IT MUST be easy to be a left-wing columnist. No research is needed, no logic, no evidence – just unsupported claims and demented allegations sewn together with sneering ignorance. Phillip Adams demonstrates:
What are we to call whatever it is that George W. Bush is figure-heading? A presidency? An administration? Somehow regime seems most appropriate. Anatole Lieven of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington puts it well: "Bush wants nothing less than unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority." So regime it is.
Adams and Lievin sound like Black Helicopter paranoiacs. Switzerland, Papua New Guinea, France, Senegal – all nations will face the wrath of The Regime. Fetch Phil his aluminium foil detector beanie!
Almost without precedent, the President's men control not only the White House but the Congress and, most ominously, the Supreme Court.
Republicans hold 51 of 100 Senate seats. Contested legislation requires 60 votes. Cool your jets, fat boy.
Nonetheless, those ducks in a row will, in due course, transform into chickens – if not vultures – coming home to roost.
Writing in the London Review of Books, Lieven says that the aim of the planned war in Iraq is not just to remove Saddam Hussein but to create a ramshackle coalition of ethnic groups and warlords subservient to the US.
Writing at this website, Tim Blair says that the aim of bicycle manufacturers is to colonise Kenya and breed a race of semi-human cyclobots. He has no evidence to support this claim. Soon it will appear in the London Review of Books.
And we may soon witness the collapse of the American and global economies as business leaders (other than those in Texaco and Caltex) warn Washington that a huge jump in oil prices may well tip the US and the rest of us into a serious recession.
Adams thinks Caltex and Texaco are separate companies. Caltex became part of ChevronTexaco last year. In any case, Caltex would be unlikely to warn Washington about anything, as it has no retail presence in the US.
Now let's run through a few of the issues on the domestic agenda of the Republican Party's hard Right. First and foremost there'll be an even larger share of the cake to be enjoyed by the Republican and corporate upper echelons. And the poor will get dramatically poorer, domestically and globally, as they fight over the few crumbs brushed from the boardroom tables.
In Australia, the poor (and everyone else) pay the $120,000 annual salary Adams earns for four hours of taxpayer-funded radio per week. Adams is already a millionaire many times over, yet people on $30,000 per annum are required to hand him a portion of their wages. And this rich bastard presumes to lecture us on "crumbs brushed from boardroom tables"?
God help anyone who raises their voice against this reactionary, unilateralist, hardline, hard-headed recalcitrance. Joe McCarthy's term "un-American" has well and truly returned to the vocabulary of public debate.
The Crushing of Dissent continues. God help Adams.
At a time when an increasing number of Americans are rethinking the death penalty, any hope of eliminating this barbarity from the US disappears.
A recent Gallup poll indicates that support for the death penalty is increasing, up to 72% in favour from 60% in favour before WWII.
With a little help from head office, otherwise known as the White House, the Christian Coalition and what's left of the Moral Majority will be able to eliminate any hint of sex education. (This is a time for panic buying of condoms.) And talking of education, expect to see the list of banned (if not burned) books dramatically extended. It won't just be disapproved-of novels. Anyone with texts by Darwin should bury them in the garden and teachers attempting to instruct children about evolution should expect latter-day re-enactments of the Scopes trial. Meanwhile, civil liberties in the US will be further eroded. Racial and religious differences will be intensified and manipulated.
That's it; I'm going to become a Lefty columnist. Apparently the less research you do, the more you get paid. It's free money!
By the way, reader Lloyd Petre points out that the Moral Majority closed thirteen years ago.
Support of Israel will be tempered by even less criticism as American Jews are encouraged to jump the Democrat ship for the Republicans. And here's one of the more surreal ingredients in modern history. Fundamentalist Christians in the US back Israel because they see the Jewish state as a marker for the Second Coming. And the Israelis, still waiting for the First Coming, go along with it; getting into bed with Christian fundamentalists with a long, lethal history of anti-Semitism.
Bin Laden is helping create the imperial US he detests – his activities are calling it into being. Behold the vortex of violence and hatred and mutual incomprehension that will give us, if not World War III, then Armageddon in slow motion.
