Monday, July 31, 2006
HOUSTON HAS A PROBLEM
The Age‘s Melinda Houston:
A couple of years ago, the Chaser boys observed that once Fox News’ Bill Reilly excoriated the French as “peace-mongering cheese monkeys”, news satire suddenly became a whole lot harder.
So did basic research, apparently. Bill Reilly? And peace-mongering cheese monkeys? Not even close, Melinda. Amusingly, later in her piece Houston criticises comedians for being “fundamentally lazy”.
(Via Ian C.)
AUGUST 4: It’s RIGHT NIGHT at the Bellevue Hotel, Paddington. Organised by actress/documentary maker Chloe Traicos. From 8pm. All welcome.
AUGUST 10th-13th: Commenter 91B30, a US serviceman, is in Sydney: “My wife and I are coming to Australia via the trip available to servicemembers that you linked to several months ago. Could I ask that locals offer any advice about seeing the city? I am really looking forward to our trip.” Please post advice in comments, and stay tuned for notification of a pub visit during which we may buy a drink or two for Mr. and Mrs. 91B30.
AUGUST 13: THE THINGS!
The SMH’s Pat Sheil explains: “Built out of the wreckage of Jimmy and The Boys, THE THINGS perform everything from Aretha to Zappa, leavening the mix with some of the most horrific drinking songs ever written. They are not, by any assessment, very nice.
“The support act is none other than the softest working man in show business, Mr Warren Brown, who will reduce the audience to tears with his dobro ukulele interpretations of the work of George Formby.”
AUGUST 14: Mark Steyn in Sydney, live on stage with Owen Harries and Janet Albrechtsen. Hit the link for details.
AUGUST 17: Mark Steyn in Melbourne. Again, hit that link.
AUGUST 22: Rejoice as Amrozi, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra achieve glorious martyrdom. Venue to be announced; BYO virgins.
AUGUST 30: Bring your polystyrene sauce and fibreglass stuffing to celebrate 1,000 days of plastic turkey deliciousness! More details as the date draws near.
This will likely go nowhere, but at least the time consumed by twisted intra-ABC arguments and justifications might eat into their ability to produce another Hezbollah-friendly kids’ show:
Australia’s Jewish community has written a letter of complaint to the ABC, claiming a children’s TV news program reporting the Middle East conflict was so wrong and biased it had the effect of “poisoning young minds”.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) president Grahame Leonard wrote to the national broadcaster to complain about the segment featured on the July 25 edition of Behind The News ...
The ECAJ says the report contained so much misinformation about the escalating Middle East conflict that the ABC must immediately correct the public record ...
"The ABC has taken this complaint very seriously,” an ABC corporate spokeswoman said today.
"The story is currently being investigated by the ABC."
AUTHOR "DIDN'T ASK FOR THIS"
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Ben Cubby deals gently with Antony Loewenstein, the dissenter who dared to ask why:
His book, My Israel Question, is a probing analysis of Israel’s direction and an attempt to uncover Australia’s Zionist lobby. Loewenstein’s timing is also, unfortunately, exquisite. The book, delayed for several months, is being launched this week as war flares along Israel’s borders.
Antony Loewenstein: war profiteer! Incidentally, it would have been nice of Ben to tell us why the book was delayed.
Now after two years of research and soul-searching, Loewenstein awaits reaction to the book’s publication, relaxed and comfortable in his Sydney home, with his partner and his pet dog, Chomsky.
Must be hella expensive importing Chomsky’s favourite chew bones ... from Cambodian graves. What breed is Chomsky, by the way? Moral relativist spaniel? Freedom-hating puke hound? Whiny bitch?
"It’s still extremely frustrating,” Loewenstein says. “I don’t want to be defined as the guy who criticises Israel; I didn’t ask for this."
Some tips to anyone who doesn’t want to be defined as “the guy who criticises Israel”: don’t continually criticise Israel. Don’t appear on television, radio, and in the SMH criticising Israel. Don’t obsessively criticise Israel on your website. Don’t write a book, titled My Israel Question, criticising Israel.
In his mid-20s, Loewenstein visited the Auschwitz death camp. “Seeing the results of blind hatred and unchallenged devotion slowly led me to be more questioning on a range of matters, including my heritage and the state of Israel,” Loewenstein writes.
Antony’s visit to Auschwitz led to him question ... Jews. Interesting.
In 2003, he landed a journalism traineeship with the Herald’s website, but left after two years to become a freelance writer.
