Home > Economics - General > The lunatics have taken over the asylum

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

November 27th, 2009

A day ago, it looked as if Malcolm Turnbull could survive at least long enough to implement his deal with Labor, a deal that would deliver a drastically weakened emissions trading scheme with massive overcompensation of every possible big business interest. It would be marvellous to report that a popular uprising against rent-seeking lobby groups changed all this. But, in fact, Turnbull’s leadership has been rendered untenable by a Liberal Party base, and commentariat, that has entered a state of collective insanity in which the most absurd conspiracy theories are taken as a starting point for reasoning. Over time on this blog, I’ve seen even seemingly sensible commenters of a libertarian or conservative cast of mind succumb to this tribalist lunacy. The handful who have resisted (hi, Tokyo Tom) are increasingly regarded as “beyond the pale”.

From delusional beliefs on climate science follow equally delusional beliefs on political strategy, symbolised by the 37 votes for a Kevin Andrews spill yesterday and by the apparent certainty that, assuming Turnbull holds his ground, a majority of Liberals will vote for the delusionist candidate, Tony Abbott

Amazingly, even the editorialist at the Oz, whose columnists have uniformly promoted delusional conspiracy theories recognises the hopelessness of such a stance. as the Oz says

In truth, there is nowhere for Coalition members to go on this issue, other than to support the amended and improved bill and claim as their work the concessions they have wrung from the government. The introduction of a cap-and-trade ETS has been bipartisan policy for more than two years and it is supreme folly for rebels within the Liberals to believe they can go to an election as the destroyers, rather than the enablers, of such a scheme.

There may be room for the Nationals to argue against an ETS in the bush, but it is politically naive to think that voters in the inner-city areas of Melbourne and Sydney would welcome such regressive policies from their MPs. How exactly would Mr Abbott, for example, propose campaigning on this issue in seats such as North Sydney and Wentworth, where Liberal voters are determined to see action on climate change? Having a bob each way on the issue will not go down well with voters who have followed the debate and who expect, as Mr Turnbull says, responsible political parties to take responsible action

There is no reasoning with lunatics, and my attempts to do so have gone nowhere. At this point, we just have to hope that they will remain, as they are at present, in the minority, and that they can be kept as far as possible from political power.

There’s no guarantee that sanity will prevail. As the conman in Huckleberry Finn says ‘Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” But, as I recall, he ends up tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

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  1. Glenn Tamblyn
    November 27th, 2009 at 22:26 | #1

    Oh Boy

    What I wouldn’t give to have old Samual sitting up in the press gallery, sending some dispatches out to the world..

    It does raise a fundamental problem in any representative democracy – the people who put their hand up in the air asking for the job are probably the least qualified. If you want the job, we don’t want you.

  2. Freelander
    November 27th, 2009 at 23:01 | #2

    Even those in the general population who may have believed that there is still a debate about AGW (simply because some in authority have been saying there is) are changing their minds as a result of casual empiricism. Shrinking Arctic ice cap, collapsing Antarctic iceshelfs, icebergs at unusual latitudes, extreme weather events and the cascade of weather records being set, the ‘everything is fine’, the ‘scientists don’t know what they are talking about’, the ‘actually it has been cooling for the last decade’ mantra is wearing thin. Having reached a point of extreme psychological crisis and facing the crushing humiliation of being so very wrong, the deniers are desperately trying to convince others in the hope that if others believe their delusion then their delusion must be true. Simply pitiful if it weren’t so serious.

    With egos so vast the pain must be unbearable.

  3. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 27th, 2009 at 23:12 | #3

    John, I don’t remember how many of the Liberal lunatics objected to Howard’s ETS but Turnbull has not been the one doing an about face and/or creating mischief, if anything it has been the neo-conservative illywackers flipping out and going beserk.

  4. paul walter
    November 27th, 2009 at 23:30 | #4

    Some of above was just considered on Lateline the form of a conversation between Laura Tingle (not norder!), the relatively educated small “c” fairfax broadsheet journo, and that abject failure of humanity, Peter van Onselen.
    Van Onselen’s contribution was limited to a presentation of his masters voice, the Murdoch spin on the issue, including. “Malcolm is a rampaging beast of a Caliban because he won’t kiss Wilson’s butt”. Also something approaching something along the lines of the motley crew of sociopathic backstabbers and wingnuts as somehow”heroic” in “standing up ” to this raging cyclops of a Turnbull.

  5. Freelander
    November 27th, 2009 at 23:38 | #5

    @Michael of Summer Hill

    I think the ‘flipping out and going beserk’ has been precipitated by the ‘illywackers’ frightening realisation that they have been wrong all along. They are suffering not just a ‘crisis of faith’ (as those faith-based individuals do from time to time) they are also recognising their looming humiliation, which will be not only be public and contemporary, but will also be their only legacy – a legacy which will presist in the Australian psyche for several generations.

  6. Freelander
    November 27th, 2009 at 23:41 | #6

    @paul walter

    I am always amused that Abbot considers himself a source of moral leadership. Maybe a case of punch-drunk self-love?

  7. paul walter
    November 27th, 2009 at 23:44 | #7

    And isn’t that getting fairly close to the common definition of “sociopath”, Freelander?

  8. Freelander
    November 28th, 2009 at 00:53 | #8

    @paul walter

    I think some sociopaths are more self aware, although they do share Tony’s self love and do have a flexible take on right and wrong. He may suffer from what Dr Nelson diagnosed his colleague as having – a narcissistic personality disorder. However, young Tony doesn’t seem to have the sensitivity to criticism associated with that disorder, so maybe you are right. Maybe we need a second opinion?

  9. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 01:13 | #9

    Freelander, re sensitivity to criticism, methinks that beneath that bland exterior is an individual quite capable of explosive violence, should the opportunity ever present. If the impluse there is well governed than we accede, but then I wonder if it’s been put to the test in an out of ordinary situation, yet (for that pathology).
    And I found Abbott’s responses with the media after that metaphorical knifing of Turnbull, just a bit disturbing.

