Saturday, October 19


Yay! I don't have to bother pointing out what a talentless, invincibly ignorant sow Maureen Dowd is any more. (It bores me as much as it bores regular readers, I'm sure.)

I'll just link to National Review Online's Mark Goldblatt whose wonderful analysis of Dowd also nails what's wrong with the left-wing commentariat:

Dowd, [Al] Franken, and [Michael] Moore, taken together, represent the evolutionary spectrum of a new species of elitists. Elitism, to be sure, is as old as human society. But never in recorded history has a less cerebrally, morally, or spiritually elite Elite looked down their noses at the majority of their countrymen. The minimum requirement for membership in the intelligentsia used to be, well, intelligence. This is no longer the case. Rather, what is now required is the mere sense of your own superiority, the smirky confidence that flows from an undergraduate grasp of history, philosophy, and literature, and which can only be sustained by a maniacal deafness to counterarguments. Listening to your political opponents is deadly under such circumstances; they must therefore be dismissed, a priori, as stupid.

I thought the right were supposed to be (to quote now Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen) the arrogant born to rule pricks?

Hitchens says So Long, Fellow Travelers in the Washington Post, and like most divorces it's not pretty.

Instead of internationalism, we find among the Left now a sort of affectless, neutralist, smirking isolationism. In this moral universe, the views of the corrupt and conservative Jacques Chirac -- who built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor, knowing what he wanted it for -- carry more weight than those of persecuted Iraqi democrats. In this moral universe, the figure of Jimmy Carter -- who incited Saddam to attack Iran in 1980, without any U.N. or congressional consultation that I can remember -- is considered axiomatically more statesmanlike than Bush.

Sooner or later, one way or another, the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples will be free of Saddam Hussein. When that day comes, I am booked to have a reunion in Baghdad with several old comrades who have been through hell. We shall not be inviting anyone who spent this precious time urging democratic countries to give Saddam another chance.

Given Hitchens' loud defence of alcohol, chain smoking, and over-eating against the Safety Nazis -- and his addiction to loud arguments with his friends -- it should be one hell of a blow out. Hope it will be sooner rather than later.

(Yet again, thanks to for the link.)

Some brighter news in this week's Speccie: Margaret Thatcher is the undergraduate Madonna, according to Pretonella Wyatt, who is more a young(ish) fogey Bridget Jones.

Even more spooky, she's not just admired by spastic Home Counties Tory boys either.

A couple of months ago, staying overnight at the Feathers hotel near Oxford, I struck up a conversation between two law students at Balliol — one male, one female. I asked what Lady Thatcher meant to them and was surprised by their answers. The young man, Damian, said that, though he intended to vote Labour at the next election, this was because all the Tory leaders after Thatcher ‘were so pathetic. At least Blair looks like a leader. He borrowed that from her. I mean, who knows what Duncan Smith stands for?’

His 19-year-old companion agreed. ‘She should be given icon status. Not only was she the first woman prime minister, but she revitalised the country, though she got a bit batty towards the end.’

[...] I was inclined, however, to dismiss this couple as a fluke. So I asked a friend of mine, who is studying history at Oxford, to do a tour of the JCRs. He spoke to about 50 undergraduates from varied backgrounds Their views on Thatcher failed to divide on ‘class’ lines. If anything, the undergraduates from poorer backgrounds tended to respect her more as a self-made woman. Roughly 50 per cent thought of her as a great historical figure, about 20 per cent were anti, and the rest didn’t know enough about her.

The latest issue of The Spectator has Mark Steyn's typically acerbic take on Bali.

An appeaser, said Churchill, feeds the crocodile in the hope that it will eat him last. But sometimes the croc eats him first anyway. For months, the US, Britain and Canada had warned the Indonesian government about terrorists operating within its borders. So had Singapore and Malaysia. President Megawati’s administration responded by calling Washington anti-Muslim. The American ambassador was publicly denounced by her vice-president. Hassan Wirayuda, the foreign minister, said in February that the outside world’s fears of Islamic terrorism in Indonesia were overblown and that in Jakarta ‘we laugh at it’. Ha-ha. From government contacts to police indifference, the administration’s strategy was to deny the crocodile existed and then quietly slip him the à la carte menu.

After he's warmed up, Stein pisses on the Islamofascist apologists and 'we deserved it" idiots with his usual -- non-existent -- tact.

I began with a Churchill quote, so let me end with one: ‘Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.’ That’s what happened after 11 September: the brief glimpse of the reality of the Islamist scheme was too much, and so we dusted ourselves off and retreated back to all the illusions, like the Oslo ‘peace process’. That can’t save us, and it certainly can’t save Indonesia. And until we’re prepared to identify the enemy and confront him as such, there will be more nights like last Saturday night, and more little girls like the Salvatoris’, orphaned because their mum and her friends went dancing.

Please argue with that. Make my day.

This really should go in the 'No shit, Sherlock" file but it's easy to forget that Bali is shutting down -- and a huge chunk of the local economy is going with the tourists.

This quote speaks for itself, and puts a much needed human face on those who can't get on a plane and leave:

Bar worker Iketut Sudarta, 20, like many others, still recalls the feeling of Kuta shaking the night of the attack.

For him peace means being able to earn enough money to provide for his family.

He faces unemployment without the tourist trade, and would return to the villages in central Bali, possibly working in rice paddies.

"I hope they come back soon, so we are not waiting long. I have a family who need food."

If you think the Gores and Bushes are spooky political dynasties (and let's not even start on the Kennedy Spawn), say hello to Saddam’s boys!

Newsweek's Evan Thomas and Christopher Dickey report on why you really should go to the next family reunion, be nice to boring Uncle Joe and thank God you were spared this:

Saddam Hussein is reliably reported to be a fan of the “Godfather” movies. He can easily identify: he runs Iraq the way a mafia don uses his family to control a criminal enterprise. “Think of Iraq as Chicago and Saddam as a mob boss,” says one U.S. intelligence source, “only with chemical and biological weapons.”

If Saddam is Don Corleone, then Uday is Sonny, the reckless, violent, oversexed heir apparent. And Qusay is Michael, the younger brother who is calmer, colder and ultimately more dangerous. A cornered Uday would not hesitate to lash out with chemical and biological weapons. But Qusay is the greater risk to actually control the weapons and find a way to use them against U.S. forces or the American people.


Andrew Sullivan fisks the Raines-ista spin on who is really responsible for North Korea going nuclear

The Times predictably ran an op-ed on North Korea today that essentially ignored the question of which policies led to North Korea getting a nuke (with U.S. help). Instead, the op-ed all but defends the 1994 accords and sees them as the basis for new diplomacy. I guess this is a fair position - the notion that people who have supported a failed policy should actually explain their failure seems, in the world of Raines propaganda, hopelessly utopian. But look who they got to write the op-ed: the guy who was, in Jake Tapper's words, "a State Department official responsible for implementing a 1994 agreement with North Korea that was to have ended the country's processing of plutonium at a factory suspected to be manufacturing nuclear weapons." Joel S. Wit. [...]

Again, that's fair enough. But shouldn't the Times have at least identified the man as such? Isn't it relevant that the guy now defending the failed 1994 accords on the New York Times op-ed page was actually the person in the Clinton team responsible for enforcing them? Raines law says otherwise. Keep the readers in the dark, and keep spinning, spinning, spinning.

