Saturday, April 10, 2004

President Arnie? 

An interesting parallel. The Guvernator is reported to have saved the life of a swimmer in distress of a coast of Hawaii. Of course the other famous life-saver in American politics was Ronnie Reagan, who in his youth saved quite a few lives. All we need is a constitutional amendment allowing foreign born citizens to run for the presidency.


Who are “Baghdad Kerry” Nettle’s travel agents? 

Last night I gave you my initial reaction to the tragic news that the Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle had to temporarily postpone her prejudice finding mission to Iraq. Today, I had a bit more time to look at the people who were organising Nettle’s Appeasement Tour ’04.

The main culprit seems to be an NGO called Occupation Watch. Its website features, among other stirring appeals, the “Emergency call for solidarity with the Iraqi people” by Eman Ahmed Khammas, director of the International Occupation Watch Centre in – you’ve guessed it – the “occupied Baghdad”. In part it reads:

“The Iraqi people call for international solidarity as they resist attacks by US-led Occupation Forces. It is clear that these attacks are designed to terrorize entire populations of Iraqi towns and neighborhoods… Please take to the streets to demand an end to the US-led aggression. Organize protests in front of US consulates and embassies around the world and demand: an immediate end to this massacre; an immediate end to the siege of Iraqi cities and neighborhoods; immediate access to humanitarian and medical aid organizations seeking to provide assistance to Iraqi people who are living under attack; and an end to the occupation of our nation.”

I was trying quite hard to find out what the Occupation Watch actually wants to see happen in Iraq should the Coalition forces withdraw. Probably a socialist utopia of some sort, although there’s nothing said about how that can be achieved seeing that the people running round with AK 47s are either Baath Party die-hards, opportunistic foreign terrorists, or radical Shias. Never mind, who cares about reality.

I was amused, though, to read the “About Us” section of the website, which reads in part:

“The purpose of Occupation Watch is to:

*Monitor the economic and reconstruction policies under occupation, including the activities of international corporations, and advocate for the Iraqis' right to control their own resources, especially oil;

*Work collaboratively with other human rights groups to document violations of human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly by the occupation administration and governing council, and advocate for the elimination of these violations;

*Research the dynamics, programs, and composition of the Iraqi movement to resist occupation in order to provide a more comprehensive picture to the international community;

*Monitor the impact of the occupation on employment and working conditions, disseminate this information and help facilitate links between local and international worker rights groups;

*Monitor the impact of the occupation on daily life, including access to the basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, education and health care, and advocate on behalf of the social and economic rights of the Iraqi people.”

It boggles the mind that the international left, which with some very minor exceptions never gave a flying fuck about Saddam Hussein and the fact that for almost three decades he brutalised and terrorised both his own people and his neighbours, now goes bananas over “employment and working conditions” of Iraqi workers. Bugger the Iraq-Iran war, the Kuwait invasion and internal repression that together took around 1.5 million lives, bugger the gassed Kurds, bugger the exterminated Marsh Arabs, bugger years of terrorising and starving his own people to build more palaces – now we have to “advocate on behalf of the social and economic rights.” The Left doesn’t get the sweet irony that the only reason they can now run around Baghdad fighting for human rights (however they see them) is because Saddam is no longer in charge, and the US is.

And while the Occupation Watch wants merely to “research the dynamics, programs, and composition of the Iraqi movement to resist occupation”, some of the individuals associated with this noble NGO are far more forthcoming about where their sympathies and support lie. Take for example Tariq Ali, one of Advisory Board members, and in real life (I use this term loosely, talking as I am about a leftie) one of the more loathsome scum left on the rim of the British political bathtub after the 1960s New Left water had been let out.

Ali had this to say in a recent interview: “There are 20 or so different resistance groups which have been set up. The Iraqi Communist Party is not one of them -- it's collaborating in the quisling Governing Council.” Imagine that – Ali is so Terroristically Correct that even the Communists have sold out and are now too far to the right!

