2.01.2003

LATEST UNSURPRISING SURVEY NEWS:


A 39-nation public opinion survey found sentiment in favour of military action against Iraq strongest in the United States and Australia, while six in 10 in France and Russia and half in Germany opposed it under any circumstances.


AN E-MAIL arrived the other day from the Australian Federal Police:


In case you have not learned of any progress in Michael's efforts to find the police officer who assisted his relatives in Canberra, I believe we have located the officer in question.

Fingers crossed they get in touch. Thanks for broadcasting this appeal.



On related matters, this week I dropped off cheques worth more than $2,000 (all contributed by readers) at the local Commonwealth Bank for the Canberra fire appeal. James Morrow documented the event with his new megapixel omnicam; a thrilling photo-essay should be posted at his site in a couple of days. You need to see the Blix-like Chief Verification Officer who made sure the process was legit.

"IDIOTS!" rioters yelled at the ducking, crouching French.

UPDATE. No War For Chocolate! Reader Matt Crowe won't be silenced about the true purpose of France's Ivory Coast sabre-rattling:


This war is all about one arrogant nation’s insatiable appetite for another country's resources.

France is flexing its colonial muscles in the civil war in the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast just happens to be the world's largest producers of cocoa, a key ingredient in chocolate, which (surprise, surprise) just happens to be a dietary staple of, you guessed it, the French.

A coincidence? Now who's being naive?


THIS ISN'T the first time that a response to a cartoon in The Independent has been funnier than the cartoon itself, but it may be the best. Scroll up to see the cartoon it refers to.

HUGH MACKAY discusses war with his adorable and insightful daughter.

I'll be back later, after I've checked my legal texts for a clause under which Australia may revive the death penalty in cases of premeditated criminal smugness.

LEFTY PAUL SCOTT wonders about the "know-it-all style of dark grievance-dom that has increasingly come to define the peace movement":


The rush to war is about oil. The rush to war is about U.S. global aggression. The rush to war is about Bush Jr. finishing the work of Bush Sr. The rush to war, according to the very name of the organizing body behind Saturday's protest march -- International ANSWER, or Act Now to Stop War and End Racism -- is about race.

I just wish that every gathering of my lefties didn't have to become such a tedious exercise in cause-linking, chant-bullhorning and supposed truth-telling. I have the fantasy of a progressive cause with no Youth and Student Coordinator, no West Coast Representative, no brother from the movement in the country to the south and no presumption that words like Solidarity, Network, Action and Uprising are always to be treated as gospel, the code words that say we are all the same.


THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD'S Mike Carlton has employed the Internet to uncover an astonishing truth – not all Americans are united behind George W. Bush!

Carlton, a cyber-genius of some sort, achieved his scoop by visiting the websites of US citizens Edward Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein, and Robert Byrd. Incredibly, all three expressed opposition to Bush's State of the Union address. What are the odds of that?

Writes Carlton: "I think we can safely assume that none of that trio is anti-American, but as the drums of war grow louder such voices are barely heard, most especially in their homeland. The American media are avid for the missiles to start landing, slavering at the soaring newspaper circulation and TV ratings that war will bring."

Just as well Mike is on the job. We'd never know about this brave dissent otherwise.

FROM THE BBC'S Irish news service:

Some of Oirland's most respected roiters, includin' oughter Roddy Doyle and poet Tom Paulin, have soined a public letter opposin' war in Iraq.

Playroit Brian Friel and oughters Peter Sheridan and Jennifer Johnston were also amoong the literary names attached to the letter, which were pooblished in the Oirish Toimes.

Dey join udder roiters includin' 'Arold Pinter, Jeanette Winterson and Lucy Irvoin who have already spooken out against military action.

"The world is poised on the brink o' war. We hope that it is not too late to prevent dis conflict and wish to add our voice to the many millions true out the world who are callin' for the momentum towards war to be halted," the letter said. "It's all about pertayters."

1.31.2003

WILL THE environmental movement please tell these stupid Zambians that their selfishness is wrecking the planet? Honestly, some people only think of themselves.

DEFENCE EXPERT Paul Dibb presents his theories on likely casualty numbers resulting from a war against Saddam. Two paragraphs, although not specifically about volunteer human shields, should nevertheless give them pause:


Hussein will have no compunction in locating his elite forces and remaining air defence weapons next to hospitals, schools and orphanages. This will make the US-led coalition's absolute dominance in air power less decisive.

What Washington won't want is the so-called CNN effect of television pictures being broadcast worldwide of massive Iraqi civilian casualties resulting from mistakes in allied bombing of cities, or from Hussein using civilian shields.



