HUGH MACKAY would like to share with you his latest profound delusions:
Imagine this: as the sun's early rays stab the darkness of an autumn morning, millions - literally millions - of Australians rise from their beds, don their marching gear, pick up their placards and take to the streets, swelling the throng of resolute citizens who have already begun pressing towards the centre of cities and towns all over the country.
Long before the crowds have reached their destinations, it is clear that this will be the biggest demonstration ever staged in Australia's history. For the Prime Minister, standing upon a huge podium erected on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin - flanked by the Australian flag, the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack - it is a moment of euphoria and triumph.
Fists are punching the air in the time-honoured salute to violence and revenge. "Death to the infidel! Death to Saddam!" Children's eyes are shining with excitement as the crowds surge through the streets, breaking fences, trampling gardens and overturning cars in their furious determination to be part of the action.
That's us pro-war right-wingers; always with the chanting and the fists and the broken fences and the overturned cars and the garden trampling. We also trash stores, try to kill police, and make the large puppets. Shine on, Hugh, you crazy diamond!
ACCUSED OF being Bush's poodle, Tony Blair explains his position on Iraq:
"It's worse than you think. I believe in it. I am truly committed to dealing with this, irrespective of the position of America.
"If the Americans were not doing this, I would be pressing for them to be doing so."
The entire piece is worth reading, especially for this paragraph:
At various points in the interview, he betrayed his irritation with his party's left and with what he referred to as "Guardian readers".
PHILLIP ADAMS today recycles the old "Australia should honour intellectuals above sportsmen" line. Brace yourself for more Phil during the week; he'll appear in The Australian's op-ed pages on Thursdays, I understand, with the aim of providing a concise and entertaining take on current events.
Big shoes to fill, mate.
FORMER WIT and alleged pacifist Tom Lehrer talks to the Sydney Morning Herald:
I'm not tempted to write a song about George W. Bush. I couldn't figure out what sort of song I would write. That's the problem: I don't want to satirise George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporise them.
Nice old man. And about Columbia:
They are calling it a disaster instead of a screw-up, which is all it was. They're calling these people heroes. The Columbia isn't a disaster. The disaster is that they're continuing this stupid program.
One of the things I'm proudest of is, on my record That Was the Year that Was in 1965, I made a joke about spending $20 billion sending some clown to the moon.
I was against the manned space program then and I'm even more against it now, that whole waste of money. And so, when seven people blow up or become confetti, then they've asked for it. They're volunteers, for one thing.
A small business in Bega has decided to withhold a proportion of its taxes because it refuses to fund the war on Iraq.
The staff and partners at Candelo Bulk Wholefoods in Bega, NSW, say that "they do not believe that war is the answer as the people of Iraq have suffered enough already. The US has more weapons of mass destruction than any other country and they should be disarmed as well. Iraq has not attacked Australia. We would like our government to be seriously committed to peace, and to work peacefully with all nations to achieve peace. Peace is not an absence of war: it requires courage, justice, tolerance, patience and creative positive action.
Instead, Candelo Bulk Wholefoods will donate the ten percent of their PAYG tax which would otherwise go on defence spending to Bega Valley RAR.
Candelo Bulk Wholefoods encourage other individuals and businesses to do the same.
Great idea! I'll get right to it:
A small website in Bondi Junction has decided to withhold a proportion of its taxes because it refuses to fund the ABC ...
INTERESTING NUMBERS from the Gallop pollsters:
Almost six out of 10 Americans say that news stories are often inaccurate. While Americans are roughly as likely to say that the media's news coverage favors the Republican Party as the Democratic Party, 45% say that the media are too liberal, while only 15% say the media are too conservative.
GEORGE W. BUSH: leftist!
Bush has resurrected the dream of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president and famous liberal internationalist who vowed to make the world safe for democracy. Bush is the most Wilsonian president since Wilson. This is not conservative.
ATTEMPTING SOME kind of world hypocrisy record, Webdiary contributor Polly Bush ridicules
cricketer Shane Warne for taking weight-reducing drugs:
Shane Warne is, and will always be, a dill. He may be the world's greatest spin-bowler, but in the grand scheme of dills, Warney even makes Chris Barrie look like less of one.
To add to his long list, Warney's latest dopey deed of taking a weapon of mass reduction has at the very least provided some amusement ...
Polly Bush is a former heroin addict.
PROFESSOR DAVE writes:
Maybe it's just me, but isn't there a porn flick called "Blowing for Columbine" waiting to be made out there somewhere, and wouldn't it be great if some French idiot accidentally gave it an award?
Ron Jeremy would be perfect for the lead role. Once he put on a few pounds, of course.
Iraq has long been adept at manipulating terrible deprivation and health issues to move Western public opinion through a highly sophisticated propaganda campaign globally.
