Tim Blair


New Criterion



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.