Key word: "using".

PEACENIKS are guilty of double standards (at least). The blog-aware already know this; now the message has reached the Melbourne Age.

NINE PEOPLE have died in a train crash south of Sydney. The cause is unknown. Rescue efforts were hampered by the location of the crash:


Early in the rescue operation police used rocks to try to smash windows to get to passengers.

The injured had to be carried 200m up a steep rocky embankment and then driven almost 2km along a dirt fire trail to the nearest road.



Even as the rescue was continuing, some couldn't resist indulging their perversions.

1.30.2003

KAREN JACKSON, author of Webdiary's Top Ten Reasons to be anti-American, also provides at least one reason to be anti-nudity:

Herself.

Karen – the Australian Democrats' candidate for Fairfax in the last election – is a streaking enthusiast, which again proves that the Dems have not had an original idea since the 1970s. Like her hobby, Karen's politics cause alarm:


The King of Bhutan, a small country near India, recently proclaimed that he preferred "gross national happiness" to gross national product. I think this is a philosophy Australia needs to take on board, and I think the Democrats are the best party to provide it.



Great. Will they provide the ethnic cleansing, too?

(Links via master Googler Lawrence Haws)

THE FRENCH to George W. Bush: Non!

And the French to Robert Mugabe: Oui! Oui! Oui!

Meanwhile, in Abidjan

THE ABC'S Kerry O'Brien has been Wolfowitzed.

INSTAPUNDIT is complaining that his remote dial-up only delivers a pitiful 24 kilobops. Hey, welcome to my world!

OSAMA BIN LADEN'S State of the Union speech.

UNILATERALISM ALERT:


An Indonesian warship has sunk four Philippine fishing boats which tried to flee after poaching in Indonesian waters, press reports said Wednesday.



Boy, I'd sure hate to be those Indonesians once the UN hears about this. They'll get such a slap.

WEASELWEAR! Get your Axis of Weasels shirts, caps, briefcases, and – ooh la la! – thongs and panties here.

In related news: Ha!

STUPID WHITE BLOND NORDIC MEN. Martin Lindeskog writes that the Swedish translation of Michael Moore's Stupid White Men is high on Sweden's bestseller lists this week.

DID YOU know that Australia and Britain are only supporting the US war effort because they crave secret anti-gravity technology? It's true! And I am not a crank!

FINE POSTS from Gareth Parker on Richard Butler, Carmen Lawrence, Michelle Grattan, and "Peter Peacenik", and brilliance from the Bunyip on Scott Burchill, Fred Nerk (hit the link!), Phillip Knightley, Virginia Woolf, and Julia Baird.

HEADLINE from Yahoo: "Liberal powerbroker warns Howard off war".

They're talking about John Valder, a former Liberal powerbroker. The reason for his "former" status will become clear once you read the article.

THE WEEKLY LAYNE 'n' WELCH is looking good!

I am not anti-American.

-- Margo Kingston, January 29, 2003.

MICHAEL PARKINSON on why the English can't even win a game they invented:


What English cricket desperately needs is dynamic leadership, radical rethink, a revolution.

What it has instead is a system so antiquated, so contrary to sensible management, so unsuitable for producing Test cricketers it would appear to exist in a world of its own imagining.

In other words, it is bloody useless.



While we're on the subject, former cricket teammate John Barker – we both played for Tooronga; being a good player, he was invariably several teams above me – writes regarding Malcolm Knox's racism claims:


As for these teetotallers who are getting shut out of "in groups", surely this would -- and should -- happen to teetotallers of any nationality or religion. But it doesn't mean they're getting shut out of the team. In my experience of tinpot Australian sporting clubs, the desire to win is so pathological that the best players, regardless of race, would be selected in the top teams even if the chairman of selectors was David Duke.

I don't recall much if any racist sledging in my 16 years wasted on the cricket field. And this was in an atmosphere where mean, nasty taunts were encouraged. Anything racist was likely to incur the wrath of teammates as much as opponents.



John is exactly right. Tooronga was a spitefully competitive club, where any and all means of winning were aggressively adopted. Our match plans were devious and often contravened the spirit of the game. In other words, it was a typical Australian sports club.

Yet I can't remember any racism. I remember fantastically obscene abuse, and getting my chin cut open by an angry fast bowler, and once being cited for blatant cheating, but racism – no, that wouldn't do at all.

