apologies for racism we witnessed at last year's Blame the West Fest in Durban. And how dare the US do anything according to its interests! Why, the very idea!
In declaring itself dictator of the world, The United States will have no accountability to non-United States citizens. It will bomb who it likes when it likes, and change regimes when and as it sees fit, it will not be subject to investigations for war crimes, for torture, or for breaches of fundamental human rights.
I think, Margo, that you'll find the US bombs who it doesn't like.
When it asks the United Nations to move against Iraq, it is not demanding agreement to a strong case for action. It now admits it has no evidence that Iraq is preapring to use weapons of mass destruction against any other country. The Americans have stopped pretending, and now demand outright capitulation to its hegemony. The world will be policed in American interests. Full stop.
America has no evidence of "preapring". Neither does my dictionary.
So now American history screams from background discussion to the forefront of debate. The Americans - despite their promises to be a benevolent dictatorship, do not aim to build, stabilise, and promote democracies. They aim to impose puppets, and agree to Faustian deals which brutalise and disempower citizens. They pay no heed to the disastrous results of such dictatorships when imposed in the past.
Down with the puppet imposers! No deals with Faust!
Australia's choice is to become a non-enfranchised satellite state of the United States – and thus responsible for its aggression and a legitimate target for those fighting to win back countries the Americans take by force, or to fight like hell to save the United Nation's dream of world government by negotiation.
Margo makes even less sense than the Herald's readers, and gets paid to do so. Maybe her wage is indexed to some kind of irrationality meter.
The United Nations itself - the dream of multilateral solutions to problems only the world acting together can solve, is on the brink of collapse.
That would be such a bad thing. Really.
This could be one hell of a debate, and I can't see Labor going for American unilateralism and the crushing of the UN. Yes, it's true, much of the sentiment against United State's behaviour is anti-American. It's also pro-Australian, French, or whatever country you feel you belong to.
There's that troublesome possessive apostrophe again. As a Sydney Morning Herald letter writer might ask, "How can we trust the Herald to cover a war on Iraq when it now appears as if a rabid and dangerous anti-grammarian, hell-bent on word domination, has been able to infiltrate its newsroom?"
Oh, and which country do I "feel" I belong to? Not the batshit howling psycho wigout nation Margo occupies, that's for sure.
ACADEMIC WATCH. Hong Kong Larry, an Australian expat living in the former British colony, sends the following item on Hilary McPhee, the somehow-celebrated Australian publishing identity and Melbourne University cash recipient:
Hilary McPhee's articles are amongst the very worst I've ever read, and that's saying something. The sting in the tail is that she's an inaugural recipient of a University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship (she's been there since 1997). If you're wondering what a Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship is, you're not alone. Here's the blurb from the University website:
"Vice-Chancellor's Fellowships were established in mid 1997 to provide 'in residence' status for distinguished public intellectuals to promote their contributions to society in their particular area of expertise".
It gets more interesting. There are currently two Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows: McPhee (who's been holding her sinecure for around five years) and a guy called Gao Yuan. Examine McPhee's record and compare it to Gao's. I challenge anybody to argue that these two people are equals and thus both worthy of the title (and money).
Take McPhee's resume apart and what you have is someone who got a BA, ran a publishing company, and said enough correct things to get 'elected' onto various boards and foundations.
Take Gao's resume apart and you have this: A Chinese guy gets a degree in China, works as a 'barefoot' doctor (i.e., putting his words into action), learns English, comes to Australia, gets a PhD in his second language (probably third language actually, because he's from Guizhou so he'll speak his local language, and Mandarin), and becomes a world expert. He then develops programs that assist in educating Chinese people about AIDS and HIV; programs that have reached 60,000 people. His program looks likely to be adopted by other Chinese provinces, and could therefore reach millions. He doesn't sit on boards aplenty, but is a senior research fellow, where it's his research that counts.
Gosh, I can see why McPhee and Gao have got the same title and pay.