The Bush Administration has equally been running a deft line in anti-Saddam tactics even as UN sanctions and bombing campaigns in the "no fly" zones over Iraq cause misery.
So far, so bad. Things get even worse when BBC correspondent Christopher Lee is interviewed:
Both the British Government and the American Government have so far failed to present the military evidence that Saddam Hussein is dangerous enough for the British to get involved in a war against him.
The Americans have had more success, and that is partly because the American system allows people to feel threatened far more. It is a society which tends to be isolationist. And therefore, if you said that it is threatened, then it takes great umbrage at that and takes great fear from it, and therefore they're still likely to believe anything that's thrown at them.
Not quite sure I quite follow his reasoning there; apparently, in the manner of a curse, the mention of a threat leads to nationwide gullibility. Yesterday's World Today featured a cameo from John Shovelhead, the ABC's Washington correspondent:
John Highfield: Saddam Hussein's exclusive live appearance on the CBS Television Network ... has incensed the White House. It's already warned other media outlets not to be conned by what it terms "this Iraqi propaganda" and is demanding equal time to respond.
In Washington, John Shovelan reports on the battle the Bush Administration doesn't want to lose.
John Shovelan: President George W. Bush’s chief propagandist, Ari Fleischer, had a warning today for American media outlets ...
UPDATE. Reader Jeffrey Murphy writes to report a Highfield comment on the ABC this afternoon: "The United States and its limited number of allies ..."
WON'T ANYBODY PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE (wealthy, private school, insufferably moralistic) CHILDREN?
Principals interviewed by the Herald reported growing levels of stress among students, with anti-war petitions, passionate speeches at school assemblies and discussions in classes.
So ban anti-war petitions. Problem solved.
At St Ignatius College, Riverview, the three school captains have written a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister, calling for a withdrawal of Australian troops from the Persian Gulf and for a non-military solution.
"Strongly worded", eh? Here’s a fun school project, kids: get your Iraqi pen-friends to try the same stunt in Baghdad. Watch as their hands and feet and heads magically disappear!
Tom van Beek, Sean Williams and Justin Fleming told Mr Howard a poll of 574 students at the Catholic high school showed 75 per cent were against Australian military participation in Iraq, regardless of the United Nations' position.
How dare these punks threaten the UN's authority! Kofi Annan should have them tortured.
The Riverside Girls High School captain, Nadya Marokakis, and its vice-captain, Elizabeth Garlan, led 25 fellow students in their school uniforms to the peace rally in Hyde Park on February 16.
Great. The Parade of the Nerds.
The 17-year-olds have addressed their school assembly and made banners arguing for peace.
And stuck Justin Timberlake pictures on their walls.
This is the first war these students have faced but many have studied the Vietnam and Gulf wars and feel "frustrated, more than anything else", Miss Garlan said. "Learning about the experience of war and the mistakes made, to see history repeating itself is frustrating for us. We're the next generation and they're messing with our future."
Oh, shove it, preachy. These junior Chomskyettes need to reach drinking age, fast.
The principal of St Raphael's primary in South Hurstville, Felicity Giles, said the pupils there had a heightened awareness and sense of unease.
You mean they aren't all happy and content and relaxed like normal teenagers?
"At midday each day we down tools right across the school and say a prayer for peace - it might be a Muslim prayer or a Bahai or Hindu or Jewish prayer, not only a prayer from the Christian Catholic tradition."
As usual, we animists are completely ignored.
"They need to feel that it's the world that seeks peace."
Conscription will sort out these peace-lusting, multi-worshipping youngsters.
UPDATE. Reader Rob L. writes:
There's a very good reason why we Australians don't allow people to vote until they're 18. These kids have just demonstrated what it is.
It's a one-eyeball deal, people. Eye, singular. Maybe this slogan would be acceptable if it was rewritten as "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world with depth-perception issues", or "Until you remove all of your opponent's eyes, he can still see you, so make a good job of it", but as it stands this slogan is a crude and deliberate lie. No wonder people are disillusioned.
"DO YOU BELIEVE GEORGE BUSH?" asks Margo Kingston, calling to mind visions of charred kitchen implements arguing amongst themselves:
Meanwhile, John Howard gave more of an insight into his thinking to American readers than to his own people! He spells out why he opposes containment and why he thinks there'll be less rather than more terrorism if we invade Iraq in the latest Wall Street Journal. Scott Burchill forwarded the piece, headlined 'You Can't 'Contain' Saddam: Cold War doctrine doesn't apply in the age of terror'. We haven't got the rights to publish it because the Australian Financial Review holds the rights, and the WSJ is subscription-based, so you'd have to pay to read it. How weird is this?!
Don't believe her. Howard's WSJ piece is available for free.
GET YOUR GIVE WAR A CHANCE t-shirts, caps, and buttons now! As the makers say: "When nothing else works, war works wonders. Just ask Japan, well behaved since 1945."