  10. Donald Oats
    November 28th, 2009 at 04:41 | #10

    What can I say? Lunatics all, and once again it looks like the Liberals beat down the wishes of the people concerning environmental issues, in this case the big one of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Under the previous Liberal government, they managed to scupper the Australian opportunity at Kyoto and to convert it into a massive delay of 12 years of forgetting about the issue. Meanwhile the evidence has kept stacking up.

    Now, from opposition no less, the Liberals intend again to thwart the will of the people. Except, it is a very specific subset of Liberals who are attempting this over the still warm body of Turnbull. Nick “The Knife” Minchin, and his band of Merry Mice have a lot to gloat about. And the best they can come up with is that AGW involves a global conspiracy to install a world government by stealth. I’ve gone from rage at these marauders to complete contempt.

    Still, at least the sun is coming up again. Some things never change.

  11. Sarah Palin Fan
    November 28th, 2009 at 05:33 | #11

    Donald, I feel that contempt of yours is a big factor in what has got the blogosphere fired up right now.
    Hide the decline,also.

  12. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 05:36 | #12

    And on the subject of cowardice and lack of integrity, how many noticed that sly, sleight of hand delivery of reactionary social policy released by that gutless creature Macklin under cover of darkness, the other day?
    Hope people follow up on an article about this by Rachel Siewert, 26/11, in New Matilda, entitled,”Macklin announces massive changes to welfare”.

  13. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 05:41 | #13
  14. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 06:01 | #14

    @paul walter
    Paul – that is really quite pathetic. Did you know also that Mt Isa is coping with people moving into town to get away from the Northern Territory Intervention? Reports says its 100 to 1000 a week. Jenny Macklin kindly donated the princely sum of $10,000 to help support services there cope.

    That was mighty generous of her (not). Still, I suppose they can buy an extra desk and a couple of chairs with the money.

    And they want to extend this to the whole of Australia including single mums, newstart and youth allowance recipients. Has Rudd’s govt gone “rightly” mad also or do they just like the interest income they get from quarantined welfare benefits?? Is it a grab from and a kick to the poorest? Has Coles and Woolies got in Macklin’s ear because they like the voucher system for food purchases – especially when you can only use them at Coles and Woolies?

    Macklin – wake up. You are sleep walking.

  15. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 06:35 | #15

    In what sense do you mean”pathetic”, Alice? ( BTW, were you “lurking”?)
    “Pathetic” as a response to the despicable Intervention, or Sen. Siewert’s article at New Matilda ” that speaks my viewpoint. Btw if you mean that I’M pathetic, I’ll stick to Siewert over wretched neolib thieves, any day.

    “Through this change in policy the government is not so much moving away from discrimination against Aboriginal people as expanding its dicrimination to include a wider group of low income and disadvantaged”.

    I further applaud Siewert for the following:

    ” Rather than punishing low income families, the government should be dealing with the underlying causes of neglect and delivering proper support for families in crisis”.
    Of course, if the government REALLY wanted to end discrimination and institute equity prior to “reform”, it could put aborigines up on the same, more comfortable level as white Dolies, which in turn could be brought up to the princely amount of disability pensioners on whose REAL income level, couild be forgiven for a little “special pleading”, dont you think?
    One suposes theyhave to find the money topay off big coal soomehow, but why not middle and corporate welfare rather than those least able to cope. This is just Howardism botoxed.
    Its about straightjacketed adherence to and implemetation of neolib ideology followed not only be the cretin coalition, but a dominant chunk of New Labor.

    I call this part of the unhalted “Hicks /Haneef-isation” of Australian law as extended to other groups as Howard (and Rudd?) originally intended for other “undeserving” groups.
    Why chase Abbott when we alreadyy have Macklin and Rudd?

  16. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 07:05 | #16

    @paul walter
    I meant Macklins changes pathetic Paul (not your comment- and Im very glad you raised the matter and posted the link) but on looking back I can see the first line not at all clear.

  17. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 07:10 | #17

    If they go to a DD Paul they can expect to deal with more Greens. Excellent response from Siewert.

  18. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 07:28 | #18

    I worked out you weren’t picky, its just not you.
    But my comment required FULL grumpyhood- at least 300 oaf power- to assuage righteous indignation and lift a dinkum down cast expression.

  19. Jill Rush
    November 28th, 2009 at 07:29 | #19

    The lunatics have the belief that by playing to the most ignorant that they are protecting their seats. However they are looking so much like madmen that they are likely to be displaced by independents. At least with an independent you know that they will not follow along party lines and character comes into it.

    The lunatics at this point think they are playing to their constituencies. However it is more likely that those who thnk differently are just not saying anything to them because why waste your time and effort on a lost cause.

  20. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 28th, 2009 at 07:36 | #20

    John, it seems like lunacy continues for if anyone has been ‘spooked’ it has been the neo-conservative illywackers and not Turnbull. Have some get it wrong.

  21. ken n
    November 28th, 2009 at 07:50 | #21

    JQ, the title to this post and the use of the term “lunatic” are examples of the kind of behavior that SANE Australia is trying to stop with its StigmaWatch programme.
    I don’t think you would refer to any other illness with such outdated and offensive terminology.
    Why use mental illness is this way?
    I suggest that you read the relevant parts of SANE’s website.
    A small donation to their good work would be appreciated.

  22. Hermit
    November 28th, 2009 at 08:01 | #22

    The recalcitrant group of Liberals remind of TV docos on dinosaurs. The lumbering beasts line up at the shrinking waterhole to sip the last few drops. Meanwhile shooting stars can be seen in the distant sky. They don’t know what’s about to hit them.

