Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, October 05, 2002

From Oslo to intifada, for two weeks this heartbreaker of a documentary has followed the tragic downward slope to the present misery in Israel and Palestine.

It included interviews with the leading negotiators through the times of high hopes to the failure represented by the consequences of Sharon's visit to Temple Mount just before his election as Israel's Prime Minister. Sheer tragedy.

It is hard not to judge Arafat harshly for his inability to lead the Palestinians into the form of statehood that was available at Camp David. The Israeli hard-liners are as crazy as Hamas, but, even under Sharon, they were not calling the shots.

Within thirty seconds of the ending of this gruelling experience there was a promo for John Pilger's inflammatory diatribe, The Palestinians.

Gold to shit in less than a minute.

Someone's idea of balance I guess.

It's beyond the reach of Uncle's tolerance.


Have you noticed how rampant, neo-liberal capitalism is corrupting murder? It used to be that one instance of slaughter was quite enough to base a good cop program on. Now, unless your bad guy has worked up six artfully-carved corpses he just can't get a gig.

Wire in the blood is Auntie's Friday night cops-and-robbers-with-high-production-values program.

Her detective pair are a blond female Detective Inspector and an intense male civilian profiler. Both sparkle with ambiguous sexuality and tease us witless with what they're going to do about it. Neither is the least bit interested in any crime that doesn't involve serial murder.

That's your capitalism, dripping in greed and oozing superfluity under every hedge.

There is still this problem for the authors; most murderers are boring before and after the act, and you can only do so much with the butchery itself. Serial murderers seem to be the most boring of all.

A once'll- do-me killer is probably acting out of anger or passion. You can do something with that.

Your serial killer is a plotter and planner. Think of Harold Shipman, the British world champion of over-prescription with extreme prejudice. Deadly boring. Just the standard National Health session of talk from Shipman would put you into a coma.

So it is harder to visualise these homicidal stutterers, but the directors of this program have a good try. Our male lead looks intense in a dead-pan. To boost the impression of intense thinking the directors have him spraying the white board with diagrams like Ros Kelly with fleas in her D-cups. It doesn't really work, but probably as close as you can get.

One thing you can extract from multiple homicides is a geometrical increase in opportunities to mislead the audience. False patterns, possible alternatives to the butler as perpetrator, truckloads of clues.

Last night's episode suckered us with a who dunnit suprise of exceptional quality.

Good shopping, Auntie.

There is one more episode to come. Friday night, October 11th, 8.30pm in the eastern States.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Uncle knew she must have one. A boyfriend that is. At last he's out from under the bed

In a post so tightly argued it chokes itself, fellow blogger Don Arthur diagnoses Auntie's ideological position. Her condition is, well, representative.

That is, all clever people seem by some law of nature to be ideologically southpaw: And Auntie only consorts with clever people. Like Don.

I've never made a systematic study of this but I suspect that Australia has a shortage of credible conservative sources for stories on political and social issues. With the exception of economists, most academic social scientists seem to lean to the left - especially on social and cultural issues.

I thought it was the rabid right that based its political judgements on suspicion.

And if Auntie's operatives find non-leftist sources too right for their taste? Should the communards open their eyes a little wider? Not on your nelly, says indulgent Don.

Part of the reason the ABC ignores socially and culturally conservative opinion may be because such opinions lack spokespeople the ABC's journalists find credible as sources. If this is the case then conservative critics of the ABC ought to turn their attention to improving intellectual life on the right

Yes, you did read that, and I haven't made it up. Cleanse yourselves, O children of Satan, that ye may be fit to enter the Queendom.

The Don then resorts to the two favourite defensive manoeuvres of the Friends of Doom and the retired ABC apparatchiks who staff that cheer squad.

Both sides of politics hate Auntie when their passions are aroused, so they must both be wrong. Ergo, unbiased Auntie. Pure cop-out.

He ignores one awkward little fact. The entire permanent political commentariat proudly boasts of its bias. That is the snuffling Adams, the droning Lane and - well perhaps Mc Cutcheon doesn't care what he thinks as long as its weird - declare themselves of the left. Adams also boasts his hostility to any public figure to his right, eg shrub, little johnny.

