Saturday, April 17, 2004

The wonders of modern medicine 

Russian surgeons have constructed and grafted an artificial penis onto a body of a soldier who lost his equipment on a booby trap in Chechnia (no jokes please).

Now waiting for the kind Russian surgeons to start attaching some balls onto several "Western" leaders and opposition leaders.

By the way, unlike the famous lab mouse which not that long ago had a human ear grafted on its back, we are led to believe that the surgical attachment in this case occurred in the correct spot.


Donna Mulhearn - the poster girl for appeasement 

Donna Mulhearn, the Australian human shield turned briefly a hostage and turned back again into a full time anti-Howard activist is getting some rough press from my fellow bloggers.

In the meantime, more hilarious facts emerge about Mulhearn's background. Check out this ABC story from last year, with a pic of Donna proudly wearing her Arabic human shield T-shirt. According to the story "Donna is pictured here wearing the second version of the Human Shields T-shirt used to identify the organisation in Iraq. The original version featured a poor Arabic translation of the organsiation's name which read 'human target'. The replacement T-shirts had to be quickly reprinted." Human target alright - maybe that was the T-shirt she was wearing when she was kidnapped by the Fallujah Baathist scum. "Kick me, I'm an Aussie useful idiot."

And while Mulhearn's work with orphans in post-Saddam Iraq is to be commended, check out her words of wisdom from a Palm Sunday rally in 2003:

"For those Australians who doubted this war - you were right! Your concerns were legitimate. Your fears about the devastating impact of this war have been realised.

"While those concerned about human rights welcome a regime change, we knew there was another path to such a change. A path that was democratic; a path that did not flout international law; a creative, compassionate path; a better path; a peaceful path. A path that did not leave more than 5000 people dead and thousands more maimed, injured and devastated for life."

I had to read on until the end of the speech to find out what that path - the alternative way to resolve the situation in Iraq - was.

"The other way is the way of peace."

In case you were wondering, that's it.

All we had to do in Iraq to get rid of one of the most brutal and vicious regimes of recent years was to pursue the path of peace. Sounds like a garden path to me. And that's essentially the problem with human rights activists like Mulhearn "who welcomed a regime change" - they were willing to do absolutely anything to change the regime except to actually do something.

Mulhearn later on in the speech challenged "anyone who supported this war to spend 24 hours in a Baghdad hospital ward." Well, and I challenge Mulhearn to spend 24 hours in one of Saddam's torture factories (oops, too late for that), or 24 hours digging around one of 300 mass graves in Iraq, which are estimated to contain upwards of 300,000 bodies.

Just like protectionists who complain about the jobs lost as a result of free trade but who can't see the far greater number of jobs created as a result of globalisation - so too are activists like Mulhearn, who only see the civilians tragically (and accidentally) killed and wounded by the Coalition, but not the far greater number of Iraqis that will no longer have to die now that Saddam is gone.

Peace is wonderful and we should have more of it, but some of the most peaceful places on earth are cemeteries.


Looking out for the wrong barbarians 

People are still somehow surprised that Australia's newest terror suspect Izhar Ul-Haque could have associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan while at the same time being a "quiet" person, "a gifted student with a bright future in medicine" and overall "a nice, intelligent guy."

We cannot prejudge the results of the police investigation - we don't quite yet know just what exactly did Ul-Haque got up to in Pakistan (although his diary allegedly contains details of "training in long and short firearms and the handling and detonation of explosives"), and we don't know the extent of his association with the Willie Brigitte-led Sydney terror cell. But we should be used to be now to the concept that al Quaeda and their local franchises are full of pleasant, inconspicuous, intelligent young men. Bin Laden's deputy al Zawahri is also a doctor, Mohammed Atta studied architecture and town planning, and the other eighteen S11 hijackers for most part blended relatively well against the Western backdrop.

For at least the last hundred years, the barbarians at the gates of Western civiliastions were not filthy Huns riding on their little ponies, but bright men and women from good socio-economic backgrounds who fell under the spell of violent ideas - be their fascist or communist ones. Yet so many intelligent people in the West still think that barbarians are a figment of an overactive imagination, or if they reluctantly accept the existence of barbarians in this world, they stand on the ramparts and look towards the horizon for a cloud of dust whipped up by those little ponies.


Friday, April 16, 2004

Friday night bits'n'pieces: South Korean farce, ATSIC, ex-human shield, and leftie racism 

There are still places around the world where elections are interesting. Check out what Kennett has got to report on the bizarre goings-on in South Korea.

Meanwhile back in Australia, Slattery doesn't shed any tears for ATSIC. Is it still a wedge issue if it's bipartisan?

Niner Charlie doesn't have much sympathy for our very own Aussie human shield turned hostage turned celebrity. Although Tim Blair is seeing more and more curious gaps in Donna Mulhearn's story.

And Fried Man draws our attention to a disgusting racially-based attack on Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. If it was the right doing the smearing they would get lynched, but I guess it's OK if the left does it.


Al-Jazeera: all the news that's fit to suppress 

As the Italian hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi tries to tear off his hoods and screams at his kidnappers "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies" before he's shot in the head at point blank range, Al-Jazeera finally finds video footage that's "too gruesome" to show its viewers.

Might it be because broadcasting the footage of a cold blood execution of a defenceless civilian could actually turn the Western public opinion firmly against the bandits and scum masquerading as Iraqi "freedom fighters"? Funny how Al-Jazeera is never too reluctant to show Muslim blood and gore when it's the Americans who are doing the shooting.


Great minds think alike? 

...or the birth of a new cliche?

