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The Party of No

March 23rd, 2010

One of the most striking features of the health care reform was that it was passed over the unanimous opposition of the Republican Party. This has all sorts of implications, not yet fully understood by anyone (certainly not me). To start with, it’s now clear that talk of bipartisanship, distinctions between moderate and hardline Republicans and so on, has ceased to have any meaning. If their failure to stop the health bill works against them, we may see occasional Republican votes for popular legislation that is going to get through in any case. Obama’s Employment Bill got only 6 Rep votes in the House, but passed the Senate 68-29 (or maybe 70-28) in what the NYT correctly called a rare bipartisan vote. At least the reporter on this piece, Carl Hulse, has caught up with reality, unlike the general run of Beltway pundits who still think that Obama should be pursuing bipartisanship.

In many countries, a party-line vote like this (at least on one side) would be nothing surprising. In Australia, for example, crossing the floor even once earns automatic expulsion from the Labor party and guarantees political death on the other side. But the US has never had a really tight party system, largely because, until recently,the Democrats (and before them, the Whigs) were always split on racial issues.

One problem arising from this is that the US system is more vulnerable than most to the kinds of crises that arise when one party is determined to prevent the other from governing. Passing a budget requires a majority in both Houses of Congress, and the signature of the President. If the Republicans win a majority in either House in November, it’s hard to see this happening. A repetition of the 1995 shutdown seems highly likely, and, with the financial system still very fragile, the consequences could be disastrous. The 1995 shutdown didn’t turn out too well for Newt Gingrich, but it doesn’t seem to have pushed him in the direction of moderation, and the current crop of Republicans make Newt look like a RINO.

A couple more thoughts.

The Republicans have become the Party of No in another sense. Having been the party of initiative since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, they are back to their more accustomed role as the party of reaction. The change can probably be dated back to the 2004 election, when Bush failed to privatize Social Security or maybe even in 2003 when electoral pressure pushed him into introducing the Prescription Drug Subsidy (a pork laden monster as you’d expect from Bush, but still an expansion of the welfare state).

The shift is certainly evident when you compare Obama’s first year in office with Clinton’s. Clinton was introducing policies demanded by the Republicans and their response (the Contract with America) was that he wasn’t doing nearly enough. Now, the Republicans have nothing of their own to offer, except more tax cuts (and, I guess, more torture). They are truly the Party of No.

Finally, a partial defense of Ezra Klein, who copped some flak from Glenn Greenwald for his suggestion that the uniformly negative Republican vote spelt an end to special interest votebuying. As Greenwald points out, this is false, and the big lobbies got to write large sections of Obama’s bill.

But, I think, Klein is right in observing that a particular kind of votebuying, what you might call ‘retail’, is on the way out. In a system with disciplined political parties, there’s not much point in buying individual members of Congress. Instead, interest groups have to work at the wholesale level, convincing party and factional leaders that their interests should be looked after. Unlike retail votebuying his is something of a zero-sum game, since whatever helps one party harms the other. Since politics is inevitably about competing interests to a large extent, interest groups are never going to go away. But there’s a case to made that it’s better tohave them work at the wholesale/party level, where the voters can hold the entire party to account.

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  1. Gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 16:17 | #1

    Bonus points for identifying the gigantic strawman in your own comment. Should be visible from orbit

  2. March 30th, 2010 at 16:52 | #2

    gerard@#50 said:

    I’ve told you what the problem is; there are countless white liberal activists who self-identify as belonging to Obama’s base. Argue the point with them.

    And youve been repeatedly told what your error is: White people occupy most elite position holders in the US. So it is a trivial inference that ranking and rank and file activists for both the REPs and DEMs will invariably be white persons, “white liberal activists” for the DEMs and white conservative activists for the REPs. That does not tell us much about the parties voting base, that is the people whose votes actually count when deciding elections.

    (BTW Ideological identification is NOT a demographic classifier because it is too fluid, slippery and and vague. Unlike socio-biological classifers such as color, creed, caste, class, cohort and gender.)

    To re-re-iterate:

    The “base” refers to members of key demographics with a high marginal propensity to vote for a given party ie “rusted-on” “true-believers”,

    NOT:

    - “activists”: members of the organizing apparat
    - “swingers”: members of a major party’s (and thereofre polity’s) mainstream demographic with a low propensity to vote for the party

    To suggest that generic white people are the base of the DEMs ignores more than 40 years of psephologic evidence, see the REPs Southern Strategy. Do the phrases “majority of majority” (REP) v “majority of minorities” (DEM) strike a distant chord?