Jake Tapper's careful background piece is worth reading in full. Hardly flattering to Bush (Jake couldn't if he tried), it doesn't let the Clinton Administration off the hook either.


Woody Harrelson's previous career high points are Cheers, Natural Born Killers, and Kingpin, a charming epic about an Amish Bowling hustler.

Now, Woody tells readers of The Guardian that "I'm an American tired of American lies".

The man who drives me to and from work is named Woody too. A relief to me, as it minimises the chance of my forgetting his name. I call him Woodman and he calls me Wood. He has become my best friend here, even though he's upset that I have quit drinking beer. He's smart, funny, and there's nothing he hasn't seen in 33 years behind the wheel of his black cab. He drove me for a while before I felt confident he liked me; he doesn't like people easily, especially if they have a rap for busting up black cabs.

Woodman and I agree about a lot of things, but one thing we can never agree about is Iraq. He thinks the only language Saddam understands is brute force. I don't believe we should be bombing cities in our quest for one man. We've killed a million Iraqis since the start of the Gulf war - mostly by blocking humanitarian aid. Let's stop now. Thankfully, most of the Brits I talk to about the war are closer to me than to Woodman. Only your prime minister doesn't seem to have noticed.

I remember playing basketball with an Iraqi in the late 80s while Iran and Iraq were at war. I didn't know at the time that the US and Britain were supplying weapons to both sides. I asked why they were always at war with each other and he said something that stayed with me: "If it were up to the people, there would be peace. It's the governments that create war." And now my government is creating its second war in less than a year. No; war requires two combatants, so I should say "its second bombing campaign".

When it comes to grasping reality: Cabbie: 1, Celebrity: nil.

Friday, October 18


Weakest Link domanatrix Anne Roinson should be flogged for agreeing to host the Greatest Briton nonsense tomorrow.

But she does get points for bagging Princess Diana without mercy:

"Every time her popularity dropped, she hit another hospice," Robinson told the Radio Times. "I cheered her at times because it was rather wonderful to see her make a dog's dinner of the dignity of the Royal Family.

"To regard her as a great Briton seems to be absurd. It's interesting how easily she manipulated public opinion."

Robinson's personal Top Three is Jane Austen, Lady Thatcher and Enid Blighton. What a way to go...

A BBC poll reveals exactly how ten contenders for the title Greatest Briton were selected

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. And then there are those whose "greatness" owes more to a recent appearance on Parkinson - otherwise Michael Crawford would probably not have made it into the BBC's list of top 100 Britons.

The list and the order in which they appear will be officially unveiled by Anne Robinson tomorrow in a special three-hour programme on BBC2.

The corporation has kept secret the number of votes garnered by those in the top 10, although it is understood that Sir Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, and Horatio Nelson were among the most popular. The other names in the final group are: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Sir Isaac Newton, Elizabeth I, John Lennon, Charles Darwin, Oliver Cromwell and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Who ultimately triumphs will be decided over the next few weeks. The top 10 will each be the subject of one-hour films [...]

Viewers will be invited to vote again, with the overall winner unveiled in a live broadcast.

Why bother? Diana the bullemic hysteric will romp home -- proving, yet again, that Brits prefer dumb but cute animals to human beings.

France has forced the United States to rewrite a resolution that would have given the US permission to lead an attack on Saddam Hussein if he interfered with the work of weapons inspectors.

Instead, we should continue to trust the U.N. Security Council's genius for taking a long time to do nothing. It's worked pretty well for the last eleven years. And after the Rainbow Warrior bombing I trust France implicitly to take effective action against state-sponsored terrorism. .



This headline from ABC News Online speaks for itself: Anglican head blames bombing on alliance with US>

In an address tonight to the annual synod of the Anglican Church in Perth, the Most Reverend Dr Peter Carnley stopped short of blaming the Prime Minister, but says he was warned.

But he says there is a widely-held view that the Mr Howard's comments in the early stages of the US call for a war in Iraq, marked Australia as a target for retaliation by militant Muslims.

"We wrote to Mr Howard on the 8th of August in fact," he said.

"I wrote on behalf of the Australian bishops, and the National Council of Churches also wrote.

"I think it was around about that time that, in fact, the Prime Minister took a more, a moderate approach to the US bombing of Iraq."

Pontius Pilate lives and breathes.

Tim Blair is having a great time in New York -- and what self-respecting tourist would miss the wildlife. Even if it's protestors outside the UN.

It's been around for a while, but it's good to see are tasteful and intelligent as ever with this Uncle oSAMa Says: I Want YOU To Invade Iraq

Readers of the New York Times (where else) have been warned: Wage war on Iraq and you're asking for more Twin Towers, more Balis, and the Israelis are going to get everything they deserve as well.

Contemptable. TomPaine is funded by the same people who bring you TAPPED -- the unreadable left-wing American Prospect's excellent left-wing blog? (Although it seems they've been slapped around recently for going off the ideological reservation too often.)

The reader who sent me this wants to remain anonymous. I don't blame him, but thanks for the public service.

Even though it's pretty hard to stomach the Herald's Diana Wichtel complaining there's too much individual freedom. (I'd be happy to debate that call. Wichtell is really arguing there's too much "individual freedom" she doesn't like.)

But I had to love this:
Champions of individual freedom can breathe easy. You only need to listen to Parliament on a bad day - any day - to be reassured that the right to be a complete and utter idiot is alive and well in our land.

What does that say about your employer, and your profession, that quite happily encourages them? Diana?

The New Zealand Herald gets back on my shit list, with this depressingly predictable column from Gordon McLauchlan.

Go read it yourself. I can't be bothered Fisking another screed about America The Awful and dealing with terrorism means dusting off the brown shirt and jackboots.

I always treat the pontifications of celebrities with caution, and iPatricia Cornwell's 'The Sniper Next Door' is no different.

But I found one passage rather creepy, even by the New York Times' standards:

We call the sniper a coldblooded monster. We call the Baton Rouge serial killer a monster. We fear monsters, not ordinary people. We read about monsters in novels and watch them in movies. We are confident that we will be able to peer out the window and recognize a monster immediately.

As a perennial student of crime, I am here to tell you that there is no such thing as a monster. Neither the sniper nor the Baton Rouge serial killer is coldblooded. These killers are human beings, as warmblooded as the rest of us. It is unlikely they bear any resemblance to Frankenstein's creation.

Perhpas a little hard to take from a woman who has become wealthy off the paranoia, insecurities and sadistic voyeurism of her (largely female) readership. I'm a mystery fan, and no prude, but I stopped reading her books years ago. The misandry, cardboard cold-blooded 'monsters' and their crimes, often described in stomach-turning detail, are too much.

But that won't stop the unelected Environmental Protection Agency from litigating business into submission, accord to a new article on Tech Central Station.

If you think regulation-crazed politicians are bad, argue Andrew P. Morriss and Bruce Yandle, the the legislative process at least allows some public input and debate.

Polticians also have to deal with tiresome things like elections, constitutions, and the legislative process. Bureaucrats and lawyers don't.

Companies targeted by the EPA have a strong incentive to settle because the EPA often has life-or-death power over other aspects of their business. Another advantage of lawsuits is that hardly any president or congressman will meddle with the courts once federal attorneys have a case underway.