"Iraq more like Lebanon than Vietnam" - from an "Age" subeditor Maher Mughrabi in today's edition.

"Iraq is not Vietnam so much as Lebanon" - from the "Australian Financial Review" 's man in Washington Tony Walker in today's edition (not available online for free).

But it seems that while the Western commentators have been wasting their time with their favourite Vietnam comparison, other observers already went for Lebanon in the middle of last year.

Let's start a competition about which past conflict-quagmire will Iraq be compared to next - if you have any suggestions, or better still, some links, pass it on.


Greenpeace: save the seals, screw Iraqis 

Environmental organisations are outraged at the largest seal cull in recent years taking place in Canada.

"As the hunt drew to a close, images of seal pups being butchered outraged activists. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, some seals were skinned alive.

" 'I've observed the Canadian seal hunt each year for the past five years,' IFAW spokeswoman Rebecca Aldworth said. 'This year we saw terrible cruelty and almost no government monitoring of the hunt. Just metres away from us, conscious seal pups were sliced open. They were dragged across the ice with boathooks. Injured seals were left to die in stockpiles of carcasses.'

"The fund, which filmed the cull, released graphic images yesterday. Greenpeace Canada spokesman Andrew Male said the group had 'serious concerns" about the cull.'

But Greenpeace had no such "serious concerns" about Saddam Hussein and his three decades' long cull of Iraqi people. Quite the opposite: " Greenpeace is opposed to war. We joined with thousands of people all over the world in months of global action to promote a non-violent solution to the conflict in Iraq. We believed the war was more about oil than about effectively dealing with weapons of mass destruction. It would result in devastating human and environmental consequences, and set a dangerous (not to mention illegal) precedent."

Well, the only non-violent solution to the conflict in Iraq involved leaving Saddam in power, which of course wasn't a dangerous precedent at all - unless you were an Iraqi. As for devastating human and environmental consequences - in your wet dreams, Greenpeace. Unless you think that the restoration of wetlands, destroyed by Saddam in an attempt to punish Marsh Arabs, is bad environmental news.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare also much rather rescues Saddam Hussein's Arab horses rather than Saddam Hussein's Arab people, and saves Helena the Bear from heat in Baghdad zoo, but at least I guess animal welfare is their mission.

What's Greenpeace's excuse?


Remember Alamo, but forget the film 

Disney's epic take on one of the most famous episodes of American history, the doomed defence of Alamo in Texas, is proving to be a turkey at the box office. It might partly be because this classic tale of patriotism and sacrifice has been turned into a sanitised, lackluster, ultra-PC imitation.

The problem, as Don Feder writes, is that "Hollywood has a pathological aversion to expressions of patriotism. Because it finds America (both in history and today) unlovable, it can't imagine anyone loving America enough to die for her."

Feder is surely right. "[R]ecent films about some of the most inspiring moments in our past - 'Pearl Harbor,' D-Day ('Saving Private Ryan') and 'The Alamo' - are cleansed of patriotism - no talk of freedom, democracy, representative government or love of homeland is allowed. (The sole exception is Mel Gibson's 1999 movie 'The Patriot,' which was unabashedly pro-American.)"

He is actually righter than he thinks. "The Patriot" might have been patriotic and pro-American indeed, but even there the Mel Gibson character didn't instantly spring up to defend independence out of love for America but only got dragged into the conflict when the Redcoats burned his property and killed his son. Revenge, not patriotism, seemed to be the dominant motivation.

As it also was in Gibson's earlier epic "Braveheart", where William Wallace tried very hard to stay out of trouble, and only became a freedom fighter - at least initially - to avenge the murder of his wife by the English (in real life, Wallace's wife - who by the way was English - outlived him; it was actually petty brigandage, which eventually led Wallace into a life of a guerrilla).

It seems that Hollywood has no problem understanding and translating onto celluloid most of human emotions, except those nowadays associated with the "right". Contra Feder, it's not just patriotism, but also any sort of religious feeling. Love, greed, hate, jealousy, compassion are fine, but "God, honour, country" might as well be sentiments of aliens from Alfa Centauri - inscrutable, bizarre and vaguely embarrassing.

Until Hollywood decides to "get it", it might as well stick to churning out "Spiderman" and "50 First Dates."


Thursday, April 15, 2004

"Guardian" forgets nothing and learns nothing 

You know that the left is getting desperate when it starts using an old and discredited myth to support a new and currently-being-discredited myth. This is the case with the "Guardian" leader, where the Jenin "massacre" morphs into the Fallujah "massacre", which in turn is part of the new "Iraq as the new Vietnam" paradigm.

"A more recent parallel to the events in Falluja is the bloodletting in Jenin almost exactly two years ago, when Israeli forces destroyed a Palestinian refugee camp in the middle of the town," writes the esteemed Brit lefty propaganda machine.

A parallel alright, but in the way the anti-American hysteria spreads through world media.

There was no Jenin massacre, but why spoil a good story with facts? Hence the only qualifier in the "Guardian" piece is appropriately disingenuous: "[a]lthough the first casualty figures in Jenin were overestimated, the Israeli action was condemned worldwide." This is as close as the left will come to actually saying outright that the massacre didn't happen but it was good anyway as it provided the left with lots of shit to throw at Israel. So it was a lie, but it had served its purpose.

So what actually didn't happen at Jenin? According to the leftie mythology, the Israeli army had laid a siege to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin on the pretext of trying to root out terrorists allegedly operating from there. After a few days of bloody street fighting most of the camp was said to have been reduced to rubble and 500 innocent Palestinian civilians were said to have been killed by the Israeli Defence Forces.

