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Wow!

May 9th, 2009

In the Oz of all places, a demolition of Ian Plimer so scathing, and so convincing, that it’s hard to imagine how he can salvage any kind of academic reputation, other than by a full retraction (which would be a pretty impressive move, admittedly).

It starts hardhitting

ONE of the peculiar things about being an astronomer is that you receive, from time to time, monographs on topics such as “a new theory of the electric universe”, or “Einstein was wrong”, or “the moon landings were a hoax”.

The writings are always earnest, often involve conspiracy theories and are scientifically worthless.

One such document that arrived last week was Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth. What makes this case unusual is that Plimer is a professor — of mining geology — at the University of Adelaide. If the subject were anything less serious than the future habitability of the planet Earth, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of writing this review.

and ends the same way:

Plimer probably didn’t expect an astronomer to review his book. I couldn’t help noticing on page120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”. This paper argues that the sun isn’t composed of 98 per cent hydrogen and helium, as astronomers have confirmed through a century of observation and theory, but is instead similar in composition to a meteorite.

It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.

Plimer has done an enormous disservice to science, and the dedicated scientists who are trying to understand climate and the influence of humans, by publishing this book. It is not “merely” atmospheric scientists that would have to be wrong for Plimer to be right. It would require a rewriting of biology, geology, physics, oceanography, astronomy and statistics. Plimer’s book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.

If there are any genuine sceptics left among those who doubt the findings of mainstream science, this piece ought to convince them that Plimer’s work offers them no support, and should lead them to also to dismiss, as unable to tell science from nonsense, the many peddlers of delusion who have promoted this work, such as William Kininmonth. But, at this point, I can confidently predict that nothing will shift the remaining delusionists.

(Hat-tip: Tim Lambert, who notes that this is the latest in a string of pro-science pieces published by the Oz . Perhaps increasingly vocal attacks on the paper’s credibility by scientists and others have been taken to heart.)

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  1. DaveMcRae
    May 10th, 2009 at 18:11 | #1

    Amazing – there’s been, as mention earlier, pieces critical of Pilmer by Dayton and Sandiford in addition to this piece published recently by the Oz.

    I wonder if the Oz may be taking up a scientific, pro-evidence stance as a position to hit Rudd and Labor with, now that Labor is being very sluggish with their greenhouse policies. How’s that for a conspiracy theory – I reckon it’s got legs, it’s one I’d love to see happen and it’s got to better than Pilmer being a later day Cecila Payne (hehe admittedly not hard to beat)

  2. Ikonoclast
    May 10th, 2009 at 18:49 | #2

    Re Ken Lovell’s post at #50. Surely, we can walk and chew gum at the same time!? There’s nothing wrong with the average blog thread jumping around a bit. Most of us are capable of thinking about a main thread and few side issues at the same time. It’s not as if blogging is a super-formal medium.

    Footnote: In chess notation !? usually means “Interesting move”.

  3. jquiggin
    May 10th, 2009 at 19:53 | #3

    “My reading is that Turnbull on CC will drag the delusionist rump of the L/NP kicking and screaming into the 20thC, just as he did on IR. He deserves a bit of credit for having a go. It would be nice if Left-wing intellectuals acknowledged his national-historic contribution.”

    Let him actually deliver on CC, and he’ll get ample acknowledgement from me.

  4. May 10th, 2009 at 20:11 | #4

    Jack quite a few members of the opposition spent the years since 2001 perceiving their role to be loyal members of the Canberra branch of the US Republican Party. They have shown no signs since 2007 of any capacity to think independently about anything, so since the Republicans’ response to AGW still consists of vague projects to become energy self-sufficient coupled with cranky complaints about the science not being settled yet and sneers at Al Gore, I don’t expect rationality to overtake our local ‘conservatives’ any time soon.

    Ikonoclast I don’t know who ‘we’ are in your comment. The fact that many blog comment threads get hopelessly derailed by trolls who change the subject is so empirically obvious it surely doesn’t need elaboration or justification.