I'm not sure the incomprehension is mutual, Phil. Most of it seems to be generated by you.
CHATTING TO my sister tonight, I learned that my adorable seven-year-old niece recently had to attend a conflict mediation session at her school after beating up some dumb kid. Apparently Lauren is a quick study of the justice system as it applies to second graders; during a teacher's earnest mediation preamble about the need to resolve "violence issues", Lauren suddenly screamed out, "HE HIT ME FIRST!"
GREAT LINE from Jeff Jarvis in the wake of apparent Osama-directed attacks on Israeli civilians:
Watch your ass, sandman: the Israelis will take no prisoners; they will get you.
READ THE GUARDIAN or The Independent and you'd be convinced that all of Britain loathes the US. It ain't so, if a new poll cited in The Scotsman is to be believed:
According to a MORI poll published in the past week, Americans are now liked by more people in Britain than at any time in the past three decades. Four Britons out of five – a whopping 81 per cent of us – agree with the statement "I like Americans as people". This is a big jump from the 69 per cent who agreed with those views in 1989 and 1991 and the mere 66 per cent back in 1986, when the Cold War was in its dying stages and Ronald Reagan was still president. Today, only 11 per cent of us admit to disliking Americans as people.
Just more evidence, I guess, of the massive disconnect between Europe's citizens and its media. I'd actually written the intro to this post before I scanned the complete article, in which the following priceless quote may be found:
MORI's American-born chief in London, Bob Worcester, draws his own personal conclusion. "The moral to this story," he writes, is: "Don't believe everything you read in the Guardian."
Everything? Try anything.
Joined at the Face, Penguin, 2003
Al Gore Version 6.398 – Now With More Ass!, Skeetertown Self-Publishing Co, Skeetertown, Fla., 2006
Hi, Bill! Great to Hear From You! What's That? You Want to Speak to Karenna? OK, I'll Go Get Her … More Memoirs of an Ex-Clinton VP, Remainder Books, Shreveport, La., 2007
Tipper Over: 101 Playful Pranks to Play on Your Hefty Spouse, Jackass Media, NYC, 2008
Joined at the Heart II – It's Actually a Severe Birth Abnormality That Usually Leads to the Death of at Least One Conjoined Twin. What Were We Thinking, to Name a Book After This Tragic Condition? No Wonder the Fucking Thing Tanked, available through http://alandtippergore.blogspot.com, 2010
ISLAMIC TERROR groups targeted Australian university students as potential members, federal police have learned:
Students at Curtin University, Perth, were identified as prime recruits because many were "young, pliable thinkers".
The Greens use the same strategy.
A WEEK away from work has helped restore Margo Kingston's peerless literary skills:
Unaccountable power always produces abuse of power. Abuse of power means innocent people get hurt. It means people lose more trust in the integrity and trust worthiness of their government, and that they come to fear it instead. The deliberate or careless fostering of fear within a fearful community facing a terrible threat to its collective security is the antithesis of leadership, and a recipe for the disintegration of our democracy.
Christ, what a wreck. Nobody's getting out of that paragraph alive.
THE SPECTATOR'S Matthew Leeming has been travelling through Afghanistan, where the Left's dire pre-liberation predictions have failed to come true:
The prospect of war in Afghanistan afforded George Monbiot, a stalwart of the Guardian op-ed pages, a truly biblical vision of the end of time. 'The hungry will die quietly on forgotten trails in the mountains, huddled behind rocks, searching the streets of deserted cities, clawing for roots in an empty field.' You can hear them cheering him on in the office: 'Let 'em have it, Georgie! Give 'em the dead child spreadeagled like a broken doll on the deserted roadway!'
My favourite is Terry Cook's claim in the Guardian at the time of the American air drop of food parcels that 'local people near the Pakistan border have refused to eat the food and are burning the packages in protest' … And John Pilger in the Mirror reported that bin Laden had volunteered to live under house arrest in Pakistan and stand trial for 11 September. It might be thought cruel to mention this, but in 1982 Mr Pilger — for reasons that no doubt seemed convincing to him at the time — was duped into 'buying' a five-year-old schoolgirl in Thailand, thus giving rise, in Auberon Waugh's vocabulary at least, to the verb 'to pilger', meaning to be taken in.