He left? Cubby should talk to his fellow SMH staffers.
Jeremy Jones, a spokesman for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, whom Loewenstein makes passing reference to in My Israel Question, says factual errors about the role and function of Jewish organisations in Australia detract from the book’s value.
"It’s a vanity publication, sloppy and very poorly researched. I’ve read the book and I found it very disappointing. It’s not the sort of thing somebody who doesn’t know the history should read; they might make the mistake of taking it seriously."
Loewenstein says claiming his scholarship is sloppy is stock-in-trade for people who wish to denigrate his work. “They always say that.”
Aspects of the criticism may be deserved. Much of Loewenstein’s writing to date has comprised polemics and commentary. It is not difficult to discern a certain sameness, a slightly harping tone ...
Loewenstein passionately believes television and newspapers have become terrified of criticising Israel, after hounding by Zionist lobbyists. When asked if he knew of any examples of reporters being guided by editorial directives from his time at the Herald, he said he did not know of one. When pressed, he said he would “rather not go into it”.
So much for “speaking truth to power”.
Happily for Loewenstein, My Israel Question is a serious and interesting work that will stand up to the coming barbs.
He really should thank whoever at Melbourne University Press re-wrote it.
Far from being the work of a “young rebel” - a term he says was used to describe him when he was growing up inside the Jewish community - most neutrals will view it as relatively moderate.
Loewenstein has been called “far left”, most recently by Ted Lapkin, the policy director of the Australia/Israel & JewishAffairs Council, in a debate on the ABC’s Lateline program. A genuine far-left analysis of modern Israel would have been more scathing than Loewenstein’s modest calls for a two-state solution and a re-examination of US financial and military support.
Now we may see why Loewenstein’s book was so long delayed; the brave dissenter’s views have been watered down. His “modest calls” in print are rather less so at Antony’s site, where he writes that “the defeat of America and its allies in Iraq is vital”, “advocat[es] Coalition defeat”, declares himself to be “an anti-Zionist Australian Jew” and “a Jew who doesn’t believe in the concept of a Jewish state.” His feelings towards Jews who don’t share his opinions? “Reception to such ideas within the Jewish community is usually vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic. Australian Jews, generally speaking, are incapable of hearing the true reality of their beloved homeland and its barbaric actions.” And bring on militant Islam: “Sooner or later, the US and its Western allies will have to learn to deal with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. True democracy means accepting the will of the people, without interference or obstruction. The West should be worried.”
Loewenstein seems pleased by the prospect of these groups causing alarm in the West. But the real danger, according to him, comes from Israel:
The uncontrolled policies of the Israeli government should now be seen as a danger to enlightened citizens and governments across the globe.
Back to moderate Antony in his SMH interview:
"I just want to encourage people to think about these questions a bit,” he says. “We need to get beyond the idea that everything we do in the West is noble and right."
A few days after that interview, back at his widely-unread blog, Loewenstein sharpened that idea:
Western “values” deserve to be challenged and overthrown.
UPDATE. Loewenstein continues his moderate act.
FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE DAEWOOS
Rabbi Yoseph Wernick is actually my brother-in-law. The car that was smashed is a silver Daewoo Lanos, and it belongs to me. I just lent it to my brother-in-law about a week ago. I specifically avoided parking it in Paris last year, but ...
The Lanos is an economical little vehicle. The brutes who attacked it must be opposed to the environment! I’ve advised the Rabbi to replace it with something sturdier.
Having bravely achieved absolutely nothing, both Saddam Hussein and Cindy Sheehan last week ended their Juice Diets for Justice. In fact, Cindy was tricked into eating by a whimsical embassy staffer guarding Iraqi PM Nuri al-Malikito during his Washington visit:
An embassy official told her he’d get her some face time with Al-Maliki if she moved away from the embassy and ended her hunger strike. “So we moved and ended our fast,” Sheehan told The News’ Ken Bazinet. “He never called back."
Typical man! Saddam’s diet attempt ended amid widespread loathing, according to the New York Times; moreover, he has “tarnished the hunger strike’s idealistic image”:
Saddam Hussein ended his 19-day hunger strike last Wednesday with a meal of beef, rice and Coca-Cola, but he had little to show for his starvation. Iraqis in particular, living day-to-day with brutal sectarian violence, viewed Mr. Hussein’s self-sacrifice as an insult.