  23. Hal9000
    November 28th, 2009 at 08:18 | #23

    The ABC PM program last night pointed the finger at Andrew Bolt as a major driving force behind the emails deluging the opposition denialists, encouraging them in the further delusion that their position is popular. Blot himself sounded completely demented, chuckling at inappropriate moments, claiming that Tim Flannery had gone over to his side and that the world is cooling etc etc. Yeats’s line about the worst being full of passionate intensity seemed appropriate. Fortunately, the best seem still to have some conviction, so the rough beast is still a way off.

  24. Chris Warren
    November 28th, 2009 at 08:30 | #24

    Lunatics? How about:

    Tony Abbott, Prime Minister,
    Wilson Tuckey, Minister for Defence,
    Nick Minchin, Minister for Social Security,
    Alby Schultz, Minister for Finance
    Kevin Andrews, Foreign Minister
    Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Education
    David Oldfield, Electoral Commissioner,
    Keith Windschuttle, Chair of ABC.

  25. Freelander
    November 28th, 2009 at 08:38 | #25

    @ken n

    I wasn’t aware that lunatic, in its modern use, is taken to refer to any particular mental illness (or group of mental illnesses). In its modern use, I can only recall hearing it used to refer to people whose behaviour, while remarkably stupid and bizarre, does not fall under the rubric of ‘mental illness’. Quarantining this perfectly good word seems insufferably p. c. to me.

  26. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 08:49 | #26

    @Chris Warren
    Dont forget Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda Devine

  27. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 09:06 | #27

    @paul walter
    And Paul – what sneakthief time Macklin picked to shove this odious welfare plan through…it will cause utter and complete chaos. Can you imagine single mum’s across the country trying to feed their kids in the face of recalcitrant males who have buggered off and wont pay? Can you imagine all the uni students living in somewhere having their living away from home allowances quarantined? Can you imagine youth trying to get a job (and satisfy the attend interviews, attend training, pay bus or train fares) having their income quarantined?

    I dont know where Macklin gets off. Does she actually get that the benefits these people receive are unliveable on anyway without them having to deal with government authorities in the purchase of basic essentials (where, what, how and who gets paid) and imagine the poor B******ds facing this with higher unemployment, rampant underemployment and being forced to front up to the cosy grocery dupoloy for food at exorbitant prices and not get to eat some cheaper way. Jeez even a pub counter lunch is cheaper than going to Woolies and doing it yourself.

    Alright for Macklin on her salary but I will bet this stupid idea is from some neoliberal twat still rusted on in Treasury. They call this a Labor Government.]

    As I said and I am now working myself up into a full display of grotesque grumpiness. Here come the greens.

  28. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 09:45 | #28

    Alice, you are fully inflated, too?

  29. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 09:53 | #29

    @paul walter
    Not yet Paul but I am close.

  30. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:04 | #30

    You are a great little battling Aussie sheila!

  31. Donald Oats
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:10 | #31

    I’m mad as Hell and I not gonna take it!

    Damn. Must’ve crossed over to the “Grumpy old men” universe when I wasn’t looking.
    As a professional Mentally Ill Person 😛 I fully endorse the use of “Lunatic” for describing the far-king right of the Liberal party.

    With the blitzkrieg by the denierati captains – Carter and de Frietas on NZ radio and terrorising the citizens; Monkton on his Canada and USA tour; Plimer and Carter, Barnaby “Carbuncle” Joyce criss-crossing the Aussie outback giving entertaining garble-fests on the nasty world wide conspiracy; and then there are the opinionators like Bolt, bludgeoning into submission each and every far-king right Liberal he can find, with bolt-spam. Or Barnaby “Carbuncle” Joyce again, with his unscrupulous front page on his website concerning the CRU hack, and his web-based online “survey” which is a petition. McLean et al being organised to ensure a good supply of Letters to the Editor in the Oz whenever one of their cohort get an(other) opinion piece in the pages. Or the making sure that news stories by their “friends” in one country are relayed by MSM to other countries, to get maximum single day coverage if possible.
    They are fairly organised now, even compared to a year or so ago.

  32. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:19 | #32

    Paul and Don – I just cant let myself get fully inflated – have to let some air out of the pressure release valve – otherwise I would be in breach of comments policy due to eruption of invective soaked expletives.

  33. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:22 | #33

    oops replied to myself instead of Paul. Oh well…nothing quite like talking to yourself.

  34. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:23 | #34

    Lunacy is all the rage in Labor and Liberals anyway. I may as well be a lunatic as well.

  35. ken n
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:24 | #35

    Freelander and DO – please read the SANE site about StigmaWatch.
    “Lunatic” is an obsolete word for someone who is mentally ill and that, we must assume, is why JQ used to attack the behavior of LP politicians.
    Although not as serious as some of the outrageous things written by journalists around the country (many quoted on the SANE site), I believe it is unacceptable to suggest that people whose behavior to you seems “remarkably stupid and bizarre” must be mentally ill.
    Very few mentally ill people display behavior that is stupid and bizarre.
    You are, and this is the point of my original comment, encouraging an out of date and quite inaccurate view of mental illness.

  36. gianni
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:27 | #36

    John, I don’t remember how many of the Liberal lunatics objected to Howard’s ETS but Turnbull has not been the one doing an about face and/or creating mischief, if anything it has been the neo-conservative illywackers flipping out and going berserk.

    An understanding by the denailists of the underlying intentions of the Howard and Rudd governments explains the difference in the conservative’s response to John Howard’s promise to introduce an ETS in 2012 and Malcolm Turnbull’s support for the Rudd government’s CPRS. It’s safe to say that Nick Minchin’s and Tony Abbott’s (et al) equanimity towards the Howard ETS was based on their understanding that John Howard wasn’t serious about ever introducing an ETS. He was happy to talk about it as a means of neutralising it as a political issue, but everyone understood that an excuse (or a pipeline of excuses) could be found to justify a delay in its actual introduction at any point in time.