Then we have these little nuggets from UniNews, vol. 6, no. 41, 31 October 1997:
"Ms McPhee's distinguished career includes co-founding in 1975 and directing McPhee Gribble Publishers, an independent publishing company with a reputation for developing new authors. She recently completed her term as Chair of the Australia Council and of the Major Organisations Fund."
Right up there with Gao, huh?
"The Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship has been established to provide "in-residence" status for distinguished public intellectuals. Each Fellow will engage in a broad range of activities including selective teaching, public seminars and lectures, research and publishing as agreed with the Vice-Chancellor."
I think that means they can sit on their arse if the VC thinks it's okay.
"Expressing great pleasure in her appointment, Ms McPhee said that the establishment of the Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship was 'a most important initiative'."
Yes, well, she would. Look at what comes next:
"She has been appointed Vice-Chancellor's Fellow on a full-time basis for three years."
And she pens an article bleating about how tough life is out there for 'us'? And shouldn’t that Fellowship have just about run its course?
As for salary, well, I can't find the wage scale for a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow, but here are research fellow scales [see page 307 onwards]:
1. Research Fellow, Grade 1: from $46,802 to $52,153. (I don't think McPhee is in that range, do you?
2. Research Fellow, Grade 2: from $56,960 to $65,193 (Hmm, I wonder …)
3. Senior Research Fellow: from $69,313 to $77,547 (Well, she's been there for nearly five years, and is a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow after all.)
4. Principal Research Fellow: $89,213 (That high?)
5. Professorial Research Fellow: $104,310 (Nah, surely not)
Hong Kong Larry
ZIMBABWE HASN'T been mean to all members of the hated white oppressor class:
A white British woman who formerly worked as a local government officer in Essex is the latest and most unlikely beneficiary of Robert Mugabe's land-grab policy in Zimbabwe.
Anne Matonga and her black Zimbabwean husband, Bright, have been given possession of a 1,500-acre farm after it was seized from a white farmer on the orders of the President.
Despite moving to Zimbabwe only last year after a lifetime in Britain, Mrs Matonga last week spoke angrily, and without a hint of irony, against the "white colonialists who stole our land".
The farm infested by Mrs Matonga had previously been occupied for four generations by the Shultz family, now bankrupt.
Politicians don't know - how could they? - what it's like out here in the world where most of us live. Not only about the cost of a litre of milk or a school excursion, but what endless queuing feels like, or being dealt with in an emergency by a call centre.
Yes, it's tough standing there in your overalls, as the hundreds of unfinished, unpainted Toyotas roll past you on the production line, welding the same joint, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, until the voices in your head are screaming, "Kill! Kill! Kill!"
Yet every now and then, if the correct questions are asked, the people show themselves to be perfectly capable of recognising what is in the public interest and what is not.
Clever people! Good people! Give the people a biscuit!
IN THE LATEST thrilling German election news, Gerhard Schroeder has been presented with a tie by author Gunter Grass. Analysts believe that the last-minute tie-giving could swing votes in the crucial Vunmunchenvonstag region.
THIS FAMILY has really got it together:
Mustapha Skaf, father of the convicted gang rapist serving 55 years in the State's toughest jail, has been accused of offering a bribe to a prison officer.
Two weeks ago [the rapist's] mother, Baria, was given a two-year ban after she tried to smuggle out of the jail two love letters written by the multiple rapist to his 20-year-old fiancee.
THE AGE'S JANET McCALMAN returns with yet more insightful insights on global events:
We all know what happened to the boy who cried "wolf". In this very dangerous time for the world, everything hinges on who is telling the truth. And when elites are asking people to risk their lives, it matters absolutely whether their word can be trusted.
Or they will be eaten by wolves.
It is certain that in the past Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction; it may be that it is doing so again. It is not unreasonable that it should be doing so now, for it has been staring down the very wide barrel of an American gun since the end of the Gulf War.
McCalman thinks Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction is reasonable, and that it's all America's fault. Thousands of dead Kurds might disagree, but hey, that's Kurds for you.