  5. Donald Oats
    May 10th, 2009 at 20:35 | #5

    If the ETS/CPRS starts after the next election, it obviously allows both major parties to use AGW policy as part of the next round of election promises. Assuming that Malcolm Turnbull is still the Liberal leader by then, I would imagine a simple strategy for him is to point out that Labor broke their ETS promises – a bit of spincycle and he may be able to make some mileage out of it. Copenhagen is going to be very important for Labor if it is to have a credible leg to stand on during the next election campaign.
    The media line on this will come straight from the Australian Climate Coalition evangelists, just as it has for the last several years.

    Of course, Labor can always retort with the Liberal’s sinking of Kyoto and relentless denial that there even was an AGW issue in the first place…and then Turnbull has the problem of some very niggly NP/LP members who organise meetings with the likes of Carter et al and call it education on climate science.

  6. May 10th, 2009 at 22:21 | #6

    # 55 Ken Lovell Says: May 10th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Jack quite a few members of the opposition spent the years since 2001 perceiving their role to be loyal members of the Canberra branch of the US Republican Party. They have shown no signs since 2007 of any capacity to think independently about anything,

    so since the Republicans’ response to AGW still consists of vague projects to become energy self-sufficient coupled with cranky complaints about the science not being settled yet I don’t expect rationality to overtake our local ‘conservatives’ any time soon.

    Come now Ken, you can do better than rattling off Green talking points.

    No doubt “some members of the Opposition” have spent the better part of their political lives channeling the REP’s parallel universe. They are doing nothing worse than faithfully reflecting the weird and wonderful views of some numbers of their constituents. Lot of middle-aged male cranks out there and CC delusionism is a good way to rally them to your flyer hand-out brigade.

    But the bulk of the L/NP are not strongly invested in a thorough-going CC world-view one way or another. They probably just wish the issue would go away.

    Howard is in the latter category. Although his natural bias against imposing costly government rules on Big Business made him loath to implement any kind of CPRS.

    Howard was not, contrary to Ozblogospheric opinion, a faithful acolyte of the REPs. He was a hard-nosed Machiavellian realist in most matters of state. (An attribute of his political MO that I regard as mostly a feature, rather than a bug.)

    For sure he sent the ADF to Iraq – to the safest place in Iraq where the worst risk appears to have been skin cancer.

    And no doubt he dragged his feet on signing Kyoto. But Rudd’s CPRS Mk I shows that AUS politicians do not have to be Bush flunkies to produce lame efforts in that department. (remember Garrett signed onto 15% cuts).

    And of course Howard ran the L/NP into Gun Control and GST, major policy initiatives that are anathema to any rock-ribbed REP worth his salt.

    Since the 2007 election the more extremist members of the L/NP have rejoined the reality-based community for long enough to stop the Self-Inflicted Wounding of Work Choices. This was an article of faith amongst the L/NP True Believers. So it follows that signing onto an effective CPRS will be a much more trifling offence.

    I therefore predict that, if they are sensible, the L/NP will eventually sign onto such an instrument sometime between now and 2010 election. If they are as silly as Ken Lovell suggests then the L/NP will suffer a monumental defeat in 2010, instead of just a routine one.

    That will make an L/NP cave-in on CPRS a no-brainer in the inevitable 2011 L/NP leadership spill. (In which Costello is likely to be a contender.)

    Either way I predict a CPRS is coming to an L/NP branch near you sometime in the next couple of years.

    So lets can the “Howard-L/NP are Bush poodles” meme thats been bouncing around the Ozblogosphere for the better part of a decade. Its what the host of this blog might call a “refuted political doctrine”.

  7. May 10th, 2009 at 22:38 | #7

    I’m totally confused by the SJ comments which don’t appear to be contradictory at all. I did under the influence of too much Saturday Night Pinot Noir oversell myself I confess!