    It can be argued that the Howard ETS would have been little different to the Rudd CPRS. And that’s probably correct given the consensus amongst our governing elite about what the national interest is, and what should be done to preserve it. However, Nick Minchin knew that while the Coalition remained in power, it would never be implemented and so it was a policy he could defend and promote without guilt. The deal between Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd to actually push the CPRS through Parliament, and for it to start in July 2011 stripped away the protection of the equivocal position he and the other denialists had been able to embrace. (At least as it applied to those denialists who cared about the fudging the extent of their rejection of human induced/amplified climate change science.)

  37. Jill Rush
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:40 | #37

    I took the use of lunatic not to mean a mental illness but to mean a collective hysteria which is incomprehensible for its sheer self destruction (as in the lunatic fringe). Linking it with an asylum may be cause for concern by SANE but to make the analogy with Parliament House is not so strange as it is the use of a metaphor which links to ideas of bedlam which is either a place in uproar or a lunatic asylum.

    The dictionary definition of lunatic is to be insane which in turn is defined as mentally ill OR extremely foolish or senseless. This latter definition it the one that is being used in this post as far as I can see. The behaviour of the Liberal/Nationals is insane in this sense as the way that they are behaving is leading to the destruction of their “brand”. Whilst there are those who are unable to see nuance in words I don’t believe we should reduce the richness of our language as a response.

  38. Ubiquity
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:48 | #38

    I have turned to astrological inspiration for answers. Lunacy peaks at the time of the full moon. The next full moon is th 2nd of December. The worst is yet to come.

    “After displays of lunacy memory loss ensues rapidly and the patient does not recall the acts of lunacy.” Politicians are notorious for their selective short term memories, so are the citizens. there are no long term implications politically. The political status quo will be retained and the feeble ETS will be a noose around society back pocket.

  39. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 10:58 | #39

    There we have it!
    The Definitive from Jill Rush.
    Alice, they reckon one needs only worry when gets replies. Or beleives them?
    Donald Oats, you reference to Barny-boy had an actual physical affect.
    Gee, there is some thing putrid under that bunch right now.

  40. ken n
    November 28th, 2009 at 11:05 | #40

    I don’t want to argue about use of the word lunatic – I raised it because I thought that JQ would want to follow accepted (if sometimes overlooked) guidelines of journalistic practice.
    Seems to me that you either accept SANE’s requests or you don’t.

  41. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 11:19 | #41

    kem n, you have your first and second paragraphs out of order.
    To (most) of the rest of you, thanks for easing my depression, I might have thought I was in la la land and anxious on that score, had you not confirmed, on the whole, that my astonishment at what I’ve been witnessing over the last fortnight is justifiable.
    Three cheers for mental health.

  42. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 11:21 | #42

    @paul walter
    Thanks Paul. When Im fully inflated and erupt with invective ridden expletives I rarely get any replies so Im fine. Thats a relief.

    If its not me, it must be everyone else then, especially that sorry tawdry lot in Liblab in Canberra.

  43. Donald Oats
    November 28th, 2009 at 11:36 | #43

    @Sarah Palin Fan quotes “Hide the decline.”

    Hide the decline is the latest in a long string of attacks against CRU scientists and associates. A rather pathetic attack and CRU have responded to it, including the addressing so-called “hidden decline”.

    It seems that we have open war of the most perfidious kind on science now. First the creationists, then the tobacconists, the DDTers, the Ozonists, the IDers, and the biggest, most coordinated attack, that of the Heartland Institute and its conferences for the anti-ACC/AGW sect. The connections made there allow transfer of attack methodology to people of all stripes and nationalities.

    In case people missed some of this slow burn towards unwinding scientific principles and institutions, under the previous Gov, CSIRO had Donna Staunton appointed to head the media unit. Pity she had been a lawyer for a rather large Tobacco firm. The operation of tighter than usual gags upon climate scientists in 2004 blew up in the face of CSIRO and the government. That was a close call. Given her background she was compromised from the beginning, and that is not saying anything about her personal ethics and beliefs, it just a direct observation of the nature of her previous employment.

    Anywa, now the lunatics of the far-king right, who incidentally under the previous Howard gov, happily pushed ID (Intelligent Design, as opposed to Darwin’s theory of Evolution) into science and biology classes. From my rusty brain’s memory, more than 100 non-public schools already actively promote ID in the schoolroom. Good one! So every new set of shiny-bright business people and lawyers trained in these schools will have an anti-Darwinian perspective on biological science and implicit in that, a distrust of “mainstream scientists” who must be hiding the truth.

    That infiltration of science by the far-king right politicians is one substantial reason why I was angry at them; the latest nonsense, Sarah Palin Fan, is one in which these lunatics have evaded the usual conventions of the Liberal party, in order to thrust upon the majority of the Liberals an extreme thesis concerning climate change and by consequence, claim there is no longer a need for an ETS. This win at all costs, ends always justifies the means, squash people rather than negotiate; this is what has finally moved me to utter contempt for them.

    PS: I’ll try to find a link for the “more than 100…”. I’m fairly confident I’ve remembered it correctly.

  44. Freelander
    November 28th, 2009 at 11:41 | #44

    @ken n

    In your view…

  45. nanks
    November 28th, 2009 at 12:09 | #45

    in many ways “the lunatics…” is now an idiomatic expression so the individual constituents no longer have their singular meanings

  46. Alphonse
    November 28th, 2009 at 12:09 | #46

    @ken n


    “Use of non diagnostic terms such as ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ may not be strong enough on their own to warrant action”

    SANE puts that on its site so that Stigmawatchers won’t give people the idea that SANE is insanely PC.

    I say this, having visited family in psych wards and being none to flash myself.