And in an opinion piece in the “Guardian” he calls the fascist Baath insurgents the “Iraqi maquis”, thus comparing them to the French Resistance during World War Two. He also writes that “Iraqis have one thing of which they can be proud and of which British and US citizens should be envious: an opposition.” Now we know that our Western liberal democracy will remain a sham until we have Islamic fascist thugs taking potshots at Bush, Blair and Howard and setting off roadside bombs.

Among international leftie groups behind Occupation Watch is Global Exchange, an anti-globalisation, anti-free trade NGO, which lists on its website “9 things you can do to oppose the American occupation of Iraq”. Among the pearls of wisdom:

“Demand Books, Not Bombs. Instead of spending billions on a humongous military, we should invest in our schools and health care system. Hold a rally at your library, school or hospital to show how this war is bleeding money from our social system.”

…and throw a book at bin Laden. Literally.


“Educate yourself about the history of US colonialism. A century ago, the US also had a bad case of colonialism. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the US military occupied the Philippines and Cuba, sparking a massive anti-imperialist movement among ordinary American citizens. We have much to learn from the lessons of the past.”

Sadly, the most recent part of the past, the twentieth century, is the one that Global Exchange and their ilk never seem to learn anything from. Like the great track record of socialism, and other minor historical footnotes.

United for Peace and Justice is another NGO behind Occupation Watch’s operations. Its Unity Statement contains this stirring proclamation of principle:

“We come together to turn the tide, to overwhelm war with peace, and oppression with justice. We hold that sovereign nations have the right to determine their own future, free from the threat of “pre-emptive attacks” and “regime change,” military occupation, and outside control of their economic resources.”

Ah, the sovereignty. Remember when the left actually bothered to pretend that they care about human rights? But who cares about the gassed Kurds when you can fight instead for Saddam Hussein’s sovereign right to keep on gassing them.

And by the way – in case you were wondering - the Unity Statement contains no mention of Saddam Hussein. Or Osama bin Laden.

These are the people at Kerry Nettle’s travel agency. Maybe she will eventually amass enough frequent flier points to give her a free trip back to the real world. Here’s hoping.


Welcome to a new blog 

Blogging - what can I say, it's infectious, and in the short week and a half I've been posting I seem to have infected a good friend of mine with the blog-bug. Check out John Kennett's news and views on his "My 2 Cents" blog, where John, who's an Australian expat working in South Korea, promises to share with the rest of the world the strange goings-on, political and otherwise, in North-East Asia - and God knows, there are many. Good luck and good blogging John!


Friday, April 09, 2004

All dressed up and nowhere to appease - "Baghdad Kerry" Nettle's Iraqi trip gets cancelled 

How stupid can the Greens get?

One is always tempted to say “Surely not much more; that would be physically impossible.” And yet they always manage to surprise us and prove us wrong. Now I’m reading a report that Bob Brown’s sidekick, Senator Kerry Nettle has been forced to cancel her trip to Iraq on account of the deteriorating security situation. Pass me my violin!

Our very own version of Jane Fonda, "Baghdad Kerry" apparently intended to travel to Iraq in order “to hear first hand from Iraqis about their experiences under the US-led military occupation of their country.” First hand? Why go to so much trouble? Surely al-Jazeera and “The Green Left Weekly” could have provided the honourable Senator with a balanced and comprehensive enough reportage of the dastardly America’s oppression of innocent Baathists and Islamist extremists.

It’s good to know though, that after the koalas and the whales the Greens have finally found a new species to protect: Islamo-fascists. What's going to be the new Green bumper sticker: "I support terrorists and I vote"? "Don't throw out Saddam with Baath water"? "Save baby Shia fundamentalists"?

Nettle went on to tell the media that “she was also keen to hear the Iraqi people's vision for transition to democracy and expected hand over on June 30.” That’s nice of her to care about democracy in Iraq, seeing that if it was up to the Greens, Saddam would be spending the next three decades filling up another 300 mass graves.

