Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, February 27, 2003

Just as Other-People's-Media Watch presenter David Marr was gearing up to reveal to us the cause of Auntie's peculiar invention of Indonesian government policy, along comes his boss Russell Balding and tries to steal his lunch.

The litany of errors contained in Mr Akerman's column of last week (18/02) was
compounded this week through the wholly inaccurate claim that the ABC "was
forced to apologise for fabricating a news story which had the potential to
damage Australia's relationship with Indonesia".

When ABC News management identified the error they moved to rectify it. The
Corporation was not "forced" to apologise. It chose this course of action
because it was the proper thing to do.

Nor was the story "fabricated". It was a mistake and the ABC was not reluctant
to admit to it
splashes his leak to Crikey.

Russell, your invention sure was a mistake, but it is still an invention. How did it come about?

Auntie's flacks are spreading the rumour that it was all Jakarta reporter Jim Middleton's fault. He just didn't make himself clear.

Well, Middleton can speak - or leak - for himself, but speaking for Uncle, who heard the item, the disjunction between the rubric inserted in Sydney and the story from Jakarta, was so wide that there was room for Russell Balding's credibility gap.

So we're left with the question: how and why does Auntie's national TV news service invent news that is not even credible?

Still some work for David Marr.

THESE DAYS, an "imminent threat” is the hijacked airliner that hasn't yet hit the skyscraper or one man, with no discoverable connections to any government, who hasn't yet released the weaponized smallpox.

I know it doesn't sound reasonable, Christopher.

Unless you have a deep knowledge of international law.


No more the grey accountant, Auntie's chief flunkey, Russell Balding is beating the boards in a drive to snare the quarter billion Auntie needs to put JJJ in every Australian shanty.

"Rap for the RARAs" is Russell's slogan, but it may not be enough.

The ALP is upset. If it isn't enough to give comfort on an hourly basis to the ignorant intransigents of the Labor left whose megalomania then has to be massaged by every backbencher and office-holder, Auntie has cut Simon Crean's reply to John Howard's take on "blood, tears and sweat". In favour of Playschool.

Probably did Simon a favour - it certainly did parents a favour, but the ALP Senators on the Estimates Committee are not showing any gratitude.

A similar credibility problem confronts Russell when he tries to call Piers Akerman to account for claiming, in a column in the Telegraph, that Auntie was sponsoring the push for West Papuan independence.

Unlike some columnists, such as Mr Akerman, the ABC cannot and does not advocate on behalf of political causes. thunders Russell, in a letter he has run through Crikey since the Tele won't play.

This minion has more chutzpah than his own Gastropod, and equal credibility.

Not only does his commentariat peddle leftism day in, day out, explicitly and with sneering contempt for even the idea of giving a hearing for another point of view, but a consistent leftism infuses much of the remainder of Auntie's 24-hour day.

JJJ thinks the adult world a hoot, but the political agenda of the left is promoted like holy writ, without reflection.

For Radio National it's just a matter of "collective - good; profit - bad", to paraphrase Napoleon the Stalinesque pig from Animal Farm.

The embarrassment of association with the push for civil war in West Papua does not lead Russell to reflect on RN's practice of sharing its political agenda-setting with left-wing NGOs and quasi-faculties like UTS's activist kindergarten for hacks. He just denies that it's policy.

If Auntie's indigenous affairs pulpit, Speaking Out, is pushing its liberationist ideology into other people's backyards, not to worry, they also talk about sports legend Eddie Gilbert so there can't be a problem.

At Auntie's shop, mindlessness is regarded as an excuse.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003
A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE on Iraq would constitute a crime against humanity, write 43 experts on international law and human rights according to Henny Herald's sub-editor. What they say is The initiation of a war against Iraq by the self-styled "coalition of the willing" would be a fundamental violation of international law.

What's an expert on human rights? How do you earn the qualification? Good questions.

But let's look at their argument.

1. International law exists, and its requirements haven't been met.

International law recognises two bases for the use of force. The first, enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, allows force to be used in self-defence. The attack must be actual or imminent.

The second basis is when the UN Security Council authorises the use of force as a collective response to the use or threat of force ... only if there is evidence that there is an actual threat to the peace (in this case, by Iraq) and that this threat cannot be averted by any means short of force (such as negotiation and further weapons inspections).

Now the experts rush on to conclude that the conditions haven't been met. So these 43 multi-talents are not only experts on international law and human rights, but also on military affairs, intelligence, geopolitics and global terrorism, because all of that's involved in applying that law.

How do they convince us punters that they've got the real stuff? By a neat sleight-of-hand.

2. What the US is proposing is a new doctrine, pre-emptive attack.

This doctrine contradicts the cardinal principle of the modern international legal order and the primary rationale for the founding of the UN after World War II - the prohibition of the unilateral use of force to settle disputes.

But this doctrine is only really new if you believe that a nation must wait to be attacked by a particular State in order to prove that it is defending itself. And that, as several countries discovered in 1939-41, is a very dangerous maneuvre. When should the democracies have acted, assuming they had the will? 1936? 1938? Five minutes before Hitler's bombers and tanks moved east?

Where is your analysis of the nature of today's threats? The beast in 2003 is not the beast of 1938, so now add in WMDs, global Islamic terrorism, rogue states, the continuing unreliability of allies in long campaigns. Your thoughts, Professors?

Silence. These lawyers are hanging judges who don't publish their reasons.

Then we follow with a glissando into the justification for invoking the UN's provisions for collective action. And pretend it's part of the argument about self-defence.

The weak and ambiguous evidence presented to the international community by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to justify a pre-emptive strike underlines the practical danger of a doctrine of pre-emption. A principle of pre-emption would allow particular national agendas to completely destroy the system of collective security contained in Chapter Seven of the UN Charter and return us to the pre-1945 era, where might equalled right. Ironically, the same principle would justify Iraq now launching pre-emptive attacks on members of the coalition because it could validly argue that it feared attack.

What a load! Professors, would you let your first-years get away with logic like that?

And since you've introduced the subject of UN action on Iraq, where do UN resolutions in 1990-1 and 2002 require the US - which has been kind enough to provide the means that makes the UN more than a bunch of Antipodean professorial wankers, to play Dick Tracy with Saddam Hussein and his European co-conspirators?

3. The US always kills more bystanders than is reasonable.

Even if the use of force can be justified, international humanitarian law places significant limits on the means and methods of warfare. ... Intentionally launching an attack knowing that it will cause "incidental" loss of life or injury to civilians "which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated" constitutes a war crime at international law.

I somehow guessed we'd get here; the US government is comprised of war criminals.

The military objective of disarming Iraq could not justify widespread harm to the Iraqi population, over half of whom are under the age of 15. The use of nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive attack would seem to fall squarely within the definition of a war crime.

Did you see that? Just before you could ask what they meant by "widespread" they nuke you. What a shut-your-face that was. But even without the nukes:

Estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq suggest that up to quarter of a million people may die as a result of an attack using conventional weapons and many more will suffer homelessness, malnutrition and other serious health and environmental consequences in its aftermath.

Whose "estimates"? And why "up to" rather than the best estimate? This are standard rhetorical devices employed by political shonks. Is that what you are, professors?

What about the 'estimates' that 'up to' ten million Iraqis will be dancing in the streets when the Saddamite dictatorship falls? And the lives saved by ending those UN sanctions. Not to mention the two million Saddam-generated corpses, who have no rights.

Can I ask, professors, whether the case in international law for action by the targets is enhanced by the propensity of rogue states for acquiring nukes etc and spreading them round?