Michael Moore, whose gun violence documentary "Bowling for Columbine" was honored as best foreign film, brought the audience to its feet Saturday when he applauded France for trying to slow the U.S. drive to war.
"Thanks for showing us the way, and for taking up a position on something very important," Moore said. "A real ally, a real friend, is someone who tells you when you're wrong."
Nonsense. A real friend is someone who tells you that when your right hand alone weighs as much as a six-month-old child, it might be time for a diet.
DIONNE WARWICK and Phil Donahue are the current headline acts at Dumb Celebs, which also features this stupefying quote from Bill Maher:
I don't understand this, about how the UN is ineffectual when they are stopping a rush to war. I remember when I went on a class trip to the UN when I was in 6th grade and it seemed to be all about peace. I read their charter, it seemed to be about keeping the peace. So I don't understand how they're ineffectual when they're stopping a war.
Man's a genius.
READER KURT STOYLE writes:
George Michael is of the opinion that other pop artists don't have the credibility or the gravity to be taken seriously when they sing songs about Iraq. It seems that you only attain that sort of respect when you manage to rhyme "yo-yo" with "go-go". Being arrested for performing indecent acts in a public toilet also helps, or so I hear.
ROGER BOURNIVAL reports that Afghan death exaggerator Marc Herold has written a book -- with 7,000 pages! And 10,000 photographs! More than TWENTY BILLION words!
SATAN'S MINION KEN LIVINGSTONE is now attempting to remove vehicles from London's streets that were already removed decades ago:
A museum's 105-year-old Daimler that has not been on the road since 1947 has had a penalty notice for evading Ken Livingstone's congestion charge in London.
The veteran car, with the number plate Y99 and a maximum speed of 15mph, was said to have been driven into the capital at 8.15 on the morning of Feb 17 without paying the £5 charge.
"We were surprised to get the paperwork because the Daimler has not moved under its own power for decades," said Andrew King, curator of the Bristol Industrial Museum, where the car has been on display for 25 years.
IF RELIGION is the opiate of the masses, extremist Islamism is the Mogadon of the malcontents:
"Let it be known, there's thousands of Osama bin Ladens here and if they ever find Osama bin Laden, another thousand will pop up," says Khalid, who is not alone as an Aboriginal convert to Islam who admires the terrorist leader.
In his 40s and unemployed, Khalid, who has lived in Sydney and is visiting relatives in South Australia, converted to Islam more than a decade ago when he was in jail.
"Wherever you are, Osama bin Laden, I love you, brother and I do it for you and I pray for you because to me you're just a spiritual warrior standing up for Islam and propagating freedom around the world," says Khalid, one of four Aboriginal Muslims featured in an SBS-TV Insight program to be screened tonight.
Get a job.
A FEW people have e-mailed asking about hits at this site. Here are the latest numbers:
The past day: 7,010
The past week: 48,866
The past month: 211,900
The past six months: 1,033,786
Since December 2001: 1,621,402
DESCRIBING A FILM shown at Perth's 50th International Arts Festival, Sydney Morning Herald reporter Joyce Morgan reveals her madness:
Shots of the Hindenburg, the German zeppelin adorned with a swastika which exploded in 1937 while the Nazi regime was flexing its military muscle, echoed a more recent disaster, the crash of the shuttle Columbia - the product of another regime bent on a final military solution to unfinished business.
This disgrace has gone unnoticed for a couple of weeks. It may be appropriate to send an e-mail to the editor.
JOHN HOWARD, writing for the WSJ, on containment:
Critics of U.S. policy on Iraq have lately begun to employ the term "containment" to describe an alternative approach. That alternative essentially is to muddle along with endless further U.N. resolutions, which Iraq either ignores or partially obeys under intense pressure, with inspectors given "more time" to disarm Iraq.
It's not surprising that containment has been invoked. It's had a good diplomatic history--quite illustrious really. It described the West's successful response to the Soviet Union's expansionism after World War II and stretching into the 1950s. We all know that in the end the Soviet Union imploded. The liberal democratic values of the West won the ideological contest, and the U.S. has emerged as the one superpower. With a track record like that, why wouldn't America's opponents over Iraq want to annex "containment" to their cause?
It is, however, a false historical comparison. Worse, it completely misstates the character of the threat which the world now faces.
Read the whole thing. The whole thing.
A COUPLE OF days after Australia's anti-war protests, I wrote that the marches "will prove not to be a sign of gathering momentum, but a high point ... From here on, the Left will slide."
Turns out I might have been right:
Support for Australian involvement in a war on Iraq is on the rise, according to the latest Newspoll.
Conducted for SBS World News, the Newspoll found support for military action in Iraq had returned to levels of late last year following a dip in January.
Support for Australian involvement in US-led military strikes rose by eight points from 30 per cent to 38 per cent since last month.
Opposition to the conflict fell from 61 per cent to 53 per cent with nine per cent uncommitted.