    Generic white people cannot, by definition, be the demographic “base” of both parties. That would imply that both party’s would obtain a winning advantage by turing out the same white bases, which is absurd. Not that absurdity has ever stopped gerard in the past but one lives in hope.

  3. March 30th, 2010 at 17:20 | #3

    gerard@#46 said:

    As almost every commentator is predicting exactly the same thing, I hope you will spare us excesses of bragging when it happens.

    So gerard, you will be referring us to “almost every commentators” published psepho-predictions, including your own, won’t you. [deathly silence for once]

    Predictions arent worth squat when they are made after the race is more than half-run. They only count when they are made before the contest when odds are uncertain.

    Back in NOV 08, when Obama changey-hopeyness was reaching messianic proportions, I predicted the Right-wing reaction (“considerable Right-wing ballast”) to Obama’s policies would force him into ultra-moderate positions on health care, financial reform and energy policy. That prediction is looking reasonably accurate now, although Obama has gone further and faster in health care than I thought likely.

    At that time most people then were expecting the New Messiah to sweep all before him. Pr Q, under the heading “Time of Hope?”, thought “surely single payer health scheme [is] not beyond the Obama administration”. It appears that, for the first term, this hope has been dashed, or at least shelved for the time being.

    Thats all done and dusted now. The next problem for commentators to nut out is what Obama and Rudd will do when they win their second terms. Since 2007 I assumed they have planned on a two-term strategy and now look very likely to achieve it.

    Through 2009 I have also predicted, or at least made “vague hand-waving gestures”, that Obama and Rudd will tack to the Left in 2012. That is, once they have consolidated their political base and reassured the moderate swingers they can afford to take a few risks. Rudd’s health care centralisation is an early indicator that my 2009 prediction is on track.

    Now gerard, your task is to make some testable predictions on politics and policy. In stead of wasting yours and others time by defending hopeless positions and casting nasty apsersions.

  4. Alice
    March 30th, 2010 at 17:36 | #4

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Go back Terje – you referred to post 15 on Monday message board (somewhat misleadingly). Your comment I was referring to was at 16. No apology forthcoming.

  5. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 30th, 2010 at 18:48 | #5

    Alice – either you are unethical or you lack basic comprehension skills. I’ll be genereous and assume the latter.

  6. gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 18:50 | #6

    Sorry Jack, I am just using the word “base” as it is commonly by the same American Democrats we’re talking about. If you want to say that they have the meaning of the word wrong, that’s fine, but you should go and let them know. Maybe write a dictionary. Do it Jack, in the name of “science”.

    So gerard, you will be referring us to “almost every commentators” published psepho-predictions, including your own, won’t you. [deathly silence for once]

    I make the occasional guess (and I don’t feel the need to share all of them with the internet), but I’d hesitate to confer on them the language of physics or chemistry. Just because I have a bit of an interest in politics doesn’t mean I’m a self-described pesphologist, or “social scientist”, and I’m not in a prediction contest with anybody. I don’t pretend to know more than Nate Silver, who does this sort of thing for a living and seems to be quite good at it. All I’m saying is that pointing out that a prediction of the Dems losing seats in 2010 but still retaining control of Congress is hardly going out on a limb.

  7. Alice
    March 30th, 2010 at 19:15 | #7

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    What thread do you want to have this discussion with me on Terje? This thread or Monday message board?. Make up your mind and stick to one. Im in Monday message board and you are off topic and crossing thread ideas. This is “the party of no”. I suggested it is the party of “no regrets”. Comment on that.

  8. March 30th, 2010 at 19:28 | #8

    gerard@#6

    I am just using the word “base” as it is commonly by the same American Democrats we’re talking about. If you want to say that they have the meaning of the word wrong, that’s fine, but you should go and let them know.

    Just because some unnamed American Democrats commonly and loosely mis-use the word “base” it does not get you off the hook. You’be been told.

    gerard said:

    Maybe write a dictionary. Do it Jack, in the name of “science”.