What scare me is that every bad idea in the United States ends up in New Zealand sooner or later -- and does more harm than good.


What's a rabid right-winger to do when it seems another tree-hugging ass comes to his senses daily?

In this case: Thank you, Jim Hopkins.

The fact is, we are at war. Not with another state but with another state of mind. Which is not open to persuasion or argument or the kind of flawed compromise that must inevitably emerge in Palestine.

Sooner or later we will come to understand this. We will realise it is impossible to reason with a tainted faith or to disarm fanatics with common sense.

Right now, many people in this country do not seem willing to accept this. Despite the fact that we've been attacked intentionally or indiscriminately.

It's the baby boomers, the generation born after World War II, the generation that dominates Parliament and the media and much of the rest of this country, who seem most reluctant to review their opinions. For many of us our only enemies have been LBJ and Tricky Dicky with their war in Vietnam. We wanted a Woodstock world then and we still want one now. But we can't have it. The "youths of God" have made that decision for us.

So we must, eventually, embrace and rely on hard and efficient soldiers who know how to use arms and how to stop those who have chosen to wage war. With luck, our soldiers will succeed. They will kill the next band of bombers before they reach their target. And that will be a good thing. It cannot be otherwise.

I've upgraded The New Zealand Herald from "total shit" to "fit for lining the cat's litter tray". Hire some decent reporters and remove the editor's tongue from Helen Clark's nether regions, it should be fully readable in no time.

Thanks to for the link. My smug Tory equilibrium will recover in time.

I don't know what's worse about Franklin Foer's expose of how Saddam manipulates the press.

Is it that the press quite literally work out of the Iraqi Ministry of Information's Bagdad headquarters?

Is it that the spying, intimidation, state-orchistrated propoganda and blatant censorship really is 'Orwellian' -- complete with organised 'spontaneous' demonstrations and adoration of Big Brother?

Or could it be that so many journalists parrot the Baath Party line to keep their visas (and their jobs); and thir employers know they're broadcasting propoganda lies, and keep doing it?

I don't know about you, but I was spoiled for choice after reading the story behind the stories.

A Washington Post feature today on progress towards an another shot of Democrat hypocrisy.

In a reflection of continuing political unrest over Iraq, despite last week's overwhelming majorities, Democratic attendance at yesterday's ceremony was sparse, although White House officials said they invited every lawmaker who voted for the resolution. Capitol Hill's top two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), did not attend.

Several Democratic officials said they viewed the ceremony as grandstanding by Bush three weeks before the midterm elections.

"We're simply not going to be used as props as Bush shoves the war down voters' throats," a senior Democratic official said. "Why play the loyal opposition when he's wielding the war like a political club?"

Um, OK...

This 1988 article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on how Jimmy Carter ended North Korea's nuclear weapon programme hardly adds (much-needed) distinction to the roster of Nobel Peace Prise laureates.

Pyongyang had repeatedly denounced sanctions as "a declaration of war." It had begun removing spent fuel from its 5-megawatt reactor and had just announced that it would expel iaea inspectors who had been monitoring the fuel to prevent its diversion for bomb production. As a precaution in the event that sanctions were imposed, the Clinton administration was on the verge of dispatching military reinforcements to South Korea, a step that the American commander there believed could provoke a war.

And yet, just days later, Carter had obtained Kim Il Sung's personal pledge to freeze North Korea's nuclear program, to allow the inspectors to remain in place and monitor compliance, and to discuss dismantlement of the reactors and the reprocessing plant in high-level talks with the United States.

The June 1994 crisis was a turning point in American nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. For three years the United States had tried to coerce North Korea into halting its nuclear arming, and failed. Then it tried cooperation and succeeded. It was a triumph of Track II diplomacy.

Great work, right? Well...

Thursday, October 17


I'm not normally a huge fan of Scoop, but I share their concerns that Helen Clark isn't being straight about what, when, or even if, New Zealand was warned about the Bali Attacks by the US State Department.

“The bottom line is, neither the US nor Australia nor NZ nor anyone else had information that would lead them to tell their nationals not to go to Bali,” says Prime Minister Helen Clark on Radio New Zealand this afternoon. [...]

{I]t is quite apparent that the PM, her advisors, the Australian PM, his advisors the yanks and probably many more people have been telling lies about this matter for days.

The bottom line is actually this: The US State Department did warn its travellers about meeting in large groups in Indonesia, and updated that warning just two days before the attack, but New Zealand and Australia chose not to warn their travellers.

Meanwhile the New Zealand Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have claimed explicitly, more than once, that there was no intelligence advice mentioning Bali. Yet in fact there was specific advice mentioning Bali.

Would it have made any difference if New Zealand and Australian tourists had known about this advice?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. But it shouldn't have been Helen Clark's decision. And the media shouldn't let her get away with her usual bullying and evasive non-answers to straight question. There are real questions to be asked about who knew what, when, and what they did about it. We deserve real and honest answers.

I'm all for supporting your favourite sports team with over-priced merchandising. But as Andrew Sullivan blogs today, couldn't the Washington Capitals have chosen a better time to release a "sniper fitted" cap?

Send your own tasteless, awful or plain weird ideas for Christmas giving to (Just a link will do.) Extra points if you're really going to buy it for someone you hate. Double bonus if you're trying to make sure the recipient never talks to you again. Nothing pornographic to excite the Net Nanny, please. This is a family blog, after all -- even if my maternal role model is Morticia Addams.

Is Christopher Hitchens "recruiting" stray leftists? If so, he's earned his toster oven after another Dan Savage broadside on Liberals Against Liberation.

These developments--a Republican administration recognizing that support for dictators in Third World countries is a losing proposition; a commitment to post-WWII-style nation-building in Iraq--are terrific news for people who care about human rights, freedom, and democracy. They also represent an enormous moral victory for the American left, which has long argued that our support for "friendly" dictators around the world was immoral. (Saddam used to be one of those "friendly" dictators.) After 9/11, the left argued that our support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East helped create anti-American hatred. Apparently the Bush administration now agrees--so why isn't the American left claiming this victory?

Savage answers his own questions: The anti-war left would rather talk about freedom and democracy abroad than do anything about it, especially if it mean acknowledging that the Great Satan might just be doing the right thing. For once. It's also pretty hard to oppose dictators and terrorists when you really believe they're right.

Harry Belafonte is at it again, this time on CNN's Larry King Live.


HARRY BELAFONTE, ACTIVIST: There's an old saying in the days of slavery. There are those slaves who lived on the plantation, and there were those slaves who lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master. Colin Powell was permitted to come into the house of the master.


KING: All right, Harry, what did you mean?

BELAFONTE: First of all, let me hasten to say, Larry, that this was never meant to be a personal attack on Colin Powell's character.

What it was meant, however, to be was an attack on policy, and the reference and the metaphor used about slavery -- it is my personal feeling that plantations exist all over America. If you walk into South Central Los Angeles, into Watts, or you walk into Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, you'll find people who live lives that are as degrading as anything that slavery had ever produced. They live in economic oppression, they live in a disenfranchised way. In the hearts and minds of those people, and millions of others, you're always looking for hope, and whenever somebody within our tribe, within our group, emerges that has the position of authority and power to make a difference in the way business is done, our expectations run high. Many times, those expectations are not fulfilled. But when such an individual is in the service of those who not only perpetuate the oppression, but sometimes design the way in which it is applied, it then becomes very, very, very, very critical that we raise our voices and be heard. And...