    Payne was not destroyed but as commented above forced by her thesis adviser to post mitigating comments that her findings may be wrong. Regardless the history of science is to be wary of the consensus when it becomes personal and polital. No! I do not need to be a climate ‘denialist’ to hold that position!

    My principal reference after tearing my bookshelf to pieces was “E=Mc2 Biography of an Equation” by David Bodanis. However I’m very intriqued that other commentators managed to find something in my wrongly quoted reference an post it? How odd indeed!

  8. paul walter
    May 10th, 2009 at 23:27 | #8

    Re Jack Strocchis ealier comments, Imho there has been a battle heating up behind the scenes at he OZ between the blowhards and the broadsheeters; the later people who try to report and discuss objectively, with the reader in mind rather than vested interests whose interests are catered to at the expense of, the reader.
    As the neo con regime world wide fell in the later part of this decade thru exactly the sort of denialism discussed in these threads, the likes of say, a Mike Steketee become more important for a papers credibility; therefore hopefully less dispensable.
    Some at these outlets themselves, realise it just can’t be wall to wall Albrechtsen, Bolt, etc. People seek out media and press for information and just can’t make objective decsion based on information-devoid ideology and propaganda alone. They are increasingly looking elsewhere for the truth on issues, hence the success of sites like this.
    The tabloidist are now faced with the decison of reverting to broadsheet when they no longer have a captive market, and forgoing a few bribes along the way, or just becoming even more sidelined and irrelevant than they already are.

  9. Stephen L
    May 11th, 2009 at 00:05 | #9

    Leigh Dayton is a good science journalist. Probably very embarrassed by the rubbish published on the Australian’s opinion pages every day and no doubt relished a change to respond. The Australian has good segments, that survive beside the rubbish on in the main section, perhaps because they pull in readers that keep the whole thing afloat.

    I can’t say for sure that Plimer is right-wing generally, but he has always peppered his lectures with attacks on anything associated with the environmental movement. Oddly, the Liberal students complaining about left wing bias on university campuses never mentioned him, even though his behaviour was more serious than most of the cases they raised.

  10. Ken Miles
    May 11th, 2009 at 01:05 | #10

    One possibility for the Australia’s publication of these three pro-science articles is that they couldn’t really not have Leigh Dayton write a article, and they may well have fallen for their own propaganda – that climate scientists ignore massive amounts of evidence from geology and solar physics; and commissioned reviews from a geologist and physicist in the expectation that they would give support to Plimer. If that is the case, then the joke is really on them.

  11. May 11th, 2009 at 01:39 | #11

    Bill Hicks would have put it thusishly:

    “By the way if anyone here works for Murdoch… kill yourself.

    No, no, no it’s just a little thought. I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can. Kill yourself.

    Seriously though, if you are, do.

    Aaah, no really, there’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. Okay – kill yourself – seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously. No this is not a joke, you’re going, “there’s going to be a joke coming,” there’s no fu*king joke coming. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are fu*ked and you are fu*king us.

    Kill yourself. It’s the only way to save your fu*king soul, kill yourself.

    Planting seeds. I know all the Murdoch people are going, “he’s doing a joke…” there’s no joke here whatsoever. Suck a tail-pipe, fu*king hang yourself, borrow a gun from a Yank friend – I don’t care how you do it. Rid the world of your evil fu*king machinations.

    I know what all the Murdoch spin people are thinking right now too, “Oh, you know what Bill’s doing, he’s going for that anti-Murdoch dollar. That’s a good market, he’s very smart.”

    Oh man, I am not doing that. You fu*king evil scumbags!

    “Ooh, you know what Bill’s doing now, he’s going for the righteous indignation dollar. That’s a big dollar. A lot of people are feeling that indignation. We’ve done research – huge market. He’s doing a good thing.”

    Godammit, I’m not doing that, you scum-bags! Quit putting a godamm dollar sign on every fu*king thing on this planet!

