You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

White House Debuts Iraq War Infomercial

WASHINGTON, DC—In an attempt to gain support among idle and sleepless Americans, the Bush Administration made its case for the continuing war in Iraq in a one-hour paid program that premiered early Tuesday morning.

(snip)

The infomercial was interspersed with glowing pretaped testimonials from coalition partners, American soldiers, and Iraqi business leaders. Australian Prime Minister John Howard was particularly kinetic in his endorsement of the Iraq war plan.

"Don and Linda, I'm here to let you in on the world's best-kept secret," said a wide-eyed, floral-shirted Howard from the beautiful Dunk Island resort off the coast of Cairns, Australia. "The strategy for victory in Iraq is working! Last January, Iraqis went to the polls and elected leaders for a transitional government and drafted a working constitution establishing unheard-of rights for the people of Iraq! And in December, they elected representatives to the National Assembly!"

"Amazing!" Howard added, arms outstretched.

Berlin, Paris outraged

According to Obi-L,

“...the mujahideen, by the grace of Allah, have been able to penetrate time after time all the security procedures undertaken by the oppressive countries of the alliance as evidence by what you have seen, in terms of bombings in the capital of the most important European states.”

Representatives fom Germany and France reject the implication that their capitals are not as important as those capitals that have already suffered attacks from al-Qaida, and look forward to attention from the international terrorist mastermind soon.

Madrid and London have no comment.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"But what about the CHILDREN?"

[UPDATE 2:

'The Web site of Ms Magazine – yes, it still exists – is calling on readers to sign a petition: “I have had an abortion. I publicly join the millions of women in the United States who have had an abortion in demanding a repeal of laws that restrict women’s reproductive freedom." Well, so much for the right to privacy. If Ms readers hadn’t had so many abortions, there might be more Ms readers...'

- Julia Gorin, "Petitioning for Life," Wall Street Journal (17 August 2006)

UPDATE 1: It appears that some religious groups, but not others, are permitted to have a view on the morality of abortion.

================================================================

'Lyn Allison was 18 when she found out she was pregnant. Living in Fairfield, Victoria, in the 1960s, the idea of being an unmarried mother was a burden too great for her family to bear. As the Democrats leader revealed in the Senate last night: "An estimated one in three women have had an abortion, and I am one of them." [...] Senator Allison explained her decision to the [Sydney Morning] Herald: "I came from a very conservative family and for them the shame of having a child out of wedlock was unacceptable... I lived near an unmarried mothers' home and they were out of sight in what was effectively an institution. That was never going to be a prospect for me." Her family knew, and her GP referred her, an act that would have been illegal at the time. Having a child at 18 would have changed her life in ways she was not prepared to contemplate. "I probably wouldn't be here [in the Senate]," she said...'

-- Stephanie Peatling, "Revelation adds to emotional debate", Sydney Morning Herald (9 February 2006)

Perhaps not, Senator. On the other hand, there might be one more 40[?]-year-old Democrat voter alive today, to help your party stave off its impending electoral extinction.

Unfortunately for the pro-aborts, in a political system based (assuming that Australia can continue to stave off the imposition of a Bill of Rights) on universal adult suffrage, there's no way around the brute mathematics of "I'm pro-life and I vote... and so do all my kids", no matter how often they repeat the chanted mantra of "Not the Church/ not the state/ Let the Woman/ decide her fate". It is not necessary for the pro-life side to chant back "Children's lives don't/ belong to others/ Not their fathers/ Not their mothers". We just have to be the ones who have children. (With the caveat that you don't of course, have like, fifteen or sixteen kids so they grow up unfed and unclothed and get so pissed off with their deprived "pro-life" upbringing that they turn your society into another Italy, France, Ireland or Quebec in a single generation.)

Having had much experience in my youth with student politicians, I always simply assume that at least half of our MPs at any given time have either aborted a child (if female) or have sired an aborted child (if male). This cuts across Left-Right lines, since the logic of easy abortion is as highly appealing to the Party of Lust as it is to the Party of Greed.