In reality, the official Palestinian study afterwards admitted that only 56 Palestinians died in the two weeks of fighting, about half of them armed fighters (around 1000 Palestinian fighters surrendered at the end of fighting). By contrast 33 Israeli soldiers died during the operation. No mass graves, no hundreds of bodies buried under the rubble were ever discovered. But while the shitstorm had lasted it allowed the left to once again potray Israelis as callous, brutal and murderous occupiers. You can read the facts, as opposed to the spin here and here.

The Fallujah stories so far tell of hundred of dead civilians, many purposefully targetted by the American troops. Methinks we would be wise to wait until the fighting stops before we see how many of the innocent civilians died with AK-47s and rocket launchers in their hands.

But methinks also that the left has already made up its mind. Now why should I be thinking that?


"Oil for no blood" (Saddam's, that is) 

The investigation is still going on, but this is a good round-up of what's been happening with the KPMG audit of the UN's "Oil for Food" programme.

By the time it's finished, it's likely that a lot of people will be caught with oily hands, and the United Nations will have a lot of explaining to do about how it has ignored Saddam's turning of this humanitarian programme into a scam and a reverse protection racket.

"In a scathing letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 3, which he made available to Insight, Hankes-Drielsma [the head of the KPMG team] called the U.N. program "one of the world's most disgraceful scams," and said that 'based on the facts as I know them at the present time, the U.N. failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people and the international community at large'."

Beats the Nigerian scam.


"New York Times": low-tech combat, low tech-reporting 

The "New York Times" once again focuses on the good news in their story "Marines Use Low-Tech Skill to Kill 100 in Urban Battle":

"The battle, classic urban combat that raged for 14 hours, was one of the heaviest engagements since the invasion of Iraq last year. It showed not only the intensity of the resistance but an acute willingness among insurgents to die."

I would have thought that what it truly showed was the effectiveness of American military, its superiority of training, tactics and skills, but you have to wait until the fourth paragraph to find out that during the whole bloody engagement only two Marines were shot, and their wounds were not life-threatening. 2 wounded for 100 killed in door-to-door fighting isn't too bad a ratio.

And how about that title, eh? "Low-tech skills", my ass. Close quarter urban combat might not be sexy enough for the NYT because there's no chance that a stray cluster bomb will wipe out a local hospital and thus cause the loss of Iraqi "hearts and minds", but surely it takes high skills (tech or no tech) to wipe out 100 fighters with almost zilch casualties of your own.

If that's a demonstration of "an acute willingness among insurgents to die" then I say - there should be more of it.

Could it be, perchance, why al Sadr seems to be now suing for peace?


Will Europe roll over? 

" 'Bin Laden' tape vows revenge" - what about Bin Laden himself? Still no video recording since late 2001. What does this publicity junkie have to hide?

The suspected Bin Laden voiceover might be offering a stick in revenge for the assassination of Hamas "spiritual leader" Sheik Yassin, but he is also dangling a carrot, "offering a truce with European states if they stop attacking Muslims, but not with the United States."

According to the report, the tape also says that "the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people were payment for Spain's actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and 'Palestine'."

Spaniards might be confused by the reference to their actions in "Palestine", seeing that Spain is the most consistently pro-Arab and anti-Israel country in Western Europe. Oh well, at least now it's official: Spaniards will have to try harder at appeasement.


Not so keen on going to paradise anymore? 

Only yesterday he was still ready for martyrdom. "I say to Iraqis, don't consider my death as an end to your efforts to call for freedom and spreading Islam in the world. I say, as my father did: My body is not important," the Shia leader was proclaiming.

Now, "The Daily Telegraph" reports that "Moqtada al-Sadr, who raised the standard of anti-American revolt 12 days ago, sent out envoys from the holy city of Najaf carrying his peace terms."

Al Sadr's spokesman, Karim al Anzi, is quoted as saying: "Moqtada made positive proposals to end the crisis... I cannot disclose the details. He realises that an armed confrontation is not in anybody's interest."

Does he know?

Al Anzi doesn't want to disclose any details but the paper reports that "sources close to the cleric [al Sadr] said he had dropped his demand that American forces pull back from Najaf and release prisoners before he would enter talks."

It must be the realisation on the part of the US that they are getting sucked deeper and deeper into a Vietnam-style quagmire, that is finally bringing both sides to the negotiating table.

Or it could be the fact that a "2,500-strong U.S. force, backed by tanks and artillery, [has] massed on the outskirts of Najaf for a showdown."


China's Christian future? 

I remember not that long ago, in early 2001, reading a lot of stuff by those dreaded neo-cons (you know who you are) about China being the next big future threat to Western security, after the commies everywhere else have bitten the dust. S11 of course changed everything. The fact remains, however, that Iraq and the rest of the Middle East may come and go, but China is likely to continue to be an ever growing issue for Western policy-makers to face and deal with.

This material is not new, but I only very recently had a chance to read an article in "The American Spectator" (unfortunately not available on-line), adopted from David Aikman's new book "Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power". Aikman is a former "Time" magazine bureau chief in Beijing, so he knows what he's talking about. There are estimated to be currently between 80 and 90 million Christians (mostly Protestant) in China. In three decades there might be between 240 and 360 million - and they will be concentrated in the cities and among the country's elite. Chinese Christians tend to be more pro-Western, pro-American and pro-Israel than the rest of the population. What does it mean for international relations over the next few decades? Fascinating stuff, almost totally ignored by the mainstream media in the West.

