THIS POST IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTER N: The creature pictured with Kofi Annan in the post below isn’t Grover, points out vigilant Muppetologist Nancy Pearce. It’s Elmo, the ticklish furball briefly popular a few Christmases ago.

Elmo is blamed by some Sesame Street followers for relegating Grover to a secondary role in the children’s series, but the pair are actually old hunting pals. Here the duo have expertly trapped some live prey, which they will quickly devour.


WHAT’S NEXT? THE POPE AND COOKIE MONSTER? Osama bin Laden has apparently begun a trend in politico-Muppet alliance; witness today’s alarming meeting between United Nations general secretary Kofi Annan and notorious Sesame Street operative Grover.
ADDITIONAL BONUS INFORMATION: I should have mentioned in the post below that Matt Welch was a regular contributor to our little Radio National show. The people at Radio National promised that Matt would be paid for his work, but the people at Radio National never gave him a dime, which is yet another reason why the people at Radio National should be tied to trees and pelted with fish heads.

Matt’s writing is always wonderful, but sometimes it’s as though he’s tapped into some magical higher writing force. For a recent example, go to his warblog and scroll down until you reach the post that begins with "Are Lefty-Baiters Guilty of Inventing an Enemy?", ends with "I don’t know a thing about Weisberg; just that [his] column sucks", and includes the line "Jacob? With all due respect, fuck you".

It’s great.

AMERICANS ARE WICKED AND DESERVE NO RIGHTS: Pilita Clark covers an intriguing case in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, and in doing so manages to convey an astonishing level of leftist bigotry and delusion.

Her story concerns Phillip Adams, millionaire leftie columnist for The Australian and Radio National broadcaster, who finds himself under investigation by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for alleged racial vilification. "It sounds too strange to be true," writes a bewildered Clark, but true it is: following the publication of this vile column, an understandably offended American citizen has hit Adams with a vilification complaint.

Warren Beeby, the group editorial manager of News Ltd, publisher of The
Australian newspaper, shares Clark’s amazement: "I've never heard of an American being racially vilified before. I think this is one of the great tragedies of our time."

Beeby believes Adams’s column - a witless chronicle of racial crimes committed within the US, which Adams imagined somehow removed America’s right to pursue Osama bin Laden and the Taliban - was "clinically argued". That’s about what you’d expect from someone who thinks the complaint against Phat Phil is a "great tragedy". Beeby doesn’t have a clue.

Neither does Clark. For an insight into the sort of juvenile leftism that dominates the SMH, check out this paragraph:

"Adams is such a vigorous opponent of racism, discrimination and all manner of oppression that the Prime Minister once famously urged the ABC to find a ‘right-wing Phillip Adams’ to balance its political output."

Just beautiful (and in a straight news item, too). A "right-wing Phillip Adams", by Clark’s definition, would be in favour of racism, discrimination, and oppression. This misrepresentation of the Prime Minister’s "urging" is so massive that it amounts to an outright lie.

I briefly was a right-wing Adams; earlier this year, every Friday night for 12 weeks, I joined Imre Salusinszky at Radio National to present the network’s only semi-right-wing commentary. I can’t recall calling for the formation of local Klan groups, or demanding institutionalised oppression, or championing discrimination. We mainly argued against tariffs, eco-extremists, erosion of rights, and the Left’s appalling discrimination towards foreign culture, in the form of barriers to the importation of books and music.

But the Clarks of this world never recognise those arguments. That’s because they can’t conceive of the right as being anything other than evil, and live by this simple belief: Conservatives are bad; racism and oppression are bad; therefore conservatives are racist oppressors.

In Australia, that passes for deep political thought. Bring on the Human Rights steamroller! It’s time for justice!


THE LEFT IS ALWAYS RIGHT: Steven Den Beste has devised a foolproof means of predicting events in the war: simply note whatever the insane Left is saying, and reverse it. He writes: "The voices opposing the war have been wrong so often and so consistently now that they're coming to be viewed as a reliable negative indicator of what to do next."

This echoes Auberon Waugh’s famous observation, made perhaps a decade ago: "Good advice is so hard to come by these days. I suppose I shall ask John Pilger what to do, and then do the opposite."

In Australia, we are blessed with the most accurate reverse-predictor of them all: Bob Ellis, who has been wrong about almost everything he’s spoken of in the past five years, from federal elections to the paternity of his own child.