Read the entire piece to discover just how wrong these pinheads were. The miracle is that there are still some who treat them seriously.
A BIG capitulation rally is planned for Sydney this Saturday. John Pilger will be there. So will Alastair Spate, who sends this note:
I'm trying to get some people down there just to hold a few placards – not to get into any trouble, just to let the left fakers know they've got company, and to get the chance to stare into the whites of their eyes. At present, there's only my 17-year-old son and moi, but as an old '60s lefty myself, I know that good things can start with small numbers.
Would you or any of your readers be interested in coming? We'd meet at Sydney Town Hall at 11.30am.
I can't make it (I'll be in Melbourne) but if any readers want to attend, contact Alastair or simply show up at Town Hall. Take a camera to record the best placards. And say hi to Pilger for me.
JOHN PILGER appeared on Lateline recently to run some evasive, gutless and delusional arguments about East Timor and the Bali attacks past host Tony Jones. Let's take a stroll through Pilger's amazing world of denial:
TONY JONES: John Howard and NSW Premier Bob Carr have both said we're being attacked partly because of who we are, our way of life, because the extremists simply cannot accept who we are.
JOHN PILGER: No. The wonderful thing about coming back to Australia, especially if you come via the US, is you hear the big echo here. They're calling the homeland authority the same name. I mean, the derivative nature of specious criticism coming from politicians in this country is quite appalling and I think it insults those who died in Bali and those who died in September 11.
The fact that Australia is bothering to align itself with the US in a completely cynical proposed cynical attack on Iraq will only endanger the citizens of our country …. And that will be aimed at Australians whereas before Australians would have been safe. It's true also of Britons.
We'd also be safe if we converted to Islam, if by "safe" you mean surrendering. Now watch as Pilger – a longtime advocate of an independent East Timor – attempts to dodge Jones's questions about East Timor being a "root cause" of the Bali attack:
TONY JONES: Is it part of what happened in Bali?
JOHN PILGER: I don't know what happened in Bali.
It was in all the papers, John. Pay attention.
TONY JONES: Osama bin Laden, if one believes that is him on that tape, was suggesting that one of the reasons Australians were targeted in Bali was because this government, the Howard Government, had a responsibility for freeing East Timor, which plenty of people in Indonesia didn't like.
JOHN PILGER: That – certainly as far as the Indonesian military are concerned – that may well be true.
What is not being discussed, as it should be, although I think in the Sydney Morning Herald Hamish McDonald has discussed it, is the role of the Indonesian military in manipulating the extremist groups over the years.
Here we have the Australian Government now saying it's going to train against Kopassus, the special forces of East Timor, probably some of the world's greatest terrorists.
I mean, what is being achieved from all this? In my view what's being achieved is great danger for everybody. Certainly Australia joining an unprovoked attack on a country that offers it no threat will be part of creating an atmosphere in the Middle East, especially, of enduring generations of long hatred.
And the word 'Australian' also be on the lips of these people, like Osama bin Laden and others.
Pilger is being asked about East Timor, and he's answering about bin Laden and Iraq. Keep after him, Jonesy:
TONY JONES: Let me just stick with Bali for a moment and the logic of what you were saying.
If Osama bin Laden is right – if Australians were attacked because of their role in freeing East Timor – is that something you would speak out against because whatever you think about the Howard Government, it had a direct role in allowing East Timor to become an independent country.
JOHN PILGER: Wait on, Australian troops played an admirable role in going to East Timor, there's no doubt about.
But before that – from 1975 until 1999 – there was a great silence in this country over East Timor. When I went to film this secretly in the early '90s, no politician, Howard especially, and certainly those among the ruling Labor Government then, gave a damn about the East Timorese.
So it's very much a very delayed embrace of East Timorese freedom.