And to add insult to injury, here's the passage where he draws an analogy between National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and an anti-semitic Jew:

KING: How about those who say, let's say, Condoleezza Rice is a classic example of how we've come a long way. Here's a woman who 30 years ago wouldn't have made a dent. She goes to professor at Stanford, she's a National Security Adviser in the administration. You may disagree with her policies, but wouldn't you say, you've come a long way?

BELAFONTE: Absolutely. There's no question we've come a long way. Nobody dismisses that. That does not, however, diminish how far it is we still have to go.

And just evoking the person's gender, because Condoleezza Rice is a woman, and her color, because she's black, does not justify abdication of moral responsibility. That does not make it all right or better.

If she were a Jew and were doing things that were anti-semitic [emphasis mine] and against the best interests of people, that would also stand the same way. This is not about color. It's not about gender. It's about policy. It's about what choices we make as a people, about the human family and where we're going and what we're doing. That's what this is about.

I'm still not convinced (as some readers have argued) that Belafonte can't be racist because he's black; or that demeaning someone as a "slave" because you don't like their politics or who they work for is a legitimate form of policy debate. But I'm damn sure if Powell had joined the Clinton Administration and this was coming from a white, conservative celebrity CNN wouldn't describe him as an "activist". Who knows, the famously soft Larry King might even have challenged some of Belafonte's race rhetoric.


Ronald Radosh's spooky analysis of Pat Buchanan's new magazine The American Conservative observes that Pat's sounding a lot like Noam Chomsky these days: Isolationist abroad, but very keen on (class) war at home and full of barely-rational bigotry all over.

WHEN THE FIRST ISSUE of The American Conservative, the new weekly edited by Patrick J. Buchanan, recently hit the newsstand, readers might have been excused for wondering if they had accidentally picked up The Nation. Buchanan's magazine, which he co-edits with the journalist Taki Theodoracopulos, resembles its left-liberal counterpart in appearance and is printed on the same cheap newsprint. Even more remarkably, much of The American Conservative's contents could just as easily have appeared in the flagship publication of America's left.

Another point of similarity that Radosh fails (or is too polite) to point out is that both sound equally stupid.


The quote of the day has to come from a NYTimes story on the last days of 'soft money' donations.

"We're trying to tell everybody, `Get your checks in before Nov. 5,' because there's no more soft money after that," Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in an interview.

Well, it must be damn sight easier than articulating what the Democratic Party actually stands for.

Another interesting passage is where the Democrats are getting their soft money from:

[T]he Democratic National Committee persuaded two major contributors to each redirect $3 million from donations they made to a committee building fund earlier this year into accounts that can instead be used to support Democratic candidates. The two donors are Haim Saban, the creator of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," who gave $7 million, and Steve Bing, another Hollywood executive, who gave $5 million."

Wednesday, October 16


Nicholas Leeman's New Yorker profile of Condoleezza Rice is not on-line but there's a brief Q&A which discusses "some of what he learned about he"r.

Great, until you come to this:

Rice is a black woman who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, at the height of the civil-rights struggle; she knew two of the girls who were killed in the church bombing there in 1963. And yet you describe her as never doubting that, for the individual—or, at least, for the extraordinary individual—institutional barriers were not barriers at all. In your view, what do race and gender mean to Rice?

That is a really complicated issue. It's hard to avoid the impression that Rice was advanced especially quickly in her career because she is a black woman. But, in her circle, the conventional wisdom is that if you're a black woman you have to be better than white men to get to the same place—and there's truth to that, in the sense that it was a much greater distance from birth to the White House for her than for most people at the White House. Rice is deeply reluctant to advocate for black people or for women generally, but she has advocated for specific black people and women.

"Deeply reluctant to advocate for black people or for women generally"? What does that mean -- you're not an advocate for women and minorities unless you buy into professional victimhood, quota mongering and a politically correct version of the old school tie network.

I'd rather trust Condi's intelligence, discipline, tenacity, respect for education and hard work, along with a graceful self-confidence. Most of all, I admire her instinctive dsdain for identity politics.

I sure hope the profile is a damn sight better than this nonsense.

Massey University anthropology lecturer Associate Professor Jeff Sluka is the resident 'terrorism expert" at Massey University's Palmerston North campus. I'm hardly surprised that he got his Ph.D. at Berkeley, but the consistency of his idiocy -- from Manhattan to Bali - is to be admired.

Here's Jeff on the first anniversary of the attack on the WTC. (Manawatu Evening Standard, September 11, 2001. Emphasis mine.)

New Zealand had nothing to fear from terrorism and the money the September 11 attacks was believed to have cost New Zealand was "utterly wasted", he said.

The over reaction of many governments was evidence of a victory for the terrorists, as many people had gone into "paroxsyms of panic" since the attacks, Dr Sluka said.

[...] "This whole thing is a lie. Only the politically ignorant believe this is anything more than US imperialism."

And Sluka two days after the Bali bombing. (Manawatu Evening Standard, October 15, 2002. Again emphasis mine.)

Jeff Sluka said the attack that killed an estimated 181 people was about "local issues" in Indonesia, a country he said had one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and worst human rights records.

The Indonesian government was fighting a number of freedom groups throughout the country. "These movements know that the Indonesian regime is corrupt and illegitimate, and are fighting for independence," he said yesterday.

[...] "I don't think there is any sort of a domino effect taking place, and the physical closeness of New Zealand to Indonesia is not very significant, as long as New Zealand doesn't become involved in the conflict."

New Zealand should not listen to the United States, which was using the bombing to shore up support for its campaign against Iraq, ultimately to favour its own "interests". "The war on terrorism is a political myth propagated by the US and British governments, and we should not be manipulated by fear into believing or supporting them in this." {Emphasis mine]

The really masochistic can entertain themselves with Jeff's own website. It's hard to find a terrorist movement that he doesn't blame the victims for.


Spinsanity is about the best bipartisan bullshit-buster on the web.

Ben Fritz may be a self-described 'liberal Democrat', but he's right on the button here:

As calls for new gun control measures build in the wake of the sniper shootings in suburban Washington, D.C., a Democratic congressman from nearby Northern Virginia has taken the debate to a shameful low. During a discussion of the search for the sniper on CNN’s "Inside Politics" tonight, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., suggested that opponents of ballistic fingerprinting want to protect murderers.

"[The Bush administration is] opposed to [ballistic fingerprinting] because the National Rifle Association is opposed to it, but I don’t know what they fear for. Why do they want to protect people who would be shooting other people?"

Distorting the motives of opponents and then impugning them on that basis is a common rhetorical trick that has been perfected in recent years by pundits like Rush Limbaugh. It’s particularly nasty in reference to the flurry of sniper shootings, the most recent of which took place in Moran’s own district.

Fritz carefully points out that there are perfectly legitimate -- and debatable -- grounds on which to oppose ballistic fingerprinting. There are also legitimate ways for Moran to argue his cause: accusing opponents of being accessories to mass murder is not among them.

Most people would remember Clive James as part of the Robert Hughes/Barry Humpries/Germaine Greer group of Aussie ex-pats who scared the crap out of te Brits in the sixties and never went home.