He’s been in ripping form lately. Immediately after September 11, Ellis-the-inverse-Nostradamus wrote that the attack "achieved a sane end, a real truce in Israel" (how is that truce going, by the way?), that the "evil boffin" behind the attack was "almost certainly not" Osama bin Laden (Sammy should sue) and that world leadership wouldn’t unite behind George W. Bush (and, apart from Blair, Putin, Chirac, Howard, and everyone else, it hasn't).

Three out of three! And what does Ellis predict next? Brace yourselves, folks:

"Most think a world-wide hunt for a man who looks like 40 million other men is lunacy. The man is rich, he could shave off his beard, buy a Mexican passport, settle in Austin, Texas and open a bookshop and no-one would know."

Your time is up, Mr. bin Laden. Bob Ellis has spoken.

WELCOME BACK … and farewell: Looks like Tony Lockett isn’t making a comeback after all. On the positive side, this does free him for a role in the big match against those pesky Al Queda boys …
INTERNMENT CAMPS FOR CARTOONISTS: A good idea, don’t you think?

During previous Big Wars, citizens of enemy states who were found to be living in the US, Australia and England were rounded up and placed in internment camps for the war’s duration, lest their nationalism lead them to attack their host country.

But the current conflict is more ideological than geographical. The enemies of western democracy cannot be defined by their passports. They can, however, be defined by their anti-freedom scribblings.

Ken Layne has already identified one candidate for internment: American leftist drawing-man Ted Rall, presently writing unreadable op-ed pieces from Afghanistan.

He can share a smallish, Papillon-style cell with Aaron McGruder, at least until Aaron’s trial for crimes against art. What the hell – why not throw Garry Trudeau in there as well, in recognition of his life’s work.

And in Australia, let’s prepare the barbed-wire enclosure for Michael Leunig, The Age’s maestro of cloying, repugnant whimsy. Next Monday The Age launches a Leunig calender, but why wait until then? We can build our own virtual Leunig calender right here, using The Age’s archives:

JANUARY: Suburban dullards derive sexual satisfaction from warfare

FEBRUARY: America is a godless place that does whatever it likes

MARCH: Bombing has no purpose other than random killing of innocent folks

APRIL: Osama bin Laden is merely a harmless vagrant

MAY: Inexplicable pixie-like frolicking

JUNE: Prozac strike!

JULY: Prozac strike continues!

AUGUST: What the hell does this even mean?

SEPTEMBER: A poetic masterwork

OCTOBER: The vast right-wing conspiracy, as imagined by someone with bipolar disorder

NOVEMBER: God speaks!

DECEMBER: Uh oh – we’re out of Prozac again


BIG TONY RETURNS: "That's it!!!" writes Bryan Cockerill, broken-down ex-footballer and driving force behind Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, the acclaimed comedy-injury program. "Get me some tape, a corset and some Dencorub - I'm putting myself in the draft too!!!"

Cockerill’s crazy dream – these days, his knees are in even worse shape than that filthy hippie kid who joined the Taliban – was inspired by news that Tony Lockett may return to the AFL after two years in retirement. Oldsters everywhere rejoiced, but many doubt that Lockett, at 36, will be able to play to his former standard.

Don't bet on it. Lockett is probably fitter now than he was in the early days of his career at St.Kilda, when he startled a news reporter sent to interview him one morning by appearing at the door with a Camel cigarette in one hand and a can of Victoria Bitter in the other.

Off-seasons were a particular concern, as Lockett would flee Melbourne for his farm in Ballarat to play with his greyhounds and avoid training. His then-coach, Darrel Baldock, demanded assurances from Lockett that the mighty full-forward would at least do a little running.

"Don’t worry, coach," Lockett said. "The greyhounds run two kilometres a day, and I’m with them every step of the way."

Baldock discovered the truth of this when he made a surprise visit to the Lockett property. He found Big Tony relaxing in an armchair, drinking beer. Next to him were his greyhounds – on a motorized treadmill, nearing the end of their daily two-kilometre workout.

These days Lockett runs half-marathons. Welcome back, Tony.

HIT THE ROAD, RONALD: Anti-burger activists in Broome, Western Australia, are trying to block construction of a McDonald’s restaurant in their precious community.

Having "a McDonald's at the entrance to town would just say the wrong things to visitors," whines local Big Mac foe Peter Mitchell. Other news reports have featured hysterical earth-mother types worried that their children would become addicted to "McDonald’s party food."

Mmmmm. Party food …

McDonald’s claims that the Broome restaurant would provide up to 80 jobs, but Mitchell and his Special Sauce Commandoes don’t care. "It's against the values of Broome, culturally and spiritually as well as economically," he says.