The professors have this stunning answer:

4. Heads of State can be put on trial before their regimes are destroyed by war.

Until recently, the enforcement of international humanitarian law largely depended on the willingness of countries to try those responsible for grave breaches of the law. The creation of the International Criminal Court last year has, however, provided a stronger system of scrutiny and adjudication of violations of humanitarian law.... It specifically extends criminal liability to heads of state, leaders of governments, parliamentarians, government officials and military personnel.

That's good news, people. I'm prepared to lend you my old .22 if you're prepared to lay hands on old Saddam and Jung-il, and frog-march them into your tribunal.

Sorry. I mistook your intentions:

But, if all else fails, it is to be hoped that the fact that there is now an international system to bring even the highest officials to justice for war crimes will temper the enthusiasm of our politicians for this war.

It's not Saddam and Jung-il you want in court - it's George Bush and Tony Blair and John Howard.

5. Only criminal nations defend themselves.

Respect for international law must be the first concern of the Australian Government.

but needn't bother any potential or declared enemy.

What is it about signing a collective statement that turns professional men and women into a bunch of pea-and-thimble tricksters?

To see the full list of those you would never trust with the education of your children - if you had a choice - go here.

And if you want to see a similar quality of argument from Victoria's religious leaders when they stoop to a collective conscience, go here.

Monday, February 24, 2003
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO SAY THIS. I hate to be a nag. But it's two programmes of Other-People's-Media Watch and still they've failed to notice the biggest media story of the year, so far.

They've got multi-cultural whores panting for peace, John Pilger ranting for war on America, Rupert Murdoch drooling for Bush.

They still haven't got the deliberate invention of the kind of news that sets neighbours at each other's throats.

YOU'RE a good left-wing doco maker, launching your latest Cuba piece to a theatre full of like minds.

It was a Friday night. The theatre was full. [David] Bradbury was there to answer questions afterwards. He's a '70s lefty but he witnessed, during several visits to Cuba, the gradual failure of the revolution which has been controlled by the same dictator for more than 40 years. The documentary concludes with the aggressive breaking up of a pro-democracy demonstration by police.

As the credits rolled, the insults flew. "Shame!" cried one woman as Bradbury walked on stage. "Bullshit!" shouted someone else amid other catcalls. A lively colloquium followed in which Bradbury had to defend his progressive credentials from attack by hard left throw-backs who can always rationalise away why the "people" don't need free elections.

Been there, David. Good luck.

WHEN ROBERT "CUDGELS" MANNE sets out to misrepresent his opponents he forswears no rhetorical weapon. As we have seen before.

Is today's situation with Iraq and the other rogue states like that in Europe in the 1930s, as many, including Uncle, have discovered?

Not if you:
*insist that the comparison is also asserting that decadent Iraq today equals resurgent Germany then,
*ignore the post-WWII phenomenon of global Islamism,
*ignore today's weapons of mass destruction, which require no industrial state for their delivery,
*assert that Saddam, unlike Hitler, was provoked by his neighbours into attacking them.

No, I didn't make up that last point.

In 1980 Saddam had grounds to fear hostile actions of the new Islamist regime in Iran. In 1990 Kuwait was threatening the postwar Iraqi economy by demanding debt repayments and, through overproduction, by driving down the price of oil.

By Cudgels' standards there are few oil-producers in the world today that lack the grounds for war. Not to mention a dozen others, including North Korea.

The sub-editor's picked this Cudgels tirade for what it is. He titles it: History rewritten, war justified. Only dictators' wars, but.

Sunday, February 23, 2003
YOU CAN ONLY FIX ONE IF YOU FIX THEM ALL, according to the Northern Territory Government.

The Independent Member for Braitling Loraine Braham wants to block traditional marriage being used as a mitigating factor in sentencing decisions involving men having sex with minors.

Loraine Braham's move responds to the recent case involving Jackie Pascoe Jamilmira and the under-age girl he bought on time-payment from her parents. Then raped.

Can't do that, says NT Justice Minister, Peter Toyne.

"Really its quite inappropriate to be picking one issue out and dealing with it in that sort of piecemeal fashion," he said.

"We really need to have a good overview of all of the issues and that inquiry will be coming back to us in July."

Peter, that is pathetic.

EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY, so popular on the soft left has this problem.

Others want to join in too.

ARMAGEDDON has been postponed. And it's scientific.

NOW, which accusation shall we prefer? ask the pre-schoolers of Background Briefing today.

Will the US desert the people of Iraq too soon after the victory against Saddam, leading to a chaos of retribution, bloodletting and political strife?

Or, will the US hang around suppressing the legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi people for democracy and self-determination, maintaining a puppet administration of no legitimacy at all?

I don't think the pre-schoolers care too much. Whichever way it goes it will prove the folly of throwing Saddam out.

And then there are private military service corporations involved. Oh my God!

Friday, February 21, 2003

A line drop-out led lunch-time motor-mouth Eleanor Hall to reveal the tactics behind an otherwise puzzling choice of talent on The World Today yesterday.

The interviewee was Carol Mosely-Brown, an obscure Democrat former US Senator who is gasping for oxygen for an improbable assault on the Democrats' Presidential nomination. Why give it to her?

And our apologies that that interview was cut so short. We had hoped to find out from Ms Mosely-Braun whether she opposes the war even if it’s endorsed by the UN.

And also, what its like being a prominent political figure in the US criticising the President, especially given the US Ambassador to Australia recently accused some Australian politicians arguing a similar line of "anti-Americanism".

"Our task today, Communards, is to expose the repressive fascist state that the US has become under Bush, with opposition to the war a signal for vicious abuse and suppression."

I fear they would have been disappointed.

Not that it would have changed their prejudices by one jot, mind you.

WMD? WHO CARES? Not Auntie's followers.


In Germany, September 11 support worker Mounir el Motassadeq got fifteen years for being too helpful to the suicidal killers, although he pleaded he didn't know what they were up to.

This is a pleasant surprise, since Germany has shown itself on other matters to be more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those who are close associates of terrorists. In Germany, they say, everyone has a past.

None more so than Jochen Fischer, the Foreign Minister dumped on the red-green coalition by the Greens. He was not only filmed while engaged in vicious street-fighting when thuggery was in fashion on the left, but was a close associate of those who took the next step into murder. "We were just good friends" was, in effect, Fischer's defence.

How can he get away with it? Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister, smiles his winsome smile and says: yes, I fought the police in order to overthrow the state. Yes, I was a friend of an urban terrorist now on trial. Yes - and so what?

So the outcomes of September 11 are not all bad. Perhaps the German spine will remain stiffened.

PACIFISTS ACCOUNTABLE? Fair go, John Howard. You're missing the point.

Henny Herald is giving her readers a vote on whether or not mass pacifism comforts Saddam. Someone should tell them he's already voted.

I was surprised that only 30% of Henny's readers think their pacifism comforts Saddam. I knew they couldn't think, but surely they can read?

In any case, ABCwatch is the leader in deliberative polling. Uncle refuses to be outdone in shonkiness by a bunch of limp-wristed lay-about leftist pacifists.


Auntie correspondent Mark Willacy tells us why it's not easy being in the Iraqi regime's press pool, confirms Uncle's earlier post on the matter and highlights Auntie's delinquency in not putting out a warning with every Willacy report on the television news.

Every story proposal must be put in writing to the Iraqi authorities days in advance, the regime's minders say where you can and can't point the camera and when you get out to the location of your shoot you're in the hands of the local Fief.

The transcript is now available.