Some might even remember him as a pretty formidable critic and essayist -- if you forget the suck-up, sickly eulogies for Princess Diana.

But how the hell did this measured, moving essay on why Aussie Fisk-istas were wrong from the start get past the editors at the Guardian?


The shock wave from the car-bomb outside the nightclub on Kuta Beach in Bali went all the way to Australia in a matter of minutes. As soon as the young Australian survivors stopped trembling long enough to touch one button at a time, they were calling home to say they were all right. But there were some young Australians who did not call home, because they were not all right. The Australian casualty list is lengthening even as I compose this opening paragraph, and by the time I reach a conclusion the casualty list will be longer still. I owe it to my dead, wounded and bereaved countrymen to say straight away that I have no clear idea of what that conclusion will be. This is no time to preach, and least of all from a prepared text.

Some of Australia's commentators on politics might already be realising that. Now they, too, must feel their way forward: the bomb has done to their certainties what it did to the revellers in the nightclub. Before the bomb went off, the pundits had all the answers about the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. In the year and a bit between September 11 2001 and October 12 2002 they had, from the professional viewpoint, a relatively easy time. One didn't question their capacity for sympathy: Australian journalists pride themselves on being a hard-bitten crew, but most of them could imagine that being trapped hundreds of feet up in a burning building was no fit way to die. What one did sometimes question was their capacity for analysis. A prepared text was rolled out, and went on unrolling.

When it comes to the debate over the Department of Homeland Security and the passage of the Patriot Act the New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen says thank goodness for Dick Amery and Bob Barr -- because the Democrats were AWOL, yet again.

I'm still to be convinced that US Attorney General John Ashcroft is the hymn-singing love child of Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, but the irony is delicious.

The most vocal critics of the bill's impact on American liberties are not Democrats at all but a group that used to be among George W. Bush's most reliable allies: libertarian and religious conservatives.


The principled libertarianism of Armey and Barr contrasts sharply with the leadership of the Democratic Party, which might have been expected to defend civil liberties after September 11 but instead has acquiesced at every turn in the expansion of the national security state. Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt have shown as little interest in protecting privacy in the homeland security bill as they did during the debate over the USA Patriot Act. Eager to appear tough on terrorism, Daschle and Gephardt made no effort to ensure that the Patriot Act or the homeland security bill reserved the most invasive surveillance authority for the most serious crimes. The only Democrats who showed any persistent interest in civil liberties were those on the margins--such as Maxine Waters and John Conyers Jr. in the House and Russell Feingold and Pat Leahy in the Senate--whose views were considered too extreme to be taken seriously by negotiators from the Justice Department and the White House. As a result, it has fallen to Armey and Barr to carry the torch for civil liberties during the most important negotiations of the past year. And when the history of the response to September 11 is written, it will record that evangelical and libertarian conservatives--with their instinctive suspicion of federal authority--did more to defend liberty than mainstream liberal Democrats, who were captives of the public demand for security measures above all.

While I think The New Republic has lurched to the left on economic and welfare issues, Jonathan Chait puts a carefully argued and (to my mind) convincing liberal case for a war with Iraq.

So, if Bush is heading in the direction liberals want to go, why do they regard his policy with such hostility? The answer seems to be that they regard their policy as one that will render war a remote, mainly theoretical, possibility. The Common Cause ad pleads that war be only "a last resort" and maintains that Saddam "can be made to respond to diplomatic pressures if these are backed by a credible and sustained military threat." But of course a threat is only credible if you're prepared to follow through on it. And at the moment it would seem to be impossible to design a military threat credible enough to alarm Saddam but not so credible that it alarms Derek Bok.

Deluded by the hope that they can have multilateralism and disarmament without the risk of war, liberals have concentrated their intellectual energies on the slim possibility that the United Nations will approve an airtight inspections system and that Saddam will submit to it. If that happens, they would not support a unilateral Bush war. And for that matter, neither would I. But the chance of that happening is small. We have eleven years of accumulated evidence suggesting that the United Nations will not approve loophole-free inspections and that even if it does, Saddam will defy it once more. Which is why it's strange to find so many liberals who consider themselves antiwar conceding that, if all else fails, they would support military action against Iraq. "All else" has failed for more than a decade. And barring a profound character reversal by Saddam, "all else" will likely fail again in the coming months. Just how many times are we supposed to go down this road before we realize our last resort may be our only option?


The Washington Post's Roxanne Roberts put a human face on the list I've posted below

It's 7:30 a.m. and Dan Heller is on bus duty at Samuel Ogle Elementary School. Every day he stands outside the Prince George's County school, ushering students off the buses and through the front doors. Only now there's a sense of urgency to get his charges into the building.

There are no student patrols anymore. Most of the children walk briskly into the school. "Some of the kids duck when they get off the bus," said Heller, a curriculum coordinator. "I'm kind of glad, in a way. I don't like to see fear instilled, but at least they are aware of the situation."

Teachers come in for a lot of stick (much of it deserved), but this isn't one of them.

Let's get real: the D.C. sniper is just another terrorist -- in the sense that his actions are prely motivated by a desire to create fear. You want proof? Try this depressingly long list of "locked-down" schools.

And try this thought experiment: How would you explain to your class why they can't go outside?

The Washington Post reports that Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will soon issuea decree allowing authorities power to investigate and arrest "anybody who is suspected of involvement with terrorism".

Good stuff, but it should have happened years ago. Surkanoputri seems to finally get it: An open, tolerant Indonesia is a bigger threat to the Islamofascists than a nightclub full of drinking and dancing infidels.

I've been asked why a blogger in New Zealand should care about The New York Times going down the toilet ten thousand miles away

Rocky Mountain News columnist Dave Kopel explains it better than I can: Because so many other media outlets still view it as the gold standard of journalism.

Unlike the residents of New York City, people who live in Colorado can read The New York Times in two different newspapers, since both the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post print numerous stories from the Times. And because the weekday New York Times is also available for sale all over metro Denver, some voracious newspaper readers might get three doses of the Times in a single day. This is not necessarily a good thing. The reporting of The New York Times has nose-dived over the last year.
Historically, the Times has justifiably enjoyed more credibility than almost every other American paper. Today, however, the Times is suffering through a "Raines of Error," and the average news article from the Times is less likely to tell the whole truth than the average article from the staffs of [local papers] the Rocky Mountain News or the Denver Post.

I regularly see The New York Times quoted -- and taken seriously -- by editors, journalists/pundits and politicians in New Zealand. That's fine. As Kopel says, there are still good reporters working for the Times. But while Raines keeps pretending blatant propaganda is hard news, others are busy turning it into conventional wisdom.

With the growth of the internet -- and The Times' substantial investment in a web presence -- the Raines-ian spin is going to spread further and faster without the firewall (however faulty) of being run past another editor's bullshit detector. But the net offers hope as well: As long as Raines keeps lying, there will always be someone on the web busting his chops. And I'll pass it on.

It's been a while since I've made fun of Maureen Dowd -- the Raines-ista pundit who makes the others look sane: mostly because it's too easy. But how could I resist this?

I was a reporter in Montgomery County for five years, when fracases among the fox-hunting set and sexually perverse dentists passed for big news. The most heinous case I covered was the Murder Most Fowl, when a golfer at Congressional Country Club became so infuriated by a honking goose that he bludgeoned him to death with his putter. In those days the top cop had an even more unfortunate name, Chief Crook.