Check out this interview with Aikman. Or this one. Or this piece.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Vietnam's passion 

Another one of the Cold War's unfinished businesses. While the rest of the South East Asia manufactures export goods, Vietnam only manufactures martyrs - up to 400 killed by security forces over Easter.

Messrs Latham, Kerry, Kennedy et al - I know that you have now moved on to another Vietnam, but this is what actually happens in the real Vietnam once you have succeed in sabotaging the US's foreign policy. So cut and run from Iraq, and in thirty years' time you will still have the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds killing each other, over religion, ethnicity or maybe over that famed oil. Except it will be out of sight and out of mind of the world community, because by that stage you will have moved onto yet another, brand new Vietnam.


Get high on welfare 

Americans are getting shorter because the government is not doing enough for them, claims a lefty professor, who has analysed historical height data from Europe and America.

"While the average American man was, at 5ft 9in, two inches taller than the average Briton at the time of the American War of Independence in 1775, nowadays the former is about half an inch shorter than the latter."

"From being the tallest in the world for 200 years with the highest per capita income this suddenly stopped," the good professor says about the Shrinking Yanks. "By the 1950s, the welfare state was already well-established in many European countries. It is an achievement that cannot simply be ignored."

"The Dutch, he says, won their anthropometric advantage by creating the world's best pre- and post-natal clinics. Over the same period, America's rich-poor divide has been widening."

State socialism, kiddies, will make you bigger and taller and stronger and healthier, so that when bad people come for you, you will be able to faster raise your hands over your head and then more gracefully bend over.


Kerry's delusions continue 

Guess what? John Kerry is critical of George Bush’s performance at his press conference: “Tonight, the president had the opportunity to tell the American people what steps he was going to take to stabilise the situation in Iraq. Unfortunately, he offered no specific plan whatsoever.”

But how specific – and how sensible – is Kerry’s own plan for Iraq?

"We need to internationalise the effort and put an end to the American occupation. We need to open up the reconstruction of Iraq to other countries. We need a real transfer of political power to the UN," Kerry said.

Wow! Why haven’t we thought about it before?

Let’s internationalise the effort – but there are already 33 countries with troops in Iraq. How many exactly does Kerry want? And what extra countries is he going to bring into what he has previously described as Bush’s “fraudulent coalition”? Russia? France? Germany? Good luck, seeing that he can’t even convince the man who endorsed him for president, the Spanish PM Zapatero, to keep the troops in past June 30.

Let’s open reconstruction of Iraq to other countries – but the contracts are already open to “Coalition partners and force contributing nations” – that’s a few dozen countries as it is. How will it change the situation in Iraq if Russia, or France, or China get their foot in? Anyone?

And let’s transfer “real” political power to the UN – never mind that the Iraqi themselves, after twelve years of being stuffed around by the toothless UN don’t want UN to have a role (see page 7 onwards) – the UN itself doesn’t want to go into Iraq in the current “security environment”. Kofi seems to realise what Kerry doesn’t – you can’t put the cart before the horse – security comes first, only then you can start thinking about all the touchy-feely international multilateral crap.

Mark “the Werriwa Appeaser” Latham wants to catch up with John Kerry when he goes to suck some Democrat holes in the US in June this year (seeing that the electrified fence is as close as he’s going to get to the presidential ranch). I’m sure that the exchange of views will be mutually beneficial. Latham can get even more of inane foreign policy guidance. Kerry meanwhile can ask Latham to reconsider the Labor policy on troop pullout. He will be told to f*** off.


A very small milestone (more like a yardstone) 

It's been exactly two weeks since I started "Chrenkoff", and a few minutes ago the blog had scored its 500th hit. Doesn't sound like much when you compare it to the traffic generated by some well known blogs, but hey, we're only just starting.

So thank you to all those who have visited us so far (and those who keep coming back), those who have recommended us to others, and last but not least, those who have linked us on their own blogs and websites. All the help is much appreciated - I hope you'll keep on enjoying "Chrenkin' off".


Wednesday in Iraq 

What the really embedded reporters - the Iraqi bloggers - are saying today:

Zeyad: “A menacing silence has descended on the capital for the last two days and nights, well not exactly silence because you can still hear faint and distant explosions, but not much as frequently as last week. We can now notice more people on the street going about their daily business, and stores are gradually opening but traffic in the streets is still not as 'normal' as the last few weeks, and governmental and educational institutions are still empty. Baghdadis are trying their best to survive and go on with their lives.”

Alaa: “A political solution must be quickly arrived at. The secular democratic forces have no power in this atmosphere since they are not armed and defenseless. The U.S. and Coalition cannot give protection to civilians since they are not a police force, and are engaged in combat. The situation should be defused but without a show of weakness. The most dangerous of the insurgents are those affiliated with the previous regime and their allies. But there are many moderates in the Sunni camp and these should now be given full support. Likewise, strenuous efforts are being undertaken to defuse the Sadr disturbance in Najaf and these should not be shunned.

"This is an urgent message for the American people and the Coalition, on behalf of the Baghdadis. We are experiencing a difficult situation at the moment, surrounded by dangers from every side: Insurgents, thieves, kidnappers, you name it. We the civilian population are unarmed and quite helpless in the face of all these dangers, and we don’t have any protection whatsoever. A political settlement is urgently needed. The situation can’t even wait until the 30th of June. Any Iraqi Government without a real, reliable security apparatus that can counteract the armed gangs will be immediately toppled and God only knows what will happen. Therefore such a Government must be acceptable to all the main groups. The real terrorists and saboteurs should be isolated politically and not just combated militarily.”