READER POLLY BOLTON, of Camarillo, Calif., somehow missed the global anti-cowboy memo:


When the rest of the world, and the elite in the US call Pres. Bush a cowboy, I think – Thank God. We need a cowboy at this point in history. We need someone who is principled, hard working, knows right from wrong, and is willing to fight for what is right and to protect the innocent. That's what a cowboy was and is. I never got the memo telling me that "cowboy" is an insult. And if someone wants to try to convince me that being a cowboy is something to be ashamed of, I say, "Let's take this discussion outside and settle it."



Look out, Polly! You'll be up against Big Al Gore and Mean Jean Chretien! Hmmm … on second thoughts, my money's on Polly.

FOR ALL YOUR Australian legal commentary needs, consult Sean Hocking's practicesource.

1.29.2003

ONE REASON to like Robert Fisk

TONIGHT I'M on the Sky News program Australian Agenda pushing the pro-war cause with three other pro-war (or at least anti-anti-war) guests, all of them more articulate than I. Tune in at 7.30pm, or catch it in replay during the rest of the week. Host John Gatfield (for many years presenter of the Nine Network's news bulletins in Melbourne) is a class act, and a regular reader of the blogs. No wonder he's ahead of the curve.

IT'S LAUGHS GALORE at war-torn Margostan this week. Be sure not to miss Karen Jackson's "Top 10 Reasons to be anti-American". Here's a sample:


Hundreds of prisoners of war remain in Cuba without legal representation, and with no hope of a trial. More murders occur in the US than any other Western country because of their freedom to own guns. The Bush government is keen to crack down on freedom of speech when it comes to sexually explicit material, something the vast majority of Americans indulge in. And sodomy is still illegal in dozens of US states. Is that freedom?



Well, it might be, if you don't want to be sodomized. Go read the whole thing. Hilarious.

UPDATE. Combustible Boy smites Karen Jackson, Tex mocks her good, and Andrea Harris supplies additional belting.



1.28.2003

ACTOR/ACTIVIST Christopher Reeve is in town, talking up stem-cell research and what-not. Inspired by Reeve's passion, non-driver Bob Carr has decided to once again milk his favourite source of extra cash:


Ten more fixed speed cameras will be set up in Sydney to raise almost $11 million for a spinal injury research fund, NSW Premier Bob Carr said today.



Reeve was injured in a horse-riding accident, Bob. Why must motorists be penalised? The government should instead fine horse owners, or anything horse-related. Stupid horse drawings in the margins of schoolgirl textbooks? $25. No, make it $75. Polo? $1,000 per competitor per minute, at least. Jumps? Each one should cost $50,000.

Let's fix this spinal-injury problem at its cause. Ban the horse!

PARSING PINTER, by the Weekly Standard's Joseph Bottum:


Would it help to point out to Pinter that the classical model suggests spondees are the best foot to substitute for dactyls? No, this is simply too vile. Maybe there are meaningful arguments against war with Iraq. But Manhattan on September 11 was the place where the gutters were literally clogged with the ashes of the dead. The Kurds and the Marsh Arabs are the ones who lost their voices under Saddam Hussein, and the destroyed Christian and Jewish communities are what have been eliminated because they wouldn't join in. Pinter's view of the world can exist, even in its own narrow logic, only by never mentioning the facts. It is Harold Pinter who has forgotten the tune.


MICHAEL MOORE argues the case for bun rights.

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD hails the disarming wit of Hans Blix:


In March last year, when the Iraqi authorities first agreed to talk to him but still insisted they would not allow the "return of the spy teams," Blix told reporters he had "progressed from being a nonentity to become a spy".

In October, he flew to Vienna for talks with Iraqi officials on practical arrangements for resuming inspections which had been cut off four years previously. Asked what he would do if they rejected his proposals, he replied: "Since when in diplomacy do you accept no for an answer?"



Har-de-har-har! And here's more from the Hans Blix United Nations Humour Omnibus:

Q: Why did the UN inspector cross the road?

A: To avoid helping the desperate Iraqi dissident.

Q: Knock, knock.

A: Who's there?

Q: Mary Robinson, and I'm very concerned

A: WE'RE NOT HOME! Please go away!

Q: Did you hear the one about the Libyan who was appointed head of the UN's human rights commission?

A: Yes I did! It was very funny!

PAMELA BONE is upset about men using a certain word beginning with "c":


What about the word that is so bad it can't be printed? I am referring, of course, to c---. Have you forgotten that this word refers to the most intimate part of a woman's anatomy, that defines us from the moment we are born, that makes us different from men?

What does it say about attitudes to women when this word is the worst word there is?



Beats me. Meanwhile I'm planning to sue Pamela over her obviously sexist surname.

TAKE TEN MINUTES or so out of your day to read this. By the end of it, you'll be hitting the 'print' command to run off copies for your friends – especially your anti-war friends.