Don then deserts that tattered banner for another equally threadbare: since the commercial media are to the (i.e.Don's) right, it is only right and proper that Auntie should be reserved for retentive Whitlamites.

Here's a lesson from my Philosophy I tutor. If you're putting a couple of premises together to make an argument, it's a good idea to check that they're not going to fight each other to the death.

If you want to read how the Auntie's politics is good for you, in the best of all possible media worlds, you'll find it better expressed by the Friends of Doom.

I'll leave you find their site for yourselves.


This is what we are hearing, repeated by popular request on Auntie's indigenous pulpit, Awaye, this afternoon.

And what a twisted junk pile it is.

His big idea, if it can be read here, is empowerment. Others have put it more cogently, none with more spite. The essence is that people like him should be given power over those who identify as Aboriginal, and the bills paid by the hated whitefella. Others put the same idea from inside the tent. Yanner is determined to stay outside, and is not seeking re-election to the ATSIC Council, despite all the money he says it throws at him.

See how you can sort it out.


News reporter Nick Grimm trespassed into the territory of Auntie's preachers and mouthpieces this morning when he shamelessly led two leading churchmen on AM this morning. They hardly needed his help to disgrace themselves.

Nick's professional colleagues don't need him taking the devil's side either.

It seeems the Protestant churches are offended that the Howard Government is not kneeling before the altar of their pacifism. Conscience demands that something be done.

Prayer? Discussion out in the parishes? Buying space in the media?

Don't be a dolt, brother!

To the barricades, comrades! The spokesman for the Uniting Church promised that his flocks were going to be "civilly disobedient". This seems to mean breaking the law, politely of course.

Here's where Nick deserted journalism to help expand the ambit of leftist intransigence. You didn't think it could be done?

So you're proposing "a form of conscientious objection" prodded Grimm?

"Yes" his sacredness replied. And he's prepared to go to jail for it.

We've heard of conscientious objection before. It used to mean refusing on the grounds of your beliefs to participate in military service when conscripted.

Well, here's the new definition from the Protestant establishment.

"Conscientious objection" is violent, illegal action against your fellow citizens when governments make policies you disagree with, even when arrived at by legal, open and democratic means, no matter what most of your fellow-citizens think.

Who's writing the devil's dictionary now?

There was a time, when the Protestant churches and sects were at their peak, when political quietism seemed a natural corollary of the greater good of having governments off their back. That denial of full citizenship has perhaps left them with a legacy of political naivety.

Political naivety combined with moral arrogance is vicious.

The Anglicans were formed as a State Church of course, so we can look to them for a more constitutionalist approach, can't we?

You can throw mud on my mitre but I swear I heard their Archbishop Peter Watson endorsing the plans of his loopy Uniting brothers and sisters.

Now we all know that Protestantism is dissolving into all kinds of irrationalisms as the patriarchal God takes refuge somewhere beyond the Big Bang. I had't realised just how far irrational leftism has taken charge of the churches' commanding low-points.

These meddlesome priests make Archbishop Adams, Pastor Lane and Soul McCutcheon look quite clever.

And they don't need your help, Brother Grimm.

Or Auntie's.

(Transcript in 24 hours)

Thursday, October 03, 2002

The commune's pre-schoolers are having a play with other places surrounded by protective fencing and indulgent minders, our detention centres for those brought here by people smugglers.

This is what they promise us:

Worse than Prisons? Managing Detention Centres

Contracts to manage immigration detention
centres are out for tender. The big security
internationals are lining up, despite accusations
that the current management culture is
harsh and oppressive.

“It was a bit of overkill, and it seemed to be the
the way the place was managed…To shoot an
ant with an elephant gun - it was just bizarre.”

Isolation, indefinite delays and tear gas.
Who orders such treatment

I wonder what conclusions they'll come to?

WAKE UP, AUNTY! screams the headline from Henny Penny Herald's television program and gossip guide.

What could they be talking about?

Total, blind ignorance about audiences, that's what. It seems the ABC's programmers knocked back those pre-schooler lust objects, The Wiggles.

In the mid-1990s the now supersuccessful multi-coloured maniacs did a pilot program for Auntie. ABC talent squad took their fingers out of their noses and opined "We don't think you communicate well with children". Perhaps they were right. Perhaps Philip Adams is as brilliant as he thinks.

