Tuesday, February 28, 2006
QUESTIONER: You’ve been getting a lot of criticism in respect of the Defense Department budget proposals for wanting to give too much money to big defense contractors for huge contracts and not allocating sufficient funds for our armed forces. Would you like to defend your position?
RUMSFELD: Well, John, if you’re reading that, you ought to change your reading material.
QUESTIONER: New York Times, The Washington Post.
RUMSFELD: I repeat myself.
SWF SEEKS BLOKE
Maureen Dowd’s Great Australian Manhunt continues:
“When I was 20, I fell in love with an Australian hotel manager in Dublin called Rowan. After that, I wanted to emigrate to Australia but my parents made me go home instead.
“Now I’m here at last. And if they can take a strong, sassy, saucy woman, Australian men should please apply.”
Among the applicants:
If she can answer this question I’ll let her have me. How many blokes does it take to open a beer can? None. Maureen should of had it opened when she brought it to me. She better be able to cook and clean also.
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
Click for more. The statement is signed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq, Caroline Fourest, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Irshad Manji, Mehdi Mozaffari, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, Antoine Sfeir, Philippe Val, and Ibn Warraq. Speaking of resistance to religious totalitarianism, Bush and Rove hail blogs.
HOWARD DECADE NOTED
* David Frum argues that Australia should re-introduce the death penalty;
* A Continuing Crisis column appears, in which Dr Tim Flannery is invited to take a polygraph test;
UPDATE. Labor’s Martin Ferguson:
After a decade in Opposition we have plenty of storytellers but not much of a story to tell.
UPDATE II. Phillip Adams:
We Howard haters are popping the corks along with the Howard huggers. For at least we’re 10 years closer to Howard’s departure from the Lodge and Kirribilli than we were in 1996.
UPDATE III. Janet Albrechtsen:
For Howard, the intellectual Left is the gift that keeps on giving.
UPDATE IV. Bill Leak:
Howard has reshaped Australia to conform to his own vision. We love the inflated feelings of international self-importance he has given us and we don’t seem to care about all the things he has taken away. Happy to live in an economy instead of a society, we might as well also accept that we are all Little Johnnies now.
DAY COMES TO PASS
From beyond the grave, former president of The Washington Post Company and liberal icon Katharine Graham offers sound journalistic advice:
I believe the benefits of full disclosure far outweigh any possible adverse consequences. I believe the harm of restricting coverage far surpasses the evils of broadcasting even erroneous or damaging information.
American democracy rests on the belief, which the centuries have proven true, that people can and do make intelligent decisions about great issues if they have the facts ...
It is a slippery slope when the media start to act on behalf of any interest, no matter how worthy—when editors decide what to print on the basis of what they believe is good for people to know. It’s dangerous if we are asked to become a kind of super-political agency ...
I say this: News is the lifeblood of liberty. If the terrorists succeed in depriving us of freedom, their victory will be far greater than they ever hoped and far worse than we ever feared. Let it never come to pass.
Graham’s speech was delivered in December, 1985. Sounds like she may have been in favour of publishing certain cartoons.
George Clooney is proud:
Actor and director George Clooney says he is proud to be denounced as unpatriotic for questioning US policy because he wanted to be on “the right side of history”.
George, if you hadn’t won the genetic chin lottery, you’d be on the serving side of a McDonald’s drive-thru. You ain’t in the movies for your mind, boy.
Monday, February 27, 2006
AGE PUBLISHES “INSENSITIVE BUFFOON”
The Age’s editor thinks kidnap victim Douglas Wood is insensitive; a columnist at the newspaper has described him as a “blustering buffoon”; and last July The Age ran 3,000 words trashing Wood over his Iraqi business deals.
So who is writing for The Age today? Douglas Wood.
TOJO MEETS MODO
The ABC’s Tony Jones concludes his interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd:
It’s been fascinating to talk to you. We’ll have to leave you, we’re out of time. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to do it some day.
Hopefully it won’t be broadcast.
UPDATE. Chris Sheil has a thing for older women, although he’s no spring cretan himself:
Tony Jones, curse you. Why couldn’t I have interviewed Maureen Dowd? I’ve got more quals, and I’m sure I’d have smiled even more often and even more idiotically. The red hair falling Elvis-like across the right eye, the sexy mouth, the smart tongue, the Irishness, the intelligence, the gonzo track record, the self imagination as Emma Peel: let me count the ways. Pity about that ingrained New York accent, although I’m sure we’d manage it.
Dowd was born and raised in DC, where she lived until her late 20s. As it happens, I was invited by SBS to be among a bunch of pundits speaking to Dowd for tonight’s Insight program (taping was yesterday). Couldn’t make it; too busy. If I’d known of Chris’s obsession, he might have taken my place …
More than 120 people have been taken hostage in Washington D.C. by an orthodox Muslim group protesting about the depiction of Mohammad in US media. Three buildings are occupied by the kidnappers.
UPDATE. One hostage has reportedly been shot dead.
UPDATE II. Several others are reported wounded—one paralyzed by shotgun blast.
UPDATE III. A D.C. councillor among the hostages may also have been shot.