    “Ooh, the anger dollar. Huge. Huge in times of recession. Giant market, Bill’s very bright to do that.”

    God, I’m just caught in a fu*king web.”

    [Murdochians]: “OK, it’s safe to bring out Plimer now, they’re beaten into an apoplexy of paroxisms of catatonia and are as powerless as kittens.”

    RIP Bill Hicks

    Long Live: http://www.stopmurdoch.blogspot.com

  12. Chris O’Neill
    May 11th, 2009 at 02:43 | #12

    KitchenSlut:

    Payne was not destroyed but as commented above forced by her thesis adviser to post mitigating comments that her findings may be wrong.

    The great irony of this example is that Plimer is still saying Payne was wrong. I guess that makes Plimer part of the old consensus so we should be wary of him on that basis alone.

  13. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    May 11th, 2009 at 07:27 | #13

    As Uncle Milton (9) says, Mitchell would almost certainly have first read the review on Saturday morning. The Weekend Australian is, firstly, not as greatly supervised by him as the weekday Oz is(Nick Caton edits the Weekend paper, and his editorials are actually more extreme than Mitchell’s!), and secondly it was in the Review section.

    We shouldn’t see larger, more absolute conspiracies than we need to. My guess is that Mitchell keeps a very tight rein on the op ed page, but the Weekend Review has a reasonable degree of independence.

  14. jquiggin
    May 11th, 2009 at 08:47 | #14

    Either way I predict a CPRS is coming to an L/NP branch near you sometime in the next couple of years.

    So lets can the “Howard-L/NP are Bush poodles” meme thats been bouncing around the Ozblogosphere for the better part of a decade. Its what the host of this blog might call a “refuted political doctrine”.

    Well, no. At present, with Coalition pollies pushing Plimer’s book, the doctrine looks pretty good. If and when your prediction comes true, the doctrine will need re-examination.

  15. May 11th, 2009 at 09:42 | #15

    Jack if you’re implying that George W Bush was ever in any sense the leader of the Republican Party, I’m afraid you see him in a very different light to me.

    Your examples of GST and gun control pre-date the Bush Administration. From September 2001 onwards, Howard and Downer were committed fellow-travellers of the American Enterprise Institute and all the accompanying rhetoric about global wars on terror and preventing the new caliphate and removing civil rights in the name of national security and preserving Western values about things like the sanctity of marriage and denying the reality of AGW. Anyone who believes these were all independent Howard Government initiatives that just happened to coincide with similar developments in Washington has an interpretation of recent history that I don’t share.

    It’s significant I think that Howard now seems to spend much of his time hanging around the AEI and the Hoover Institution, getting prizes for his contributions to the preservation of freedom and engaging in mutual admiration exercises with wingnut pundits. It’s not for nothing he and Downer were consistently singled out by the likes of Mark Steyn as beacons of courage and wisdom in the global sea of America-hating liberal decadence.

  16. Crispin Bennett
    May 11th, 2009 at 10:49 | #16

    That review supplied me with the cheeriest Sat breakfast read I’ve had for a while (certainly from the Oz).

    It’s a tad empty though. I suspect the denialists gain some of their ability to bombasticate in the face of overwhelming evidence from their sure knowledge that absolutely nothing significant is going to be done about GW, regardless of who ‘wins’ the intellectual victory.

  17. Eat The Rich
    May 11th, 2009 at 15:19 | #17

    The sun is made of iron and the moon is made of cheese. Thanks Ian! If I leave a stocking by the mantlepiece will you come and fill it for me?

  18. May 11th, 2009 at 21:38 | #18

    Just repeating myself.

    What evidence is there that Plimer is right wing? I’m not saying that he isn’t, I just wonder whether it is a well founded assertion.

  19. jquiggin
    May 11th, 2009 at 22:04 | #19

    Terge, I was a bit ambiguous there. I meant to suggest (@ #32) that Plimer shared the tribal hostility to environmentalists that is fairly common among mining geologists of a certain age. I don’t have any information about his politics.