Pilger is performing the dance of the Magical Avoidance Pixie. To his eternal credit, Jones yet again asks about bin Laden and East Timor. Pilger's answer is breathtaking:
TONY JONES: But the point is, apparently, because of that belated embrace, we've been targeted. That's what Osama bin Laden is saying.
JOHN PILGER: We can't believe that. We can't believe all these things we're being told.
Of course he can't believe it – because that would destroy Pilger's entire anti-US worldview. It is inconceivable to him that an Islamic terrorist might want to avenge the liberation of East Timor. We can't believe that! We can't believe these things! It must be a reaction to American evil! It cannot possibly be anything else! Pilger continues:
What we have to remain is sceptical.
Why start now?
But, above all, sceptical about what our own leaders are telling us. What we don't hear, which I find extraordinary having been to Iraq especially, is the consequences of an attack – the human consequences. We had a report by a group of Australian doctors this week that I don't think had any publicity. They estimated something like 48,000 people would be killed in a sustained campaign in an assault on Iraq.
Australia is going to be part of that. Imagine the resentment, the bitterness in that part of the world. Imagine the kind of anger.
Imagine the anger caused by us liberating East Timor. Pilger can't.
In Palestine, in Iraq and elsewhere, and certainly in Afghanistan – I read in the papers that Australia has been engaging the enemy in Afghanistan. Excuse me? Engaging some tribesmen our heroic SAS did, with a great deal of muddied reports of what actually happened there. But what they did do, again, is print the name 'Australia' on those who would do harm to our travellers and our young people like Brian Deegan's son?
Deegan's son was killed in Bali. Pilger thinks this happened solely because our troops – he derides their heroism – fought in Afghanistan alongside Americans. East Timor could not have had anything to do with it, because East Timor was a good cause. Pilger supported it. He cannot accept that terrorists might be angered by a cause he believes in.
Pilger is lying to himself. And I suspect, given the desperate evasions in this interview, that he knows it, too.
JONATHAN RAUCH has an extraordinary piece in the latest Atlantic Monthly on the extent of post-9/11 volunteerism in America:
Suppose President Bush called for volunteers in the war on terror, and thousands of people came forward. Suppose they created volunteer networks for disaster relief, emergency preparedness, and civil defense. Suppose they did most of this work at the community level, under the radar of the national media. And suppose it all happened not in the massive, militarized, top-down mode of WWII but in the networked, decentralized, bottom-up manner of WWW.
Well, brace yourself. Americans have heard the call.
Read Rauch's article and be astonished that the general media have somehow not noticed this.
TIM "NICE BUT DIM" DUNLOP thinks John Howard has done the wrong thing, as usual:
A man whose son was killed in the Bali bombing writes an open letter to the Prime Minister, published in a national paper, asking why his son died. It asks if government policy might be to blame.
Why does the PM need to respond publicly to this grieving man? Why does the PM need to respond at all? Does he respond to every open letter addressed to him? Why this one?
Quite so! The Prime Minister should have let the claim that his government might have caused the Bali deaths go completely unanswered. Then again, that would have been impolite; after all, the letter did ask the PM to "answer some of my questions".
So he did.
Why not a private letter, or even a meeting, out of the public spotlight? Is Howard really that sensitive to criticism that he has to, however gently, take the father of a dead kid to task in a national newspaper? Does anyone think Mr Deegan feels better for the PM's intervention?
Let the truth slide. Mr Deegan's feelings are paramount. It's exactly as Jay Smith wrote earlier: "The new morality is that you must agree with anything a grieving person says. PC rule #1013."
In case any further explanation is required, Alan Anderson has this helpful advice:
Private letter from A to B requires private letter from B to A.
Open letter from A to B requires open letter from B to A.
Simple etiquette, really.
HEY, TERRORISTS! Want to blow up the Sydney Harbour Bridge but don't know how? Then follow the Sydney Morning Herald's easy step-by-step guide!
A structural engineering expert told SMH Online today that the bridge was one of the least vulnerable structural targets in Sydney.
A truck filled with explosives driving across the bridge or a bomb strapped to the archway would not bring the harbour bridge down, he said.