Next week: my guaranteed lotto numbers.
GIVE ME FIVE STARS, or give me death!
One of France's most famous chefs has apparently committed suicide after the renowned GaultMillau guide downgraded his flagship restaurant.
Bernard Loiseau's apparent suicide yesterday shocked France, plunged the gastronomic world into mourning and raised a storm of condemnation from fellow culinary masters blaming all-powerful food critics for pushing the celebrated chef to despair.
Poor Bernard. I wonder what sort of reviews his fancy chow would've gotten from John McMorran, America's oldest man, who has died in Florida at 113:
"He was never sick," a 35-year-old great-granddaughter, Lisa Saxton, told The Ledger of Lakeland.
"He lived a great life. Obviously, he was well put together. He smoked cigars, drank beer and ate greasy food. He was an amazing man."
THE INDEPENDENT'S Deborah Orr has had it up to here with the crazy people:
I've also become increasingly more disgusted by the divisiveness of left-wing rhetoric: the simple-minded anti-Americanism (how not to win friends and influence people), the wilful damage that is done by the insistence that the war is being fought over oil (even if it was, what use would this stance have in talking the US down?), the playground level of the insults against the intelligence of Bush and Blair (they may not be the most original thinkers, but they're pretty bright); the heartless hard-left insistence that national sovereignty should always be respected (I thought the left was against life being a lottery – if so, then why is being born under a vicious dictatorship hard cheese?); and the hectoring insistence that only Palestinians, and never Israelis, are victims (yes, it's key that this situation should be sorted out, but again, is haranguing with such bias the way to win hearts and minds?).
HI, DR TARIQ! The Simpsons' Dr Nick Riviera and Iraqi excuse-monger Tariq Aziz demonstrate a shared talent for evasion.
WHO'S THE GREATER THREAT TO WORLD PEACE? According to this poll in The Age, 52% believe it's the US. Curiously, Britain -- although it supports the US mission against Saddam -- has so far received not a single vote.
MENTIONED IN this week's column for
The Bulletin: John Pilger, Slobodan Milosevic, George W. Bush, John Howard, Jacques Chirac, Robert Mugabe, Joe Carter, Jocelyn Scutt, Mark Bastick, Kate Brown, Ian Matterson, Osama bin Laden, Pauline Hanson, Kim Beazley, Patricia Murray, Natasha Stott Despoja, Robert Doyle, and Simon Crean.
LATEST FORMULA ONE RULES REVEALED!
It is proposed that Ferrari be required to staff its team entirely with Italians – half from the north and half from the south – to ensure the maximum possible disharmony and subsequent reduction in on-track performance.
Other national teams, of course, will be required to follow suit, in technology as well as personnel. The French Renaults will be equipped only with reverse. The Sauber team, from Switzerland, will be jammed in neutral. British cars will have the teeth stripped from every gear.
JOSE RAMOS HORTA, East Timor's minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, delivers the definitive human rights argument for a US-led war in Iraq:
There is hardly a family in my country that has not lost a loved one. Many families were entirely wiped out during the decades of occupation by Indonesia and the war of resistance against it. The United States and other Western nations contributed to this tragedy. Some bear a direct responsibility because they helped Indonesia by providing military aid. Others were accomplices through indifference and silence. But all redeemed themselves. In 1999, a global peacekeeping force helped East Timor secure its independence and protect its people. It is now a free nation.
But I still acutely remember the suffering and misery brought about by war. It would certainly be a better world if war were not necessary. Yet I also remember the desperation and anger I felt when the rest of the world chose to ignore the tragedy that was drowning my people. We begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary.
So I follow with some consternation the debate on Iraq in the United Nations Security Council and in NATO. I am unimpressed by the grandstanding of certain European leaders. Their actions undermine the only truly effective means of pressure on the Iraqi dictator: the threat of the use of force.
If the antiwar movement dissuades the United States and its allies from going to war with Iraq, it will have contributed to the peace of the dead. Saddam Hussein will emerge victorious and ever more defiant. What has been accomplished so far will unravel. Containment is doomed to fail. We cannot forget that despots protected by their own elaborate security apparatus are still able to make decisions.
Saddam Hussein has dragged his people into at least two wars. He has used chemical weapons on them. He has killed hundreds of thousands of people and tortured and oppressed countless others. So why, in all of these demonstrations, did I not see one single banner or hear one speech calling for the end of human rights abuses in Iraq, the removal of the dictator and freedom for the Iraqis and the Kurdish people? If we are going to demonstrate and exert pressure, shouldn't it be focused on the real villain, with the goal of getting him to surrender his weapons of mass destruction and resign from power? To neglect this reality, in favor of simplistic and irrational anti-Americanism, is obfuscating the true debate on war and peace.