So these dopy goofs just went on wiggling through 500 shows a year. They also produced albums and a few videos of their own for handing out privately, until one mother said "Take the tape back! It's driving me nuts." She meant that her toddler was driving her nuts. Instant Wiggles-freak.

Now they've sold videos in the millions, are regulars on the north American circuit, drag millions of bucks back from the networks in the US and UK and have inspired a Taiwanese copy. Dragging in $14 mill a year. Well....... Perhaps we might think about....

Yes! They're now on Auntie. Who brought them back? Repentant children's programmers? Philip Adams in recompense for inflicting Sesame Street accents on generations of ABC kids? Come on, sharpen up.

It was the merchandising people. This is as big as B1 and B2.

Thank God Auntie's not in trade, like those vulgarians.

(No Herald on-line link findable. Try if you've got time to burn)

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

This afternoon's repeat of Late Night Live has Philip Adams still chasing the big question: are there terrorists with Al Quaeda links in Indonesia.

The only reason to doubt the evidence, it seems to Uncle that it seems to Phil, is that the US says so.

The rest of the world answered that one a few weeks ago, so let's just leave him to it, and pass on.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002
EVERYBODY RELAXED? Recovered from The Friends of Doom, Part I? Ready for part 2?

I thought not. Time to throw the switch to comedy.

Question. How do you get to be the presenter of Auntie's prime-time listener sound-off program on Radio National?

It's demanding, nerve-racking work, and just to please those with a gluttonous appetite for irony, it's called AUSTRALIA TALKS BACK!

“Your task, 007, is to so conduct yourself that the callers to your program reflect the same distorted image of the views of the Australian public as Auntie’s paid preachers and the communards supporting them.”

Mission improbable.


Who is this hero?

Name’s Sandy McCutcheon – licensed dill.

Here’s how it happened.

An office in Ultimo.

Sandy was the founder of the Illusion Farm Community, a Buddhist centre in the mountains of Tasmania that provided rest and retreat facilities free of charge for people in need. The Farm also provided the base for the Illusion Circus Theatre Company which toured many of his plays.

"The illusion circus"! Perfect! Hire that man, Tarquin!

But sir! Isn’t he a little weak in broadcasting experience?

Nonsense boy. Sandy has produced radio documentaries in many parts of the world including Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Mozambique, South Africa and North and South Sudan. In Finland he has worked with the Finnish National Broadcaster.

They didn’t sack him did they sir?

Don’t be a dweeb, Tarquin. He has also been awarded the International Kalevala Medal by the Finnish Government for services to Finnish culture.

What is Finnish culture sir?

Ask the Russians, boy, they’ve dropped in once or twice. No-one else has. Except the Swedes. They used to run it. On the other hand, all Swedes watch foreign television.

Some Australian broadcasting experience would be helpful sir, surely?

Of course you chump. Sandy has worked in both commercial and public radio with the highlights being his time on Double Jay.

What’s Double Jay, sir?

You do need more rock and roll, boy. Make a note of that will you.

I do hope he knows how to relate to people, sir.

Good point, Tarquin! I know for a fact that He can describe vividly how he haunted crowded railway station platforms and airports in Europe listening to voices and studying faces in a futile attempt to salvage some fragile misled thread which would lead him back to his true origins.

True origins, sir? Is he an alien?

No more so than necessary, Tarquin. For years McCutcheon's search teetered on the edge of obsessive fantasy. Years before in Christchurch he had been told that he was Polish by birth, and had arrived in New Zealand as a child displaced in the aftermath of World War 2. Even on her deathbed, his adoptive mother said that McCutcheon's past must remain hidden because of the "horrible truth". But what was the "truth" that had driven an outwardly level-headed man into the realms of fantasy and fiction?

Oh my God, sir, he doesn’t think he’s a Kiwi does he?

Certainly not, Tarquin. Naturalised years ago. And he is, above all, creative. Did you know, Sandy's subsequent novels, "Peace Crimes", "Poison Tree", "Safe Haven" and "Delicate Indecencies" are all bestsellers. He has also written two non-fiction titles and an illustrated children's book called "Blik!" Two new novels are due out....

Excellent, sir! Just one thing worries me a little, the name. Perhaps a trifle Anglo, sir?

It’s Scots, you dunce!