Thursday, February 20, 2003
PROFESSOR MARCIA LANGTON has been denied entry to the US, apparently because she failed to mention that she was arrested in New York in the 1970s.

Can't be sure, because she's not talking, but it appears the charge was either dropped or thrown out by the Court.

Langton has made many trips to the US since her arrest, but the US immigration authorities are getting tougher on those who lie on their paperwork.

She was in California to lecture on "culture wars" (according to the print version of the story), a subject on which she is well-qualified.

On December 11th last year she was one of three professors to write to The Australian condemning it for publishing coverage of Keith Windschuttle's just-published The Fabrication of Aboriginal History.

"It is a tragedy for Australian society" she said then "that someone with such a twisted view of history...should be given any support or credence."

Excommunication is her preferred weapon for fighting her culture war.

IRAQI REFUGEE Adnan Hassan writes with honesty and passion about the options facing the Iraqi people .

For the past 35 years I have been screaming with pain, but no one marched for me. When over one million of my people were killed, no one marched for me. Eight years of bloody war between Iraq and Iran, no one marched for me. When I was sinking and dying beneath the hand of Saddam Hussein, no one marched for me.

On Sunday I watched the peace activists rallying for peace without mentioning my butcher, Hussein. They marched alongside Hussein's activists, I saw them very clearly.

My only wish is for the sinking ship of Iraq to be saved. We tried very hard to save ourselves but we couldn't. All the nation rebelled in 1991, but was put down brutally, right before America's eyes. Hussein has survived more than 20 assassination attempts.

I looked to the Iraqi opposition groups to unite so they could form a government after an invasion. There is not much hope of that either. I don't care who rules my country after an invasion as long as there are less jails, less killing.

Read it all here.

After that, we can all take up Chirac's "great opportunity to shut up".

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
KINDNESS IS RAMPANT AMONG UNCLE'S READERS, unfortunately. Jim T thinks at least Phillip Adams is frank enough to admit he just hates Howard and that the ABC is a "hotbed" of leftism. Better a frank crook than a mendacious poser?

No, it hasn't worked. He's still the Gastropod.

A. Reader informs me that Re Athena Starwoman analysing Saddam's character from his birthday. Con Coughlin's biography "Saddam: the Secret Life", says it's unlikely that Saddam himself, son a poor peasants, even knows when he was born, and just adopted someone else's date. thereby conceding Saddam has parents.


WATCHING GREAT-AUNTIE is the work of Biased-BBC. They're on the job and the results sound familiar.


It must have needled the ego of Australia's Mick Jagger of the UN stage, Richard Butler, that no-one seemed to notice that he had joined the pacifist mobs last weekend. No-one except Auntie.

Pastor Terry Lane gave him a good run, but since Auntie judges, correctly, that her commentators' contributions are both too low in quality and too predictable in content to justify the cost of transcription it was not possible for Uncle to describe Dick's fancy footwork.

In very brief summary, Dick manages to

confirm Colin Powell's assessment of Iraq's WMD work,
let Blix off the hook for demeaning Powell's assessment,
abuse John Howard as a "liar" for drawing the distinction between being ready to fight and being irrevocably committed to fight,
ignore Simon Crean's lunacy of being unready to fight while accepting the right of Chirac, Schroeder and Putin to tell him when to do it, and - Dick does contradictions wholesale -
damn US Ambassador Schieffer for defending his Government against abuse under Parliamentary privilege.

Now someone with access to a commercial transcription service has done the job of dissecting Dick in detail and with quotations. And done it well. It's here.

(Don't be deceived by the stupid nom-de-plume; that's Crikey's invention.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
A BLOGGER IN LOVE? And not with himself? This must be a first.

"AN HONEST MISTAKE" says Auntie's historian about the invention of some startling news for last Saturday's national TV news bulletin.

How does he know? Did he enquire?

He doesn't say.

As a professional historian, perhaps Ken Inglis was exercising "historical imagination".

He was speaking on Radio National's op-ed slot before the 6.00pm news.

Isn't it marvellous to be judge and jury on your own offences.

ALT-ABC's Media Watch is still at the planning stage.

Jim T thinks we need a presenter who can mimic the "smug, patronising leer" of Auntie's preferred front-men and have all sorts of other required qualifications.

Uncle is more easy-going. Just give me honesty and professionalism.

There must be several hundred candidates out there.

READER ANDREW B, who also writes a bit, reminds Uncle of his failures in bringing Auntie to account. All in the way of encouragement of course.

Next issue: When the ABC does vox-pops from Baghdad to give us an impression what the "people" are saying (eg Mark Willacy last night), shouldn't viewers be told that the sample may be skewed by the fact that the reporter will be kicked out for recording comments Saddam doesn't like, and that those interviewed may be shot for not parroting the right lines? At the very least, we should know that the reporter has with him a paid agent of Saddam who is there to make sure no one says anything the regime doesn't like - or else.

Well, that puts Andrew on a Unity Ticket with John Pilger. He certainly thinks that any journalist who accepted a place in the pool system run by the US army in the Gulf in 1991 - or does in 2003 - is disgracefully complicit with the war-criminals in Washington, London (and Canberra) in promoting the oppression of the down-trodden and deceiving the audience. Not suggesting Saddam is a war criminal, of course.

Pity Auntie doesn't have a program to raise the issue.

Here's Uncle's suggestion for a codicil to Willacy's future conversations with the Iraqi people:

"While interviewing that Iraqi citizen, Mark Willacy was accompanied by member(s) of the Iraqi secret police who routinely murder, torture and rape anyone who disagrees with Saddam Hussein. The nearest torture chamber is around the next corner on the left. We did not have permission to film it or record the sounds of the inmates. We broadcast Willacy's interview as a contribution to balanced reporting of the US war on the people of Iraq."

Alternatively, Auntie could find interviewees among the several million members of the Iraqi diaspora who have chosen to live in the countries forming the Coalition of the Willing, and were rather hard to see among the pacifists marching last weekend. Even Henny Herald could find a couple.

MEDIA WATCH turns the spotlight onto those who literally "make the news", or so it tells us.

Not last night. David Marr had more important matters.

So, instead of learning who invented a major lie for the national TV news service, why, and what disciplinary action has been taken, we were given a long coverage of astrologer Athena Starwoman's analysis of international affairs.

Helps Auntie fans to feel superior to viewers of other channels. This seems to be their main purpose in life.

Squirming in his seat with the excitement of it all, presenter Marr followed with a reminder that long-convicted cash-for-comment talk-back jocks, the Golden Tonsils and the Platinum Parrot, are cash-for-comment talk-back jocks. Thanks David.

Next week on Media Watch; All-in Wrestling is not dinkum!

If you don't watch it you don't need to know; if you do watch it you don't care.

Rather like Media Watch.

ACCORDING TO THE EUROPEANS, Iraq must cooperate "fully and immediately" with the UN resolutions.

But only if it is convenient.

"Formulations such as 'the time is running out' were not acceptable for us," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose country has led resistance to US plans for war, said.

"Naturally it is a compromise. The aim of the EU remains the peaceful solution of the Iraq crisis."

Monday, February 17, 2003
STOP VOTING. Saddam has already taken up the job as the Communards' scripter.

And the bastard's doing it by email. The deal was he should leave Baghdad first.

LOOKING FORWARD TO MEDIA WATCH'S EXPOSE of how Auntie's national TV news service came to invent an Indonesian foreign policy that suited the pacifist cause. But not in hope.

The ABC apology last night said: "We'd like to make it clear while some groups in Indonesia believe a war on Iraq would be a war on Islam, that's not the view of the Indonesian Government. The ABC apologises for not making that clear in the introduction to last night's story."