Abandoning such a threat would be perilous. Yes, the antiwar movement would be able to claim its own victory in preventing a war. But it would have to accept that it also helped keep a ruthless dictator in power and explain itself to the tens of thousands of his victims.
History has shown that the use of force is often the necessary price of liberation. A respected Kosovar intellectual once told me how he felt when the world finally interceded in his country: "I am a pacifist. But I was happy, I felt liberated, when I saw NATO bombs falling."
Ramos Horta is a friend of John Pilger, who once wrote that "the people of East Timor should be helped to get rid of their oppressors and to exercise their right of self-determination". Enjoy the silence as Pilger and the rest of the anti-war Left now totally ignore their comrade’s call for another oppressed nation’s liberation.
The 116 members of the Non-Aligned Movement are set to pass a resolution in support of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
The Non-Aligned Movement resolution is expected to pass unanimously, with an additional call for international support for President Mugabe's land reform program, under which thousands of white Zimbabweans have been driven off their farms.
Delegates at the conference are attributing Zimbabwe's drastic food shortages on drought rather than mismanagement.
QUICK! CALL JERRY SPRINGER!
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has challenged President George W. Bush to a live, international television debate about the war on Iraq, CBS News reported today.
MARGOSAMA BIN KINGSTON is re-writing history:
Unlike the war on Afghanistan, where the world willingly backed the US to destroy the Taliban and its state-backed terrorism ...
Except large sections of the world didn’t willingly back the US to destroy the Taliban, especially that toxic sub-category of the world inhabited by Margo and her cadre of shrieking unpeople. Here are some Margo quotes from the early days of the Afghan offensive:
Why should WE send our troops when only the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world - the Brits and the Canadians - are with us?
I was deliberately not keeping up with this topic because I couldn't see the validity of comments on a phoney war.
The war is getting messy. It's hard to find victory or exit strategies or any other sanity in what's happening. Innocent bodies pile up. Moral certainties dissolve.
How will we know when the war is over? How will the world have changed when that day comes?
Do WE support the overthrow of the Afghani government? What do WE want to replace it with?
As expected by everyone except the Yanks, the Afghans are too tough to avoid sending US troops in. As predicted by everyone except the Yanks, it appears, it's supposed be a LONG war, requiring PATIENCE and INTELLIGENCE.
Professor Bunyip has more. Margo should be put in a home.
LOTS OF goodness available from Howard Owens right now, including a military fisking and this Chirac-inspired piece of relationship wisdom:
The next time I'm tired of listening to my wife's crap, I'm going to tell her, "you've lost a good opportunity to keep quiet."
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS LYING, writes Michael Totten. So live with it:
Just remember that disinformation is a crucial component of war. And consider the audience for all this disinformation right now. It isn’t you. And it isn’t me.
We should not expect the Bush Administration to tell the truth to the American people all the time. No Administration ever does that. Bush is full of it on a fairly regular basis. Just listen to Ari Fleischer’s press conferences. They are case studies in spin and evasion.
All this is normal. It’s normal for politics, alas. But it is normal and even appropriate in a time of war.
DAVID MARR'S Media Watch usually generates about 1,800 Vc-i* of pure suck per 15 minute broadcast. But last night's episode produced nearly three times that amount -- close to an entire metric Sandler.
Marr attempted to calm John Pilger's rage over our restricted press, reassuring him that Australian journalists were eager to present an anti-US spin. He ignored a massive recent example of ABC bias (Marr isn't alone). And then there was this:
We have NO mainstream newspaper to speak for the 40% of Australians who don't want any war at all. There is no paper here like the London Mirror.
Gareth Parker replies:
Because there is no mainstream paper that is exclusively anti-war, Media Watch thinks no anti-war views are being published. This is an obvious and astonishing distortion that ignores the fact that every mainstream newspaper in the country has published opinion pieces that argue for and against war.
Further, Media Watch is actually saying that newspapers should be biased (so long as that bias fits neatly the program's ideological agenda). Extraordinary.
Quite. Almost as suckworthy was Marr's citing of a piece in The Guardian on alleged Murdoch uniformity:
Rupert Murdoch is the media superpower, with over 175 newspapers on three continents. And according to a survey done by Roy Greenslade of the London Guardian - all of them are singing from the same hymn sheet.
Marr didn't examine Greenslade's research; he merely presented it. Why not interview local Murdoch editors to discover if Greenslade was accurate? Why trust him?
Greenslade accused INL newspapers in New Zealand of falling in with a pro-war line dictated by Rupert Murdoch, but Mediawatch found that the evidence does not back up Greenslade's claims. The Dominion Post editorial he quotes in the story was actually published in The Press, the only one of the INL papers to consistently take a pro-war line.
For that matter, why not send letters to various lefty columnists demanding to know the details of their anti-Americanism, as Media Watch
did last year to conservative writers the program suspected of harbouring anti-Muslim views?
Ken Parish, no raving right-winger, has given up on Marr's worthless smugfest. The few dozen who still watch will no doubt soon join him.
