Dirty tricks Down Under as the right-wing Liberal Party of pro-Bush PM John Howard struggles to retain its majority in Parliament. A group of Liberal operatives, one of them married to the local Liberal MP, took it upon themselves to distribute fake pro-jihad flyers in the Sydney suburb of Lyndsay:
Bogus flyers from a fake organisation called the Islamic Australia Federation were distributed through the letterboxes of voters in a marginal seat, claiming the Labor opposition sympathised with Islamic terrorists.
The leaflets referred to the men imprisoned for the 2002 nightclub bomb attacks in Bali, which left more than 200 people dead. The flyers also claimed Labor support for the building of new mosques in the area.
Howard has made it clear the stunt was not authorised by his party, but the damage has been immense. With only two days to go before the country goes to the polls, it overshadowed the prime minister's final rallying call to voters today asking them to trust him with Australia's future.
A team of Labor officials found five men posting the clumsily printed flyers - the phrase Allah Akbar, God is Great, had been misspelled as Ala Akba - through letterboxes in the early hours of the morning.
The effect on Howard's poll numbers has been somewhat less than salutary.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with LGF? Quite a lot, actually. Leaving aside the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will accompany a Labor victory, this is a preview of the sort of election shenanigans that will start erupting in a certain other large democracy any day now -- with, one surmises, the tacit approval of Republican blogger Charles Johnson. One is also reminded of the howls of outrage that greeted another recent dirty-tricks campaign at a university in Washington, the intent of which was to smear conservatives as being rabid, genocidal Muslim-haters. Which couldn't, of course, be further from the truth.
[UPDATE 11/24 - Howard lost; wailing, teeth-gnashing imminent.]