Thanks to today's Australian we know that the invention came from a news editor, not the Jakarta correspondent Jim Middleton. This was the obvious interpretation from the disconnect between the headline and the content of the story.

Auntie's apology was forced from her by a call to manager Balding from Prime Minister Howard. The apology - and no-one can remember a precedent - did not attempt to explain how and why Auntie's news editors come to be inventing major news that is supported neither by their journalist in the field nor plausibility.

If Unlce doesn't suggest that it's the Communards, overexcited by the sight of cities full of pacifists, going one step further in their use of the national broadcaster to further their own agenda, who will?

Later. Here is Media Watch's self-Charter. Check it against their performance tonight.

Journalists claim to report the facts without fear or favour - but just how fair and fearless are they when personal or corporate interests conflict with their responsibilities?

Media Watch turns the spotlight onto those who literally "make the news":

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Even before the celebrating crowds have left the streets, Greece starts the hangover by demanding Europe make sense of itself.

With the strong backing of Germany, the EU's Greek presidency has called the summit in a bid to knock heads together and reinvigorate a "common foreign policy" that seems to be dead in the water.

You start, Chancellor Weimar:

"Jacques, what do we do to stop Saddam playing our new weapons inspectors for fools?"

"Alors! We send more. Battalions of them." responds President Petain, who has been well briefed.

"With back-up?"

"Mais oui! We can't have French soldiers treated with disprespect. Tanks, planes, radio sets".

"But Jacques, I don't have any. Spent the money on pensions."

"Not a probleme, Gerhard. We just ask the Yankees!"

"But I can't pay them, Jacques. The EU says I have to cut government spending."

"Zut, Gerhard, the potatoes are going to your head. Saddam will pay."

"But he's only got enough money for this year's weapons and palace programs."

"Gerhard, how did you guys ever find your way around the Maginot Line! He just sells more oil.'

"But the sanctions, Jacques, the sanctions?"

"Never stopped us before me old jackboot."

You can see why, as one official remarked:

"The best we can expect is that everybody at least smiles for the family photo."

Maybe they won't. Uncle will.

AN APOLOGY FROM AUNTIE on tonight's national TV news? Why? Just because some enthusiast Communard in the news team invented the story headline that the Indonesian Government was agreeing with them that an attack on Iraq was an attack on the Muslim religion.

The story made it clear that President Megawati had expressed no such view.

Tonight they headline Howard's "defiance" on Iraq. The stories make it clear that the pacifist crowds are the usual minority. They kind that governments are elected not to follow. Does Howard "defy" every minority view he doesn't agree with, or only those believed in by Auntie's Communards?

Is Communard spin now an offence?

We could have apologies every day.

Perhaps they just made it a bit too obvious.

CAN DO BETTER. Auntie's deliberative poll on the Franco-German back-down on Iraq has achieved only 67% in favour of the approach taken by President Petain and Chancellor Weimar.

Better get Max-weird on the job. Saddam is not yet available.

ONLY COWBOYS PRE-EMPT. Like the Japanese Defence Minister, who says Japan will invade North Korea if it sees evidence that they are preparing to launch rockets. (Auntie hasn't heard the news, and The Australian doesn't seem to have it up on their website. Get your copy of yesterday's Oz out of the bin and look at page 16, or try CNN).

The message to China and Russia is pretty clear. Control North Korea, or face a nuclear Japan sooner rather than later.

Perhaps Bush the Horrible Hegemon might be useful after all.

THESE MUST BE LOVE MISSILES. And they can't be real Germans supplying them.

Two German nationals have been charged with attempting to export missile parts to Iraq.

THE RIGHTEOUS TONE of the Sadamites on the Security Council, and their enthusiasm for capitulating to this dangerous tyrant, reminds Uncle of the famous occasion in 1936 when the Oxford Union, normally a focus of privilege rather than leftism, resolved "we will not fight for King and country". There was the same vacillation before an ascending tyrant, the same acknowledgement of the "injustices" his victims suffered at the hands of others, a similar Franco-Russian deal followed by failure to act on Hitlers' invasion of the Rhineland, effectively confirming the political position of Hitler's military adventurism in official Berlin.

There are, of course, also big differences. So far, the shape of the beast we face is not so well defined. Bin Laden may be dead, or may soon be dead. The amateurs of al Quaeda may be replaced by the better-founded regimes who read opportunity into the present confusion of Western countries. North Korea's powers of destruction are already vastly greater than Iraq's and their tyrant's options fewer.

It is not accidental that pacifism and political capitulation go hand in hand. They destroy international security and multiply the death toll. If, on this occasion, they win and bring the dire consequences that must follow Uncle predicts that the political left and the mindless fellow-travellers will accept no more responsibility for the consequences of their action than did their counterparts of the 1930s.

And if the hazardous enterpise of Bush's Coalition of the Willing fails, in part from the combination of opportunism and pacifism we see on the Security Council, the Schadenfreude of the left will comfort them enormously while their fellow-citizens suffer the consequences.

IN THIS MORNING'S Correspondents' Report (transcripts later), Tony Blair reminded his Labour Party audience that the number of pacifists du jour marching in the streets of those countries where it is safe to do so has yet to reach the total of those killed by Saddam Hussein.

Many in Blair's audience won't notice until the tally of their dead from the current war of Islamist fanaticism, supported by the other murderous maniacs who will march behind its banner, reaches several tens of thousands.

IN THE SAME programme correspondent John Shovelan puts the New York Times interpretation of the state of play in the Security Council. Heroic France leads world opinion against embattled warmonger Bush and his cronies. When will they heed the world community?

In fact Chirac is the Marshal Petain of the twenty-first century. Let's not forget that had the second world war taken a slightly different course in 1940-1, as it could easily have done, Petain would now be the kind of French demi-god that British resistance made of de Gaulle.

Not to mention that recent French governments have played a role in undermining the Security Council's attempts to contain Iraq similar to the French contribution to the destruction of the hapless League of Nations before the second world war. Plus ca change...

AND Auntie's Sunday morning let's all worship at the shrine of The Arts program, has the impeccably left Phil Scott performing a song from his political re-working of Orpheus in the Underworld for which Phil has created an emblematic Public Opinion with the stridency of Pauline Hanson, as the left sees her. A figure of fun to be ignored by the enlightened.

Unlike the Public Opinion of the protesting pacifists whose implicit slogan is: We are Too Nice for War.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Here is Orwell in 1942, in "Looking Back on the Spanish War," reflecting on the lies of wartime:

This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. ... I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that 'the facts' existed and were more or less discoverable.

Here is an Australian historian in 2003 justifying histories which use sheer fabrication, exaggeration, myth and hyper-interpretation that serve the cause of historical justice, as he sees it
Historians must embrace new ways of understanding the past and exercise historical imagination.

Friday, February 14, 2003
Acting Commissioner for Racial Discrimination
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

I am taking up your invitation to comment on your proposal that “Islamophobia” should be made an offense punishable by your star chamber.
First, does your apostrophising of “Islamophobia” mean that you don’t know what the term means? You certainly haven’t defined it. I suppose that when you decide that it should be illegal you’ll tell us what it is.

In the meantime, and before you can force Uncle to sanitise his Website as you did the lamentable anti-Semite Frederick Toben, let me record some of my misgivings about political Islam.

I’m sure the worthy Professor Amin Saikal of the ANU, an expert on middle-eastern affairs, is right when he says that the great majority of Muslims are reasonable people who just want to live in peace and prosperity. Just like Uncle, except I want the occasional glass of claret as well.