    Maybe you could learn to read a dictionary, which is a lot simpler. Here’s Wikipedia, which is as good a place as any to start. Its definition of base is pretty much in accord with mine:

    In politics, the term base refers to a group of voters who almost always support a single party’s candidates for elected office. Base voters are very unlikely to vote for the candidate of an opposing party, regardless of the specific views each candidate holds. In the United States, this is typically because high-level candidates must hold the same stances on key issues as a party’s base in order to gain the party’s nomination and thus be guaranteed ballot access.

    They are talking about loyal (“rusted-on”) voters, not activists or typical swinging voters. Of course the US is such a divided and stratified society that such partisan alignments typically line up with demographic categories such as class, color, creed and cohort.

    Not. Rocket. Science.

  9. gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 19:46 | #9

    I don’t see how you can use that definition to say that there are no whites in Obama’s base. You better edit it to clarify “group of voters” as “socio-biological group of voters”.

  10. March 30th, 2010 at 19:49 | #10

    gerard@#6 said:

    I make the occasional guess (and I don’t feel the need to share all of them with the internet),

    Rubbish. You make frequent “guesses” and you have an overwhelming “need to share them with the internet”. You have blundered into two areas where I have a long-standing interest (some would say obsession), namely anthropology and psephology/political science. You are utterly clueless on both, did not know who James Flynn was, did not understand the concept of “political base”. Plus many more errors to numerous to mention.

    gerard said:

    but I’d hesitate to confer on them the language of physics or chemistry. Just because I have a bit of an interest in politics doesn’t mean I’m a self-described pesphologist, or “social scientist”

    I do not “use the language of physics or chemistry” in the construction of my models. (Quotes please.) Voting identities have minds, nuclear and molecular entities do not.

    I use the language of science: educated guesses formulated into theoretical models that are empirically testable. If you do not wish to use the methods and language of science then you are reduced to mere opinion and hearsay, journalism and bad journalism at that.

    gerard said:

    I’m not in a prediction contest with anybody.

    Every person is “in a prediction contest with” at least one person: their previous personal best.

  11. gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 19:57 | #11

    PS, it’s not “some unnamed Democrats” I’m talking about. It’s thousands of people on the internet’s most important Democratic website who think that they are Obama’s base! And they’re going to keep going on thinking that until you set them straight that only non-whites need apply.

  12. gerard
    March 30th, 2010 at 20:07 | #12

    Rubbish. You make frequent “guesses” and you have an overwhelming “need to share them with the internet”. You have blundered into two areas where I have a long-standing interest (some would say obsession), namely anthropology and psephology/political science.

    Jack, I think your main obsession is with yourself. I linked to Nate Silver’s blog. There’s a trained statistician who genuinely does use the “language of science”, and makes predictions that are actually worth a person’s bother reading.

  13. March 30th, 2010 at 20:08 | #13

    gerard@#9 said:

    I don’t see how you can use that definition to say that there are no whites in Obama’s base.

    Of course you “do not see how I can use that definition to say there are no whites in Obama’s base”. Thats because I never made that claim. I said that whites do not form the Obama-DEM base as a generic group . But sub-sets of whites can form smaller groups in Obama’s base. Classifications can overlap as one resolves to a finer scale of granularity.

    In one comment up-thread I mentioned that “organized labour” were part of the DEMs and probably Obama’s base. In the US organized labour is substantially white, asUS white unions have traditional dominated trades and public service municipal officers.

    Of course organized labour is a lot smaller now than it once was and is a demographic in secular decline. This is not the case for other groups in Obama’s base, such as minority groups, which are growing in demographic weight.

    gerard said:

    You better edit it to clarify “group of voters” as “socio-biological group of voters”.

    Wikipedia goes through all parts of the DEMs political base. It is more extensive than my short-list but it attempts to be exhaustive. Every demographic (“socio-biological”) group they mention (academics, Hispanics, Blacks, organized labour, youth, single women etc) all have a high and enduring marginal propensity to vote DEM. Exactly as I have argued.

    I dont “need to edit” anything I’ve said on this subject. You need to get your head around the basic facts.

  14. Monkey’s Uncle
    March 30th, 2010 at 20:14 | #14

    This cat-and-mouse game of redefining the word “base” in a political context has become tiresome. First Gerard applied a definition of base that was ridiculously broad (i.e. everyone who voted for Obama, including the soft swinging voters and the rusted-on alike). Then he goes to the opposite extreme and applies a definition of base that is ridiculously narrow (i.e. only party activists and fund-raisers, not the loyal voting demographic).