I do appreciate there is a slight difference, sir. But does your average multicultural care?

Look here, Tarquin, you’re being dashed negative. Just listen to me: a mistily anonymous past dogged his life. It even became enmeshed into the plots of his two crime novels with their tales of international intrigue and espionage. Except for McCutcheon, it was very real.

That’s true, sir. I see in his application he says: "Here was this wonderfully intriguing story that took me around the world searching for voices, accents, clues to who I was. But how do you find a mother unless you know the mother tongue? How would you even say mother? I sat for hours in airports or railway stations listening for some fragment of speech I could respond to. It never worked but I became very good at picking up where people came from."

Good spotting, Tarquin. The search, and McCutcheon's obsession with his origins, took bizarre twists. Because he been circumcised as a child he persuaded himself that he was Jewish.

And, Tarquin, he told me at interview that "At one stage I used to keep a kosher kitchen, took out a subscription to the Jewish News, and went to the Hobart synagogue. I even won the national Jewish playwright's award for a play called Night Train, the story of a small boy who sits on trains looking for his mother but not being Jewish enough to join the 10 elderly men in the next carriage who are lighting the Sabbath candle."

You’ve convinced me, sir. He won’t be asked to respond to any comments about politics or foreign affairs will he? I recall him predicting the Yanks would be trashed in the Gulf in 1991.

So did I, boy, and I could well have been right.

I'm worried about this bit in his application sir? “The television images we see each night are fine -- if they are true. I remember the suggestions at the beginning of the Bosnian war that film footage was either vetted by an American advertising agency before being given to the networks. In Slovenia film footage was reputed to have been stored in the information ministry before being fed to journalists." Won’t that be taken as a reflection on ABC news?

Tarquin, with his background, we can be sure this McCutcheon chap has just talents we need. He’ll put off those nasty little-Johnny-lovers. Our sort will know he’s one of us.

I do hope you’re right, sir.

Bank on it, boy, bank on it. If you don’t believe me, listen to his poetry:

“I have learnt a new language;
spoken only by myself.
I whisper its syllables
into the ear of the rapids.”

and there’s another six pages, Tarquin, just as good!

What’s an “ear of the rapids”, sir?

Brand of Finnish vodka, boy.

Uncle wishes it to be understood that responsibility for this lunacy is rests here and here. And here.


Miss Clive James' autobiographical musings, that is.

The bumptious Aussie continues at 10.45 am EST (00.45 GMT) each weekday on Radio National.

He is also bright, witty and voracious in his interests. Never wastes your time.

No audio.


Late Night Live, a program that gets eight hours of Auntie’s shoulder time each week, is an expensive instrument for self-abuse by the presenter, Philip Adams and his cronies.

This might be a matter of little importance, but for the opportunity cost, which you and I are paying.

Think also of the wasted talents of the producers and researchers, of the wasted opportunities to engage with some of the planet’s best minds, who are attracted by Auntie’s reputation to find they are spending their precious time with this gigolo.

Aiding and abetting in this disgrace are the three “regular contributors”. Their role is to contribute nothing that is not already on the menu.

Beatrix Campbell “journalist, author, social commentator and broadcaster” is a feminist publicist formed intellectually at the correct time in history. As Professor of Women’s Studies one of her main tasks is to debase language to the point that it serves a simplistic political agenda.

You won’t be surprised to find that she sees the late Princess Diana as “a sexual and political icon like Marilyn Monroe or Eva Peron”.

Uncle is no fan of the late Princess, but to compare her with a third-rate actress and a tyrant’s moll, and all of them with objects of religious devotion, seems to me an unworthy product of any mind that asks to be taken seriously. I fear that Beatrix, like Philip, just wants to be taken, by her comrades, that is.

And to be published in The Guardian and Marxism Today

She is also interested in "Men, women, children, community, crime politics, child abuse, aboriginality and land rights". All that while she is "Visiting Professor" at the venerable University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Imagine what she could do if she got tenure!

Stroke, stroke, stroke.

Bruce Shapiro moves in similar circles in the USA. Founder of the radical magazine (that is with a readership of five, who don’t believe in reading) Haywire, co-author with Jesse Jackson of pamphlets opposing the death penalty – on racial grounds of course – and also a contributor to The Guardian.