Ays: “First of all: That angry dumb and silly boy [Shia militant leader al Sadr] is not respected by many religious leaders here in Iraq and consider him as a child , he don’t have the right to be a religious leader and he don’t have any ‘logical and legislative Islamic studies’ regarding Islam and ‘Sharia’..

"Second.. that foolish boy has many thieves following him.. why? Do you know that neighborhood ‘ Althawra’ or ‘ Al-Sadr city’ in Baghdad? This is the worst place in Iraq.. yes .. all Iraqis hate that place and never ever reach there.. More than 75% of this neighborhood are thieves and murders .. they are responsible for the looting and robbery acts last year.. and of course due to their rapid and uncontrolled reproduction ( just like the rabbits) ,they have many relatives in some neighborhoods in Iraq, so when they felt that Muqtada is so permissive and may encourage such robberies; they followed him.. they love him.. they feel that he’s one of them and his laws are very compatible with their disgusting thoughts and mean goals.. Now we have a silly angry boy and thieves.."

Firas: “[W]hen I took a drive in Baghdad today I had to tell you what I saw, and I think it’s important to tell you that Baghdad today was more normal, more crowded, more traffic jammed than ever……. Just like the people were imprisoned home for few days ago and they were trying to make it up for them selves. Schools were opened also universities and ministries offices, proud IPs every where to secure people. And if I have to tell you about the electricity devices market in Karada, then we won’t finish till tomorrow. I haven’t seen it so crowded all my life.”

UPDATE: Slattsnews comments: "Now, if Zeyad, the Mesopotamian and Firas are propagandists, they seem to speak on behalf of the vast mainstream of Iraqis, sort of like John Howard's battlers. So why doesn't the appeasing, delusionally left western media report back with the Iraqis in the streets' thoughts and dreams? Silly me, it's precisely because they're like John Howard's battlers -- aspirational, distrustful of politics and opposed to crime and violence. Why, with security and support they might even fashion their own form of democracy."


Shandi for W's VP? 

25-year old Shandi Finnessey from Missouri has been crowned the new Miss USA. From what I can gather she's a children's book author with two masters degrees, is a fast-good junkie who's into bungee jumping and wrestling a greased pig - but most importantly, she is a Republican and a pro-war advocate, who says she will use her position as Miss USA to explain America's involvement in Iraq.

Does it get any better than this? It might be time for Dick Cheney to step down for health reasons.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

After Spain, Poland? 

It’s safe to say that in the aftermath of M11 in Madrid, most if not all pro-American governments in Europe – the “New Europe” – are scared, very scared. Particularly those with elections coming up soon. Poland, which has been the US’s staunchest ally in Central Europe, both in the war on terror and the war in Iraq, is heading to the polls (no pun intended) by the end of the year. “Is terrorist attack possible?” asks Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, an analyst associated with the main opposition party PO, “It depends on pre-election opinion polls.” (unfortunately his opinion piece is not available electronically).

This is the current political situation in Poland: the government is in the hands of the Alliance of Democratic Left (SLD or Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej), social democratic Blair clones, except not anywhere as charismatic and successful as Tony himself. SLD are ex-communists who have switched their allegiance 180 degrees, from the old Soviet Union to the United States. However due more to their domestic mismanagement rather than foreign policy, their standing in the opinion polls is now the unbelievably dismal 10% and barring a miracle they will be soon kicked out of office.

The major opposition party, Citizens’ Platform (PO or Platforma Obywatelska), is rating around 29%. It’s a right wing formation, pro market, and moderately pro-American.

The second in the opinion polls – with 24% - is Self-Defence (Samoobrona), a mostly rural and small town based populist movement inspired by le Pen and Buchanan (for Australian readers: a lot more extreme version of One Nation). Self-Defence is anti-free trade, anti-globalisation, anti-EU, and most importantly in this context, anti-war. Its leader, Andrzej Lepper, has been consistently opposed to the presence of Polish troops in Iraq, and prior to the war breaking was preparing to go to Baghdad in a show of solidarity with Saddam Hussein.

The military commitment to Iraq is increasingly unpopular – 60% of those polled recently want to see the Polish troops withdrawn.

With the public support all over the place, no one party will be able to form government on its own; possible configurations are numerous, but none of them guarantees that the current pro-US and pro-war policy will be maintained. What the commentators are starting to get worried about is the possibility that a well-timed terrorist attack could provide a huge boost to Samoobrona and thus propel this unlikeliest of serious political parties to power.

The impact on involvement in Iraq aside, this would be a disaster that Poland simply cannot afford.


Teacher, leave the kids alone 

In a strange way, it’s good to know that unions are the same the world over. Pathetic, that is. Particularly the teachers’ unions. Pat Lerew, the head of National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers in the UK, has now come out publicly to blame the rudeness and bad behaviour of today’s schoolchildren on the example set by and values of their 20- and 30-something parents, the “Thatcher’s children.”

Apparently “[l]ack of respect for authority in school can be traced back to the ‘devil take the hindmost’ attitude of the 1980s which bred ‘an inevitable rise in aggression and bullying’.”

"Many of the current generation of parents and children in school have little respect for teachers and others in authority," laments Mrs Lerew.

Well, I for one, am relieved that it’s not the fault of the mis-education system sabotaged for the past few decades by the teachers’ unions, and the nefarious influence of the increasingly leftie cultural establishment. Don’t you just love how the left is suddenly concerned about respect for authority, now that authority is theirs?


Dedicated to all the other fellow bloggers 

A nice piece by Michael Kinsley about the tough existence that we, the opinion-makers, have to lead.

