Merry Christmas 24/12/2003
I’m off to lovely Warrnambool to spend Christmas with family and in-laws. A happy and safe Christmas to readers and all the best in 2004.
Snippets of news and views from round the globe with a regular presentation of happenings in western Victoria, Australia
I’m off to lovely Warrnambool to spend Christmas with family and in-laws. A happy and safe Christmas to readers and all the best in 2004.
For a jolly old ho-ho on this sunny Christmas eve (well, it’s sunny here with a balmy 23 degrees forecast for tomorrow), Mark Steyne’s your man. Excerpt:
Speaking of Rudolphs in the news, the other week the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, discussing Mayor Giuliani’s “hatred of Arabs”, veered off into musing on why he chooses to be known as Rudy: “He hides his first name, chosen for him by his Italian father, so as not to remind the Jewish voters of the infamous Rudolph Hitler. This is why he prefers to shorten it to Rudy.” Oh, dear, oh, dear. I fear the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida fact-checkers have confused Rudolph with Adolf The One-Balled Fuhrer. Or possibly Omar The One-Eyed Mullah, or ‘Sama The Blood-Soaked Laden.
Steyne does a beautiful mock of those “hyphen-crazed segregationalists who insist that the only thing we have in common is our lack of anything in common” who fancy they have the power to kill Christmas. Did you know that all the best Christmas carols were written by Jews?
John Pilger is a poseur, no doubt about it. But I didn’t think he was completely stupid. He’s just been given the mother of all backhanders and has let it through to the keeper.
He’s won some half-arsed multicult award in the UK and of course is trumpeting about it on his website (scroll down). But I suspect whoever got the job of writing the judges’ endorsing sentiments was a dissenter. How else can you explain this “tribute”:
The judges cited Pilger’s Carlton documentaries, notably last year’s Palestine Is Still The Issue. They commented that John Pilger “goes the extra mile to bring us the alternative truth.”
Hey, John-boy, can I have some of that alternative truth? You know, the one that has Collingwood as 2003 premiers. And where I have that one-night stand with Katy Zita-Jones. And Santa brings me a box of Grange for Christmas.
This will make a good Christmas contest; what other alternative truths could we Pilgerise?
The Left Coast Report says peacenik Sean Penn has had his car, a black 1987 Buick Grand National, stolen in broad daylight while the actor was having lunch.
The crime took place on a busy street a block away from U.C. Berkeley. Penn’s vehicle was found in Richmond, nine miles from where it was stolen.
A couple of Penn’s guns were missing as well. Yeah, that’s right. This peace activist had a permit to keep a semi-automatic and a revolver.
He’s 50-something, she’s gorgeous, comes with a new computer and three TVs and cost only $42 to marry. What’s it take to get this bloke to smile? Our best wishes to Julie and Wallace on their pending nuptials.
As a media worker I’m well aware that the dumbing-down of media is due in no small part to marketers’ pursuit of the supposedly gold-plated youth demographic, the big-spending 18-35 year olds.
In their obsession with this sector, agencies, marketing execs and by association, programmers and editors, pay lip-service to other demographics.
Their approach to the educated, medium to high earning over 45s is even worse, it’s downright insulting.
They screen pap like Survivor and Australian Idol, they fill newspaper columns with the antics of celebrity morons and when they do present news, it’s cliched, trite and distorted.
Find anyone middle-aged with half a brain who is satisfied with his or her media ration and know you have discovered lottery-winning odds.
This shouldn’t happen in a market economy; the middle-aged, middle class, which is the biggest demographic with the most spending power and the most choices, is treated with contempt by media.
Why this is so, who knows? A curmudgeon of the presses insists that marketing departments dictate everything these days and the obsession with the 18-35 vote, particularly female, comes about because most marketing managers fit that profile, or wish they did.
Anyway, the jig’s up. The youth market is not delivering and some big players are scarred. This piece from the Wall Street Journal suggests that the fixation with young consumers is based on outdated market research and a refusal to acknowledge the most obvious human factor — people change.
Imagine the consternation last month when the networks got the latest Nielsen ratings.
Nielsen couldn’t really say where the boys were, but where they weren’t was watching network TV. NBC’s youth flagship “Friends” lost nearly 30% of its young-adult viewers over the past year; Fox’s “24” plunged 37% among the age group. The networks accused Nielsen of slipshod research; Nielsen replied that it knew how to count.
You can’t blame network execs for their distress. Advertisers regularly pay more than twice as much to air commercials on shows that deliver the youth market. The question is: Why? You’d think they would follow Willie Sutton’s motto and go where the money is. And when it comes to selling stuff–especially expensive stuff–the money is in the pockets of consumers over 45.
Amazing SNAFU during the Melbourne ABC TV news tonight when after a fadeout, the newsreader announced they’d lost all their reports. After taking a phone call at the desk she introduced a local story about Jack Elliott’s possible bankruptcy. Another interruption, another apology and then they crossed to a most unlikely ABC news item: a report about an Iraq music and dance school where everything is very upbeat since the war.