The on-line journal Slate found him “perceptive”, Village Voice prefers “nuanced”. His horizons are certainly broader than Beatrix’s.

These two are used to reflect the Adams attitudes as they may be applied to UK and US affairs. Never been known to resist.

Australian national affairs are left to Margo Kingston, in comparison with whom the first two contributors are made to appear intellectual giants. See for yourself, if you can navigate the Sydney Morning Herald site, or if you’re lazy, let Tim Blair or the Professor tell you.

The thing about the LNL’s regular correspondents is not their shared left-liberal ideology, but the way the program’s lugubrious leader uses them, and their willingness to be used. Or their inability to move outside the stereotypes they have become.

Stroke, stroke, stroke; purr, purr, purr.

They know what is expected of them and deliver it on cue. We are not here to analyse “shrub/little johnny” comrades, but to bury them in our complacency. We are all children of the 60s and 70s and will never let the décor of the nursery change.

Adams shows a total lack of professionalism in the way he uses the soapbox we all pay for. You want proof? Listen, if your stomach is up to it, on some occasion when the minders have served up interview talent with professional integrity and expertise, not our three professional media performers. Watch when they stray from the true path defined in the glorious decades of revolt and Saint Gough.

If Chairman Phil can’t oil and smarm them into wry acceptance, their sentences are fated to be short, their appearance in Auntie-land a solitary experience, in two senses of the word.

In the world of Adams there are no new ideas. Conversation is a glissando around what all right-thinkers already know. For that reason, with even the liveliest minds as talent, the show never really takes off.

If we were excited by the ideas we would not be paying attention to the host. And that, children of Auntie, is not allowed. Time for another interruption.

Stroke me, stroke me. Purr, purr, purr.

For a person of integrity an interview with Adams must feel like being placed naked with the porky host in a bath-tub full of mud. What the hell do you do when he starts flashing his ideological G-spots? Stroke on demand? Or pray for an out-of-body experience? Disgusting.

You should really be paying Uncle hardship money for all this.

Monday, September 30, 2002

Our Lady of Perpetual Shocks got another this morning. Geraldine Doogue, Duchess of Life Matters, the ABC's uplift for the home-bound, had her ABCness challenged by Auntie's economics-explainer and dilatory blogger, Peter Martin.

Some real scientists are getting stuck in to economics. They find that free and liquid markets, and free trade, help to spread wealth, to ameliorate the uneven spread of wealth within every society on earth, past, present, and, Uncle hopes, future.

And we thought that economics couldn't get any better at stating the bleeding obvious.

Educating Auntie is a perpetual task. Short attention span, no long-term memory.


Just as well John Quiggin was getting a good stroking from Terry Lane yesterday.

When he got home he had this mugger waiting for him.

Send band-aids immediately.

Sunday, September 29, 2002
ABC ENGLISH; a cumulating collection from the ABC’s lingo-shifters as they channel the future of our language. As promised.

“Iraq” pronounced “Eye-rak” PM, 24 September 2002.

“amenable to” meaning “acceptable to” PM, 24 September 2002.

“The Federal Government is again on the defence” Sitting on the fence? On the defensive?...” Breakfast, 24 September 2002, 7.34

“ to repulse” (verb), instead of “repel” Breakfast, 15 September 2002.

My God this is boring, but duty demands.


On today's drone from Auntie's pet Marxist, Terry Lane, John Quiggin's whinge about Auntie's earlier mis-spelling of his name was sorted. All kiss and make up. John's blog was also promoted vigorously. Other Ozbloggers should immediately email Auntie demanding equal time.

Putting Quiggin up against Lane makes John sound like the Voice of Reason.

Today a review of the International Monetary Fund's review of Australia's economic performance.

The Lane doctrine makes it all simple. The IMF is a conspiracy of the rich countries to empty the pockets of the poor and further bloat the rich, to drive the poor out of the health service, cut wages, turn babies into tallow.

With leads like that, the bosses of the CFMEU could be made to sound reasonable.

John was smart enough not to directly contradict His Commentatorship.

If he had John might have copped the standard Lane response to unacceptable contradictions of doctrine: "You're not trying to tell me that....".

Brother Terry also dislikes crocodile wrestling and any nature program not narrated by David Attenborough.

Thought you'd like to know.