"The roadway is not part of the bridge: the bridge is the arch. A truck with explosives would damage the roadway - how much depends on the size of the explosives - but it wouldn't take out the bridge."
Professor Hopper said the bridge's weak spots are its base pins - the circular cylinders at water level which connect the bridge to the ground - but a terrorist would need vast quantities of explosives to destroy them.
Tomorrow: Hey, smallpox smugglers! Need something thick enough to block airport x-rays but empty enough to carry a whole load of viral death? Use a Sydney Morning Herald reporter's skull!
AUSTRALIA HAS only one nuclear reactor, despite this country possessing the world's most sparkly and powertastic uranium. It's a tiny plant, relative to big electricity-generating reactors in the US and Europe, and exists mainly as a medical research site. Of course, the Greens and others want it closed down.
Sanity has defeated them, and the reactor is now undergoing a $320 million upgrade. A competition is being held to find a name for this radioactive wonderland.
My suggestion: Isotopia.
(Tex's suggestion is much better: ZOG/WTO HQ)
REGARDING THE Sydney Morning Herald letter-writer who claimed that "if Canada had oil" the US would have gone to war over a Chretien aid's anti-Bush comments, John Kahn of Montreal writes:
Canada has more than 1.3 TRILLION barrels in the Athabaska region of Alberta, ONE QUARTER of known world reserves and 5 times what the Soddies have.
You'd think the Yanks would've invaded long ago. One thing's for sure, when they lost the War of 1812, which was America's only attempt to control the entire continent, they lost bigger than they ever realized.
Come to think of it, if invading would rid us of our PM ... Come on up, boys! Puhleeeeez invade! Just a whistle stop on the way to Iraq! We'll provide refreshments!
And from Big John Tuttle in the US:
I almost choked on this and it wasn't even a Sunday and I did it without a pretzel. I claim credit as the Biggest Moron in America and at 325 lbs, I think my claim is safe.
UPDATE. George Lukes, of Worcester, Ma., writes:
It boggles my mind that reader response to Mr. Howard's letter was "overwhelmingly negative". I thought it was a strong, clear statement of what happened in Bali and why. Your leader is a fine man, whose basic decency came across quite well. What were those other readers thinking?
From Jay Smith, of Winterville, NC.:
It was a great letter, demonstrating compassion and resolute leadership. But let us always remember, the new morality is that you must agree with anything a grieving person says. PC rule #1013 I think.
Let's face it, George Bush is a prime nincompoop. What other leader of the free world would choke on a pretzel while watching TV alone on a Sunday night.
Choking is especially stupid on a Sunday night. And imagine the idiocy of someone who decides to choke when they're alone!
Moron is a bit judgmental though. It would be better to use facts, such as racist, hateful devious evil, liar and redneck idiot.
Note the intelligent use of punctuation.
As an American I can tell you this much,George W. Bush is undoubtedly the biggest Moron to ever occupy the White House.Thank you.
Thank you. If you're an American, how come you capitalise "Moron"? Unless you believe it to be a proper noun, which in the letter-writer's case, it may well be.
If Canada had oil to speak of then they would have gone to war over this...
Prepare for war!
MENTIONED IN this week's very Victoria-centric column
for The Australian: Alan Jones, Joan Kirner, Steve Bracks, old friend Margaret, Fred Nile, Jeff Kennett, Rob Doyle, Terry Lane, and Orwell.
A FEW people have questioned my opposition to the sad death cult masquerading in Australia as a euthanasia movement. Peter Nugent writes:
For a right-wing columnist, you seem to be drifting into that crap left-wing zone where adults are not responsible for their own decisions. It does not matter who inspired her, Nigot was a sane person who offed herself. That's not Dr Nitwit's fault.
And from sharp Australian blogger Tex:
Pardon me Tim, but what exactly does this have to do with you? Her life, her decision. Her hand was not coerced, she was not tricked, she was not brainwashed. She made a decision which affected her own existence and endangered nobody. So, let me ask ... what exactly is your problem with this? Whether she killed herself to avoid old age, stop pain, or avoid Big Brother III, it was her own damned business, not yours.