And what would those values be? Torpor, stagnation, and blithe indifference to poverty, apparently. Unemployment in Broome runs at over 10 per cent, nearly double the state average. Congratulations, Broome! Keep up the good work!

On burger-related issues, one of the clever visitors to Glenn Reynolds’s site has come up with this excellent ploy:

"Some kind of hitting back at the type of anti-globalist protesters who like to smash things would be satisfying. McDonald's seems to have been singled out as the target corporation of choice for the violent rage of these haters of freedom. Hardly an international forum on trade goes by without news that a McDonald's restaurant somewhere has had its windows smashed.

"My idea is that every time a McDonald's outlet is damaged by these protesters, every member of an ad hoc group pledged to 'solidarity with McDonald's' goes out and purchases something at a McDonald's restaurant. I already do this with a few of my friends."

Yes, I will have fries with that, thank you.

NATURE IS OUR ENEMY: Imre Salusinszky has long loathed the Greens and all things environmental. On Monday, after years of provocation, nature had its revenge on the scholar, SMH columnist, and broadcaster.

Using local storm activity as a cover, a tree attacked the Salusinszky compound in North Sydney, busting open its roof and exposing the Salusinszky clan to the horrible outdoors.

"I brought this on. I blame myself," Salusinszky said in statement issued from the Noam Chomsky Center for Irrational Analysis, where he is undergoing therapy. "This was a long-overdue response from the have-nots against the haves. I must understand why I am hated."

MARGO ALERT: After taking a whole week off for the Walkley Awards – often referred to as Australia’s equivalent of the Pulitzers, a comparison which only became valid after Maureen Dowd fluked a prize – Margo Kingston has returned to the Sydney Morning Herald’s website.

Her thrilling Webdiary was nominated for a Walkley, in the "self-indulgent nonsense (online)" category, but somehow failed to claim a trophy. It did score a commendation, though, to the delight of Polly Bush, one of Webdiary’s excitable pundits. Polly was even invited by Margo to cover the Walkleys. The evening began anxiously, as Margo explains:

I'd never seen or spoken to her before we met on the night, just before which I realised I was about to have my first blind date and knew nothing about her non-virtual identity. As it turned out she was as she appears on Webdiary.

What, the poor woman looks like ill-formatted, unedited text?

Poor Polly didn’t have much fun. And she doesn’t have much in the way of writing ability, either:

We were late. Certainly not fashionably, just late. Mary Kostakidis was gracing the stage and we had to duck and weave around the TV cameras and tables of suits and glammed up types to find our seats. The entrees had already been served and mostly cleared away. Marinated non-descript mush. The fork was dumped in favour of a liquid dinner, and the amount of untouched meals being cleared away seemed like others had the same idea.

The Sydney Morning Herald pays Kingston $4,880.33 each month (net!) to assemble this dross. Bjoern Staerk – all of 22 years old – produces more and better online content for no pay at all, as do Ken Layne and Matt Welch, and countless others.

This kind of grotesque imbalance is enough to shake my faith in capitalism.

Oh, Peter FitzSimons … some people mock the Sydney Morning Herald columnist because he is a former rugby union player, but his real crime is that he writes like a former rugby union player. Here’s the intro to his latest piece:

George Harrison is dead, and much of the world is suddenly feeling a little older. If two of the Beatles are now beneath the sod, then this must be 2001, and the sun of our lives has clearly gone past high noon. Mostly, anyway ..

Neither Lennon nor Harrison are "beneath the sod." Both were cremated. Harrison is currently afloat on the Ganges, far distant from any "sod." And what’s this line about "this must be 2001"? How did Fitzy know this would be the year for a second Beatle death?
Few were saddened Sunday by the catastrophic beating of Anthony Mundine, Australian contender for the world super-middleweight crown, who was knocked unconscious by the pussywillow punching power of Germany’s Sven Ottke.

Mundine, a celebrated former rugby league player, sought global fame as a boxer, but achieved his only moment of international notice by declaring that the US deserved to be attacked by vengeful Islamites on September 11.

The Aboriginal Muslim quickly withdrew his remark … after a fashion. He was slower to withdraw his head from the path of a tired Ottke right slam, however, and now his boxing career is in ruins.

Sydney Morning Herald writer Peter FitzSimons offered opposition to prevailing anti-Mundine views in his Monday column. Typically, FitzSimons also offered opposition to prevailing views that columnists should be logical and coherent.

As usual, the liveliest commentary came from the letters pages of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, where Trevor Ryan suggested that Mundine might secure a post-boxing career with the Taliban, "if he can grow a beard."