But there are these other homicidal maniacs who call me an infidel and want to shred me if I get in the way of their plans for world domination. They hate most of the things I love, including claret, and there are times my feelings about them might be described quite fairly as phobic.

I know it’s hard to believe this could be a problem for us lucky Australians living south of Bali, and no-one to the left of John Howard seems to believe that it is.

But occasionally some journalist or other is indiscreet enough to report that Australia’s most senior Islamic cleric is a supporter of that pin-up of Islamic fanaticism, Osama bin Laden, and of his spiritual mentors. This Aussie leader of our Muslim fellow-citizens also believes that the culture of the society that hosts him is a load of crap. We tolerate non-believers. Our women provoke good young Muslim men to gang-rape. Our Jewish citizens are sexual perverts bent on world domination through US imperialism. According to his followers, the Indians and Chinese are just as evil. And these people run mosques, schools, kindergartens and host Bashir the bomber of Bali.

I am still waiting for all those good moderate Muslims to rise up and depose these friends of fanaticism.

Bill, it is all making me nervous. Point is, is it going to be illegal for me to say so?

Ridiculous idea. Looking for comfort I checked the list of determinations you made under the Racial Dscrimination Act before the judging business was taken away from you in 2001 and placed in the slightly less-flaky judicial hands of the Federal Court.

It seems racial vilification is a hard-to-prove offence. Almost the only person to succeed is a Mr Robert Brophy who has been, and still is, accused by people in his clan of being a multiple child-rapist. Someone on a Perth radio station made reference to this and you charged him $10 000 for it. That certainly makes me Freespeechaphobic.

If Mr Brophy did not have access to your services, I presume he would have been obliged to seek satisfaction through the laws relating to defamation. The accused could have tried a defence of public interest, I suppose. Do your laws require you to listen to arguments like that, Bill? Still, I guess that you, unlike those crass defamation lawyers, don’t charge for your services, provided one is a legally-defined victim.

Not hard to see why someone would want you to define him as a victim. Of Islamophobia, or, indeed, of anything at all.

You told Auntie’s Stephen Crittenden, when he indiscreetly (Islamophobically?) referred to the proliferation of anti-Semitic Islamic Websites, that you had done something or other about them. What was that, Bill? A quiet word to the Mufti? And he has foresworn the convictions on which his life to date has been based? I stand ready to be mightily impressed.

Oh dear! Having used my quota of free speech already, I now see from your press release that your enquiry is not really about “Islamophobia” at all. What you’re excited about is the idea of inventing the offence of religious vilification.

You seem to be worried that someone might call you a fool if, in the interests of making them all vilifiable as Muslims, you ascribed a single ethnicity, as a Muslim, to a Pakistani, a Kosovar, an Indonesian and a Uighur herdsman. I would, Bill, I would.

Now “religious vilification” is a very interesting idea and not without merit. If someone had been smart enough to think of it in the sixteenth century, Europeans might have been spared centuries of very beastly behaviour in the name of the Protestant revolution.

But would we have “human rights” today? And would you have such a cushy job?

Sorry to rave on so, but your questions are really too big for me to handle in a tidy way. And I don’t think you’re up to it either, Bill.



WHEN THE GOING GETS PASSIONATE all Auntie's bad habits return.

Like unusually blatant manipulation of the talent supply, as Geoff M observes. I missed it, to the great benefit of my blood-pressure.

Old Max-weird McCutcheon has dragged Robert Springborg out of limbo-land, dusted him off, and, hey-presto, an expert on Iraq!

Now many of us, but not everyone, will recall that during the Gulf War, this guy was invited onto ABC to comment, adversely re US and Australia, such that RJHawke became quite irate. It transpired that Springborg was a senior guy, or perhaps the boss, of the Australia-Iraq Friendship Society. (He was at Macquarie Pretend University at the time)

No mention of this was made on ATB..... It may be that he has quit this post now he is in UK, but I think it still would have been appropriate to mention it.

Even more appropriate to leave him in the cupboard.

MILITARY SERVICE in the age of Victims'R'Us is a problematic business.

First, the enemy wants to make you a victim. By definition.

But so do your commanders. They ask you to to have injections to stop the enemy making you a victim of Anthrax.

But some anti-immunisation victimologists say that will make you a victim of water on the scapula and testicular rotation and lots more. You could be claiming compensation before the enemy even gets a shot at you.

And some commanders are making you victims of pressure to conform. Imagine that! Military leaders exerting pressure! So are your comrades who feel discommoded by your jumping ship in mid-ocean. Bastards!

The nation's top medical adviser says you have the same risk of any serious consequence as if you didn't have the injection. What would he know? The publicity-addict in charge of the doctors' union, Kerryn Phelps, says he can't prove it. She must be right. Doctors see lots of victims.

Perhaps the pacifists are the real winners in all this.

The only acceptable way to become a victim is by letting the enemy do it.

THE "HISTORIANS' SIGH" with which the historians of the left (can you see any others around these days) greeted Keith Windschuttle's exposure of shonky work on Tasmanian history has turned into that more fundamental kind of flatulence with the launch on Monday of the book of the conference of December 2001 on "Frontier Conflict".

At that conference Windschuttle revealed some of the errors or inventions he had found in the highly-esteemed work of Professor Lyndall Ryan, who had published the second edition of her book only five years before.

And now, fourteen months later, in her paper in these conference proceedings, she has so little regard for the ethical or academic standards of her professional historian colleagues that she doesn't bother even addressing the embarrassment. Her "minor errors", she said last December, "can easily be rectified" but she hasn't attempted to do so.

And her colleagues? Well, those quoted in the Australian on Tuesday all agree with her: it's just so long ago, sigh, and how, sigh, could a poor historian be expected to even remember, sigh, what she did in 1996, sigh, let alone check its accuracy?

As for one hundred and fifty years ago, sigh, well, you just have to use your historical imagination.

Georgette Heyer does it much better, but.

Joint editor of the book, and chief attack dog for the Marxist left of historians, Bain Attwood, who informed Uncle of the historians' sigh, wants us to believe that he and his colleagues have walked away from crude assertions of nineteenth century genocidal policies into more local, nuanced, versions of twentieth century quasi-genocidal social policies.

Other historians still believe what Ryan still says in print, and will continue to teach genocide history to their students until "professional" historians produce a truthful version of Tasmanian history that doesn't bear the name of the hated Keith Windschuttle. Sigh.

And as for the rest of Australian frontier history?


Let's give Windschuttle the last word. For now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
BILL JONAS doesn’t know what he thinks – and neither does Uncle – but he knows there should be legislation to control it.

If Judaism is also an ethnicity and covered by the laws against racial discrimination, should a universal religion like Islam also be covered by those laws and should Islamophobia – meaning the view that Islamism is not compatible with liberal democratic values – also be legislated against, and does that mean that those preaching intolerance of other religions and none, like a couple of people close to the Lakemba mosque that Uncle could mention, also get protection of the law from any criticism from those who hold such views about them, or should we give it all up as a bad joke?

You think I’m exaggerating? Go here (after the Christians have had their say).

Stephen Crittenden: I wonder if we’re also perhaps inclined in Australia to let Muslims off the hook sometimes. You don’t have to look very hard to be astonished by the number of Muslim websites which really are hate sites, particularly in relation to Jews. Do we have a role, perhaps, in an exercise like this, to draw the attention of the Muslim community to things like that?