“[P]ity the opinionmeister! Opinions don't flare and quickly die like fireworks. Opinions come and stay, leaving little room for new ones. There are only five opinions you can have about abortion, according to a report prepared for the Opinion League of America. There are only two possible opinions (sometimes characterized as yes and no) on capital punishment, just one on matters implicating the American flag. Under these circumstances, it would be annoying to be told that it is unacceptable for an opinion to be used more than once. Worse than annoying, it would be wasteful. Call it plagiarism if you like; we prefer to think of it as recycling. Facts are like air: they can be polluted, but there is no danger that we will actually run out of the stuff. Opinions, by contrast, are like water or oil: the danger of running out is real.”

Brother, can you spare an opinion?


The decline and fall of "The Spectator" 

The name says it all - welcome to the Laugh Land, where John Laughland writes in the new edition of "The Spectator" that "[w]armongering will be worse under Kerry than under Bush, and real peaceniks should therefore vote for Dubya... Bush and Kerry agree on almost everything in foreign policy, but where they disagree, Kerry is more hawkish."

I kept reading the article, looking for the punchline or the joke revealed, but by the time I got to the end I realised that Laughland is actually serious. His John Kerry a Vietnam War hero who scolds Bush as draft-dodger, a voracious critic of the current Administration's war on terror strategy (it doesn't go far enough), a "wholehearted" supporter of the war in Iraq, and an unashamed apologist for the American military supremacy.

Is this guy for real?

Apparently so. In a longer piece he penned a month earlier, Laughland extensively elaborated on his theme of Bush and Kerry being just a two militaristic peas in an American pod. "Laugh-a-minute" Laughland seems to be so far to the delusional left that not only he can't see policy differences between the two presidential contenders, but he actually seems to think that Kerry is more neo-con than thou. So much so, that he seems to propose a bizarre conspiracy theory whereby the dreadful neo-conservatives will ditch the unpalatable Texan and elect the suave and internationally appealing Boston Botoxed Brahmin to covertly continue their militaristic agenda.

As if that wasn't enough, in another piece, Laughland attempts to whitewash Saddam's record, accusing Tony Blair of "sexing up" the claims of human rights abuses in Iraq.

You may laugh or you may cry, but the question remains - what the hell is a once-respected conservative flagship like "The Spectator" publishing this sort of absurd drivel?


Al Quaeda meets Al Capone 

First drug dealing (and bank robberies and fraud), now this: apparently al Quaeda was trying to negotiate a deal with American mafia to assist in terrorist attacks.

“Gregory Scarpa Jr., a jailed mobster working for the FBI in 1996, was tutored by Yousef, convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, on how to smuggle explosives past airport security, use shoes to blow up planes and hijack jets using stolen or phony passports.”

The relationship probably didn’t progress much further because bin Laden didn’t show the mobsters any respect.


But will the UN condemn this wall? 

The “Financial Times” reports: “The government of Rio de Janeiro state yesterday proposed to build a wall around its sprawling favelas in an effort to help control rampant crime in the picture postcard city.

“ ‘The wall won't put an end to violence [in the slums] but if we don't contain it, it will destroy the [surrounding] forest, the economy of Rio de Janeiro and the lives of the city's residents,’ Luiz Paulo Conde, deputy governor, said on Monday.

“The proposal comes after yet another wave of violence rocked parts of the city during the Easter holidays, shutting down commerce, and killing 10 people, including civilians, police and gang members.”

But when the Israelis try to do it in order to stop terrorists crossing over from the West Bank and killing hundreds of civilians – that’s racist and a no-no.


Monday, April 12, 2004

Paul McGeough's cliche counter ticking on 

The "Sydney Morning Herald"'s man on the spot in Baghdad, Paul McGeough certainly knows the score: in his piece "How GI bullies are making enemies of their Iraqi friends" (12 April 2004) he writes that "the country is in convulsions and it seems the Americans have already lost the battle for Iraqi hearts and minds."

It seems that for the Americans it has been a long, bloody and unsuccessful battle. Already on 8 December 2003, Paul McGeough reported on "The losing battle for Iraqi hearts and minds."

And even earlier, on 28 March 2003, according to Paul McGeough, "US loses hearts and minds amid suburban hell."

One thing you have to give to those Yanks - once they're onto something they try really long and really hard.


The abduction derby takes a wrong turn 

The news from Iraq tonight is that kidnapping is still very much in vogue - not that it should be a great surprise to those who remember to whole "human shields" fiasco during the first Gulf War.

Apparently, seven Chinese were kidnapped, in order to pressure the Chinese government to withdraw its troops from Iraq... oops, sorry. I'm not sure why they were kidnapped. Maybe the Fedayin scumbags were after some more Japanese, but are so racist that all Asians looked the same to them?


Bartlett saddened by Gallipoli ban; everyone else saddened by the Democrats 

So the Democrats' Senator Andrew Bartlett is "sad" that Australian soldiers will not be granted leave to visit Gallipoli on Anzac Day this year, although he backs the ADF's decision.

"They would be the ones who have a special connection with (Gallipoli), particularly when part of the Anzac legend is of staring in the face of danger... It is certainly a real shame that that is where things have deteriorated to," said the erstwhile Senator.

In Bartlett's ideal world, Australian military personnel would be pulled out of Iraq where they are relatively safe working as air traffic controllers (among other jobs), but allowed to go to Gallipolli where they can be blown up by some crazy Islamist nutbag with a belt of plastic explosives.

And if part of the Anzac legend really is staring in the face of danger, then who are we to disrespect that legend and pull out troops out of Iraq?