Personally I’m extremely disappointed that Nettle is not going. What has she got to fear? Surely as a courageous voice against the fascist American occupation she’s got nothing to fear from the Saddamite insurgents and the Yank-hating Shias.

In fact, to put her money where her mouth is (if you pardon the expression, as the Greens are above such mundane things as money, particularly if it belongs to taxpayers), Senator Nettle should go to Fallujah, allow herself to be taken hostage by the “freedom fighters”, and demand the immediate withdrawal of Australian troops or else she will be set on fire or decapitated by her captors.

Then again, it might be too cruel to inflict Nettle even on hardened Baath party veterans.

Although unable to make it all the way to Baghdad, the esteemed Green Senator was still able to enrich us with her words of wisdom: “The violence that we're seeing in Iraq is targeted towards the occupying forces, so the removal of those occupying forces is the first step that needs to be taken to allow Iraqis to determine the future of their country, particularly politically."

I can imagine Nettle saying in 1944: "The violence that we're seeing in Europe is targeted towards the Allied forces, so the removal of those Allied forces is the first step that needs to be take to allow the Germans and the Jews to determine the future of their relationship."

That’s the beautiful thing about the Greens and reality; never the twain shall meet. Nettle was quite happy to have Saddam in power rather than to have him removed, if it had to be the Americans doing the removing; now she’s quite happy to leave it to Baath left-overs and Shia extremist like al-Sadr to decide Iraq’s future, because once again, anything is better than the American "occupation."

By the way, check out one of organisations responsible for preparing Nettle’s aborted trip, the charming Occupation Watch, whose mission is “exposing the military and economic impact of the occupation of Iraq.” If only they gave a shit when Saddam was in power.


Who's your blog daddy? 

Want to know who the most influential bloggers in the world are at the moment? Check out this ranking – and let's make sure that this time next year “Chrenkoff” is there on the list; I'll try to do my best blogging, and you just keep hitting us and linking to us on your blogs and websites.


Good Friday in Iraq 

For and update on how the Yanks are doing in the Sunni Triangle and elsewhere, check out this story.

On less-embedded fronts, Polish press reports from Karbalah of sporadic fighting between Polish and Ukrainian troops and al Sadr’s militia (translations by yours truly). Poles are defending the police headquarters and local government office, which the Shia guerrillas tried to storm three times during the night. The result: no casualties inside, outside 20 dead. “According to our information there are still a few hundred of al Sadr’s people in the town. The high point of violence is behind us, although the fighting’s not finished yet,” says Polish General Gruszka.

Most of Karablah is under control of militias loyal to moderate Shia leaders. Al Sadrists have by now given up hope of fighting their way into the main local mosques. Meanwhile, General Gruszka is meeting regularly with religious and clan leaders in Karbala and Babil provinces, which the Poles control. The leaders are promising cooperation and efforts to calm down the situation.

So much for the popular uprising and another Vietnam. But that’s exactly why there is such need for the application of overwhelming force and no concessions. I’m sure that the great majority, which currently sits on the sidelines, is watching the situation very carefully to see which way the wind is blowing. Should the Coalition show lack of resolve and stumble that will only encourage the more moderate and neutral Shia elements to take advantage of the anarchy and press their own claims. But if the Al Sadrists (and the Sunni Baath-overs in Fallujah) are convincingly crushed – nothing succeeds like success and nothing impresses like strength.

The resolve is definitely the key – let’s remember that in Mogadishu in 1993 fifty Somalis died for every American killed during the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Yet the Clinton Administration lost nerve. Bush doesn’t have much option but to persevere and ride through a few days of bad footage on the news and jitters-induced dip in the polls. The alternatives are hell of a lot worse. Iraq is not Vietnam – the only thing that can make it so is American weakness.


Happy Easter 

Happy Easter to all Christian readers and happy and relaxing holidays to my secular (or otherwise religiously committed) ones.