ASK AN IRAQI about human shields. Hasan Janabi, a Sydney-based member of the Iraqi opposition, tells The 7.30 Report:


Saddam's regime is a criminal regime. It's a regime that used weapons of mass destruction against its own people. Knowing the Iraqi regime, knowing the propaganda machine that is used by Saddam's regime, these people will end up saving Saddam's intention.



Why don't they go to Bali? Terrorism has destroyed that island's economy. These pinheads would do more good drinking beer in the Balinese sun than they will holding hands outside Saddam Hussein's torture chambers.

SERIOUS PEOPLE might be preparing for war, but the Australian Labor Party hasn't exactly been sitting around doing nothing:


The federal ALP has proposed playgroups for all children up to three years old, as part of its discussion paper on early childhood education and care.



Yay.

1.27.2003

AUSTRALIANS, according to Malcolm Knox, are "not yet at a stage of cultural maturity where we even know what racism is".

Maybe we could take lessons from the culturally mature Dutch. Here's Ian Buruma's account of crowd behaviour at a soccer match between Feyenoord and Ajax – the latter based in Amsterdam, and known as Holland's "Jewish team":


It was a profoundly disturbing experience. Imagine thousands of football supporters screaming 'Fucking Jews!', or 'To the gas chamber!', or 'Next stop Auschwitz!' every time a player from the Amsterdam side touches the ball. Imagine, if you can bear it, thousands of people making hissing noises, mimicking the flow of gas.



Knox also claims that "we lag a generation behind England in resolving the race debate." So successful has England's resolution been that hundreds of its citizens joined Osama bin Laden's avowedly non-racist international love troops. Australia has such a long way to go.

UPDATE. Gareth Parker presents empirical evidence that contradicts Knox's theory about racist Australian sporting clubs. And here's one more name to add to the list of non-Anglos who've played senior cricket: Andrew Symonds. Symonds had the chance a few years ago to play for England, having been born there to West Indian parents. He chose to stay in unresolved racist Australia, and now represents his adopted nation in international limited-overs cricket.

THE FRENCH – who find American patriotism so immature and repulsive – have passed a law allowing courts to fine or jail people who defile the flag or mock the Marseillaise.

THEY'RE ONLY BURKHAS, OFFICER! HONEST!


Detectives investigating a plot by Islamic terrorists to carry out a chemical weapons attack in Britain have found chemical warfare protection suits at a mosque in north London.


TREACHER IS BACK! And he's making a difference.

DONATIONS FROM readers of this site to the Canberra Bushfire Recovery Appeal now exceed $2,000. I'll make sure by tonight to send e-mails acknowledging each donation and then prepare the Big Novelty Cheque (or many dozen Small Novelty Cheques) for the fire appeal people tomorrow (today being a public holiday).

Thank you everybody!

IT'S ONLY JANUARY, but John Burnett may already have written the Sydney Morning Herald's letter of the year:


What has happened to the kind people of Australia that I knew and loved when I immigrated here eight years ago?

Then people welcomed me and others like me, regardless of our religion or our national origin.

Now, every time that I walk into the CBD, I see ugly graffiti accusing my community of atrocities and I read horrible things about how I and all others like me are terrorists and undeserving of any kindness.

Now all the Australian people seem to have for me is hatred and scorn and bigotry.

By the way, I'm not a Muslim from the Middle East; I'm a Jew from the United States.



And Richard Allen makes a fine point in the Melbourne Age:


Morality is determined by individuals, not by a vote. Therefore if one concedes that going to Iraq is moral, with UN approval, then why does the absence of that approval matter? If it's moral in one situation, then it does not stop being moral when the appeasers vote against it.


I'M LATE to this, but for the benefit of anyone else who missed Richard Cohen's takedown of John le Carre, here it is.

TIME MAGAZINE has viewed confessions made by the two main conspirators in the Bali terror attack:


They provide startling revelations about the scale and complexity of the Bali conspiracy, and about the fervor and reach of the people behind it. The confessions help establish for the first time a link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and the Bali bombers, most of whom belong to Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a Southeast Asian network of Islamic militants.

The confessions also offer a chilling insight into the shadowy, closed universe of Islamic militancy in Southeast Asia—a world in which grimly dedicated, self-proclaimed warriors fight in an apocalyptic global struggle that pits Muslims against what Samudra calls "the international crusade" carried out by the U.S. and its allies. As a senior Western diplomat in Jakarta puts it, the Indonesian investigators "have turned up a JI organization that is probably more intricate and more deeply embedded in Indonesian society than perhaps they or we even thought."