  47. Donald Oats
    November 28th, 2009 at 12:12 | #47

    @ken n

    I take your point ken n. Use of “lunatic” as an unencumbered noun is indeed an archaic word for “insane” or “mentally ill”, and in that context may be viewed by some as a perjorative term. Personally I agree with your implicit sentiment that we should move away from the old collective view of mental illness. I admit I still like the word though, as a characterisation of someone who holds utterly ridiculous opinions, or in “lunatic fringe”, which my dictionary states is a noun, meaning “the members of a society or group who adopt or support views regarded as extreme or fanatical.” [Collins English Dictionary, Australian Edition, Third Edition, (1991), Harper-Collins]

    If we ceased using “lunatic”, but more properly referred to Nick “The Knife” Minchin and his Mighty Mice as the “lunatic fringe” of the Liberal party, would that pass muster with you?

  48. Sarah Palin Fan
    November 28th, 2009 at 12:47 | #48

    Donald, care with perjoratives is generally a good tactic. I think you do offer a good defence of JQs use of “lunatic fringe”.
    I believe there are so many people touched by mental illness or mental deficiency e.g. Down’s syndrome or early dementia thats best to be respectful. Contempt is a too strong attitude, dont you think?
    But look at the blogosphere this week. Never mind lunatic, the question is: who are on the fringe? It could be some of your heroes.

  49. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 12:51 | #49

    Please, SPF and friend, leave it a troll free zone…

  50. bruced
    November 28th, 2009 at 12:54 | #50

    Is not what is happening in the liberal party, an excellent example of what is known in military circles as “blowback”? The denialists, having sown their nonsense and doubt, have scored a perfect hit on their own party, destroying its electoral chances for years. And now HM Queen has stepped in for action. So where do those ultra-loyalist right-wing nuts go now? Was the script for this written by the Monty Python team?

  51. Jennie L
    November 28th, 2009 at 13:28 | #51

    There is no reasoning with lunatics, and my attempts to do so have gone nowhere. At this point, we just have to hope that they will remain, as they are at present, in the minority, and that they can be kept as far as possible from political power.

    To some extent this is my opinion also. It is absolutely impossible to engage in constructive dialogue with these people, for the reason that they have expended a great deal of time and effort to put themselves well beyond the reach of rational argument.

    But I also worry about completely disengaging and just hoping they don’t grow in numbers. Denialism is clearly a very attractive position for many people. They don’t want to face uncomfortable facts – they would much prefer if these things were not true. And there’s a well-funded noise machine out there to give them ready-made contrarian opinions, so they don’t have to go to the trouble of reasoning out their own views. Not having to think + getting to ignore any reality they don’t like = irresistible temptation for many folk.

    I do think we should not be conversing with them as though they present a credible alternative position, for the very same reason that historians don’t engage holocaust deniers, and biologists don’t engage creationists, in this manner: it would present the appearance, to undecided but tempted people, that you can be taken seriously by adopting a delusional stance. Ridicule is more likely to be useful. It signals to the undecided that there is a cost to adopting a delusional belief system, namely, a loss of esteem and respect.

    Having said this, it bothers me very greatly that there is so little we can do to persuade people to think straight. A failure to stem the tide of self-interested irrationalism is likely to doom us all.

  52. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 13:45 | #52

    @Sarah Palin Fan
    I agree with a prior remark here. Maybe it is time we stopped engaging with the troll denialists and obstructionists to progress like the one I here address. I propose the new code to everyone else

    It stands for do not engage denialist delusionist trolls.

    Enough is enough. It is time we stopped the conversation and let them go off and nurse their idiocy their own time.
    Grumpy now. Very grumpy.

  53. Ikonoclast
    November 28th, 2009 at 14:08 | #53

    This current Federal Opposition are pack of ignoramuses worse than Joh and the “Nash-a-nulls” at the height of their lunacy. Who would have thought it possible? It’s hilarious rather than tragic because as JQ says it actually gifts the country some chance of getting a better CPRS sooner.

  54. PeterMc
    November 28th, 2009 at 15:55 | #54

    In some ways I think the “split” in the Liberals is more about evidence based policy vs belief based policy (to be very polite) than it is about climate change. Climate change is just the trigger. It galls me that Abbott and co are presenting themselves as standing on principle and much of the press is swallowing this. What they are standing on is their perceived right to operate without principle. We now see the ugliness of the Howard regime, its bald faced selfishness and ruthlessness. For this right-wing club, truth and objectively where only tools that could be used (but less so than lies and stereotypes) to gain personal political advantage (which was dressed up as political strategy for the cause of Liberalism). They are bereft of morals, compassion and now it seems, common sense. The issue of climate change demands a rational approach. It requires, almost by definition, an evidence based approach. It is little wonder that Abbott, Minchin and co are fighting with all they have got. They are actually fighting for survival because the world in which the politics of lies and fear kept them in power is shifting. They sense this but can’t respond any other way than they are doing. There’s nothing else in the tool box.

  55. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 17:22 | #55

    says “We now see the ugliness of the Howard regime, its bald faced selfishness and ruthlessness.”

    Exactly. Thats why we shouldnt give people on the very same mission a right of reply. I have had enough, more than enough of the bald faced selfishness being paraded before us as some sort of hideous deformed ideal to which we should all bow down, worship and aspire to….

    They can go jump IMHO. But my HO counts for many IMHOs out there….let them (the bastardry in the LP) go there to a DD at their own peril. Just do it. We, the oppsition, will slaughter you and the blood of your B******t will run in the streets of your defeat.

    I hope they are wiped off the face of the planet… and flushed down the broken down remnants of the nearest public utility.

    Im still in very inflated grumpy mode. This isnt pretty, I admit, but just try me – any one of you neoliberal idiots… including you… “Sarah Palin fan”.

  56. Philomena
    November 28th, 2009 at 17:26 | #56

    Where have you been all my life?