Bill Jonas: Yes, we do – and we have. We’ve also got another exercise going on at the moment, which is to do with race hate on the internet. And that’s a whole big complex issue, which is really bigger than Australia, because it is the internet, and it is truly international. But we are working with communities, and we are talking with people like the Australian Broadcasting Authority – we’re actually currently talking with the CSIRO, about filtering out, getting mechanisms for filtering out race hate on the internet. I think that’s a much bigger one than the straight-out religious discrimination or religious vilification that we’re talking about here”

I’ll say it is Bill.

You’re talking about automated censorship. And I’m paying you to do it.

With bin Laden we at least know who to aim at.

One thing is clear. This Jonas fellow should be let nowhere near the legislative arm of government.

In fact, Uncle would feel a whole lot more comfortable about the future of liberty in this society if we just wound HREOC up, and put the funds to some useful purpose.


The trouble with being a rational Christian, rather than a Christian pacifist, is that you have to think.

Too hard, brother, too hard.

Take this example:

It’s not a question of whether it is a just or unjust war, the question is whether it is an appropriate response, because right now we are in a time of history when the states are so interwoven, the global community is forming, then is it really a war that’s going to solve? Take Iraq. OK, let’s go to war with Iraq: whether we win or whether we lose, as far as a conflict is concerned, does that really solve any of the problems? And I’m not sure I know. I know I don’t know what all the problems in Iraq might be, I don’t understand that, but will a war solve it? And we are, perhaps, at a time when neither just nor unjust war is any longer appropriate.

Well, Uncle is just going to keep praying for them.


You don't have to be a cynic to get a chuckle over the antics of the pacifists.

Perhaps because their argument is so threadbare their political tactics, in response to those who shoulder our common obligation to defend ourselves, are based on nakedness.

And so we have Pubes for Peace.

You have to admire the hardiness of the 30 women who exposed themselves to the snow and cameras in Central Park, New York. And marvel at the effectiveness of exposed perinea in turning the opinions of 30 people into world-wide news.

As to their slogan, "No bush", this is the first time Uncle has seen pubic shaving presented as a political cause. I still can't see why.

By contrast, the "more than 750" women who disrobed at Hippy Central near Byron Bay must have been hard to distinguish from the usual summer tourist traffic.

"I was completely overwhelmed," Australian jazz and blues singer Grace Knight, who led organisational efforts for today's protest, told AAP.

"I needed at the very least 67 women and I prayed for 250, and we got more than 750

Perhaps there were a couple of tour buses going past at the time.

Time to balance the debate with a wankathon from those of us who don't expect someone else to clean our toilets.

Welcome to Dicks for Doing It.

Join Uncle on the front lawns of our national Parliament. I want you to get your gear off and form the image of a bullet with Saddam's name on it.

You'll have no trouble finding me. I'll be the one with the trousers on.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
I HAD RESOLVED to avoid listening to the Late Night Live debates on the issue of Iraq, repeated by popular Communard demand. But a poorly-timed car-journey brought me an experience more distasteful than jogging past a week-dead kangaroo.

Never leave your car radio on and tuned to the ABC.

I knew what to expect. With a room packed with anti-war hysterics, the Gastropod would exceed his usual lack of objectivity and become a cheer-leader from the Chair.

As indeed he did. It was a debate in which the contenders strove for reasonableness and the Chair worked the audience for easy cheers.

How many dead children will it take before you withdraw your support for this war? he challenged those who had failed to deny themselves in favour of the Gastropodian view.

Bishop Carroll responded mildly that it was an unfair (not to say outrageous) question.

I know, responded silly Philly. That's why I asked it.

That's why Russell Balding needn't bother asking for an extra $250 mill this year. Or ever.

Following Margo Kingston's advice, Uncle tried to pacify his churning gut by visualising.

What came to mind was an image of the porky Gastropodian face surrounded by a cloud of blow-flies, back-lit like a halo.

It fits.

DON'T MISS THIS ONE. Auntie's Religion Report consorts with the Sheikh of HREOC, Bill Jonas, to nut out ways in which Islam can be brought under the umbrella of HREOC's thought police.

You know what this means.

Anyone criticising the bin Laden admirers at the Lakemba mosque could be taken to Court and gaoled.

The Communards hate freedom, when it is in conflict with their freedom to hate our liberal culture.

Monday, February 10, 2003

But if the conflict is between extremists who hate the West and want to destroy it and the political and cultural values that all Western nations claim to share, why is it so wrong? And what, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, is the alternative?


Why why why does the poor old Bunyip insist on taking the Gastropod seriously?.

Especially after his first glossy embodiment.

It's all true, mind you.


they lie through their teeth if they think it will spin support for the ALP. Prior to the last election, staff were told we were "working for the forces of goodness" in handling the ALP account.

According to Laurie Oakes in the latest Bulletin, even Liberal supporters are pushing their Members against the war in Iraq. (don't click unless you want to pay).

Hang in there, little Johnny.


Even Senators are reduced to frustrated rage by Auntie's favourite expert on world affairs.

Australia’s most embarrassing literary export: far Left journalist John Pilger.fumes Senator Hutchens (via Meyer).

According to Auntie's Media Report: Investigative journalist John Pilger has devoted much of his professional life to exposing abuses of power. He's a relentless critic of the moves to war, and of the failure of the media to expose the distortions that justify it and the excesses that characterise it.

Well, the man has a point of view. It is: democracies bad, dictatorships good (provided they're anti-American).

Also: the media are a conspiracy against the truth. Everyone, apart from John Pilger, is a liar.

That's all you need to get a gig on Auntie these days.


I've had a gutful of helping to fund this mean spirited garbage!

What can I do? Please help. My wife is worried about my violent screaming rages directed at our new LG flatscreen.

Turn it off, Rod, turn it off.

One day we'll get a government with the elbow-room to deal with it.

In the meantime, copy your email to your local MP.

I HAVE GROWN TOO CYNICAL to write anything as good as this.

This probably isn't available on transcript yet but I heard an absolute ABC beauty this morning from Peter Thompson on the Breakfast program.
Peter decides to make things interesting during the weather report by giving us the details from some "hotspots" - he tells that the expected maximum in Pyongyang is XX and the forecast for Baghdad is XX. He then tells us that in Washington "... a place where they really need some clear thinking...." it is XX degrees.

I almost choked on my coffee!

On our national broadcaster, three capitals are mentioned - Baghdad, Pyongyang and Washington. Two of these cities are home to governments headed by murderous despots who own or are constructing weapons of mass destruction contrary to international agreements. These leaders torture and starve their populations, brutally repress all dissent, do not allow freedom of the press, do not conduct democratic elections and constantly threaten their neighbours with invasion/destruction.

The other capital mentioned, houses a democratically elected government which upholds the rule of law, freedom of the press, full democratic participation by it's citizens, provides the bulk of the world food aid, does not threaten its neighbours, welcomes migrants from around the world and occasionally, (like all nations) stuffs up and makes mistakes.

Which of the these should be singled out for a plea for some "clear thinking"??

If there were clear thinking in Pyongyang and Baghdad there would be no international crisis whatsoever of any proportions at all.

Tell me Uncle ( this is an argument I have had with so many people and have still not arrived at any satisfactory conclusion) is the ABC intentionally biased or does it not perceive its own bias or does it think it doesn't matter?

What is your view?

A Despairing Taxpayer

Jim, I wish I knew.

If I thought it didn't matter I would cease blogging.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

And the theologically liberal can swallow it.

Can you believe a religious program on our national broadcaster that takes the pathetic maunderings of Michael Leunig's Vasco Pyjama and Mr Curly as serious guides to the moral life?