Perhaps we can have similarly rational and impartial debates about the merits of other controversial social policies? Hmmm... "When I was 18, I called an effeminate schoolmate of mine a 'faggot'. The Bill before this House today, by outlawing vilification on the grounds of sexual orientation, would have made me -- and thousands of others like me -- a criminal! A law-breaker! But I'm a law-abiding citizen! Therefore, if what I did would conflict with the law, then the law must be wrong!..." And of course, society is still locking up young unmarried mothers, in what is effectively an institution, just like in Lyn Allison's youth, to brutally punish them for having sex out of wedlock.

I don't really expect much more than this from the Democrats (although I do hope Natasha Stott-Despoja took care to turn down the TV sound in case her baby son [1] hears her telling the world "Mummy might have had you chopped up by the doctor if you'd been inconvenient for her lifestyle"), or from Julia Gillard. But Fiona Nash? One of the few redeeming traits of the Nationals used to be their much-trumpeted attachment to Christian values. If they want to become the party of selfishness on children's rights, as well as tariffs, subsidies and taxes, then to hell with them.

Having said that, the pro-life side seems to be putting a lot of energy into a battle over an essentially short-term and symbolic question: whether it is the Health Minister, or an appointed govt board, that can give final approval to the abortion pill. Even if they win, it could well turn out a pyrrhic victory: Tony Abbott (who seems, given his views on abortion and the monarchy, to be undecided as to whether a person's chances in life should depend on whether they're lucky to be conceived in the right womb) won't be Health Minister forever. As Jackie Kelly noted during the debate, "if you don't like our [current] Health Minister, look in three years' time you can get [Labor's] Julia Gillard as Health Minister."

Moreover, I disagree with the anti-RU486 tack of framing opposition in terms of concern for the woman's health. Not because I want women to bleed to death as punishment for procuring at-home abortions, but because they have voluntarily assumed the risk. Pro-aborts frequently depict anti-aborts as paternalistic chauvinists who don't think adult women can be trusted to make decisions in their own interests; this anti-RU486 argument plays right into the hands of those who peddle this stereotype. Me, I have no doubt that on balance women are as good as men are at making decisions to promote their own interests,[2] at least in the short-term;[3] what I don't buy is the creative Cannoldian line that, if your mother decides to abort you, that's in your interests too. (I am not making that up. Cannold is an ethics lecturer, believe it or not. But then, so is Peter Singer.)

[1] Yes, I know Natty's kid is already out of the womb. But you show me what part of Lyn Allison's Oprahfest limits the logic of her claimed "right to choose" to only children in utero; and a screaming three-year-old would represent a much bigger obstacle to Allison's precious Senate career than would a first-trimester bump, even with morning sickness.

The real reason is not logic or justice, but sentiment, which is the basis of most pro-choice convictions and (coincidentally?) of most Australian Democrat policies. The pro-aborts don't have the guts to say "No, you can't, that would be killing a child" to a pregnant woman. On the other hand, they don't have the guts to actually do the killing themselves, mano a mano (hence the popularity of a pill that does it for you, and the hysteria with which pro-aborts react whenever someone actually publishes a photo of what an aborted foetus looks like). If they had any principles, the pro-aborts would follow (as, to his partial credit, Prof Singer does partly follow) GK Chesterton's suggestion: "Let all babies be born. Then let us drown the ones we do not like."

[2] Except, of course, when women vote for John Howard. Then they're naive dupes of the ruling class, the media and dog-whistle politics.

[3] Avoiding for yourself the costs of bearing any children, or more than one designer child or a pigeon pair, is entirely rational in your own self-interest, even if it depletes your political tribe's electoral clout over the next two or three decades.

PS: Valid comment from John:

There are a number of types of behaviour which are perceived as 'wrong' largely because they carry a risk of self-harm. Quite a number of these are banned by law.... Furthermore, the law intervenes to force people in some limited and usually extreme circumstances to do things they don't want to for their own protection.

I suppose the difference with "Don't have an abortion, it's not safe for you" is that, unlike John's examples, it's seen as "paternalistic" in the most gendered sense: ie, men telling women how to best look after themselves.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Because the Senate is no longer of any concern to them

"... the Daily Kos, the Mos Eisley of the Angry Left..."