“Saddam’s hunger strike didn’t work because it came from someone who is finished in Iraq and has no political or personal value for the Iraqi people,” said Fauwzya al-Attiya, a sociologist at Baghdad University. “Most of us wish he was executed just to end this problem so we can face our other problems.”
But if Mr. Hussein tarnished the hunger strike’s idealistic image, his effort also reflected its declining strength as a political weapon. Fasting for a cause is less novel, what constitutes a fast is more loosely defined, and the technology of force-feeding has grown less barbarous, say historians and human rights activists. Consequently, the hunger strike has started to lose its power to command attention.
No kidding. At least Sheehan will now be able to enjoy life in Crawford, where locals are in a welcoming mood:
"I’d wish they’d go away and never come back,” Westerfield, a lifelong Crawford resident, said Friday while sitting on a bench outside a gas station on Main Street. “I wish she’d stay away. Crawford’s a Republican town, and she’s a dumb Democrat."
Iran’s General Yahya Rahim Safavi nourishes his sacred hatred:
We have to keep this sacred hatred of the enemies of Islam alive in our hearts until the time of revenge comes.
I hope our nation can one day avenge the blood of innocent people in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. I ask God to arouse the dignity of Muslims and destroy America, Israel and their associates.
I ask God that the crimes and atrocities of Zionists hasten the annihilation of this regime. Hezbollah and Lebanese people are invincible and this cancerous tumor ... should die.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
JOHO AIMS FOR FIVE
If he wins the next election, John Howard is looking at 15 straight years in power:
Prime Minister John Howard will fight the next election, ending months of speculation about his future.
Mr Howard has written to senior colleagues, saying he will remain Liberal leader to contest the poll, due by early 2008.
If he stays through a fifth term, Howard will have been PM for nearly as long as the combined years in power of the last three Labor prime ministers.
MORE BROAD STRATA TROUBLE
Here we go again. This time, it’s a fatal shooting at a Jewish organization in Seattle, but to the authorities it’s yet another inexplicable incident characterized every which way except as what it is: freelance jihadism. My radio pal Hugh Hewitt has a great summation here. One is surprised only that this time the cops didn’t redeploy the Mounties’ line from Toronto the other week and describe the killer as representing the “broad strata” of society. The notion that a fellow isn’t a terrorist unless he’s got a machine-readable al-Qaeda membership card is pathetic: The fact that you don’t need deep sleepers controlled by hierarchical structures is one of the principal characteristics of Islamism.
See also Michelle Malkin’s roundup of random unconnected lone gunman incidents that have no common theme, no common theme at all that anybody could possibly identify. Meanwhile, a disproportionate response in Sydney:
A synagogue in Sydney’s west has been attacked overnight, with blocks of concrete thrown into the building and onto nearby cars.
A 32-year-old man living in a house adjoining the Parramatta Synagogue on Victoria Street contacted police about 9.10pm yesterday when he heard the sound of breaking glass.
A block of cement had been thrown through a glass door and the windows of two cars parked on the property had also been smashed.
Shortly after the incident, witnesses told police they saw a group of about ten men of Middle Eastern appearance laughing and running down a nearby street.
These smash-and-run pixies are learning; the last time they tried something like this, St Andrew’s Cathedral ended up getting trashed.
UPDATE. The Sheikh’s take:
Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali today said those responsible for the attack were not religious people.
"This is a very bad action. I condemn any terrorism attack. Australia is the land of peace,” he said at Sydney’s Lakemba mosque.
UPDATE II. The LA Times just can’t work out why that Muslim guy shot at all those Jews.
UPDATE III. Seattle shooter Naveed Haq converted to Christianity before his apparent re-adoption of Islam last Friday:
Haq was frustrated at his lack of friends and female companionship. He told friends he felt alienated from his own family, in part because his career had disappointed his father and also because he had disavowed Islam last year, converting to Christianity.
Also from the above report: Haq recently won an essay contest for a U.S. Institute of Peace scholarship.
OZBOLLAH HEARTS MEL
What a revolting piece of work Mel Gibson turns out to be:
According to police records, Gibson, a strict Catholic, then launched into an anti-semitic tirade, referring to “f****** Jews” and stating that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”.
You’re very brave for showing your face at a peace rally, Landeryou. You won’t be so lucky next time.