For a bloke who blogs consistently on the themes of do-gooder lefties, idiot bureaucracy and excessive traffic rules, your apparent sudden faith in politicians, bureaucrats and the clergy to make someone else's most crucial life decisions looks a tad ludicrous. Freedom for me and none for thee …
My problems with Dr. Philip Nitsche's euthanasia campaign, and suicide in general, are manifold. Firstly, Nitsche initially proposed euthanasia as a humanitarian means of avoiding suffering. Now, however, we see healthy people – inspired by Nitsche – dying. No suffering is avoided. Suffering is created.
Secondly, suicide is not a victimless exercise. People close to those who suicide invariably suffer. (Granted, anyone suffers who is close to anybody who dies for any reason, but suicide is fraught with greater issues of guilt and responsibility.) As individualist as I am – and ultimately, therefore, I suppose I must logically lean towards supporting the right of people to take their own life – I can't in the case of suicide put aside something we might describe as a "social contract". Others are harmed.
Thirdly, suicide validates and encourages further suicide. A few years ago I attended the funerals of two brothers who killed themselves within weeks of each other. Their parents would not have been easily swayed by pro-suicide arguments.
Fourthly, people not remotely close to someone who suicides may suffer, through gaining the idea that suicide is fine and dandy. It shouldn't be subversive or dangerous to encourage the belief that life is valuable. Instead, we hear more of the opposite.
Fifthly, to support Nitsche's ideas at a legislative level – which is what he aims for – would be to make suicide a bureaucratic process. My position is to minimise suicide by withholding government support and sanction.
Look, I'm not religious, and I don't care for anti-suicide arguments based on theology, but the idea that murdering yourself has no effect beyond your own death is ridiculous. Mine is a simple argument: death is bad. Seek to avoid it.
You asked me: "Why did [my] son die?" I don't have a perfect answer to that but I will do my best.
He died at the hands of a murderous group of Islamic fanatics who despise the liberal democratic, open life of Western nations, such as Australia. He died because there are people in the world who believe that indiscriminate violent murder is a justifiable political instrument.
"I WANT to say sorry to you, but all I want to do is commit myself to jihad." Police have released a suicide note from one of the Bali killers.
TAKE THE "WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE" MULTI-CHOICE THEOLOGICAL AUTOMOTIVE QUIZ CHALLENGE!
Why would Jesus drive?
a) To get out of the house for a while
b) To spread the holy word
c) To test newly-installed aftermarket cams, valves, and nitrous kit
Where would Jesus drive?
a) Along a scenic coastal road
b) On the path to righteousness
c) Anywhere with lots of exits so he can ditch the cops
How would Jesus drive?
a) At a speed commensurate with prevailing light and road conditions
b) With pureness of spirit
c) Threshold-braking deep into corners, nailing every apex, power sliding out of hairpins, and only changing up once He's hit the rev limiter
What would Jesus drive over?
a) Only animals already killed
b) A celestial carpet of unimaginable grace
What driving music would Jesus choose?
a) Adult contemporary
b) Heavenly choir
c) Zeppelin, early Stones, maybe that latest Garbage CD
How would Jesus counter persistent high-speed understeer?
a) By consulting a mechanic who specialises in handling problems
b) Through the power of prayer
c) Increasing roll stiffness, dialling in two turns of front wing
What wouldn't Jesus drive?
a) Anything without airbags
b) His followers into the valley of death
c) A goddamn pussy solar rickshaw, that's for goddamn sure
THE SO-CALLED euthanasia movement in Australia is nothing more than a creepy death cult:
Lisette Nigot was not ill. She was not in pain. But she was 79 and, quite simply, did not want to live to 80.
So last week the retired academic took a fatal overdose in her Perth home, leaving a suicide note describing the euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke as her inspiration.
Yesterday, Dr Nitschke released that note, which Ms Nigot had pinned behind her bed. "After 80 years of a good life, I have [had] enough of it," she wrote. "I want to stop it before it gets bad."