-- James Taranto, "Best of the Web", Wall Street Journal (15 February 2006)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

But Blair and Sharon were being, like, so totally bitchy about it

"Hoon starts talks on shortening parliament's summer holiday" -- The Grauniad (15 February 2006)

"I'm gunna **#&@#$#$% well shorten the **#&@#$#$% Parlia-bloody-ment's bloody holiday, eh? eh? eh? C'mon, **#&@#$#$%! I'll have ya!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Colt From Old Regret, However, Refusing To Make Commitment

"Brumby offers Snowy flow assurances", ABC News online (14 February 2006)

By the way, happy 40th anniversary (or for John and Janette Howard, 35th anniversary) of using Australian decimal currency.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Race to the Finnish

Vote Conan!
(No, not Schwarzenegger):

Continuing the blog's policy of exposing the vast, secret conspiracy to clone red-dogs and infitrate them into positions of power and influence, we note without further comment the following news story: US chat show host Conan O'Brien is endorsing the re-election of Finnish President Tarja Halonen on the ground that she looks uncannily like him.

Life vs The Onion: Or, Deadeye Dick

It started as a joke and ended up as a shot heard round the Internet, with the joker losing his job and Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, suffering a blow to its credibility.

A man in Nashville has admitted that, in trying to shock a colleague with a joke, he put false information into a Wikipedia entry about John Seigenthaler Sr, a former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville.

Brian Chase, 38, who until Friday was an operations manager at a small delivery company, told Mr. Seigenthaler on Friday that he had written the material suggesting that Mr. Seigenthaler had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. Wikipedia, a nonprofit venture that is the world's biggest encyclopedia, is written and edited by thousands of volunteers...
- Katharine Q Seelye, "A Little Sleuthing Unmasks Writer of Wikipedia Prank", New York Times (11 December 2005)

Telling reporters and critics to "stick to the issues that matter," Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush declined to answer questions Monday concerning his alleged involvement in a 1984 Brownsville, TX, mass murder, in which 17 people were ritualistically murdered and skinned.

"I will not stoop to discussing that," said Bush during a campaign stop at a Bay Area software-packaging plant. "We've got people across this country without health care, a broken educational system, taxes that are way too high, and all you want to talk about is something that may or may not have happened 16 years ago? I'm sorry, but I find that offensive."

The Bush campaign has found itself increasingly dogged by what is being dubbed "The Mass-Murder Issue." On April 3, 1984, 17 members of Children Of The Fold, a fringe religious group, were found brutally murdered in the basement of the Brownsville apartment building they used as their temple. The bodies were badly mutilated, many with skin removed, and numerous severed legs were nailed to a wall in the configuration of a seven-pointed star, the cult's symbol. Many of the victims' hearts and brains were cut out.

Bush, who lived in the same neighborhood as the sect and reportedly attended several of its meetings, disappeared the night of the slayings and resurfaced three days later, saying that he had "taken a trip to clear his head." A pen from Bush's oil company was found to have been used as a gouging tool in a victim's eye socket, and bloody footprints at the scene were found to match a pair of Bush's shoes. The future governor of Texas was never formally charged, and in October 1984, after a six-month investigation, the case was ruled a mass suicide...

According to political pundits, Bush's dodging of the mass-murder question has damaged his campaign.

"When Bush refuses to answer one way or the other, he comes off as a shady politician who cannot be trusted," said Robert Novak of CNN's The Capital Gang. "He also comes off as an insane mass murderer who kills lots of people and eats them"...
- "Bush 'Refuses To Dignify' Mass-Murder Allegations: 'That's Not What This Election Is About,' He Says" 36(8) The Onion (8 March 2000)

UPDATE: From "Cheney shoots man on Texas quail hunting trip: Man wounded in accidental shooting said to be ‘alert and doing fine’," The Associated Press (12 February 2006):

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets. Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was “alert and doing fine” in a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday after he was shot by Cheney on a ranch in south Texas, said Katharine Armstrong, the property’s owner...


Didn't King Ludwig of Bavaria used to engage in similar activities?

Further comments:

"What? It was DAMN QUAIL you were telling me to shoot at?" -- Cheney to Lloyd Bentsen.