It's certainly a real shame that this is where the Democrats have deteriorated to.


State bites boy 

We always knew that welfare system is faulty, but now we know that it also kills. What a headline, but what a sad story too: "Boy raised by dog dies on welfare". Apparently, a "Thai boy who was partially raised by a dog was found dead at a welfare centre where he had been taken for protection, police and welfare officials said today.

"Two-year-old Prateep Chumnoon made headlines in the Thai media last year when he was taken from his impoverished 60-year-old grandmother who regularly left him in the care of her pet.

"The toddler's body was discovered early Sunday morning inside a high plastic container used for laundry at a welfare centre in the southern Thai province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, local police said."

You don't have to be a libertarian to realise that the state is not the best substitute for a family. It seems that a dog - and even an "impoverished 60-year-old grandmother" - more often than not can do better.


The charge of the no-charge brigade 

Moral equivalence and sovereignty fetishism are riding high in this op-ed piece in the "Australian" by Neil Clark: "[I]t's time for all of us who predicted the consequences of military intervention to make our political leaders pay the price for their arrogance, deceit and recklessness... It means exercising our democratic right not to vote for any MP, senator or political representative who supported the illegal invasion of a sovereign state in defiance of world public opinion."

And how's this? "The coalition troops will never be able to bring stability to Iraq for the simple reason that they have no business to be there. US, British and Australian troops have no more right – morally or legally – to be patrolling the streets of Basra, Baghdad or Fallujah than Iraqi troops would have to ride in jeeps down the streets of New York, London or Brisbane. Once we acknowledge this, and accept that coalition troops in Iraq are an illegal army of occupation of the same status as the Wehrmacht in Poland in 1939, then we can make progress."

If ever the moral vacuum at the heart of the left was at full display, this is it: the American troops (and the Australian troops by the same token) are pretty much the same as the (Baathist) Iraqi troops; anultimatelyly the Allied troops are - wait for it - just like the Nazis! Surprised? I'm not sure why.

The only moral right Clark seems to recognise is the right of people like Saddam to keep killing his own people. The emperor might not wear any clothes, but the left will always ensure that he is decently draped in a cloak of sovereignty. I remember when the left used "human rights" at the expense of "sovereignty" to bludgeon the US; now it's "sovereignty" and to hell with "human rights". The only thing constant is the hatred of the United States.

In a similar vein, Paul Kennedy finds a solution to the American troops shortage in Iraq by conscripting and sending in to fight "the phalanxes of US neo-conservatives, right-wing gurus, hardline journalists and think-tank pundits who assured the bemused American public and their politicians 20 months ago that the conquest of Iraq would not be difficult."

"How many of these advocates of massive US force abroad actually have close family in the trenches they recommended to others? This is, of course, being ironic. None of them - none - is going to leave their civilian positions, think tanks, syndicated columns or lucrative consultancies to join the grunts actually on the ground around Baghdad."

In case you have forgotten, Paul Kennedy has been giving the lefties wet dreams in the late 1980s when in his book "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" he'd argued that just like any other great power the United States is set to decline. So far we've been waiting for over 15 years for Kennedy's "end is nigh" prophecies to come true, but in the meantime it doesn't stop his ilk rejoicing at every American setback.

So Kennedy wants all of us who support the war to go and fight. Kennedy of course is not willing to fight for anything, leading a parasitical existence on the United States that provides him with security and livelihood to engage in his constant criticism. So here's a deal for you Paul: we'll go to Iraq, but you have to promise to piss off under some slimy rock in North Korea or Cuba, where you won't be able to enjoy the fruits of life guaranteed by the American power over the last century while at the same time continuing to spit in the faces of people who make it all possible for you.


No one left to abort 

European abortion/pro-choice advocates (take your pick depending on your own view) are complaining that the global advance of the right to terminate pregnancy is stalling, largely because of George W Bush (there he goes again), the Catholic Church, and the fact that European population is declining. The first two culprits are pretty predictable, but the third one is quite novel. In fact, the activists seem to be arguing that they are in part victims of their own success. Of course, the demographic crisis in Europe has great many causes, but there is little doubt that the generally quite liberal abortion laws across the continent do contribute to the fact that there simply aren't too many European children being born nowadays - certainly not enough to ensure dramatic shrinking of ethnic European population (as opposed to non-European migrant population, largely of North African and Middle Eastern origin, which is maintaining their old countries' growth rates). Regardless of one's personal views on the issue of abortion, it might be time to start seriously thinking about the consequences of the current regime - not just from the point of view of abstract morality, or from the point of view of individuals concerned, but focusing on the big picture - the really big picture.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

Maybe he is a messiah after all? 

In my longish review of "The Passion" a few weeks ago, I wrote that "lest I myself get accused of blasphemy for comparing the controversial director/producer to Christ, let me make it clear I don't consider Gibson a saint, much less a Hollywood Messiah" for his achievement in stirring up so much controversy.

But... Almost one in ten people in Poland and only behind "Titanic" as the most popular American film ever... Nearly one in ten people in 3 days in Muslim Qatar... Breaks records in Italy... And in Australia, Gibson is credited with helping to bring about the biggest Easter Sunday attendance at churches.

How about a sequel?


Never underestimate people’s gratitude… 

…not! Just refer to this report of an anti-American, anti-“occupation” march by 500 people waving Iraqi flags in Sydney. The report seems to indicate that the marchers were Iraqis, protesting against the “military occupation of their homeland” – I would like to know for certain how many of the marchers were actually Australian Iraqis, and how many were from the usual anti-Great Satan crowd that can be counted to turn up to these events and wave the day’s flag of convenience. Regardless, however...