Speaking of things Easter-ly, last night my wife and I were looking through the TV guide for the long weekend. As in the past, we were expecting to see a sprinkling of biblically-themed classics like "The Robe", "Barabbas", "Ten Commandments" or even one of many Jesus bio-pics of varied quality. This year we've found none. Instead, on Good Friday we're being treated to the "Flintstones" sequel and "Clueless", on Saturday to a James Bond flick and "A Pornographic Affair" (courtesy of - you've guessed it - our multicultural broadcaster SBS), and on Easter Sunday "Doctor Zhivago" and a Jacqueline Kennedy bio. The only Easter themed film over the weekend is an animated feature "Easter in Bunnyland".

Methinks the TV programmers must have said this year: "All the religious freaks have 'The Passion' this year, so they can get f***ed on free-to-air."

That, or the broadcasters are slowly realizing that Australia is now a post-Christian nation and the remaining minority, like all other minority interest groups, can settle on their own cable channel instead.

Either way, it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous that the whole nation gets time off for a holiday hardly anyone celebrates anymore.

Meanwhile, here on "Chrenkoff" we'll be trying to keep the blog updated regularly, so keep on coming back over the long weekend.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

The war on terror, please meet the war on drugs 

This just in from a local Spanish newspaper. Apparently the dynamite used in March 11 terrorist bombings in Madrid has been purchased from the proceeds of a hashish deal. Communist guerrillas the world over have done it in the past, so had the Afghani mudjahedin and Burmese rebels - why wouldn't Islamo-fascists? So next time you buy a joint or something harder, dear reader, think twice - your hard earned money could be going to support jihad.


His Master's voice 

The Werriwa Appeaser last night delivered his first major foreign policy speech, setting out Labor’s vision for Australia’s engagement in the world. No surprises there: deputy sheriff bad, UN good, Iraq bad, Asia good. Let’s look in more detail at the wit and wisdom of the Prime Minister in waiting.

“The conservatives have always positioned the US alliance as some sort of insurance policy, the premium for which is paid through our military commitments. This is how Australia got into Vietnam, and now the same in Iraq, following the US to buy insurance rather than for reasons of policy. In Vietnam, against the downward thrust of Asian communism. In Iraq, as a deputy sheriff.”

Latham would rather have Australia’s insurance policy provided by the United Nations. I guess the millions of dead Rwandans, Bosnians, Kosovars and Iraqis can’t be wrong. And as we all know, Vietnam was a huge mistake because all those commies really had no untowardly intentions at all. Yep.

“The next pillar of Labor's foreign policy is our relationship with the region: with Asia and the countries of the South Pacific. At the core of this policy is a core Labor idea, developed during our last term in government: Australia must find its security in Asia and not from Asia. This means a strong and active engagement with the countries of the region. Not window-dressing or rote recitals of intentions, but wholehearted engagement.”

It’s heartening to know that while many in history – from Columbus and da Gama onwards – tried before, it’s our very own Labor that has in the end managed to find Asia. Never mind Menzies and Casey who had established our relations with Japan and Indonesia, contributed to the creation of SEATO, and defended South Koreans, Malaysians and South Vietnamese from communist insurgency and invasion. We all know that nothing had happened in Australian foreign policy between Curtin and Keating. But thank you for asking, anyway. The last time I checked the Government wasn’t doing too badly, with our two new free trade agreements (Singapore and Thailand), possible beginnings of another one (China), excellent relations with countries like South Korea, Japan and Philippines, and let’s not forget that we haven’t called anyone “recalcitrant” yet.

“If all the time, effort and money used to invade and occupy Iraq had been used to target the terrorists, to hunt down Osama bin Laden, to break up al-Qa’ida, to smash the networks of terrorist activity in South East Asia, then the world would be a safer place.”

That’s all well, but is Latham suggesting that we parachute 150,000 American soldiers and our SAS into Indonesia to wipe out Jemaah Islamiah? The very minor problem that Latham seems to have overlooked is that most of the terrorist activity takes place in other sovereign countries (sovereignty – remember that concept? that’s the reason why the UN doesn’t allow us to touch any loathsome dictators). In the war on terror, once we’re outside our own borders, we largely depend on what other countries want or don’t want to do. Some are pretty good and cooperative (Great Britain, Philippines) other less so (Saudi Arabia, Germany), but it’s nothing that any “redirected” American (or indeed Australian) resources could fix.