*vacuum cleaner - industrial
IN TODAY'S episode of Comical Appeasement Misadventures, our gang of human shields doesn't know which sites to guard or what to do or even what to call themselves. We begin with some lines from Australia's Gordon Sloan:
"We have set up a committee to check out the sites - how many of us might be able to stay at them and how close they are to military targets.”
Sloan prefers to guard an area that isn't likely to be attacked. He could use some help with the whole "human shield" concept; if he isn't shielding something, he's just a "human":
On Saturday, when the Herald caught up with Sloan at the April 7 Water Treatment Plant, on the banks of the Tigris in suburban Saba Abkar, he was still ambivalent because it was in the midst of other heavily guarded buildings that might become targets.
The Herald's Paul McGeogh, noting that such facilities weren't targeted in 1991, asked Sloan why he would choose to protect a water treatment plant:
"If we protect just the power stations, the Americans might bomb the water plants - so this is our counter-measure."
Sure it is. I'm guarding the Sydney Cricket Ground, because if we just protect the power stations and the water plants, the Americans might bomb Australian sports arenas.
Meanwhile, other alleged human shields want a new name:
Ryan Clancy, a 26-year-old US teacher and spokesman for the group, said: "As a linguistics major I have a problem with the term human shield. Yesterday we had a list of eight possible alternatives, but it would be difficult to change our name at this stage because of the press we are getting."
How about "panty shields"?
An old hand in the peace community forecast yesterday that when the bombs do begin to fall the numbers will thin quickly.
Bombs'll do that. News Ltd's shield story contains possibly the most accurate typo ever printed:
"The American and English governments are fairly well informed, so it would be negligent for them to effectively blow us away and if they did it would be a direct decision and not an accident," [Sloane] said.
He said the activisits would let the US know of their positions through the internet.
HERE'S ROBERT FISK on February 18:
Could anything be more pathetic than the Arab demonstration against war? What on earth is it with the Arabs? Of all people, they – and they alone – are likely to suffer in this American invasion of their homeland. Yet, faced with catastrophe, the Arabs are like mice.
And here's Saddam Hussein today:
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has criticised some of his fellow Arabs as cowardly. The state news agency INA said Saddam denounced the "pusillanimous among the Arabs ... as any true Arab nationalist ... should be aware of the dangers facing the Arab nation".
Nice readers you've got there, Bobby.
THE GUARDIAN reports:
Some 15 human shields - including Britons, Turks, and Russians - arrived at their battle stations at the Baghdad South power station yesterday.
What, no French?
IT’S ALL ABOUT OIL because it's all about oil because it's all about oil ...
This is an invasion for oil. Push it, prod it, poke that truth any way you like, write a million clever words explaining carefully why it's not, but it is. What we are about to do is invade and occupy Iraq to 'secure' the energy future of the West. If some people find that too intimidating, too much like 'Western self-blame', then that's just too bad.
His ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter.
GLOBALISATION IN ACTION: from the Middle East to Germany, anti-war campaigners buy their signs from the same chain of McProtest stores.
THE ANTI-WAR PROTESTS "could be one of those 'turning points'", wrote Margo Kingston, "where suddenly the earth moves, the mood shifts, and politics is transformed in an instant."
She was right! The mood is shifting:
A new poll has found growing support for Australia to be involved in an attack on Iraq, despite last weekend's demonstrations against military action.
The poll said that 24 per cent of respondents supported Australia joining war against Iraq without United Nations approval.
This is a huge leap from six per cent support for an unsanctioned attack found by an AC Nielsen poll four weeks ago, according to the Sun-Herald.
The poll also said 67 per cent of respondents supported a war with United Nations backing, up from 62 per cent four weeks ago.
Just 29 per cent of the 600 people asked on Thursday and Friday were opposed to any war against Iraq.
The first rule of Australian politics still holds: doom awaits any cause supported by Margo Kingston. Speaking of Old Doomface, here's her skittle-headed analysis of recent developments:
Bush's manifesto for world dictatorship - otherwise known as his national security strategy - is well under way. No wonder millions of people around the world are doing their best to at least slow him down. And no wonder so many countries are resisting being bribed or blackmailed into nailing their colours to the US mast. Bush's manifesto is revolutionary, a remaking of the world order by overwhelming military and economic force. The weird thing is that September 11 proved you can attack an empire with a knife and a plan.
Those plucky little Al Qaeda idealists, taking on the whole Evil Empire with nothing but a wily plan and some boxcutters! Go them. It's revealing that Kingston characterises the murder of 3,000 civilians as an attack on "an empire"; office workers and janitors are obviously part of the Bush plan for world dictatorship.
NO BIAS HERE ...
The Commonwealth Journalists Association has protested against British and Australian support for possible US-led military action in Iraq.