The report says: “Speaking in Arabic, Imam Murtada al-Saidi said although his people were happy to see an end to Saddam Hussein's regime, they were sad at what the American-led occupation had brought.”

(Obviously not happy enough. And don’t you love how everything always turns out to be the American’s fault, with everybody else merely reacting to it? It’s what “the American-led occupation had brought”, not by any stretch of imagination what the Saddamite die-hards and power-hungry Shia extremists have brought).

Another speaker, Keysar Trad, spokesman for the Mufti, Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali, is quoted as saying: “"Mr Howard, the polls are near... Australia is for the Australian people, our Australian government must represent us and must act in our interests. We refuse to take orders from the White House or from Bush and his cronies."

And this, from a marcher called Abdal Halfi (“who attended the rally with his children”): "They said we come to Iraq to make Iraqi people free but they put them in the prisons ... they punish them more than Saddam did.”

How is this for sheer stupidity, moral blindness and ingratitude? To say that the Americans “punish [Iraqis] more than Saddam did” indicates such pathological detachment from reality as to send an observer into paroxysm of hysterical laughter. Are we talking about the same Saddam here? The one that started the war with Iran, which claimed one million Iraqi and Iranian lives? The one who invaded Kuwait (about 200,000 dead)? The one who for thirty years persecuted his own citizens, put down uprisings and used chemical weapons (another 300,000 dead)? Or maybe Mr Halfi is talking about some other Saddam.

A memo to Mr Halfi and his fellow marchers: if Saddam’s rule wasn’t that bad compared to the American occupation, then why the f*** have you moved to Australia instead of continuing to live in Iraq? And since you are all here now, enjoying the benefits of living in a tolerant, safe, free, liberal democracy, what gives you the right to condemn those you have left behind in Iraq to continue to live under Saddam’s boot (which would still be the case, if not for the American invasion) or under some sick and bizarre post-Baath Islamist clusterf*** of a dictatorship (which will be the case if the Americans end their “occupation” prematurely).

The Jews have a saying, which goes something like this: “What good have I done to you that you hate me so much?” But then again, what would those filthy Zionist pigs know?


The leftie vigil-antes stir apathy again 

For the second day running, the usual melange of "hate Howard" groups has been involved in a vigil near the PM's Sydney residence, the Kirribilli House, this time to protest the mandatory detention of asylum seekers.

The media quotes Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul as saying: "The coalition government has used refugees to divert attention from the cuts to all kinds of public spending, whether that's hospitals, Medicare or teaching," Mr Rintoul said.

What is he on? The Government has been consistently over the years increasing all kinds of public spending, be it hospitals, or Medicare, or teaching. The only thing that has been cut by the Government is the number of illegal entrants gate-crashing our borders.

""We have seen that the government is all too willing to use the refugee issue to try and divide the community," added Mr Rintoul. Divide the community by doing something that the majority of the community wants and supports? How dastardly and undemocratic of the Government.

I guess that's why the protesters are planning to march onto the Kirribilli house and hand a government representative a "symbolic eviction notice." Why not instead actually try to convince the majority of Australians that the Government's policy is wrong and they should elect the Greens? But that would be too much hard work.

Eviction notices might be "symbolic", but what's not symbolic is the single digit support that the Greens and other associated extremist leftie nutcases receive at election time, when it actually counts.


Mullahs' fingers in the Iraqi pie 

This will not really come as a surprise to anyone - the increasing number of reports about the role Iran is playing in the "spontaneous" Shia uprising in Iraq. It all makes perfect sense - not only is there is a history (and an expectation) of Iranians supporting their Shia brethren elsewhere in the Middle East (Lebanon comes to mind), but now it's more than just a matter of sectarian solidarity: it's the mullahs' fight for own survival and for the survival of Iran as a Shia theocracy. Remember how the geopolitical situation has changed for Iran over the past two years. Both Iran's western (Iraq) and eastern (Afghanistan) neighbours, until recently a fascist and a theocratic basketcase respectively, are now part of the US's grand experiment at remaking the Middle East and the Muslim world generally into normal states and working democracies. Add to that the constant domestic unrest in Iran, and you have a potent mixture of threats for Iran's aging Shia establishment.

So Khomeini's heirs are shit scared that the liberal democratic experiment will catch on in the region and give Iranian people more boost in their quest for freedom at home. Hence this desperate attempt to turn Iraq into another warringn of waring ethnic and religious factions, where fanaticism and terrorism will bleed America dry and chase it out of the neighbourhood with its tail between its legs (remember Beirut in 1983?).

The Iraqi border has been porous; thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims have been for months crossing into Iraq to visit the holy sites, giving the Iranian special services an unparalleled opportunity to infiltrate the country. Now we're seeing the results.

The rebellions have to be put down and authority re-established. Then it's time for Iran.

There have been rumblings in Iran for many years now, but despite frequent unrest and rioting, the push for political change there never seems to acquire the sufficient critical mass to allow it to progress to the next stage (like Eastern Europe in 1989/90, Serbia a few years ago, and Georgia recently). The internal opposition is still not strong enough, the rest of the population not desperate enough, and the ruling mullahs not demoralised enough for the "Iranian spring" to take place. But I have a gut feeling that revolution is around the corner and in the next year of so Iran will join the family of democratic nations. As ironic as it sounds, the popular feeling in Iran is already the most pro-American and pro-Western of all the Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries (see here and here). This normalcy among Iranians bodes well for the country's post-theocratic future.


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