Way too much information about where MoDo picked up her social skills. And what exactly does this have to do with the D.C. sniper?

Tuesday, October 15


I've always thought that Prime Minister Helen Clark would eat her own young (if she had any), but this ghastly response to a hardball Parliamentary question is low even by her standards.

(The context can be found in the item headlined MINISTERIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY.)

1. Hon. BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Further to her comments on the Holmes show last night, when does the Government intend to "upgrade or replace the ... Hercules and the 727s"?

Rt Hon. HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): The Government has made the decision in principle to upgrade or replace the Hercules fleet and to replace the Boeing 727s. The detailed decisions on the options are likely to be made later this year.

Hon. Bill English: What does she think it does for New Zealand's credibility in Australia to have three of our Air Force planes grounded in the same few days, and have the embarrassment of this matter discussed in the Australian Parliament, as it was yesterday?

Rt Hon. HELEN CLARK: What I think is very damaging to the reputations of those concerned is to have quarrelling over a broken windshield, when New Zealanders are either dead, badly injured, or traumatised from a tragedy.

I can see why a mad mullah denouncing dog owners for their "moral depravity" raised the ire of Andrew Sullivan today. (Regular readers probably know more about his adored pet beagle than is entirely healthy.)

But I hate dogs -- I prefer my psychotic three-legged cat -- and this gets up my nose.

Dogs are considered unclean in Islamic law and the spread of dog ownership in Westernised secular circles in Iran is frowned upon by the religious establishment.

"I demand the judiciary arrest all dogs with long, medium or short legs - together with their long-legged owners," Hojatolislam Hassani is quoted as saying in the reformist Etemad newspaper.

"Otherwise I'll do it myself," said the outspoken cleric, who leads Friday prayers in the north-western city of Urumiyeh.

"In our country there is freedom of speech, but not freedom for corruption," he said.

And if you believe the first clause of the last paragraph, you're as nutty as Hassani.


I took the name of this blog from the poetry of Philip Larkin Looking through his Collected Poems I found a poem that had a horrible relevance today, MCMXIV.

The last stanza reads:

“Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word — the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.”

‘The men’ are lined up outside a recruiting office in the first days of World War One. Life continues -- their world seems unchanged and eternal when it has been transformed without their notice.

There’s been a lot of nonsense about the Bali terrorist attack being “Australia’s 9/11.” Larkin caught the real meaning writing in a boarding house in Hull over forty years ago, and so much better that a piece of journalistic cant.

The Philip Larkin Society has more information and plenty of useful links for anyone who want to learn more about this wonderful writer.

Salon's Suzy Hansen reviews a A new book that gives waitresses a chance to say what they really think of their work -- and their customers.

As a drag queen acquaintance puts it: "This is not going to be pretty, and it gets worse with the lights on!"

Judging from the review, it's a small miracle that the service industry doesn't have the same position in urban myth as postal workers.

So what is it about eating out that brings out our least savory character traits? It's money, of course, and appetite, which we're all fiercely preoccupied with, whether we love food or stress over how it's affecting our figures. (If you've ever eaten out with an anorexic, you've seen how terrifying a restaurant can be.) Having been a waitress myself doesn't entirely explain my extreme, almost bizarre, sympathy for them. The waitress stirs up every personal problem we have with class and power -- whether being served makes you feel ashamed or resentful or like the king of the world. Whether it reminds you of your mom, your maid or yourself, age 15, at the local beachfront hamburger stand. It makes sense that those with the biggest senses of entitlement don't have a clue about forces at work when they order their hangar steak.

Of course, waitresses aren't perfect and the women interviewed in "Hey, Waitress!" would be the first to admit that. I'd imagine that after reading Owings' book, many readers might still be confused about how to treat a waitress well. Make jokes, or not? Call her by her first name, or no? Some questions I would have liked Owings to turn on her interviewees more often include: What are the cardinal sins of waitressing? What does a waitress have to do to merit a bad tip? Does she deserve 15 percent even if she's slow, if she's hanging out at the bar, if she's licking her fingers in plain sight?

It might help if patrons at least started things out on the right foot. Suz, a waitress whose new husband had been a horror to wait on, offered this simple instruction to him:

"You will sit very quietly. You will give your order, completely, clearly, succinctly. You will never harass the waitron and will be very grateful and tip twenty percent even if she forgot your order completely. Maybe she's having a bad day."

Enviro-weenies got what they deserved when an animal rights protest in Aberdeen rant into a ''violent' counter-protest by milk carton-weilding school children.

Sean Gifford of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and an unidentified man in a cow-suit had planned a peaceful protest at the gates of the Grammar School to let pupils know about the claimed hazards in milk.

But they had to be rescued by two female police officers when the teenage pupils launched a violent protest of their own.

About 100 children, shouting "milk for the masses" and carrying banners, surrounded Mr Gifford and his "cow" partner and drenched them both in milk for about ten minutes. The police eventually intervened and escorted the PETA members back to their car.

There is hope after all...

Defence MInister Mark Burton has blamed two recent highly embarrasing Air Force mechanical failures on previous government -- which has been out of office for over three years.

An Air Force C130 Hercules, en route from Darwin to Bali, decided to turn back after it was noticed that one of the window panels was developing signs of delamination. The plane, which was carrying a team of Australian police, returned to Darwin and the flight crew was advised that, in keeping with flying hour limits, they would be stood down to rest. The operations commander in Darwin sent another aircraft to continue the mission.

In another incident, the Boeing 727, which was carrying a contingent to Egypt for the 60th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of El Alamein, was grounded due to oil leaks. [The Prime Minister will be flying business class on a commcercial service.]

Defence Minister Mark Burton claims the incidents are due to the last National Government letting the Defence Force slide. He says National should have replaced a lot of old equipment. Mr Burton says Air Force upgrades are now underway.

This is a pretty standard tactic when this Government comes under pressure. And that's the problem.

There are times and places "politics as usual" has to stop. Today, when every plane into Kuta can literally save lives, should have been one of them.

I really, relly shouldn't laugh at this: Environmentalist Protester Falls Out of a Tree and Dies.

But it just gets better and better:

``We're pretty much in shock and trying to decide what to do,'' said Tim Ward, a member of the Santa Cruz contingent of Earth First.

Ward said the man was in his mid-20s and had recently come to Santa Cruz. He was homeless, Ward said, before deciding to join a tree-sit protest against Redwood Empire, the San Jose-based firm now logging the approximately 50-acre site.

``We've been trying to find out what caused him to fall,'' Ward said.

He said Earth First protesters are all trained ``how to climb safely and how to rappel and how to stay fed and sanitary.'' They're also told to stay on a tether while in the trees, but for some reason the man was untethered, Ward said.

Um, yes.... It's seems stupidity and ignorance are environmentally unfriendly.

Nat Hentoff (a habitual free speech absolutist) takes a look at his alma mater Wesleyan University and finds that's exactly what a lot of students believe.

The problem is that it doesn't exist, and the diversity uber alles crowd do't really believe in a diversity of opinion and ideas.