  20. May 12th, 2009 at 09:57 | #20

    # 65 jquiggin Says: May 11th, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Well, no. At present, with Coalition pollies pushing Plimer’s book, the doctrine looks pretty good. If and when your prediction comes true, the doctrine will need re-examination.

    I wouldnt attach much significance to Ron Boswell launching Ian Pilmers book. Thats just Ronny being Ronny, dont pay him any mind.

    The “Bush-poodle” theory of Howard-L/NP policy making depended on two, and really only two, big data points: Howard’s failure to sign Kyoto/develop an effective CPRS and his eagerness to join the Coalition attack on Iraq. All the rest is just Howard-hating hog-wash – trumping up a case based on the inevitable parallels bw English-speaking Right-wing parties.

    Both data points look pretty threadbare and insubstantial in retrospect.

    Re Iraq: It was obvious to me from the beginning that the ADF’s participation in Iraq-attack was token, based on standard military alliance politics. Results speak for themselves: ADF battle fatalities in Iraq = 0.

    Re CC: Since the election the L/NP have been in the throes of shrugging off Howard’s “doolittle-delay” legacy on CC. But, it turns out, so have the ALP! No one suggested that Rudd-ALP were “Bush-poodles” when they put 5%-15% on the table.

    It follows that the L/NP’s CC lead-dragging has a political cause that lies much closer to home than the purported poodle-heeling powers of the Bush-REPs. Its hardly a dirty little secret that we are a nation of energy miners and outer-suburban petrol-heads.

    These constituencies form important parts of the bases of both major parties. Its not surprising that getting effective CC policy out of them is like pulling teeth.

    Even so, I predict that the L/NP will soon come around to CC goodness, just as the ALP have. My prediction, based on Convergence theory, is that the L/NP will sign onto some form of effective CPRS by 2011.

    If they are sensible they will sign onto one before the 2010 in order to narrow that points of electorally damaging difference bw them and the ALP. If they are silly they will drag their feet on CC and get wiped out in the 2010 election. The 2011 leadership spill will be the L/NP’s last chance to salvage CC policy credibility from the political wreckage.

    At that point we can declare the “Bush poodle” theory of L/NP policy making a “refuted political doctrine”.

    If, OTOH, the upper-ranks of the L/NP are still buggerising around with CC delusionism in 2011-12 (in the way that REPs are still dabbling with the Laffer Curve in 2009), then yes, I will concede that the “Bush-poodle” theory has legs. Only a party which has drunk deeply from the Bush-REP well of Kool Aid could go that far off the deep end.

    But it ain’t gonna happen. The L/NP are largely made up of sensible politicians eg Turnbull. And, more to the point, they represent sensible people. These good folk dont want their political agents to disappear down the same electoral black hole that the REPs are being sucked into.

  21. Chris O’Neill
    May 12th, 2009 at 12:00 | #21

    I wouldnt attach much significance to Ron Boswell launching Ian Pilmers book. Thats just Ronny being Ronny, dont pay him any mind.

    And Barnaby being Barnaby of course, don’t forget him. And unless you’ve heard anything to the contrary, opinions of people like Jensen and Minchin haven’t changed substantially.

    The L/NP are largely made up of sensible politicians eg Turnbull.

    Maybe, but they still have a large minority that deny climate science and are just putting on a front.

  22. May 12th, 2009 at 17:43 | #22

    Chris O’Neill Says: May 12th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Maybe, but they still have a large minority that deny climate science and are just putting on a front.

    Probably true. But who cares what L/NP politicians really think on CC. They are paid to represent their constituents views.

    And most of their constituents are ecological realists and are more or less shifting to the Left on CC. The latest Newspoll on CC put L/NP voter support for a CPRS at 78%. Thats only going to get larger, especially as global support for such schemes gathers momentum.