A joint resolution was passed at the end of a week-long conference in Bangladesh attended by journalists from 23 countries.
It read: "As journalists who have seen the horrors of war at first hand, we protest through the British and Australian embassies in Dhaka at the governments' stated policy to join the United States in military action."
EVERY FEW WEEKS the in-box is befouled by some UN-destined petition seeking universal peace or mandatory love or free abortions for penguins or whatever. I usually make some alteration to the text ("We, the undersigned, are wearing no underpants") before forwarding it on.
Turns out I needn't have bothered. The UN pays no attention to any of the e-mail petitions it receives:
The recipient of many of the emails, the UN Information Centre in Washington, seems somewhat baffled.
"We have no idea how the emails came to be directed to us," said UNIC director Catherine O’Neill. "We advise people to contact their national governments, since it is the governments which will decide what approach to take." She says the office received so many peace petitions last year its email system crashed. The UNIC website now has a disclaimer asking people not to direct the mails its way. UN headquarters is aware the office is receiving the petitions, but they are not forwarded there.
STUPID SOCIALISTS. The slow learners at Bankrupt Ideology International recently had this to say:
Even as Australia's Howard government last week cited human rights abuses committed by Saddam Hussein's regime to justify joining a war against Iraq, it continues to punish hundreds of Iraqi refugees for the "crime" of seeking asylum in Australia.
And how is the government punishing Iraqis? By allowing them to stay in horrible racist Australia! The Herald Sun reports that more than 4000 Iraqis have been granted protection here in the past three years; in fact, some 90% of refugee applications from Iraqis in Australia are successful.
The number of Iraqi refugees rejected? Twelve in 2001-2, according to the Department of Immigration. And only 15 more in the past financial year.
Simon Crean is pressing ahead with an ambitious policy agenda - based around families, the environment and "nation-building" - which he hopes will allow Labor to regain momentum when the political focus returns to domestic issues.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz undertook a full-fledged lobbying campaign in 1998 to get former President Bill Clinton to start a war with Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein's regime, claiming that the country posed a threat to the United States, according to documents obtained from a former Clinton aide.
Reasonable people might conclude that this indicates a long-term concern over Iraq that transcends political affiliations. Not Leopold, however:
This new information begs the question: what is really driving the Bush administration's desire to start a war with Iraq if two of Bush's future top defense officials were already planting the seeds for an attack five years ago?
Let's see ... they wanted to take Saddam out five years ago under a Democrat administration, and they want to take Saddam out now under a Republican administration. Could be they're driven by something other than political concerns. Like WMD, maybe. Who knows?
The existence of the Rumsfield and Wolfowitz "war" letters is just another reason to question the Bush administration's desire to go to war with Iraq now instead of dealing with other pressing issues.
Apparently Iraq was a pressing issue five years ago. The letters reveal an admirable consistency of purpose. If Bush turned his back on Iraq, the likes of Leopold would pounce with "BUSH KNEW!" headlines.
Because the letters were written in 1998 it proves that this war was planned well before 9–11 and casts further doubt on the claims that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9–11 terrorist attacks.
So a rogue leader people were concerned about in 1998 should be ignored in 2003 because he wasn't a direct part of an attack in 2001? Makes sense. In Leopold's world, anyway. To give you an idea of just what kind of inverted place that world might be, his article also includes this line:
While Clinton was dealing with the worldwide threat from al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden ...
UPDATE. These documents ain’t exactly revelatory. Reader A. Robins writes:
Bumbling Leopold thinks, apparently, that the Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz 'lobbying' of Clinton regarding actually doing something about Iraq is now revealed "according to documents obtained from a former Clinton aide."
However, the views expressed in those documents were available to be read by all on the 19th February, 1998 in an Open Letter to the President carrying 40 signatures.
UPDATE 2. Andrew Davey writes:
I'm surprised you didn't pick up on Bumbling Leopold's biggest bumble - the US Defense Secretary's name is Donald Rumsfeld, not Rumsfield.
A quick Googling reveals that, generally, the only people who refer to Rummy as "Rumsfield" are non-English speakers and ignorant peaceniks.
IS MILITARY ACTION justified in Iraq if UN inspectors find weapons of mass destruction?
According to this ABC poll -- pinheads polling pinheads -- 52% say no. One is left to wonder: at what point would these people say yes?
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT:
In the past decade Australians have become less concerned about the environment with the most significant decline in concern being among young people.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that only 62 per cent of Australians said they were concerned about the environment in 2001, a fall from 75 per cent in 1992.
Only 57 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 expressed concern in 2001, compared to nearly 80 per cent 10 years earlier.
KYLIE RUSSELL, widow of the first Australian soldier killed in active war duty since Vietnam, highlights serious problems with Australia's compensation schemes for war widows.
These shouldn't be difficult to address; increase the amounts and simplify the process.