HOOK, LANE AND SINKER
The Age’s Terry Lane falls (spectacularly) for the Jesse Macbeth hoax:
Why doesn’t the Government hold an inquiry into the video evidence of US Army Ranger Jessie Macbeth? Macbeth served in Iraq for 16 months and regrets that he was ever part of the invasion and occupation. You can see and hear Macbeth on Google Video - just search for Iraq war.
Macbeth is young and troubled. He speaks with a slight stutter. There is pain in his eyes as he describes the things he was ordered to do.
He was lying.
Macbeth is a little like Obersturmfuhrer Kurt Gerstein, the German who joined the SS to see for himself if the rumours of mass murder were true.
He’d be exactly like Obersturmfuhrer Kurt Gerstein if Obersturmfuhrer Kurt Gerstein was a super dooper überfaker.
This is what Macbeth says of his orders in Iraq: “Our job over there is to strike fear into the hearts of the Iraqis. You can do whatever it takes in the field to make them fear you. You can be brutal - the Geneva Convention doesn’t mean crap."
Neither does Lane’s column. Might be a career-ender for the old chap.
Operation Iraqi Freedom is more like Operation Iraqi Slaughter. Macbeth describes going into a basement bomb shelter looking for insurgents.
Which he never did.
"We had to go in there and make sure everything was dead. So whether there were women and children, if they weren’t dead, we had to finish them off and drag their bodies out."
Macbeth says of the people in makeshift bomb shelters: “Most of them were just families hiding down there but we were told that there were insurgents hiding down there, Saddam’s forces hiding down there. I remember going in there and smelling burnt flesh and hearing people crying and begging us to help them because they thought we were there for them. There were some that weren’t wounded very bad and we had to kill them."
(Via readers Dale and Tony T.)
UPDATE. Lane in 2003:
Do you ever have the feeling that perhaps you have arrived on an alien planet where you don’t fully comprehend everything that is going on? Or that you are out of touch with the times?
Saturday, July 29, 2006
INOFFENSIVE COMMENTS OFFEND
New Zealand conservative Don Brash supports “an acceptance of democracy and the rule of law, religious and personal freedom and legal equality of the sexes”.
As a result, he’s now accused of racism.
UPDATE. The Volokh Conspiracy:
Brash’s critics’ remarks are far more anti-Muslim than anything he said. The critics imply that Muslims inherently reject “democracy and the rule of law, religious and personal freedom and legal equality of the sexes.” That is a far more severe indictment of Islam than anything in Brash’s speech.
KID REGRETS JOINING DRAMA CLASS
And the number one way you can tell you’re not the most popular student at Al Aqsa Junior High:
1. You’re cast as Uncle Satan in the school production of Death! Death! Death to Stars and Stripes Pig Nation of Jew-Filth Loving Infidel Parasites! (The Musical).
CONFUSING, CONTRADICTORY CAMPAIGN WINNING
David Suzuki exposes the Vast Anti-Science Conspiracy seeking to undermine environmentaloid cineaste Al Gore:
A story by the Associated Press on experts who critiqued the science behind the movie found that they too gave it a thumbs up for accuracy. Personally, I thought it was brilliant.
But shortly after the Associated Press article came out, other articles started popping up that said Mr. Gore’s science was shoddy. People claiming to be experts wrote opinion pieces in newspapers decrying the film, Mr. Gore, and the “theory” of global warming in general.
Contrarians, it seemed, were coming out of the woodwork. What happened?
Beats me, Dave. Freedom of speech? Differences of opinion? Collapse of consensus?
What happened was a well-funded campaign to discredit the film and carpet bomb North Americans with confusing and contradictory information about the science of global warming. It appears to be having an effect too.
Horrible! Just as well Gore’s warm troopers are running a counter campaign of their own:
A former Fox Valley woman now living in Washington state is providing free tickets to a Thursday night showing of the global-warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
I wonder whether schoolchildren would flock to [Howard] so readily were he drenched in the blood of those who have died in Iraq. Or covered in the greasiness of the “business deals” in East Timor. Or if his lips and eyes were sewn up.
Erica raises an important subject. How many of us, hug-crazed as we are, would hug people if they were drenched in blood or grease? Or if they’d sewn their eyes shut? Not many, I bet! Before you hug anybody, please check that they are not:
* Only minutes old and covered in bloody birth-slime
* A grizzly bear
* Your elderly patrician boss
* Concealing a suicide bomb
* Coated in atomic sap from hugging nuclear saplings
* The zombie Prime Minister, advancing on you with sewn-up eyes