A positive story about post-war Iraq on the ABC?!! Extraordinary. No wonder their equipment broke down.
More likely those who control the equipment went to pieces.
Simon Castles is calling for a debate on whether porn is perverting our society.
Would that be a mass debate?
Make sure the link to this superb piece at John Ray’s PC Watch is included on any Christmas, oops sorry, Holiday, cards you send to nanny-staters. Here’s a teaser:
Off to the side of the crowd, a Philistine was painting the Nativity scene. Mary complained that she and Joseph looked too tattered and worn in the picture. “Artistic license,” he said. “I’ve got to show the plight of the haggard homeless in a greedy, uncaring society in winter,” he quipped. “We’re not haggard or homeless. The inn was just full,” said Mary. “Whatever,” said the painter.
Two women began to argue fiercely. One said she objected to Jesus’ birth “because it privileged motherhood.” The other scoffed at virgin births, but said that if they encouraged more attention to diversity in family forms and the rights of single mothers, well, then, she was all for them.
Finally, an Australian muslim leader has tipped a bucket on the terrorist-supporting fundamentalists in his community.
The spiritual leader of Australia’s muslims, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali, says fundamentalist clerics hold grudges against non-Muslim Australians and warns that their attitudes are harming the image of all 280,000 Muslims in the country.
“I don’t regard these people (fundamentalist clerics) as leaders, I look at them as adolescents,” Sheikh Hilali told The Australian.
“They want to appear they are following in the footsteps of bin Laden – they want that reputation, to appeal to simple Muslims, that they are people applying jihad. These people bring a rigid and incorrect understanding of Islam to Australia and they bring harm to their religion.”
In a sermon to 30,000 of his faithful after Ramadan Sheikh Hilali told would-be bombers “to love the country or leave it”.
“Australia is our compassionate mother, and I say to every person living in Australia, from the person in the highest office down to the ordinary man on the street, love this country or leave it, shape up or ship out,” Sheikh Hilali said.
The Sheikh deserves the support of rational Australians.
A message to this address should get through to him: firstname.lastname@example.org
Country music hard-doer Gary Stewart is dead by his own hand at 58. The Kentucky-born, hell-raising balladeer, who had a hit in the 70s with “She’s Acting Single, I’m Drinking Doubles”, is profiled by Nu Country hillbillly guru, Dave Dawson.
Latest take on Saddam’s capture, for what it’s worth:
LONDON, (AFP) – Saddam Hussein (news – web sites) was captured by US troops only after he had been taken prisoner by Kurdish forces, drugged and abandoned ready for American soldiers to recover him, a British Sunday newspaper said.
Saddam came into the hands of the Kurdish Patriotic Front after being betrayed to the group by a member of the al-Jabour tribe, whose daughter had been raped by Saddam’s son Uday, leading to a blood feud, reported the Sunday Express, which quoted an unnamed senior British military intelligence officer.
UPDATE — HVT1 HAS LEFT THE BUILDING:
A far more expansive and plausible backgrounder to nabbing Saddsack comes from the LA Times. The report reveals Saddam’s hunters were chasing “Elvis”.
Hussein had long embraced and manipulated the fundamental tribal nature of his land. Like a Mafia don, he surrounded himself with advisors and security staff from about half a dozen staunch tribes of the Tikrit area, his home base north of Baghdad. He sneered at the educated classes and professionals, he despised technocrats, and he kept religious zealots in check.
“Everything was tied to families, how families were linked,” Murphy said. “It was tied to tribes, and the tribal customs they had. And it was tied to money. I figured if we continued to look at those three things — tribes and families and money — that would continue to bring us closer to Saddam. Those were the keys.”
Do you reckon the spinmeisters concluded that it does no harm in the polls for the kids to get busted?
WASHINGTON (Dec. 20) – The son of former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has been charged with marijuana possession.
Albert A. Gore III, 21, was arrested Friday night after he was stopped for driving a vehicle without its headlights on.
Oh no! We don’t want Canadian taddies ooot here.
Male students at a Canadian university are being offered a free two-week holiday in Australia in return for their sperm.
Does it get any lamer than this? Lefty columnist Terry Lane, treading a route taken by thousands of fellow travellers before, shows how intellectually superior he is by taking the (sic) to a correspondent’s missive:
“And was (sic) a sorry day it is for weak, sniviling (sic) and gutless people like you. Terry…”
Ho-bloody-hum! Even the tedious Phat Adams has ceased and desisted on that particular exercise in transparent snobbery.
But the radical reverend is not just smarter than the average Oz critic. He’d have you believe he’s cerebrally superior to a good slice of western civilisation.
But let’s concede that the US and its lickspittle allies are not bad people, merely slow learners.
We are not the ones who armed Saddam to kill Iranians – that was the American government.