"In response to your question, 'What is worth doing and what is worth having?', I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest."

Don't wait, there's more.

Saturday, February 08, 2003
ON A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE NOTE ABCwatch has been invited, in complete confidence of course, to advise Simon Crean on what occupation might be found for an incognito Saddam Hussein after the axis of morality throws him out of Baghdad. The Labor Party is keen to show that it's prepared to make a conscientious objector's contribution to the war.

Once again, Uncle is calling on his readers to join in a deliberative poll to help Simon choose from some carefully-constructed, pre-validated options.

Here they are:

1. Night-shift slaughterman at the Cooma abbatoir.

This facility is located in a marginal seat Simon is keen to win, and hasn't seen a drop of rain in five years, so our Iraqi refugee will feel right at home.The smell of blood, and the rhythmic, relaxing thud of the killing bolt as it smashes the brains of his victims will help him sleep soundly during the day.

OK, I know productivity will suffer, as Saddam carefully twists off the testIcles and udders of the doomed beasts, but Simon has promised to make sure the abbatoir gets a subsidy.

2. Replacement presenter of Australia Talks Back

Who wouldn't welcome the vast improvement in the intellectual standard of this sad program? And Saddam has already shown his skill at consensus building exceeds Max-weird McCutcheon's. But only slightly.

If, at the end of six months, there were any calls to ATB supporting any policies of the Howard Government or the Bush administration, Saddam would, naturally, be sacked.

3. Lead Anti-Yank scripter at Radio National

This could save millions! By centralising the production of the anti-American sentiments now produced in such a disorganised way, we could not only save dozens of communard salaries but also improve consistency and intensify the rhetorical highlighting.

The whole operation could be out-sourced to the Lakemba Mosque.

4. Adviser to Peter Costello on leadership strategies.

Costello's going to have to do something drastic. His use-by date approaches. Who remembers who preceded Saddam in Iraq?

And, just so you heartless, vicious, right-wing wretches don't feel left out:

5. Shoot the bastard.

This would be very very cheap.

Over to you.

FREE WILLY AND SILLY PHILLY combine in this weekend's glossy life-style supplement to the Australian.

While a bunch of animal-sentimentalisers throw millions of dollars at a vicious, whale-drowning killer-whale that munches seal pups like cocktail frankfurters and just happens to look like an obese penguin straight out of a tub of lip gloss, The Australian, assisted by Auntie ABC, continue to pour tens of thousands of dollars into their favourite tub of fatuousness, Philip Gastropod Adams.

Just a little stomach-churning sample:

Bush’s bullyboys are not hesitant to talk about the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, if only to bury Saddam in his reinforced concrete bunker.

This is either a deliberate lie, or the Gastropod's yank-hate word-generator is on automatic, and Phil just doesn't care what comes out.

Have you the stomach for more?

There’s every chance we’ll see a regional catastrophe far greater in scale and in hideousness than what we’ve recently witnessed in the Balkans. And what possible help will this be for Washington’s client state, Israel? Will they use the opportunity while the world is otherwise engaged for some ethnic cleansing of unwanted Palestinians?

And another invention:

Perhaps the rest of the Arab world will, as Bush apologists suggest, break into grateful applause as a new democratic government takes over in Baghdad.

So Bush and his advisors are such idiots they think that Arab dictators welcome democratic neighbours.

At least Phil finishes with an absoute truth:

Only to fools are the issues so simple.

Thursday, February 06, 2003
NEPOTISM rarely rates in ABCwatch, but not because Uncle doesn't care.

When you see who fills the journalistic hole left in Saturday's Australian by the departing bulk of Gastropod Adams, just think back to the source of the early newsflash that sped around blogville.

Clue: he is an arithmetic-challenged journalistic powerhouse located in that detached scab of the festering metropolis of Melbourne that may be found by fleeing south west from the airport, as any sane person would.

Genes do not always prevail, for which my children daily thank their spiritual maker.

MORE ON THE ANTI-YANKS. Greg Sheridan has a go at explaining the origins of anti-Yank obsessiveness in todays Australian.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

We all think we know what a just war is when we see one. Some of us think we have it straight from God.

In recent weeks the Anglican Primate – Archbishop Carnley, the Anglican Bishop of the Canberra region - Bishop Browning - and the Catholic Bishop of Canberra – Bishop Power (speaking for the Pope) have all declared an attack on Iraq to be immoral.

Yesterday, at the joint Christian ceremony to mark the opening of Federal Parliament, Prime Minister John Howard made some heart-felt observations to Bishop Power as the episcopal powerhouses lined up in their frocks to shake the hand of the “immoral” Prime Minister.

He thought he was talking man-to-man, but the hounds of the media recorded his words. Tomorrow they should be recorded on the website of the 7.30 Report and elsewhere.

In Uncle’s paraphrase, Howard pointed out to Power that no-one had a monopoly on morality, and that he had anguished as much about the issue of Australia being involved in war as they had.

He might have asked Browning, but didn’t, how the agreement of Chirac and Putin to a war turned immorality into morality. Bishop Power at least deferred to a more respectable authority in the Pope.

Auntie’s Life Matters, which serves the role of the old Church women’s groups combined with the confessional, was confidently tackling the morality of war on Monday morning.

Geraldine Doogue read out the minders' script, telling us that George W., unlike his father, had not discussed the merits of attacking Iraq in terms of the theology of the just war.

What did this say about George W.? speculated Geraldine. Did it tell us about his policies (It’s all about oil!)? Did it tell us about the man? (Cowboy! Warmonger!).

Sad to say, it told us nothing. The first guest pointed out that George W., like his father, had dealt with the theology of the matter.

Once again, Auntie’s presenters’ minders found their ideology secure and their knowledge deficient.

To make it worse, both guests think that, in Iraq’s case, the conditions of a just war have been met.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

The emails from outraged Communards at large have been flooding into Life Matters ever since. There will need to be some re-balancing.

Bishops with morals that depend on the politics of foreign politicians; broadcasters whose stories are slave to their ideologies.

None of them, on this issue, worth a cracker.


The noose is finally closing around the neck of Abu Bakar Bashir.

“According to the man in charge of the Bali bombing investigation, General I-Made Pastika, suspects have told police that the Muslim cleric meet with the bombers in his home both before and after the attack.

General Pastika says Abu Bakar Bashir both inspired and conspired with the bombers.”

The plot was hatched in Bangkok, with technical input from Malaysian, Dr Azhari.

"We are still hunting Dr Azhari", General Bachtiar says. "He is an expert in physics and strategy. To be able to know his role in the Bali bombings we need to check with the Malaysian police."

FOLLOWING UNCLE'S LEAD, as he sometimes so wisely does, Henny Herald columnist Gerard Henderson explores the nature of anti-Americanism among writers and film-makers.

He focuses on film-maker Phil Noyce whose illustration of Graham Greene's The Quiet American represents Greene's anti-Americanism, without its occasional nuance. Noyce again demonstrates that his films, when they purport to report political actuality, as did Rabbit-proof fence, are caricatures. As most films are.

But why are political films always left-wing caricatures?

But can you imagine the uproar if someone made a film in which the hero/ine was expected to retain our sympathy while admitting to idolatory of Adolph Hitler, as the sainted Frida Kahlo, also the subject of a recent depiction, worshipped the monstrous Joseph Stalin? Or even cordial relations with Albert Speer?

Fascists! Beyond salvation by Art. Kiss that investment goodbye.

Gerard Henderson has trouble explaining what he describes so clearly. Like the rest of us.