“And in the war against terror, it means strengthening the home front: a department of homeland security, an Australian coastguard, improved port and airport security, and upgrading domestic intelligence. Every dollar Australia spends on adventurism overseas, such as the conflict in Iraq, is a dollar that cannot be committed to the home front.”

So that’s the secret of success that has eluded us so far! We need a new government department and a coast guard consisting of three ships. Now, if we really need every dollar spent on home front, then we shouldn’t have been involved in Afghanistan. Just imagine – for the cost of keeping SAS on their adventure in the ‘Stan, Labor would have been instead able to employ 50 unionised cleaners and tea ladies at the Department of Homeland Security.

“Labor has declared its intention of having the Australian troops home by Christmas. Having strongly opposed the war and been proven correct, we see no need for an indefinite deployment, especially when Australia has so many other commitments closer to home. The thing about Iraq is that we had no business being there.”

Ever his master’s voice, Latham is still keen to imitate Comrade Gough and bring the troops home for Christmas. But at last we know that Latham would rather still had Saddam in power. All the opinion polls I’ve seen coming out of Iraq since the liberation show that a strong majority is happy to be rid off Saddam and expects their lives to significantly improve in the near future. Oh well, screw the Iraqis. Naively I always thought that the left sympathises with oppressed people, and champions democracy and human rights. I’m not sure how I’m going to live down this disappointment, so soon after being told the harsh truth about Santa Claus.


Why is it always the Poles who do the heavy lifting? 

AP reports that Polish troops in Karbala shot dead in a gunfight al-Sadr's aide Muntadhir al-Mussawi, after being fired upon by al-Sadr's Shia militia. The Poles, who of all places are based in Babylon and are in charge of a 10,000-strong multinational armed force that oversees pretty much most of the southern Iraq, once again seem to have the right idea. Go "white and red"!

Strangely, however, mourners subsequently carrying away al-Mussawi's body were reported chanting, "Today we will free Karbala from the Jews." It's anyone's guess what was on their mind, but Hitler, that poster boy of Islamic anti-Semitism, had insured some 60 years ago that there never would be many Jews serving in Polish army.


The balls are in his court 

The award for the most shameless self-generated publicity of the week goes to our former tennis great Pat Cash, who woke up one morning and decided to catch the wave of media frenzy surrounding David Beckham's alleged affair. Pat told the media that he too might have slept with Beck's rumoured horizontal dancing partner, his personal assistant Rebecca Loos. "I'm 50 per cent sure I did [sleep with her in the past]," our champion told the media. "I wish I could say it was me but I just can't remember." We're eagerly awaiting the imminent publication of Pat's tell-all-sort-of memoirs "Famous People I Might Have Possibly Laid" in a six volume abridged edition.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Media's wet dreams of another Vietnam 

By all accounts fierce fighting continues tonight on two Iraqi fronts; in Fallujah against Sunni Baath-overs, and in Baghdad and the south against Shia militias. Meanwhile the world media salivates over a prospect of an all-out civil war, "quagmire" or "another Vietnam." Arnaud de Borchgrave notes in his column for the United Press International news service that the only way Iraq might turn into another Vietnam is if we let the lefty media do so. There are parallels between the two conflicts, but not the obvious ones the left wants you to buy.


Deeper into the 1930s 

In today’s “Australian”, almost half of the opinion page goes to a piece by Christopher Layne, titled “Deeper into the abyss”. The blurb gives out Layne’s warning: “The Shiite uprising should remind the Americans of the adage: when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Layne’s advice for the Americans in Iraq is not just to stop digging but to get out of the hole altogether and let the shaft either collapse or get somebody else to do the shovelling.