The United States certainly also possesses weapons of mass destruction that it conceals from international weapons inspectors out of delicacy for the commercial interests of its industries.
America's long-rumoured nuclear secret is confirmed! Those mysterious things hidden in all those silos and on board submarines and B52s – they are atomic bombs! McCalman exposes the Great Satan!
The terrifying thing is that we know so little.
Janet's business card says much the same thing.
Do we want to go to war simply to protect oil interests, or do we go to war because the evil to be removed is so great that it will justify the suffering that will be inflicted collaterally on the innocent?
Obligatory oil-war paragraph. Required under Rule 2b (subsection e) of the International Regulations for Imbecile Academic Columnists.
We watched the Gulf War on CNN - the crowing over the pinpoint accuracy, this new PlayStation combat where no one saw burning flesh and bleeding wounds.
It was odd listening to those commentators crowing in 1991 about a product that was still three years from commercial release. The question must be asked: what did CNN know about PlayStation, and when did they know it?
And then later read of the carnage on the ground - Iraqi soldiers scorched to death in their thousands as they fled across the desert. Yes they were the enemy, yes they had attacked and savaged Kuwait, yes they unleashed an environmental holocaust on the oilfields, but once on the run, they were victims like all victims in war.
Mussolini, once he satisfied McCalman's requirements by commencing to run, became a "victim" of war. So did the guards fleeing Auschwitz. If only the My Lai killers had run away – they'd have avoided any penalty. They would have become victims, because of the clever running gambit.
There is every danger that masses of angry, frustrated, poor people in the Middle East will make a dead or defeated Saddam into a people's martyr. A devastating, violent defeat of an independent Arab government will fuel hostility towards the non-Muslim world that will continue to inspire terrorist cliques for generations.
Just like the attacks on al Qaeda were going to do the same. McCalman, more so than any rightwing wardog, associates every Muslim with murderous Islamocidal lunatics. Note, too, how during this column Saddam Hussein evolves from a "tyrant" to the leader of "an independent Arab government".
And if the US blunders in and fails to capture Saddam as it has bin Laden, so that its forces are still fighting during the Iraqi summer, it will become a domestic American disaster.
Not the harsh Iraqi summer! Noooooo!
Further, if the US gets it wrong diplomatically and militarily, it may spell the end of the United Nations, and even if for a short time the world may be a little safer from terrorism, it will be a lot more dangerous for us all ever after.
Or not, as the case may be.
The Iraqis, albeit strangely and almost informally, offered unimpeded weapons inspections. The Americans (and therefore Howard) replied that still they cannot be trusted. Who can we believe?
That's a tough one. Let's toss a coin.
It's a truism that truth is the first casualty of war and that history is littered with lying leaders who condemned their hapless subjects to unjustified deaths. Trust is the social cement of public and private life, and without truth there cannot be trust.
Thus ends another column full of Words of Mass Delusion.
THE FBI and the CIA are supposed to be capable of bringing down governments and assassinating Presidents. Turns out they can't stop a bunch of known idiots from conspiring right in front of them:
By January 2001 the CIA knew that Almihdhar and Alhazmi had been in contact with the suspected mastermind of the Cole attack in Malaysia. Yet their names were still not added to a watch list, which would have flagged Almihdhar when he tried to return to the United States months later. CIA officials again failed to inform the FBI of the duo's entry into the country, FBI officials said.
Intelligence agencies should be privatised. Put intelligence back into Intelligence!
THE WASHINGTON POST sounds surprised:
A few short weeks ago, it appeared the administration was in disarray on Iraq, and the opposition at home and overseas to attacking Iraq was formidable. Now, bewildered opponents are studying how the White House apparently turned the situation on its head both in Congress and the United Nations.
"It happens again and again: People on Bush's own side worry and get antsy, while critics become euphoric and think these guys aren't that bright," said GOP strategist Jeffrey Bell. "Once the tactical situation is clear to Bush, they start pounding and won't let up."
The next person to learn the meaning of "start pounding and won't let up": Saddam Hussein.