    What a glorious being is Alice.

  57. Sarah Palin Fan
    November 28th, 2009 at 17:35 | #57

    Alice, I am not 100% sure what a troll is but I’m pretty sure I’m not one.
    I have posted on blogs less than ten times in my life and all except once was on this blog.
    I read JQ at least twice a week because I think this is a great blog.
    I originally came here some years back because I saw JQ quoted as saying with respect to global warming “The science is settled”
    He never convinced me, but I come regularly and I like his style and the comments.
    I never had the urge to comment.
    Today I have to comment because the situation has become ridiculous.
    The blogosphere has erupted on AGW. One week.
    All JQ can say is “The lunatics have taken over the asylum”
    “The liberals are a lunatic fringe”
    I feel obliged to ask who is in denial?

  58. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 17:35 | #58

    Just tell me this one question…did not that bastard Howard use our income tac dollars in a television ad campaign to scare the c**p out of everyone about nterest rates ( the bastard did it and used up a small fortune).

    Well I dont mind one bit Rudd using the same tactics on climate change. Freaking well go for it.

    Show the huge icesheets collapsing into the sea. Show the pollution everywhere. Show the crap plastics in the ocean. Show the crops falling over. Show anything. There is more than enough shock footage out there already. Use it. Show it. Use my my income tax to shame these bastards, and shame them and shame them into their own political graves with my full permission.

    Just do it.

  59. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:05 | #59

    I dont know where Ive been…Im just lost, given up hope on decent untainted government in this country, and pissed off like a lot of people over this climate change issue, and other b*ll. they want to peddle while they collect their donations.

    I saw Rudd speak once and he has let me down compared to his rhetoric. Macklin has gone strange compared to her rhetoric and let me down , Gillard has gone strange compared to her rhetoric over workchoices and let me down.

    Who the hell got to them? Who is really running the show here? I say we lift the requirement for public liability insurance, let speakers speak in the domain again and we might actually get politicians we want. Not these fully funded fully co-erced mouthpieces for big business in this country.

    Any of you libertarians or rightwing fruitloops out there…dont even try me. Im pissed off enough at current govts and dont need your lunatic remedies, of no remedies at all, on top. In fact Im not speaking to you so dont bother with the usual BS respose – That post above was right. No engagement. None. DNEDDT.

  60. rog
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:39 | #60

    I think that Alice’s expectations have not been met.

    To put it mildly.

    I wont say “join the real world” or “mugged by reality” because I dont want to be labelled as “collateral damage”

  61. PeterMc
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:40 | #61


    maybe you should read Rudd’s recent speech on climate change. I thought it was good. See:

  62. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:44 | #62

    According to Turnbull he has Hockey’s support thank the lord. Then if either Turnbull or Hockey assume the leadership…its time they hunted down and erasde forever the backstabber Minchin (firstly) and that dope Abbott (for lettimg Minchin inflate his ego like a dimwit puppet).

    The LP need to do the right thing and just move on (and keep trying to do the right thing rather than just win govt and secure their own shabby ambitious positions like Abott is trying pathetically to do – dead man walking).

    Its so simple. Its (the solution is) staring them in the face. Its amazing how clear political strategy is from the outside….

  63. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:47 | #63


  64. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:49 | #64

    PeterMc, come next Tuesday Turnbull must give the neo-conservative illywackers a good dressing down for the numbskulls are literary destroying Australia’s reputation on the international scene. Bloody drongos.

  65. Sarah Palin Fan
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:54 | #65

    What is a Troll exactly then?
    I tried to post explaining why I didn’t think I was one but it got cut.

  66. Sarah Palin Fan
    November 28th, 2009 at 18:57 | #66

    No my comment didn’t get cut, sorry. Iam an amateur.

  67. PeterMc
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:00 | #67

    Michael of Summer Hill :

    there’s plenty of competition internationally for being a bloody drongo – just look at the Republicans!

  68. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:01 | #68

    Peter – speeches are one thing but you and I both know, after the libs mauled it, chewed it and regurgitated it as a pile of whatever on the kerb, the ETS legislation is now a half baked ineffectual dud. I dont blame Rudd for this (poor bastard had to sign a deal with fruit loops) but I blame Gillard for half baked promises on workchoices and Macklin for oppressive welfare changes.

    Whats the hell is going on? How hard could it be exactly to unwind the lying rodents changes? Thats what they are there for. Enough with the easy easy slowly slowly …just get on with it and undo it (all of it). Thats what they (Lab) got voted in on a clear (crystal) mandate to do – erase JH and consign him to the dustbin of history. Forever. Do it cleanly. Dont compromise. No prisoners. Whats wrong with that?. They got their votes. The electorate wants the goods.

  69. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:20 | #69

    PeterMc, I know what you mean but not all Republicans are lunatics when it comes to global warming & climate change ie Schwarzenegger.

  70. paul walter
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:26 | #70

    SPF, god bless her, is a tyro. This is a wondrous thing and god willing she’ll not fail to come forward with her contribution.
    A Troll is an individual who deliberately disrupts threads with abuse, filibustering and general nuisancing, rather than a person who wants to discuss issues in good faith and they are the bane of blogsites. People only interested in getting their personal agendas up, angry cranks and so forth.
    It is true that some of us are a bit more irritable than usual with both sides of politics; the last few weeks have antagonised us, because we (largely) think they should get on with what they’re supposed to do, given that we pay them a fat wage to concern themselves with issues that face this country, rather than wasting time stabbing each other in the back, plotting, feuding, scheming and drama queening.
    Would like to know your take on the thread topic; never be afraid to say what you think just because the debate seems a bit robust. You go for it,
    like Alice does.!

  71. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:26 | #71

    @Sarah Palin Fan
    Thats completely obvious by your name. Do a wiki on troll and dont act as dumb as Sarah Palin and try to get away with it here.