“US efforts are certain to fail -- no matter how many more Coalition soldiers die or however many more billions of dollars Washington spends. Iraq is not going to be stabilised any time soon, least of all if the US remains as a colonial power. Iraq is not going to become a Western-style democracy (and, if by some miracle it did, it would be an anti-American, anti-Israeli democracy),” writes Layne.

And: “If the US withdraws, will there be costs? Of course there will. Iraq could fracture, the Middle East - believe it or not - could become less stable than it is presently and some might question US resolve. The truth is, however, that sooner or later the US is going to have to pay these costs.”

In case you were impressed by Layne’s credentials as a contributing editor of “The American Conservative” magazine, and are therefore somewhat unsettled and discomfited that nowadays such defeatist arguments come from people writing for “conservative” publications, take a deep breath.

“The American Conservative” is a flagship publication of Pat Buchanan, the ex-Republican arch-populist who thinks that over the past six or so decades Jews and intellectuals have dastardly hijacked the label “conservative”. Hence Buchanan’s desire to return the American conservatism to what he thinks was its pre-1930s golden age: the glory days of small town and small mind isolationism, protectionism, and xenophobia. Should you want more, you can read all about Buchanan’s charming foreign policy vision in his “A Republic, not an Empire.”

Buchanan thinks that most if not all of US military engagements over the last century were mistakes – no wonder then that Layne goes bananas over Iraq. But Layne seems to be almost a moderate, compared to some of Buchanan’s other acolytes like Justin Raimondo, a San Francisco libertarian who thinks that Japan deserved to win World War Two (and who has also called on the American troops in Iraq to desert). “The American Conservative” itself is mostly financed by Taki Theodoracopoulos, the Greek shipping heir and an international playboy, better known for his weekly jet set column in the London “Spectator”, his cocaine smuggling conviction, and undisguised admiration for Slobodan Milosovic.

It’s an old observation that political spectrum is not a straight line but a circle. There comes a point where the far left and far right meet and embrace each other in their mutually shared delusions, and their common hatred of an open liberal society, free market economy, globalised world and interventionist America.

“Once resistance to their rule reaches a threshold, colonial powers don't win wars of national resistance. If that threshold hasn't quite been reached in Iraq during the past few days, it soon will be,” writes Layne.

Noam Chomsky would be proud.

(For more on Buchanan, Raimondo, Taki and the rest of the sorry quasi-fascist brigade masquerading as conservatives, read the low-downs by Stephen Schwartz and Ronald Radosh).


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Very little insight on "Insight" 

Just finished watching "Insight" on SBS with a forum on whether Australia should stay involved in Iraq. What a depressing viewing. All the isolationist, anti-American, realpolitik, and head in the sand cliches under the sun were on show tonight from the "focus group" of average Aussies as well as from our home-grown security experts. It's unsettling to see that two and a half years after September 11, so many citizens and residents of one of the freest and most educated country in the world still don't get it:

- "what have we done to bring this [terrorism] on?" - it's somehow always our fault; the terrorists - poor chaps - are only reacting to something that we've done. The only solution then is to actually stop doing things that offend the terrorists and give in to their demands. So let's be culturally sensitive and stop defending such Euro-centric concepts like democracy, freedom, human rights, toleration, and equal rights for women. Then let's order an industrial size drum of vasoline and bend over.

- "America as the source of all problems" - I despair at the soft, spoiled, self-indulgent and self-flagellating Western middle classes who come up with this sort of crap. Only people who've never experienced any real hardship, danger, or persecution in their lives can be so damned delusional. If you really think that if the United States had disappeared overnight from the face of the earth the rest of the world would all be holding hands and engaging in a group hug, you don't deserve to live in a Western liberal democracy. Stop biting the hand that feeds you, move out, and make space for some poor sucker from Iran, Rwanda or North Korea who actually knows what the real problems are.

- "if only we could solve the Middle East conflict the terrorism would disappear" - unfortunately we're dealing with people whose solution to the Middle East problem is to make Israel disappear. It's your call - if Holocaust Part II is a price you're willing to pay for your peace of mind at least be honest about it.