Uncle wishes to point Gerard in the direction of a powerful fountain of anti-Americanism that has great force in Australia. It's operation can be seen in the life of Graham Greene, a convert to Roman Catholicism who nonetheless claimed he would rather live in Stalin's Soviet Union than capitalism's USA. He failed to do either.

This fountain, source and bog of anti-Americanism is pure snobbery.

Graham Greene was the son of English parents who, like many of their class, thought those engaged in commerce were, by definition, vulgar and disgraceful. Gentlemen lived on capital or salaries from government. The young Greene and his wife, struggling to write a first novel, without the funds to buy food for the table, still employed a woman to do the housework. That, too, was beneath middle-class English people.

The Americans, my dear, are in trade. And their tastes are so, well, popular.

You think that couldn't be a force in modern, egalitarian Australia?

Examine that city at Australia's fundament, Melbourne. Read the life stories of those blessed with middle-class Melbourne mothers. Like the jazz musician Richard Hughes. Talk to Melbourne girls of the post-WWII period. When you've recovered, take a look at less benighted parts of our ex-British continent.

When you hear one of Auntie's Communards dismissing any product of the profit motive as morally-tainted, you will know where to look for the source of their sentiment.

It contradicts their consumption behaviour, of course. None of them acquired a Trabant, even when, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, these pestilential bureaucratic approximations of motor vehicles could be picked up free on the sides of the roads leading to the holes in the Iron Curtain.

But they probably made kindly documentaries about them.

It helps us understand why Greene's preference for Stalinist societies did not extend to Stalinist living or to Marxism. And why he so appreciated American films, music and the US version of Freud.

And so, it is not just the alienated youth of deep-green and anti-global movements who resort automatically to anti-American attitudes when the US is involved in a conflict. It is good, solid, middle-class men and women of property and social standing, or with a drip feed from other tax-payers' funds.

It also helps explain why the ordinary Aussie, who cannot avoid the labour and vulgarity of ordinary life, does not support anti-Americanism as a rule.

And why Simon Crean risks handing over more and more of what was once Labor's constituency the more he panders to the middle-class leftism of Labor leftists like Carmenangoin Lawrence.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Another demonstration of Auntie's Saddamitic talent for consensus building can be found in the results of the ABC poll on the question, "Should Australia take part in a war against Iraq [under any circumstances]?"

90% against.

Don't panic; they're working on the recalcitrants.

Later Moving beyond those who call the talk-back Tsars, Newspoll has sampled the broader population among whom are many more of impeccable sanity, and found that, under the same conditions applying to the Rehame count, 57% favour Australia's involvement in military action.

This tells us that a. the anti-yanks are, as usual, more excited than the population in general, and b. when the Security Council votes in favour of military action Opposition Leader Simon Crean is a dead political duck. Unless the war drags on, as Uncle does not expect.


The Australian's Media supplement is a rare beast among supplements. It does in fact supplement what the main news sections offer with information and comment on matters of public importance.

The January 23 issue, now invisible on the Australian's website, covers the politics behind the short life, to date, of Muslim community broadcast station 2mfm, now broadcasting to an audience the Australian estimates at 50 000.

The president of 2mfm, Mohammed Mehio, tells us "We believe Osama bin Laden is an extremist and should not be a role model for any Muslim. But some people were not impressed with these views."

Among those unimpressed with 2mfm is our old friend and ethnic vilifier, Mr Keysar Trad, spokesman for the Imam of the Lakemba Mosque, hangout of the Lebanese Muslim Association. Trad says they're not representative.

Trad's boss, Mufti al Hilali, is blunter. "These people don't like their fellow Muslims and have attacked respected Muslim scholars". I wonder who he's talking about.

According to Mehio, the attacks date back to "defamatory" remarks he, Mehio, made during the licence hearings about a couple of obscure scholars. He called them "extremists".

And the targets of Mehio's attack? One Osama bin Laden and a Sayed Qutb. Beyond criticism as far as the Lakemba Mosque is concerned.

We've heard of bin Laden since as the operator of airliners that don't bother to land on their wheels.

Qutb, apart from being vowel-challenged, is one of bin Laden's spiritual and political guides.

This is how the BBC described Qutb's contribution to modern Islamism and its politicised version of Jihad.

In the 1950s Sayed Qutb, a prominent member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, took the arguments of al-Banna and Maududi [who advocated jihad against imperial powers] a stage further.

For Qutb, all non-Muslims were infidels - even the so-called "people of the book", the Christians and Jews - and he predicted an eventual clash of civilisations between Islam and the west.

Qutb was executed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966.

According to Dr Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, Qutb's writings in response to Nasser's persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood, "acquired wide acceptance throughout the Arab world, especially after his execution and more so following the defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel".

Qutb and Maududi inspired a whole generation of Islamists, including Ayatollah Khomeini, who developed a Persian version of their works in the 1970s.

The works of al-Banna, Qutb and Maududi were also to become the main sources of reference for the Arabs who fought alongside the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s.

One of these was the Palestinian scholar, Abdullah Azzam, who had fought with the PLO in the 1970s but became disillusioned with the Palestinian leadership because of its secular outlook.

Azzam studied Islamic law at Cairo's Al-Azhar, where he met the family of Sayed Qutb, and went on to teach at university in Saudi Arabia, where one of his students was Osama Bin Laden

And so to Afghanistan, then the world.

When a man has heroes like these, you'd want to check him for hardware before getting too close.

Saturday, February 01, 2003
WHO WANTS A RIGHT-WING PHILIP ADAMS when there are real, non-Communard journalists like octogenarian Alistair Cook to give us something better to hope for.

As Dan O says: I know it's a minor detail but I have listened to Alistair Cook since I was a kid in England and his continued brilliance of reportage fifty-odd years later continues to make my soul soar. ABC's web site admits he is one of "their" most popular journalists.

Indeed he is, and if the ABC had a management they would take some notice.

Cook produces good journalism because, apart from his evident knowledge, intelligence and professionalism, he writes it.

Auntie's serial commentators, on the other hand, are parasites on the talents they interview and the minders who feed them lines.

Love to compare what the ABC pays Cook each week with the costs of the Gastropod and his minders and their overheads and pensions.

Auntie would be well advised to syndicate more quality comment if she's not prepared to make it. Our newspapers do it all the time, to everyone's benefit.


Carl R has had a gutful of Sydney chat-show presenter James O'Loghlin's reflexive anti-Americanism.

I'm an American and have generally felt very welcome since coming to this country in 1977 -- although more among the common Aussie than those who call themselves intellectuals. But I'm really starting to feel very very uncomfortable. It's so petty. So odious. The minute I open my mouth, the question's there. They assume you're a Bushie. I've just about had it.

O'Loghlin gets 15 hours a week of Auntie's biggest local audience. A licence to mix his serial political commentary with the comments of listeners.

And the power to hang up on people, like Carl, who don't agree with him.

Carl, my advice to you is to summon the assistance of an agency of the caring state created just for people like you - HREOC. It hates acts of ethnic unpleasantness. In severe cases it even gives you punching rights.

By the way, Carl, I assume you are a Bushie. Otherwise I'm going to cut you off right now.


Reader Michael N has just stumbled across Australia Talks Back and has been shocked by the blatant editorialising of "presenter" Max-weird McCutcheon.

It is indeed a strange world out there in Auntie-land. Any Radio National mouthpiece can exercise rights of serial commentary. Provided they share the Communard mind-set.

On any ABC program involving listener feed-back, a supporter of the foreign policies of the Australian and US Governments - that is someone sharing majority opinion - would feel as welcome as a pig in a north-London mosque.