"Next time, have the courtesy to invite him to a family dinner before you shoot him." -- Saddam Hussein

"We can certify quite categorically that the Vice-President of the United States had no involvement whatsoever in this shooting" -- Earl Warren

"No more Brokeback Mountain jokes, smart alec. This was a bona fide hunting trip." -- Mary Cheney

"Whittington was Cuban?" -- Teddy Roosevelt

"That's one-all for the Vice-Presidency now." -- Aaron Burr.

"I can't remember anything clearly... it's a blur... I heard Harry say 'Shoot that bush over there' and the next thing I know, I was screaming 'You damned Manchurian Candidate traitor!" -- Cheney

"Ach, Rishchka, for head-shot, duck gun is useless, no? Glock will do job much faster, yes, more humane." -- Vladimir Putin

"You can't spell 'Corpus Christi' without a 'corpse'..." -- Captain Kirk

"Only an idiot would go duck-hunting with Cheney" -- Antonin Scalia

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sony Gets Priorities Right

Latest news is that Sony has decided to discontinue production of its niche-market robotic toy dog the Aibo. As reported in Forbes, the obligatory Sony spokesperson asserts:

"Aibo has been a very popular product, but we've decided to focus on our core businesses of electronics, games and entertainment, and on profitability and strategic growth."

Hmm, yes. Like opening up a website -
thedavincichallenge.com - to allow Christian apologists and critics to publicly air their views on the soon-to-be-released movie of the Da Vinci Code, addressing its theological and historical claims about Christianity.

Not a bad idea considering another well-known religious group's responses to another media outlet's treatment of their founder.

As one of the anti-Da Vinci Code essayists writes, "Heresy rightfully gets Christians upset, and responding is necessary."

But I don't think we'll see any Sony products being destroyed by rioting Christians. Except, perhaps, the end-of line Aibo. More likely we''ll get some responses sympathetic with how these Japanese consumers felt about the trashing of their favourite non-pet:

"Aibo is so symbolic of Sony quality I'm starting to lose faith in Sony's audiovisual products."

and

"I feel the decision to withdraw from a product that's so representative of Sony heralds an end for Sony as a global leader."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Onion, Life, you know the drill by know...

"BRUSSELS, Belgium - A sculpture of a tied-up Saddam Hussein floating in a water tank was banned by the mayor of a western Belgian town because it was deemed too controversial, an official said Monday.

The sculpture, by Czech artist David Cerny, was to be displayed in the coastal town of Middelkerke during the Beaufort 2006 arts festival starting April 1.

But Middelkerke Mayor Michel Landuyt banned the sculpture from being displayed, fearing the possible reaction [...]. The sculpture depicts Saddam Hussein in underpants with his hands tied behind his back in a shark-like pose, in reference to a famous object by the British artist Damien Hirst, whose tiger shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde was nominated in 1991 for the Turner Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe. [...]"

- "Belgian mayor bans Saddam sculpture: Work of art deemed too ‘controversial, potentially explosive’," Associated Press(6 February 2006)

"WASHINGTON DC — Attendees at the Independence Ball, one of nine officially sanctioned galas celebrating President George W Bush's second inauguration Thursday, will be treated to a viewing of a caged Saddam Hussein, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. [...]"

- "Caged Saddam To Be Highlight Of Inaugural Ball", 41(3) The Onion (19 January 2005)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This, sad to say, is not a parody from "The Onion"

... much as it might read like one:

KENYANS reacting to an offer from New Zealand of dog food to save hungry children have said that they would rather eat dog food than starve to death. “It is better to eat dog’s meat than succumb to death,” said Thomas Oddo, who recently lost a child due to starvation. His comment followed an offer from New Zealand dog food manufacturer Christine Drummond who wants to send food to hungry children on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria. Parents of some of the children said leaders opposed to the offer were only after satisfying their personal egos at the expense of starving millions in the country. “That dogs’ food would save the lives of the malnourished children,” said James Ochieng, speaking on behalf of the parents on Rusinga Island....

- "Starving Kenyans back dog food plan", Daily Telegraph (2 February 2006)