(Actually, all of the above took place in 1977, when twelve Hanafi Muslims stormed Washington’s District Building, the offices of B’nai B’rith, and the Islamic Center. Dozens were injured, then-councillor Marion Barry was shot, legal intern Bob Pierce was crippled, and radio reporter Maurice Williams was murdered. Among the terrorists’ demands: that the film Mohammad, Messenger of God not be shown in US cinemas. It’s curious, given recent Mohammad-related cartoon issues, that this event hasn’t been recalled more widely.)
ARTISTIC SOCIALIST WOULD HAVE LIKED GUARDIAN
I am troubled to find that I like more and more of what The Guardian, this left-wing liberal British newspaper has to say; and its Sunday sister, The Observer. Perhaps I am really left-wing after all, a socialist, as was the aforementioned artist and statesman. He too would probably have liked The Guardian in its present colours.
Full extract here. No prize, considering the source, for guessing who that statesman/artist might be.
(Via Ben Ze’ev)
VICTORY TO THE PROLETARIAT
Social justice at the City University of New York!
WHERE ARE OUR BRAVE EDITORS?
Probably in hiding, Tracee, in sympathy with our brave cartoonists. Let’s hear Tracee out:
It’s easy to love George Clooney at the moment. Not that it was ever terribly hard, but there’s a lot to be excited about a charismatic, intelligent man with a creative brain who isn’t afraid to use it.
Imagine fearing the use of a creative brain. Not a circumstance ever likely to trouble Tracee, but still.
As the ethical and moral stocks of the US continue to languish, Clooney’s less-than flattering celluloid assessment of the American Way is a comforting reminder that a significant part of the population didn’t want George Bush re-elected to the White House.
That significant part of the US population voted for John Kerry, and many subsequently sought psychiatric treatment. Next time, get treatment before voting.
Simultaneously, in Britain, the seemingly fearless Michael Winterbottom is continuing the heat with his latest offering, The Road to Guantanamo, which tells the story of three men from the English Midlands who end up on the wrong side of the tracks in Afghanistan and spend two years in US military detention in Cuba for their troubles.
“Seemingly fearless”? What’s Winterarse got to be frightened of? A bad review from Tracee? Not likely.
That the four actors who play al-Qaeda suspects in Winterbottom’s film were detained by police at a British airport this week on their way home from the festival and questioned under anti-terror laws says a lot about the level of hysterical paranoia that’s been whipped up around the globe ...
They were briefly questioned. It’s the sort of thing you might reasonably expect following suicide bombings on buses and trains.
Perhaps that’s the reason Australian feature filmmakers aren’t making films like Good Night and Good Luck or Road to Guantanamo.
Because they don’t want to be asked questions at airports?
It’s a convincing enough argument ...
If you say so.
... but I’m not sure it’s the right one because this is precisely the time we need our filmmakers to be telling rigorous and fearless stories about the Australian condition. It can’t all be the fault of the newly enshrined sedition laws that we’re not seeing them.
Please click over to Opinion Dominion for a smackdown on this particular point. Tracee, her synapses crackling and fizzing like damp fireworks, next outlines the Australian films she’d like to see:
The revelations of the Cole inquiry, the show trial of terror suspect Joseph Thomas, the detention of West Papuan asylum seekers on Christmas Island. Cronulla. Scott Parkin’s deportation. Great feature film scripts, all of them.
So go ahead and write ‘em, Tracee. Cole inquiry? I’m thinking Wheat! The Musical! Show trial of terror suspect Joseph Thomas? That’s got to be Jihad Jacking to the Maxxx, plus a contempt of court sentence for Tracee and her editor. The detention of West Papuan asylum seekers on Christmas Island? Already subject to a Hollywood bidding war, no doubt. Cronulla? Er, sure. A feature on Scott Parkin’s deportation? You’d need 89 minutes of backstory to pad that sucker out to an even hour-and-a-half.
At least Phillip Noyce had the conviction to tell a chapter of the “stolen generation” story in Rabbit-Proof Fence in 2000. His was a tiny budget, no-name cast, self-produced triumph.
The budget for Rabbit-Proof Fence was $A10.2 million, which may or may not have included a marketing budget “to befit its status as an international production with a leading Hollywood director.” That’s about double the cost of an average Australian feature. No-name cast? The film starred Kenneth Branagh plus three well-known local actors. Self-produced? Not exactly; the film had three producers, including screenwriter Christine Olsen.
So why are our filmmakers not rising to the same political challenges? We are definitely not bereft of the intellectual rigour or creative talent to make it happen.
Tracee talking about “intellectual rigour” is like Stephen Hawking talking about white-water rafting.
Or perhaps we just don’t care enough or have the courage to embrace our stories, warts and all. Perhaps it’s easier for us to watch the way we fall in love or scare ourselves to death on dark, lonely highways than look ourselves squarely in the eye and see what kind of country we have created.
At last, she makes a good point; we’ve created the kind of country where Tracee Hutchison is paid to write factless gibberish. Look away. Look away!
Sunday, February 26, 2006
PREPARE TO BE ADJUSTED
Not sure how multiculturalism works? Let Kofi Annan explain:
The offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were first published in a European country which has recently acquired a significant Muslim population, and is not yet sure how to adjust to it.
JUSTICE FOR JIHAD
The maximum penalty he faces is 25 years; I’m tipping between five and 10.