And when might that badness have kicked in? Five years from now? Ten? Twenty? Nobody will ever know! Meanwhile, other fit folks are ecstatically offing themselves after encountering the dreaded Doc:
Ms Nigot killed herself last Tuesday, two weeks after the death of a healthy couple in their late 80s, each of whom could not face the prospect of outliving the other.
After attending three workshops with Dr Nitschke, Syd and Marjorie Croft took a drug overdose at a retirement village at Bundaberg in south-east Queensland.
Nitsche promotes his euthanasia philosophy as a means of delivering people from suffering. So far he's mainly encouraged the able and well into an early grave. Way to go, "Doctor".
BARBIE WILL soon be banned in Russia:
The Russian Ministry of Education has included Barbie along with a list of other toys and games, such as Pokémon, that face a ban because of the supposedly harmful effects they have on the minds of young children. Barbie, in particular, is under fire because the doll is thought to awaken sexual impulses in the minds of the very young, and encourage consumerism among Russian infants.
To counter the West's corrupt influence, top-level Russian doll scientists are working on three ideologically acceptable Barbie replacements: the Olga, the Chernobyl, and the adorable Worker Drone Female Labor Unit (shown here with optional Hillary Ankles).
US READER Andrew Jamouneau writes:
Dear Mr. Blair,
I've been following your website for the past several months, and I must tell you that of all your characters, Margo Kingston is my very favorite. How on Earth did you come up with her? She's like some sad combination of Maureen Dowd's sparkling wit, Ed Asner's effortless urbanity, and granite.
Alas, Andrew, I've decided to retire Margo for a week or so. She was overwhelming my other comic creations. I still hope that "Phillip Adams" will catch on in time for a Christmas marketing blitz ("the roly-poly toy that never makes sense!") and maybe even "Hugh Mackay" could eventually earn a place in the hearts of comedy fans. He's got a Costanza-like cuddly loathsomeness, don't you think?
MISS CANADA fled Nigeria when the Miss World riots began. But because she fled before Miss World organisers decided that fleeing was a good idea, she is now banned from the Miss World contest.
AMONG AUSTRALIA'S troops in Afghanistan were wily non-conventional operatives, according to a note from someone who should know. The overly-cautious deletions are mine:
I just read your article in The Australian and would like to offer my support – and some thanks.
I, too, am a captain in the USAF and last winter I was in [deleted] as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, I had the privilege of meeting some members of the Australian military.
We invited them to [deleted] to teach us about their capabilities and we took them out to the ramp, let them crawl over the jets, and treated them to some fine Air Force chow. My squadron even had the opportunity to train with them, much to the betterment of all involved. They are consummate professionals and some of the finest members of the profession of arms I have ever met. Their contributions to our efforts will never be forgotten.
Please pardon my intentional ambiguity as to who they were, but they don't fall under the category of conventional warfare. I think you get my drift.
Please accept my support and gratitude and if you ever run across some of my Australian brothers-in-arms, pass some on to them.
Will do. Regarding our secret guys, it's known that 150 Australian SAS commandos were part of the 1,500 troops sent as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, but this note hints at specific and intriguing way-cool abilities they may possess. Tremble before the Secret Australians, global terror scum!
THE DESPERATE search for negatives in this poll of immigrants to Australia tells you more about The Sydney Morning Herald's agenda than anything I could ever write.
CONSERVATIVES AREN'T just dumb and evil. They're also culturally unaware, or at least are presumed to be by the likes of The Age's Terry Lane, who is shocked that conservative Victorian Liberal leader Rob Doyle (capital L "Liberal" being Australian for right-wing) enjoys The Simpsons and identifies with Homer:
And what's more Mr Doyle says that Lisa is the most irritating character on television!
Lane's lefty arrogance – "Only I am so wise as to receive The Simpsons' comedic message" – is typical of his humourless breed. He might be the only person who watches The Simpsons for the social justice talking points instead of the laughs.
TONIGHT'S EPISODE of Compass, the ABC's religious affairs program, covered the difficulties faced by young Western converts to Islam. Its title: "Mum, I'm a Muslim."