  72. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:28 | #72

    @paul walter
    OK Paul – give the troll carte blanche but you will be sorry!

  73. Alice
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:41 | #73

    @paul walter
    Paul – it was also you and that Macklin quote that inflated me today (Im keeping within one fraction of an inch of a violation – because I am not yet using expletives) – but Ive had enough of trolls. The only reason I can be so mean is because I actually mean what I say.

    The Pallid (Palin) admirers just cant compete with honesty and sincerity. You should know that. I dont fall for this “oh I am amateur” bs. Its like “oooh help me – I dont know why my car has a flat tyre”.

    Paul – be generous and open minded then and lets see what it reveals later.

  74. Philomena
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:46 | #74


    Our parents toil’d to make a home –
    Hard grubbin ’twas an’ clearin’ –
    They wasn’t crowded much with lords
    When they was pioneering.
    But now that we have made the land
    A garden full of promise,
    Old Greed must crook ‘is dirty hand
    And come ter take it from us.

    So we must fly a rebel flag,
    As others did before us,
    And we must sing a rebel song
    And join in rebel chorus.
    We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
    O’ those that they would throttle;
    They needn’t say the fault is ours
    If blood should stain the wattle!

    Henry Lawson

  75. Sarah Palin Fan
    November 28th, 2009 at 19:52 | #75

    My apologies again. I checked Wiki.

    someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    I thought a troll was a sort of cruising disruptive planted “other side ” pugulist to everybody on the blogmeisters side.

    I admit I was , for the last two days, trying to attract attention to what I consider JQ’s denial of the happenings in the blogosphere with the science and the politics this week.

    On consideration, my behaviour was within the definition of troll.

    I apologise for that.
    I think I said what wanted to anyway.
    And now I realise I could have done it better. And not been a troll.

  76. fred
    November 28th, 2009 at 22:33 | #76

    A couple of observations.

    Firstly I like the title of the thread. Very apt in some ways.
    But its a little misleading because these lunatics are, at least officially, not in control of the asylum.
    They had control of it for 11 plus years until 2 years ago.
    Essentially the same people, with a few minor variations in personnel.
    In fact part of the reason why are they misbehaving so badly at the moment is that they are no longer occupying the managerial offices.
    Remember, they are the same mob who were, past tense, in charge for 11+ years.
    Terrifying thought isn’t it?
    What we went through!

    Secondly, Alice.
    Well said.
    In general and particularly #17 above.

  77. Jim Birch
    November 28th, 2009 at 23:19 | #77

    In some ways I think the “split” in the Liberals is more about evidence based policy vs belief based policy than it is about climate change.

    I find this is an interesting point. I read somewhere sometime that the three key ingredients of a politician are a gregarious personality, a chunk of idealism, and sizable ego. Two of three aren’t enough. You need to get people to commit to you, you need to have some ideas to inspire (yourself and) others, and you need an powerful underlying assumption that you’re right and things will be better if it’s done your way not someone else’s.

    Evidence-based policy is an anathema to this Political Ego, it makes the protagonist redundant. Science transcends the individual scientist who creates it: in the end, it is the evidence that speaks. The humility of science feels like humiliation to the Political Ego and is resisted, like death perhaps.

    I’m not sure what can be done about this. Ideally, the idea that a few untutored politicians aided by handful of aging journos could possibly beat a massive peer-reviewed scientific effort would be seen as some kind of obviously crazy mysticism, but that hasn’t happened. Maybe a bit more contemptuous laughter is the way forward…

  78. PeterMc
    November 28th, 2009 at 23:43 | #78

    @Jim Birch
    Jim, some good points, you get the dilemma but I think your taking it too far. There is a lot of evidence based policy being done everyday, its just the contentious stuff that makes the headlines. I don’t think its necessarily an anathema to politicians. The problem for the conservatives is that the key things that define their world view can no longer be sustained with belief alone. For them science is only relevant (in terms of world view) when it can make you a better mouse trap (or bomb) but what we need now is science leading and defining our world view. The “spillers” though are not struggling with this so much as the fact that these changes threaten their means of political persuasion. Their brand of political smoke and mirrors just isn’t working anymore. At this stage their still madly polishing the mirrors and blowing out more smoke but at some point they will realise that no-ones taking them seriously anymore. Besides its not surprising that the denialists would get desperate in the lead up to Copenhagen when its starting to emerge that some serious negotiations are about to take place.

  79. PeterMc
    November 28th, 2009 at 23:50 | #79

    Well if you read Rudd’s speech you’ll see that he largely agrees with you. There is however the small matter that “we” elected a non progressive senate and that is precisely why the can’t “get on with it” as you say.

  80. Donald Oats
    November 29th, 2009 at 00:18 | #80

    I was trying to hunt down just how many FOI “request” thingies the CRU were getting. Gavin Schmidt said in a response to a post on RealClimate that they had received more than 100 (sorry, no direct link, but search for “100” at a guess). Another source, albeit an uncorroborated source states that they received 58 FOIs in 5 days! In fact, that is so jaw-dropping that once my toe stops hurting, I will add another two !! Apparently this 58 in 5 days had a bit to do with words like “vexatious” popping up. In Oz we have the notion of a “serial pest”, typically someone who almost compulsively turns up at major events, eg Tennis or Test Cricket, and disrupts the game by running on to the field, etc. People have been arrested and convicted for being a serial pest. Anyone organising 58 FOIs in 5 days would be looking at trouble if they did that here in Oz 😛

    Now the 58 FOIs in 5 days is probably what gave the game away as to who was behind it. A look over at a certain website, by a person whose surname doesn’t not start with an “M”, reveals how they just happened to let all and sundry know he was going to do an FOI, and here you are. Seems that some bloggers decided all by themselves (Hah!) to also do FOIs. If you don’t know who I mean by M, then you are incredibly fortunate.