As pointed out in an earlier post, the US did supply Iraq with weapons in the period 1973-2002, 1% of its armaments, compared with Russia’s 57%, France’s 13% and China’s 12% contribution.
Would have thought Lane — who presents himself as an intellectual giant — would be on top of those facts. And as a former man of the cloth, he surely wouldn’t lie by omission, would he?
To his credit, he is open and frank on one matter:
“It is true that if I had my way Saddam Hussein would still be dictator.”
And tens of thousands would have met their fate through human shredders, mass graves and torture chambers.
Still, the Rev Lane would have had his way. Nice pile of steaming, ain’t he?
It just gets worse every day for the appeasers.
They said Saddam’s capture wouldn’t amount to diddly and the Arab Street would keep on revolting.
Well, old Gadhafi has figured he’s lost a local threat and there’s no point in a showdown with the Coalition of the Willing. After all, the Lockerbie matter has cost much in dinera and loss of face and gained jack in the way of power, territory or prestige.
And the Palestinians are at least talking about negotiations as the road map again comes out of the glove box.
It’s the 2003 Dishonest Reporting Awards. And the winner is — by the length of the straight — Reuters for this corker:
Iraq has paid millions of dollars to families of Palestinians, including those of suicide bombers, killed by Israeli forces since the start of the uprising in September 2000.
Wasting suicide bombers… that is definitely overkill.
Greg Sheridan in The Australian today (no link as yet) has effectively countered Oz appeaser bleating about “Yes, but who was big pals with Saddam back in the 70s and 80s?”
Sheridan and The Australian’s editorial writer explain that at the time the US and Iraq shared a common foe, theocratic Iran, which humiliated then president Jimmy Carter and helped destroy his presidency by taking the staff of the US embassy in Tehran hostage and holding them for months.
As well, Russia, France and China cuddled up much closer to Iraq in that period than did the US, providing respectively 57%, 13% and 12% of arms to Iraq in the period 1973-2002, compared with the US’s 1%. (Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at http://gareth.drivelwarehouse.com/archives/006353.html#006353).
But you’ll have to read Sheridan’s piece in the dead tree edition of The Inquirer section to find a reminder that will have the Aussie luvvies blushing over 70s Iraq reminiscences.
In 1975, as Australia’s worst Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was bringing the country to its knees, the ALP was finding it hard to stump up the readies for an election campaign. A crazy from the Victorian Socialist Left, Baghdad Bill Hartley, hit on the idea of getting funding from the Iraq Baath Party. Whitlam approved the approach, but it didn’t eventuate. As Sheridan says: “…it remains one of the most bizarre and truly amoral episodes in Australian political history, and one to which contemporary biographers of Whitlam seldom refer.”
Well they wouldn’t, would they?
The Australian editorial continues: “The legitimate national interests of democracies change over time, and US policy on Iraq was as correct then as it is now. Some of the opposition to the war was specifically because the decision to fight was made by a conservative president, George W. Bush.”
Those who would prefer Saddam still in power need reminding that cherished hero of the US left, Franklin Roosevelt, had Stalin as an ally at a time when such a repulsive coupling was deemed necessary.
Gloomseekers soldier on in the glare of positive outcomes.
They may have nabbed King Rat, but there’s still a couple of outstanding matters, letter writer Ian Semmel tells The Australian today: That only leaves the economy, the resistance, oil, social infrastructure, security and democracy to be tackled.
Rowland Ford on the same page demonstrates why it is often preferable to keep your hands off the keyboard and just be thought a fool: Doesn’t look much like a tyrant to me. More like an old man who has lived in a hole in the ground for six months. I wonder how many billions of dollars it cost to find him.
And Greg Jefferys reckons we now need globalisation. Not the free market type, nothing as unrool as that. Greg’s plumping for a new Age of Aquarius: Until the wealthy West, particularly the US, corrects the immense imbalance in the distribution of global resources, the problem of terrorism in its many forms will not be solved. If the US and Britain diverted a reasonable proportion of their military spending into providing health and education services to the Third World, we would see, in a short time, the end of terrorism and the dawn of an age of global peace.
Peggy Noonan, who doesn’t seem to write enough columns these days, eloquently captures the public mood:
Next stop, Osama. May we find him in a hole. May we search his beard for lice and his gums for disease. May we see in the reflection of the light the mouth of hell, and may we close it for him tight.
All the journalists and politicians, they are always embarrassed to feel joy when something like this happens. They fear it will show a lack of understanding that history is a heavy and ponderous thing, a big tragedy machine, and all progress is illusory. Celebrating a military triumph–and this was among other things a military triumph–seems to them tantamount to Kiplingism, quaintly ignorant and unhelpfully nationalistic. That’s why everyone on TV today is furrowing his brow. They know joy is the wrong thing to be feeling. It’s unsophisticated.
But normal people don’t have to be sophisticated. They can be normal. And happy. And say what normal Americans say when something great in history happens. “Thanks, God. Thanks a lot.”