WHAT THE ... ? Lowitja O'Donoghue is demanding that Philip Ruddock overturn an ATSIC decision to pay Geoff Clark's legal fees. Cats and dogs, etc.
BIG-HITTING CANADIAN: John Davison has struck the fastest century in World Cup history. And he did it without a hockey stick.
WHOA! Australia's Federal Health Minister Kay Patterson attempts the record for political cliches in a single paragraph:
We stand on our record. We have seen a 6% real increase each year. The States haven't come to the party. In the life of the last agreement they closed 3,000 beds. Really, the States have got to pull their weight, address the issues, come the party, tell us what they are going to put on the table and also deliver real increases in health.
LET'S HEAR IT for Cameraman Number Two, performer of a rare in-person Fisking.
For that matter, let's hear it for Fisk himself, who seems to have had an insight transplant:
I have an uneasy feeling that many on the intellectual left are fearful that America will lose its next war amid massive casualties – but are even more fearful that America may win with minimal casualties.
UPDATE. Reader Dave F. writes:
Why didn't Robert feel the need to say it was all his fault for denigrating and oppressing Gregg's people with his unbearable English hectoring? I mean, what does Gregg have to do, whack him on the head with a stone?
CONTINUING E-MAIL problems here -- my ISP is TFU -- means that many messages aren't getting through and replies are bouncing. So just staple your note to any passing Lassie-style dog and tell him, "To Tim's place, boy! And hurry!"
John Howard was left fuming after a satirical newspaper took advantage of a legal loophole to publish his family's silent landline phone number on its front page.
Editors of The Chaser were so outraged by the Prime Minister's attitude towards the 500,000 Australians who marched for peace last week that they led their latest edition on Friday with a headline that read "Howard ignores the people - so call him at home on (02) 9922 6189".
With Mr Howard having accused the peace marches of "giving comfort" to Saddam Hussein, The Chaser co-editor Charles Firth hailed his story as "a victory for the Australian people".
He said: "People have suggested that what we did was an invasion of the Prime Minister's privacy but let's face it, this is nothing more than a slight inconvenience to him. We strongly believe an invasion of Iraq is a bigger invasion of people's privacy.”
Funny people. Ha.
COLUMNIST AND SUPERHERO Hugh Mackay
examines the puny mortals:
Australians have been roused from the deep sleep of political disengagement by the realisation that John Howard is prepared to commit our troops to an invasion that, in the absence of UN support, would be widely regarded as illegal. Frankly, they are shocked.
He deploys his telepathic abilities to telling effect:
The apparent intransigence of the Prime Minister has raised big questions in their minds.
SuperMackay's spider senses are tingling:
In our always-fragile democracy, there is an emerging sense of too much power having slipped from the people's grasp.
More God than man, Mackay detects unusual "feelings":
But there's an undercurrent of something more. This feels like an expression of powerlessness - political impotence - as well as straightforward opposition to an invasion of Iraq.
He defends the bewildered:
[There is a] growing disquiet about the way Australian values are changing: "How does any executive earn a $33 million payout? Is no one's job safe any more? Why is the gap between rich and poor growing wider? Isn't the user-pays philosophy killing off our sense of mutual obligation? Aren't we neglecting the most vulnerable people in our society - the aged, the frail, the sick, the disadvantaged, the bewildered?"
From where do such questions spring? Hugh knows:
Such questions spring from a deep uneasiness about the prospect of our society becoming more heartless, more ruthless, more competitive, less compassionate . . . and less stable.
Rage. Fear. Destiny. These forces swirl around our hero like vengeful demons:
The anti-war movement is obviously driven by outrage over the very idea of invading Iraq; another of its engines is the fear that we are changing our character and losing control of our destiny.
We are undeserving of Mackay's atomic wisdom:
As a nation, we took our eye off the big picture; our focus turned inward; we became self-absorbed.
Australians must not surrender to The Dark Side:
During that period of political somnolence and social disengagement, we weren't proud of ourselves. No one likes having their dark side exposed; no one enjoys being caught in a rip that drags them away from the noble values of a civilised society.
Luckily, the Age of Mackay is soon to dawn:
The Age of Anxiety was the inevitable result of living through the Age of Discontinuity, and we have all paid a high price for that experience.
Hail the Beginning of the Re-Engagement, as foretold by Biblical prophesy:
All we needed was a catalyst for our frustration, our anger, our anxiety. Now we have one. No wonder we've taken to the streets in our hundreds of thousands: this is just the beginning of our re-engagement.
Be warned, lesser beings:
If I were John Howard, I'd be listening very, very carefully.
SANDRA KANCK, leader of the South Australian Democrats, has embraced Stephen Pelletiere's line on the gassing of Kurds at Halabja. She's read his twisted words into the SA Parliamentary record:
....accusing him (Saddam) of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of
genocide is not correct because, as far as the information we have goes, all
of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of
war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq but Halabja is not one of