- "there are other, non-military, ways of tackling the terrorism problem" - like appeasement, for example. This one is for people who think that flying airplanes into skyscrapers is an understandable reaction from the poor, oppressed "wretched of the earth". Poverty is not a "root cause" of terrorism. Haitians, one of the poorest people on Earth, do not strap themselves with explosives and detonate in discoteques. Taliban are not angry nutcases because they're poor - they actually don't mind being poor. Poverty is a consequence, not a cause.

- "we've only increased terrorism by invading Iraq" - at the current rate it will take the terrorists hell of a long time to equal Saddam's record of causing between 1 and 1.5 million deaths. But boy, wasn't Iraq so peaceful and stable when he was in power! I've heard similar arguments from the caring and sensitive people who sat on the graves of 60 million and complained that crime really got out of hand since the Soviet Union collapsed.

But enough said for tonight.


Oops, she did it again 

An interesting piece from the lefty American magazine “The Nation” about the growing popularity of “stripper chic” among teenagers. Now, I don’t particularly care if grown-ups choose to dress like strippers or hookers (and, being all for equal opportunity between the sexes, like pimps) if that gets them off; (w)horses for courses, I guess. But I am concerned about the growing slutification of teenage or even pre-pubescent girls. There is something unsettling about 10-year olds who dress up like 20-year olds, or schoolgirls who dress like strippers who dress like schoolgirls (the only contribution to popular culture that Britney Spears might be remembered for in ten years’ time).

French historian, Philippe Aries had argues some years ago in his “Centuries of Childhood” that childhood as a social phenomenon is a relatively new invention. It is only around the time of the Renaissance (and in many cases much later) that our Western young ‘uns have been granted a period of prolonged innocence between infancy and adulthood, a time to be treasured and enjoyed. It’s unfortunate that at least in this instance our society seems to be going backwards.


Looking for hate in all the wrong places 

Just another thought about my posting yesterday about the opinion poll, which suggests that probably as a result of “The Passion”, more Americans now believe that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. As the article I quoted went on to say, however, at the same time the level of anti-Semitic incidents has not increased, and another study mentioned in the article suggested that for an overwhelming majority of people the film had no impact on how they view contemporary Jews, and most of the reminder now has a more positive view of the Jews as a result of Gibson’s film.

So what’s the conclusion then? Just as I suggested earlier in my extended comments on “The Passion”, the elite commentariat has once again got those horrible, trashy, bigoted, gun-totting and pickup-truck-driving Christians wrong. The question of who’s responsible for Christ’s death is a historical one, and it has got a historical answer (whatever that answer actually is). But whether people believe it’s the first century Jews or the Romans, or both, who did it, it doesn’t mean they will start torching synagogues or bombing pizzerias. There’s a lot of violence being done against the Jews in the world today, but Christians should be everyone’s least worry.

On this general topic, check out this piece by Rabbi Aryeh Spero in “The Wall Street Journal”.


Still in the Opposition by Christmas? 

Some helpful signs that comes Christmas this year, our troops might still be in Iraq helping that country's transition to normalcy; and comes Christmas this year, Mark Latham might still be the Leader of the Opposition.

The latest Newspoll shows that his "let's imitate Spanish Socialists and bend over" act didn't go down too well with the public. The Werriwa Appeaser (sounds like a good name for a local newspaper, doesn't it?) had dropped 14% in his approval rating (down to 52%), and his dissatisfaction rating has increased by 17% (to 32%). The gap between John Howard and Latham as preferred Prime Minister is up from just 1% two weeks ago to 11%. As the primary vote count shows there's still some way to go for the Government, but at least it looks like Latham's honeymoon is over.