    These voters include folk not without influence in the counsels of power in the L/NP hierarchy. Such as blue-rinse set of avid gardeners (Elizabeth Murdoch), Doctors Wives and the current inmates of the tonier private schools.

    The latter category are really critical. They are getting CC realism shoved down their throat every day at school, take it from me I have professional experience in this area. Come the time they put their voting preferences on Facebook they wont be voting for a delusionist party.

  23. Ken
    May 13th, 2009 at 00:51 | #23

    GC wrote (#25): “What on Earth is this rubbish about Cecilia Payne? What does she have to do with Ian Plimer’s dodgy book?”

    As the lawyer joke goes, when the facts are on your side, pound on the facts; when the law is on your side, pound on the law; and when neither is on your side, pound on the table.

  24. May 13th, 2009 at 14:57 | #24

    “HOWARD A BUSH POODLE” – A REFUTED POLITICAL DOCTRINE

    This thread is as good a venue as any to tackle the “Howard a Bush-poodle” meme thats been richocheting around the Left-wing Echo Chamber for almost a decade. The evidence for this meme was always based on flimsy analogies and re-hash of post-seventies ideological neuroses.

    Ken Lovell and Pr Q’s constant refrain that “Howard was a Bush-poodle” is not only mainly wrong, it is almost the opposite of the truth. In fact the Howard-L/NP is strikingly different from Bush-REPs in both policy substance, although there were some similarities in political style. There are some policy paralells, this is only because Anglophone Right-wing parties obviously bear a family resemblance.

    # 66 Ken Lovell Says: May 11th, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Jack if you’re implying that George W Bush was ever in any sense the leader of the Republican Party, I’m afraid you see him in a very different light to me.

    GWB was a typical leader of the (Southern-based, populist-styled, Gingrich-led) REPs, as they evolved after the end of the Cold War. Until he tried to force an Amnesty bill through Congress he never had a serious revolt from his party’s base. The REPs could have pushed GWB out of the Presidency in 2004. But they stuck by him because the party machine wanted to privatise Social Security.

    Ken Lovell says:

    Your examples of GST and gun control pre-date the Bush Administration.

    And the Howard-L/NP’s gun-controlling, sales-taxing policies were implacably maintained post-dating the Bush administration with no hint of back-sliding. You just can’t wish away contradictory evidence with a wave of the hands.

    Ken Lovell says:

    From September 2001 onwards, Howard and Downer were committed fellow-travellers of the American Enterprise Institute and all the accompanying rhetoric about global wars on terror and preventing the new caliphate and removing civil rights in the name of national security and preserving Western values about things like the sanctity of marriage and denying the reality of AGW.

    My conservative American friends and colleagues always laugh when I tell them about the way the AUS Left try and tar Howard with the Bush brush. They dream about American being ruled by a solidly conservative and sensible Centre-Right party, such as the Howard-L/NP. Bush’s whole program is a violation of basic conservative principles. Thats why old-fashioned conservatives started the American Conservative.

    For sure in two fundamental areas, the Howard-L/NPs followed the Bush-REPs suit in Kyoto and Iraq. But Rudd was not much better (is he a Bush-poodle?) on CPRS. And the ADFs participation in Iraq (battle fatalities = 0) was token.

    All the other parallels are policies that any Right-wing party would do if they were attempting to mollify their base. Gotta toss the true-believers some red meat now and again.

    What is really striking about the Howard-L/NP is how different it was from the Bush-REPs in the latters absolutely key and signature policies:

    – Invading the world
    – Inviting the world
    – Indebting the world

    Howard, in contrast to Bush’s extravagant militarism, sent the ADF into battle with a circumscribed mission, tailored to fit AUS’s national interest and well-managed to minimise casualties.

    Howard, in contrast to Bush’s indulgent Open Borders, imposed stringent Border Security policies and ensured that such immigration that occurred was regulated to select higher-quality applicants.