    It seems base can mean whatever you want it to mean, so long as it doesn’t mean what it is ordinarily understood to mean by the vast bulk of political officionados. It is like saying an orange can be anything but a round citrus fruit of that colour.

    Of course, if an alternative usage of a word becomes sufficiently widespread eventually that becomes the default meaning of a word as the language evolves. So Gerard, the good news is that if you work hard then perhaps in 40 years time the accepted definition of base will be your preferred definition!

  15. Alice
    March 30th, 2010 at 20:19 | #15

    @Jack Strocchi
    Jack – I rather think your predictions are predictable as well..others have noted “betting on both sides”. As for the allusions to Obama’s base being “non white and non elite” – you are way way wrong and simply loathe to admit it. The base has changed but you dont want to admit it has.

    As or Obama being forced into “moderate positions” on health care reform – he has taken two majpr steps forward against the republican two steps backward. The man has achieved in health care reform or is this some sort of demialism on your part Jack (because your party of choice is losing?)

    I could say it Jack – and I may as well. Your predictions carry the flavour of personal bias and are yet ton incorpoerate the mood swing in US politics.

  16. Alice
    March 30th, 2010 at 20:23 | #16

    @Monkey’s Uncle
    MU says
    “So Gerard, the good news is that if you work hard then perhaps in 40 years time the accepted definition of base will be your preferred definition!”

    So we take it MU has researched that it takes 40 years for the base to change. No such luck. In short Gerard, another useless prediction from the biased MU. If MU works hard for 40 years, the base may not change at all…what would he know?

    Update Gerard and I in 40 years time MU (aka fortune teller).

  17. March 30th, 2010 at 21:12 | #17

    gerard@#11 said:

    it’s not “some unnamed Democrats” I’m talking about. It’s thousands of people on the internet’s most important Democratic website who think that they are Obama’s base! And they’re going to keep going on thinking that until you set them straight that only non-whites need apply.

    I have never said that Obama’s political base (as in rusted-on high marginal propensity voters) is exclusively “non-white”. (Quotes please. Your baseless assertions are not a good look for someone who constantly bags “conservatives” for their dishonesty.)

    I argued that the DEM base was predominantly non-white and likely to get more so over time. A fact mentioned endlessly by psephologists with such titles as the “Democrats Emerging Majority”. Judis and Texiera argue that the DEM base has demographically morphed over the past generation:

    In the 1990s the Democrats displayed the outlines of a new majority that would be different from the older, New Deal majority. The older majority had been based on the “Solid South,” blue-collar workers, ethnics, and rural voters; the new would combine women voters, professionals, and minorities, primarily in the North, Midwest, and far West, with close to an even split of the traditional white working-class vote in those regions.

    So the DEM base are now “women, professionals, and minorities”. Not exactly white-bread. Note the last clause, “close to an even split in traditional white working-class” vote. So the only traditional white voting demographic that they mention is borderline. So this refutes your initial claim that the DEMs base (as opposed to generic, but swinging, voter) is predominantly white.

    Their analysis pretty much mirrors what I argued up thread. I explicitly mentioned “organized labour” and “youth” as part of Obama-DEMs base, as well as “colored minorities”.

    In the case of the DEMs it is predominantly younger, colored minorities and organized labour. In the case of the REPs it is predominantly older, white majorities and Christian churches.

    I take it that these younger white colleges students and older white unionists are the ones who talk about themselves as the “base” on your favourite Democrat web-site. They are no doubt important in activism and organization. But they do not in-themselves provide the mass of votes needed to make a decisive difference over a series of elections.

    That is what a base can do, providing it is energised to turn out on election day. Something that it might do if Obama panders to it, by dangling a juicy bribe in the form of, say, health care reform. And that brings us full circle, back to my original argument made in NOV 08.

    Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

  18. March 30th, 2010 at 21:24 | #18

    gerard@#12 said:

    Jack, I think your main obsession is with yourself. I linked to Nate Silver’s blog. There’s a trained statistician who genuinely does use the “language of science”, and makes predictions that are actually worth a person’s bother reading.