Maybe this is only part one of a series. Next week's show – "I Have No Child!" – could focus on the difficulties faced by the parents of Muslim converts. The week after: "Please, Mr. Locksmith, Make My Decadent Western House Secure!"
UPDATE. Mindful of James Packer's anticipated conversion, Michael Jennings writes:
I'm waiting for "Dad, I'm a Scientologist" to be shown on Channel Nine.
In what was by far the strangest showdown of the weekend, the "Spoofing Around: Satire in Fiction" panel with novelist Edward Swift and the as-yet-unclassifiable Neal Pollack didn't go well, especially in its aftermath. Swift, who has contacted Director Cyndi Hughes and Chair Mary Margaret Farabee with statements outlining "outrage" and "embarrassment" at his pairing with Pollack, said on Monday that "that Pollack man should be thrown out the window ... he is vulgar in every sense of the word. From the toilet. [The festival] should put him in a room of his own and invite everyone who loves his scatological language to go there and bathe with him." Pollack, who at the request of moderator Sarah Bird read his notorious poem "I Wipe My Ass on Your Novel," was taken aback by Swift's comments but quickly regained his composure. "He was an example of the kind of writer I make fun of, but it was maybe the first time I actually ran into one like that, in person. I thought it was fun," Pollack said. "He is a man of learning and erudition, but he's also a longwinded pontificator ... He's like Truman Capote, only a little more square."
ENGLAND'S BATSMEN at one stage of their first innings during the Second Test had scored 246 runs for the loss of only two wickets. From this position England somehow managed to lose by an innings and 51 runs before the end of the fourth day.
What a remarkable team. Over-coaching has destroyed some talented cricketers over the years, but England's players seem to be seriously under-coached. Off-spinner Richard Dawson is an obvious example. And is anyone putting this team through running drills? Look at the reaction of England's batsmen whenever an Australian fielding error offers the chance of a run. They freeze.
Go to grade cricket training in any Australian capital during the week and you'll see players being put through drills designed to capitalise on fielding flaws. England's players would do well to join in.
England captain Nasser Hussain just appeared on television to further demoralise his broken team. "Australia has a psychological stranglehold on world cricket at the moment," he said. "Anyone else should just pack up and go home."
To hell with that. Unpack and go training.
JOAN JETT rated only a tiny mention in Rolling Stone's Women In Rock issue. Her official website responds:
Jewel and Mandy friggin' Moore have full page features as Rock Icons...Meanwhile Joan Jett gets one line. ONE LINE. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who have never stopped touring, recently did 10 days in the Middle East playing for the troops stationed in Afghanistan. In AFGHANISTAN, Joan would come onstage wearing a birkha, which she ripped off and stomped on before blazing through the purest and nastiest rock show ANYWHERE. But even in the RS WOMEN IN ROCK issue, a story like that gets ONE SENTENCE on the bottom of the last page of Random Notes.
THE MISS World riots – there's something I never imagined typing – continue throughout Nigeria's north. In recent developments:
•The editor of the newspaper that published the controversial claim that Mohammed would have supported the Miss World contest has been arrested.
•4,500 people have fled their homes.
•And Nigerian Information Minister Jerry Gana says the newspaper article "would have led to riots anywhere, because it was provoking people unnecessarily about their religion."
Anywhere? Let's test Gana's universal violence theory with some unnecessary religious provocation of our own:
Jesus would have supported the Miss World contest, and he would have had a big loaves and fishes party with the hottest babes, and he would have sold photographs of himself with the women on e-Bay, and everyone would say, "Way to nail Miss Sweden, Jesus!"
Let the riots begin.
UPDATE. Uh oh. Alex Bensky sends this message from Michigan:
Even as I write, angry crowds are rioting through the streets of Detroit, demanding that every Australian in the country be rounded up and sent to labor camps in Alaska.
Meanwhile, the Swedish government has Stockholm under martial law and the Australian embassy under guard, because restive mobs there are upset at you questioning the virtue of Miss Sweden. I mean, you say something someone else doesn't like, what else can they do but riot?
That's a lesson I've tragically learned too late