But don't take his word for it, listen to the editor of the student newspaper, the Argus:

The newspaper surveyed students about the campus culture of Wesleyan. Most troubling, the editorial said, was that 32 percent of the students "feel uncomfortable speaking their opinion . . . Debate is limited to a dialogue between liberal and progressive, which has the effect of silencing any and all conservative views. When the rare conservative stance is taken, a shouting match usually results, making impossible the dialogue, which the university claims to value so highly."


I was quoted in the editorial as saying (in my Hugo Black lecture) that too many students across the nation believe they "have a constitutional right not to be offended."

The Argus editorial ended: "In our attempts to foster discussion and wrestle with issues, we have forgotten the basic liberal tenet of promoting freedom of expression. The booming voice of the left has almost completely drowned out a considerable portion of the campus's population."

Michelle Rabinowitz, the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union on campus, noted, "Wesleyan and most Wesleyan students think that Wesleyan is a lot more open than it really is. I'm not sure that the students are open to diverse viewpoints other than saying that they are."

The name of the first confirmed Kiwi fatality in the Bali bombing was released today.

Martin Parker was 27 years old.

He was on his way home to Timaru after spending two-and-a-half years in Britain, had been due home yesterday. He had been travelling on his own and was believed to have been planning to spend Christmas with his family and to play cricket for the Onslow Club in Wellington.

Don't forget this.

Well that's exactly the case right-winger J. Peter Mulhern put in the Washington Weekly last July.

But swimming against the current is not all bad. When you have to fight for every inch you are never in danger of overconfidence. When your enemies are constantly in your face they can never ambush you.

The right has a few newspapers and opinion journals. It gets a respectful hearing from Fox News. For the most part, however conventional political journalism is so much cheerleading for the Democrats. Democrats have to go out of their way to hear a dissenting view. They exist in an ideological cocoon, which sometimes lets them believe that the people are with them when nothing could be further from the truth.

The press never lets Republicans forget their political vulnerabilities. Their opponent's playbook is splashed all over the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times. Sometimes, even in politics, forewarned is forearmed.

Washington Democrats, saturated as they are in the culture of the left, are forever setting themselves up for sucker punches. The Post and the Times aren't going to tell them where they're likely to get into trouble and they frequently can't figure it out for themselves.

Remember this was written before 9/11. And President Bush still seems pretty smart, and remarkably popular for a semi-literate arsenic swilling chimp who won't rest until he's raped the earth, restored slavery and nuked every country whose name he can't pronounce.

Thank you Howell Raines! Your merit badge from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (and Book Group) is in the Ken Lay's Swiss safe deposit box.


For some light relief, take a look at professional grump Peter Bagge's Confessions of a Serial President Hater.

Once upon a time, he wrote and drew a sublimely misanthropic comic called 'Hate'. (Big surprise, right?) Now he does some wonderful one page cartoons for libertarian magaine Reason, which is always a fun and thought provoking read. It's also one of the few libertarian magazines with an (intentional) sense of humour.


Is there anything on earth the Rainesian jihad on the op-ed page of the New York Time can't blame on the Bush Administration?

Apparently not. Paul Krugman plays the same cracked record in his latest column about Bali, Indonesia and why the wisest course is to firmly, quickly do nothing.

And that gets to my worries over the direction of U.S. policy. I don't think we could have done anything to prevent the blast in Bali — but the attack does suggest that our early military success in Afghanistan has done little to weaken terrorist capabilities. It's not clear whether the U.S. could have done anything to improve the situation in Pakistan, though it might have helped if we had done a better job in Afghanistan, both in pursuing our foes and in helping our friends; it might also have helped if the administration had made good on its promise to let Pakistan increase its textile exports to the U.S. .

What's clear is that the biggest terrorist threat we face is that one or more big Muslim countries will be radicalized. And yet that's a threat hawks advising the administration don't seem to take seriously. The administration adviser Richard Perle, quoted by Josh Marshall in The Washington Monthly, brushes off concerns that an invasion of Iraq might undermine the stability of Middle Eastern regimes: "Mubarak is no great shakes. Surely we can do better. . . ."

Meanwhile, plans to invade Iraq proceed. The administration has offered many different explanations, some of them mutually contradictory, for its determination to occupy Baghdad. I think it's like the man who looks for his keys on the sidewalk, even though he dropped them in a nearby alley, because he can see better under the streetlight. These guys want to fight a conventional war; since Al Qaeda won't oblige, they'll attack someone else who will. And watching from the alley, the terrorists are pleased.

Bush can't win: Do nothing, and you're damned. Do anything, and you've got the blood of every victim of Islamofascist terrorism poured on your hands by the Raines-istas. Once you decode the rhetoric it all seems to boil down to Winston Churchill famous definition of an appeaser as "one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last."

Monday, October 14


Illinois Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Cal Skinner takes pot politics to a whole new level.

OK, the story is almost a month old but too good to let vanish into the ether. And it's a pleasant change not to have Jah or his mispent youth dragged up as an excuse.

In one of the most bizarre marijuana revelations yet, the former Republican state representative admitted to reporters that he unwittingly tried marijuana about 20 years ago when someone cooked up a batch of pot brownies for him as a birthday present and didn't tell him about the secret ingredient.

So did he inhale?

"I guess I swallowed," Skinner conceded. "I mean, I like brownies a lot. I probably ate two or three or four."

Skinner volunteered the information at an unrelated news conference a day after Democratic rival Rod Blagojevich, 45, admitted to reporters that he had smoked marijuana twice while in his late teens or early 20s but does not remember whether he inhaled. A spokesman for GOP nominee Jim Ryan said the attorney general has never smoked marijuana.

"If you ask me the marijuana question, I can give you the answer," Skinner said. "I have never smoked marijuana in my life."

(Thanks to the reader who pointed me to the original link at Aakash Raut's University Blog.)

Remember when Communists used to have a bit of class? I'm too young. But after reading The Daily Telegraph obituary of Elisabeth Furse -- I would have liked her a lot.

Elisabeth Furse, who died yesterday aged 92, was a former Communist, wartime resistance worker and London bistro proprietress, whose Slavic warmth and ardent personality attracted a wide circle of devoted friends; these included diplomats, MPs (among them one former Foreign Secretary), journalists, students and miscellaneous aristocrats who would happily crowd around the table in her cluttered basement flat in Belgravia to eat dubious food off jumble sale china.

Reviewing her autobiography in 1993, her old friend Lord Owen told of "a life almost inconceivable for most of us to imagine in its fortitude, frailty and overall zest". Its dominant and compelling theme was the conjunction of grandeur and poverty. She was princess and peasant at the same time.

RIP, Elizabeth.

I don't know whether to thank or curse SardonicViews (third item for Monday, October 14) for this little shopping hint. Mum's a bitch? Can't find a suitably ugly tie for Dad? Just can't bring yourself to be seen buying the lastest pop-Lolita CD for sis' (or your your older-enough-to-know-better brother)?

Here's a way to make sure you never get invited back: The Official Michael Moore 2003 Stupid White Men Boxed Calendar !

QUOTE (from publisher Andrew McMeel Publishing)
America, get ready for a second helping of the #1 Bestseller, Stupid White Men.

For this calendar Michael Moore has chosen his favorite quotations from Stupid White Men, and added many new ones. Be prepared, because no one is safe. Here is a sampler:

In short, "President" Bush has been a drunk, a thief, a possible felon, an unconvicted deserter, and a crybaby. You may call that statement cruel. I call it "tough love".