    Howard, in contrast to Bush’s reckless fiscal improvidence, generally ran surpluses and eventually paid off most of the Commonwealth’s debt.

    The results speak for themselves. The ADF’s missions have been more or less successfully completed, the immigration program has more than achieved its goals of keeping a lid on wages and raising the ceiling on rents and the AUS economy has ridden out the worst of the GFC pretty much unscathed.

    Ken Lovell says:

    Anyone who believes these were all independent Howard Government initiatives that just happened to coincide with similar developments in Washington has an interpretation of recent history that I don’t share.

    THe similarities bw Howard-L/NP and Bush-REP were more in political style than policy substance. Howard-L/NP copied the successful tactics of Nixonland REP’s red-neck populism “wedge” tactics through the nineties. Hence the constant appeal to “battlers”.

    But even here the parallels fail. Bush, if anything, was a died in the wool multiculturalist and passed off the opportunity to play any race or religion cards. The Howard-L/NP were certainly not guilty of any lapses from the Nixonland playbook in that respect.

    Undoubtedly they got their hands dirty playing “hardball” with racist innuendoes such as “children overboard”. But its probably no accident that AUS authorities did not have to deal with too much unruliness by urban minorities, including the home-grown terrorism suffered by Londoners.

    Whether it was worth breaking those politically correct eggs to get that civil order omelette is a judgement I leave to others.

    Ken Lovell says:

    It’s significant I think that Howard now seems to spend much of his time hanging around the AEI and the Hoover Institution, getting prizes for his contributions to the preservation of freedom and engaging in mutual admiration exercises with wingnut pundits. It’s not for nothing he and Downer were consistently singled out by the likes of Mark Steyn as beacons of courage and wisdom in the global sea of America-hating liberal decadence.

    I attach v. little significance to the victory lap that Howard is running around his old haunts in Washington. He has obviously been spurned by domestic intelligentsia. Howard was a solid ally to the US during a time of need. This is something that he believed in personally, but it does not mean it was against AUS’s political interest.

    Again: Left critics need to show where Howard followed Bush for reasons of personal, rather than national, interest. So far they have not done that in the areas of Iraq or Climate Change where domestic political factors are sufficient to explain L/NP policy.

    (The L/NP’s military procurement policies are another matter.)

  25. paul walter
    May 13th, 2009 at 18:30 | #25

    Strocchi:
    “…critics need to show where Howard followed Bush for reasons of personal rather than national, interest”.
    But Jack, might not Janet have something to say on this?
    Not flattering for this afforementioned redoubtable flower of Australian womanhood if investigated too closely, one might feel?

  26. Alice
    May 13th, 2009 at 21:36 | #26

    Its actually Janet thats the Bush poodle. Howard was really a Janet poodle.

  27. Alice
    May 13th, 2009 at 21:38 | #27

    Which is even worse.

  28. May 13th, 2009 at 22:18 | #28

    The “Howard a Bush-poodle” meme just does not have enough contentful predictive power to justify the amount of pixels flying around cyber-space. This theory:

    – predicts L/NP-REP similarities that are inconsequential (such as Kyoto and Iraq)

    – cannot account for L/NP-REP dissimilarities that are consequential (such as invading, inviting and indebting the world).

    The L/NP will not be like the REPs for the forseeable future because demography is destiny. The demographics of AUS’s Right-wing voters are profoundly different from the demographics of the US’s Right-wing voters. The racial and religious divides bw the parties are just not that deep.

    AUS is a highly urbanised, fairly homogenised, well-educated and state-broken society. There just isn’t the market for Right-wing craziness here.

    Of course if we continue to head down the path of the US – recklessly promoting multicultural diversity and sub-cultural perversity – then we will get to Nixonland soon enough. That is the project of the Cultural Left-liberals, one guaranteed to bring about the political cleavage that they ostensibly fear and loath.

    Perhaps that explains my obsessive contempt for this species of political animal.

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