  81. rog
    November 29th, 2009 at 05:42 | #81


    Obama’s team have told climate scientists that findings must be “grounded in political reality” whilst scientists argue that “political reality must be grounded in physical reality”

  82. jquiggin
    November 29th, 2009 at 06:41 | #82


    Rog, if this silly conspiracy theory were true, why is that Bush’s attempts to control science (and he tried hard) failed so miserably.

  83. November 29th, 2009 at 07:41 | #83

    [email protected]#29 said:

    Obama’s team have told climate scientists that findings must be “grounded in political reality”

    Any evidence for this? His science advisor is a Nobel Prize winner and prominent advocate of climate change mitigation.

    President Obama’s main political problem is an overload of political problems inherited from President Nimrod. The gigantic back-log of Republican mess has forced Obama into a janitor’s role in most cases, spending most of his time pumping the bilges just to keep the ship afloat.

    So Green issues tend to be put on the back-burner. In MAR 09 I argued that Obama’s priorities were priorities “enlarging the welfare state and reducing the warfare/wealthfare state”. I am afraid that the saving the “worldfare” state has to take last preference to the concerns of the wealthfare, welfare and warfare states.

    But eventually the pain of climate change will force the US to take action, probably too little too late. At least the PRC, who suffer more immediate damage, seem to be waking up.

    Nature cannot be fooled.

    Richard Feynyman

  84. Fran Barlow
    November 29th, 2009 at 07:42 | #84

    @Donald Oats

    Actually, Donald, I always liked Peter Hoare.

  85. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:04 | #85

    Donalds – if they routinely published their data and methods they would not suffer so many FOI requests. Where their data is subject to copyright they ought to provide sufficient description of where the raw data comes from (ie what version and from where should you request if you want the same data) how it was subsequently filtered and manipulated to arrive at particular conclusions. There should be sufficent details such that others can fully reproduce charts and the like. Saying I got the data from XYZ isn’t sufficient to allow others to reproduce your results.

    JPSobel gets it right in this comment at RealClimate:-


  86. Alice
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:08 | #86

    @Donald Oats
    Don…M? M…M..M & Ms mmm..I dont know?.

  87. Alice
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:13 | #87

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje – thats nonsense ” if they routinely published their data and methods they would not suffer so many FOI requests.”

    That volume of FOIs is a concerted organised deliberate planned snowstorm of FOIs on CRU. A disgusting media frenzied whip up of delusionist rednecks who have probably never seen an FOI request form before in their lives.

    A media and blogosphere incited pack attack and nothing more.

  88. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:35 | #88

    Alice – so it’s a conspiracy then. Who is behind the conspiracy. Is it the Institute of Delusionist Rednecks?

  89. jquiggin
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:43 | #89

    @Sarah Palin Fan
    I’m confident I have never used the phrase “the science is settled”. According to this essay, there are no known examples of its use, except in the context of delusionist attacks. It is, in fact, yet another fabrication


    Compare “politically correct”.

  90. jquiggin
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:47 | #90

    Talking of trolls, Ken N’s comments come across to me as those of a “concern troll”. See denfs 2 and 3


    Ken’s alleged concerns about partisanship, choice of language etc might be better applied at, say, Catallaxy.

  91. Alice
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:54 | #91

    Noticed also JQ. The appearance of “patrician style considered authority” in the comments dont hide the intent. Thats why I havent bothered to respond to any of them.

  92. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    November 29th, 2009 at 09:57 | #92
  93. Alice
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:01 | #93

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Its not even a conspiracy Terje. Its a whipped up disorganised rabble of disgruntled rednecks. You can incite mad crowds Terje and thats all it is. To give it the label of conspiracy is more apt for institutions like Hearland. What they do is a conspiracy to mislead and deceive people. There is quite a difference.

    You know damn well what I mean about CRU receiving 158 FOI requests in one week so dont give me that garbarge about “if they published their data they wouldnt get so many”. Its a blogosphere media incited snowstorm of FOIs on a decent scientific organisation and scientists worldwide who are quietly going about their business, by utterly decrepit lunatics. Shame Terje. The madness of crowds.

  94. Donald Oats
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:03 | #94

    @Alice McIntyre.

  95. Donald Oats
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:04 | #95

    @Alice Just to correct you, the claim is 58, not 158.
    Regards, Don.

  96. Ken N
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:09 | #96

    JQ I don’t believe I am or have ever been a troll of any colour or shape.
    I raised your misuse of language because I am concerned about mental illness and the way it is dealt with in the media and I am a supporter of SANE.
    I had hoped that if I drew your attention to the matter you would find a less offensive metaphor for the LP debacle. But as it seems you are not interested in SANE’s suggestions, there is no point in going on.

  97. paul walter
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:24 | #97

    ken you are in dange of seriously alienating a relatively well educated and sympathetic section of the commun ity when you refust to consider and respond adequately to points raised concerning your claim.
    If you are only going to grumble and try to pickholes rather than engage in a meaningful way with people, you jeopardie your own cause thru obstinacy.

  98. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:26 | #98

    Alice :@TerjeP (say tay-a) Its a whipped up disorganised rabble of disgruntled rednecks.

    This seems to be at odds with your earlier comment where you said “volume of FOIs is a concerted organised deliberate planned snowstorm”.

    So is it “organised” or “disorganised”. Is it just “rabble” or is it “concerted”.

    As to the redneck reference I’m not sure what to make of it. It is clearly a perjorative term but what the heck do you mean by it?

  99. jquiggin
    November 29th, 2009 at 10:29 | #99

    Ken N, I’m not referring only to this comment, but to the whole tenor of your commentary here. Last post, it was an accusation of political partisanship (for a party I rarely vote for, as it happens). Before that, something similar regarding my position as an academic. From now on, please confine your comments to substantive points, rather than concerns of this kind.

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