I call it bullshit, but that's Mike for you.


The New Zealand Herald has an unpleasant editorial habit of being kind-of sensible then really dumb -- sometimes in the same sentence. Today's editorial on the Bali bombings continues the fine tradition.

It is a tragedy for Bali that it, of all places in South East Asia, should be the target for this sort of terrorism. Visitors know the island as a friendly and charming place where people firmly established in an ancient indigenous religion and culture welcome visitors with warmth and relaxation. And part of that relaxed reception probably arises from that cultural strength, which is in sharp contrast to the rest of Indonesia.

Indonesia is 85 per cent Muslim; on Bali the majority remains Hindu, a much older religion that, with Buddhism, predominated throughout the Indonesian archipelago for centuries before Islam spread from its birthplace in the Arab world. Some theorists say that countries which have been converted to Islam are much more prone to the militant perversions of the creed than are Arab countries.

It is no coincidence, they say, that the most extreme regimes have been seen in non-Arab countries such as Iran and Afghanistan and that others, such as Pakistan and, we must now add, Indonesia, are particularly susceptible to terrorist organisations.

Ignoring the travel agent prose in the first paragraph and it's all true. I'd recommend Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul's Beyond Belief, which got critically mauled for making exactly this point, but there's a long shelf of decent books that have been saying this for years.

But here we go...
Mainstream Islam is not to blame, except in so far that, according to the theory, it shares with that other great revealed religion, Christianity, the tendency to sever converted people from their original religious underpinning. Rootless people, it is suggested, are less culturally confident and more liable to resent foreign influences that seem to threaten their adopted beliefs.

Is it possible that Islamofascists exist because 'Mainstream Islam' ignores, enables and empowers is radical fringes today? Convernsion is a huge red herring. Being a convert doesn't mean your descendants are doomed to become a psychotic terrorists. I'm not surprised The Herald -- with its lousy Asia-Pacific coverage -- has just noticed that fundamentalism has been a blight on Indonesia for decades -- something the Hindu majority in Bali know all too well.

The question that should be asked and answered is: why do hundreds need to die before New Zealand pays attention to Islamofascism in its own backyard? .

Radio New Zealand political editor Al 'Brown head' Morrison has resigned.

But before anyone gets too excited he's still on the public tit, as "Conservation Department external relations general manager" (or paid liar spin doctor, in English). . It shouldn't be much of a stretch: trying to make dumb animals attractive and covering up for incompetent tree-huggers.

Another good blog worth checking out is -- rude, loud and full of attitude. .

How could you resist anything with this motto: "Flailing moral scolds, authoritarian lefties and their dullard media apologists since 2002."
(Thanks to Phil Rennie, editor of the Young Nat's newsletter The New Write, for the link.)

For the ideologically confused, Donald J, Hagen's Sartirical Political Beliefs Assessment Test will finally settle that age old question: are you rabid right, loony left, loose libertarian or a crackpot commie?

It will also detect whether or not you have a sense of humour, which is much more important.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Gerald Henderson gleefully pulls the wings off the buzzing idiocy of the 'we asked asked for it' blowflies. Can someone on the other side of the ditch do the same, please?

Finally, some bloody sense in this editorial from the (Wellington) Dominion Post.

The bombings in Bali may do much to strengthen Mr Bush's hand as he seeks support for action against Iraq. Though there are already suggestions that it is not al Qaeda but a different group of Muslim fanatics responsible for the Bali blasts, the bombings have served as a reminder to all nations that the battle against terrorism is a war without borders.

A person need only be a Westerner to become a target. So far, New York skyscrapers, Balinese nightclubs and a French oil tanker have been hit but there is a fearful inevitability that the list will grow before this appalling and deviant episode of human behaviour has run its course.

New Zealand can continue to debate which are the right tactics to use, but the main message of Bali must be that we must continue contributing fully to the war against terrorism till it is won.

Not exaclty a stunning insight. But it's a refreshing change given New Zealand's apparent pretence that distance is protection.

One of the Kiwis evacuated from Bali to Darwin yesterday with severe leg injuries, underwent surgery at a Brisbane hospital today.

Mr McDougall said his parents, Jim and Elaine, and the rest of his family were beside themselves last night when it was reported Dean had been found alive.

Dean McDougall, 25, had arrived in Bali on Saturday for a week's holiday with four Wellington friends, Richard Keane, 30, Craig Lough, 30, Mark Skridulaitis 27, and Mike Guy, 27.

The trip was to celebrate Dean passing his professional accountancy papers and to farewell Mr Skridulaitis, who was heading on his OE.

Dean and three of his friends were having their first night out in Bali when a bomb ripped through the Sari Club about 4.30am (NZ time) on Sunday.

I hope Robert Fisk -- and the know nothing left -- will face these people and explain why there suffering is all their fault.

NZPA reports the the family of the first confirmed Kiwi victim are on the way to Bali to identify a body.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also confirmed "grave concerns"about the safety of two others, and another 491 are still unaccounted for.

Eight have been evacuated to hospitals in Singapore and Darwin.

I wish Tim Blair's superb blog could be praised under better cirumstances, but it's the best source on the blogsphere for breaking news from Bali. Sorry, I can't even read some of his links without crying.

Please forward this link to every Blame America First left-ist and Islamofascist apologist you know. By some miracle, this might be the wake up call they need.

Tim Blair and Andrew Sullivan have already shown this shit pile from The Indepdendent's Robert 'Fuckwit' Fisk the contempt it deserves.

Warning: The following should offend anyone with a moral sensibility.

Australians were the principal victims and their murderers must have known they would be. So why were they targeted? John Howard has been among President Bush's toughest supporters. Australia lined up to join the "war on terror" within 24 hours of the attacks on New York and Washington last year. Australian special forces have been operating with American troops in the Afghan mountains against al-Qa'ida. It's a fair bet that yesterday's savagery was al-Qa'ida hitting back.

The French have already paid a price for their initial support for Mr Bush. The killing of 11 French submarine technicians in Karachi has been followed by the suicide attack on the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen. Now, it seems, it is the turn of Australia. [...]

So who is next? When is Britain's turn? Where are Britons most at risk? Alas, they are scattered across the globe in embassies, on holidays, on every airline of the world. Our support for the United States – an infinitely closer alliance than any support from France – makes Britain the most likely candidate for attack after the US. Then there are the small, more vulnerable nations that give quiet assistance to the American military; Belgium, which hosts Nato HQ; Canada, whose special forces have also been operating in Afghanistan; Ireland, which allows US military aircraft to refuel at Shannon.

Fisk's argument -- such as it is -- sounds suspiciously close to the old defence tactic in rape trials: "The dirty cock-tease bitch -- sorry, the victim -- was really asking for it."

The victims that tend to vanish from the media coverage are the native Balinese -- a majority of whom are non-Muslim, a rarity in the most populous Muslim nation on the planet. They can't get on a plane and go home -- or safely pontificate from a secure office block on Canary Wharf.

One Kwi is already among the confirmed dead. I hope his family and friends don't read the Dominion Post, which print's Fisk's ravings as news.

What can I say about the terrorist attack on Bali over the weekend? Nothing that posted by Craig at