Meanwhile, the latest Morgan poll shows that "A significant majority of Australian electors believe Prime Minister John Howard is a stronger leader than Opposition Leader Mark Latham (55% cf 32%) and 55% say he would be better at managing Australia's economy than Mr Latham, 25%... More electors trust the Prime Minister to keep Australia safe and secure (51% cf 32%). The Prime Minister was also favoured by electors as being more capable and intelligent than Mr Latham (49% cf 27%) and as making clearer policy statements (47% cf 34%)."

And in another poll, 95% of taxi drivers said they would feel safer giving John Howard a raid, versus 2% for Mark Latham and 3% for Saddam Hussein. Just joking.

And the last piece of news that Latham didn't need this morning is Gareth Evans coming out in support of the Government's position. Gareth "Gareth" Evans, now the head of the International Crisis Group, says: ""I didn't think that going to war was a great idea, but I do think that the international community has a responsibility to see this through now." My favourite quote from the news story, however, is: "Mr Latham and Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd were unavailable for comment last night." Funny that.


Monday, April 05, 2004

“The Passion” that never dies 

An update on my favourite recent popular culture hobby-horse. Mel Gibson’s film still continues to anger, intrigue, confound, mesmerise and disgust audiences around the world. Up to $330 million in the United States alone, the movie is now opening in many other markets.

A new opinion research in the United States suggest that the movie might be behind the increase in the number of people who believe that the Jews were responsible for Christ’s death. Refreshingly, however, neither the Bush Administration nor America in general are blamed by the public for the crucifixion. Maybe if the poll was taken in France…

Meanwhile, in the Middle East there’s no doubt who’s the popular villain – hence the otherwise strict government censors are pretty keen for their people to see the film.

But in China, “The Passion” is meeting with considerable and unexpected success (on pirated copies, of course) – and this time for all the right reasons.


The jihad update 

Anyone who’s looking for some real insight into what’s happening on the ground in Iraq should make sure to check out the “Healing Iraq” blog, ably run by Zeyad, young agnostic Sunni dentist from Baghdad, currently working in Basra. In particular, check out his postings from Monday, April 05, 2004 “Al-Sadr calls upon followers to 'terrorize' the enemy” (about the weekend of Shia-Coalition violence) and from Friday, April 02, 2004 “Fallujah, a God forsaken town” (about the events I recently discussed on this blog). As you will notice, both Zeyad and I have chosen the same template for our blogs.

Meanwhile, Mr Latham appears to have some more foreign imitators. Al Quaeda, not satisfied with the Spanish government’s decision to pull out troops from Iraq is now threatening the Madrid appeasers with more terrorist attacks, unless the PM Zapatero also agrees to the al Quaeda’s very own timeline for the withdrawal – four weeks for the Spanish troops to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Judging by the past track record of the Iberian Socialists in standing up to terrorists, the Spanish troops will be back on home soil in time for “Christmas in July”.


Sunday, April 04, 2004

A late night news round-up 

Good news from the United States – at least for now. It seems that as the American public gets to know John Kerry (with the help of the Republican advertising blitz, and with the help of Kerry himself), the better the chances of George W become. Once again, it seems that the adulation and support of the media and foreigners is just not enough to elect a Democrat president. Fortunately for the Americans (and the rest of the Free World, whatever that is at the moment), the media is one of the most unrepresentative voting groups in the nation, and foreigners don’t vote at all.

Meanwhile, Spain is once again in the grip of a terrorist panic, as another bomb is defused along a high-speed train line from Madrid to Seville. But hang on! Haven’t the Spaniards just elected a left-wing government hostile to the United States and fully committed to abandoning Iraq to terrorists? I thought that appeasement was supposed to protect us from the terrorists. Mr Latham, please explain…

And a recent list of countries to be targeted by the terrorist, published on an al-Quaeda-run website, includes not just the usual suspects from the Coalition of the Willing, but also – in the fifth place – Canada. But hang on! Hasn’t Canada been consistently limp-wristed, refusing to have anything to do with liberation of Iraq? Hasn’t the Canadian Prime Minister’s communication director even called George W Bush a moron? I thought that appeasement was supposed to protect us from the terrorists. Mr Latham, please explain…


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