    No, if my “obsession” was purely with “myself” then I would not be making testable predictions which once published can come back to haunt me if I am badly wrong. THe scientific method is the opposite of solipsism.

    I am not concerned with Nate Silver’s competence as a political scientist. I am concerned with demonstrating your incompetence in this field, admittedly a modest ambition. As indicated by basic conceptual inability together with a complete absence of predictive facility.

    You really should learn to quit when you are behind, when in a hole stop digging etc. Right now you have only succeeded in completely burying yourself in your own rubbish.

  19. Alice
    March 30th, 2010 at 21:26 | #19

    @Jack Strocchi
    So Gerard – I think what Jack is saying (in english) is that only women, blacks and wimps vote democrat and it takes white men with grey hair and power to be part of the republican base.

    Move over Jack or go to a retirement home as all decent old grey haired white men should do (assuming they outlive their democrat voting wives and chances are they wont). The world is no longer your turf.

  20. March 30th, 2010 at 22:13 | #20

    And right on cue, Frank Rich plonks himself firmly in the centre of the Strocchiverse:

    Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority.

    The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the Housesince 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

    So Rich identifies the future DEM voting base with the children of “Asian, black and Hispanic women”. You cant get any more nakedly socio-biological than that.

    Rich goes on to point out that the REPs current obstructionist political strategy, in so far as it is predicated o a white majority, is a hopeless dead end. The end of that road is lined with militias:

    If Congressional Republicans want to maintain a politburo-like homogeneity in opposition to the Democrats, that’s their right. If they want to replay the petulant Gingrich government shutdown of 1995 by boycotting hearings and, as John McCain has vowed, refusing to cooperate on any legislation, that’s their right too (and a political gift to the Democrats). But they can’t emulate the 1995 G.O.P. by remaining silent as mass hysteria, some of it encompassing armed militias, runs amok in their own precincts.

    In the medium term the prospects for the Palin-REPs are pretty grim. They are carrying on like a rabble in the face of a fairly innocuous social reform. They will get beaten in 2012.

    I would not be quite so pessimistic about the REPs longer term future, although there are some unsettling scenarios. Its possible that the white voter turnout, and its high REP voting propensity, will trend up over time as whites become an “embattled minority” in what was formerly their own private country-club.

    The probability of this actually happening largely rests in the hands of Obama. Who more and more will appear as a kind of Mandela figure, smoothing the passage to white minority status. Will he set the new mold for minority politicians or will it revert to Jackson, Sharpton etc.

  21. gerard
    March 31st, 2010 at 08:04 | #21

    I haven’t argued that whites as a “generic group” constitute the Democrat base, just that the base contains more whites than non-whites (which is to be expected considering how many more whites there are than non-whites in America). But I’m not interested in continuing this ridiculous debate – I’d rather argue with a brick wall that didn’t have such pompous pretensions of scientific genius.

    You now say that you didn’t argue that the Democrats base was “exclusively” non-white (which is how I understood your original “Africans and Mexicans” comment – which to be honest, just rubbed me the wrong way in the gleefully politically-incorrect use of those terms to describe African-Americans and Latinos).

    But you say that it is “predominantly” non-white, and my opinion is that when you look at it in its entirety; including professionals, academics, organized labor, youth, GLBT, Jews – then I don’t really think that you can say that it is “predominantly” non-white either.

    But of course you, and Rich, and every other commentator able to point out the bleeding obvious is correct – demographic change will not benefit the GOP unless they seriously reconsider their strategy of relying on poor-white bigotry as a wedge to push through tax cuts for millionaries.

    Again, unlike you I don’t pretend to be a “political scientist”, but I know one when I see one. I referred you to Nate Silver’s blog so you could see what a real one looks like.

  22. March 31st, 2010 at 09:19 | #22

    gerard@#21 said:

    I haven’t argued that whites as a “generic group” constitute the Democrat base,

    Wrong. Initially you said that the DEM base was white, a generic term. Thats false and its a relief to see that you have finally backed down.

    gerard said:

    You now say that you didn’t argue that the Democrats base was “exclusively” non-white…But you say that it is “predominantly” non-white, and my opinion is that when you look at it in its entirety; including professionals, academics, organized labor, youth, GLBT, Jews – then I don’t really think that you can say that it is “predominantly” non-white either.

    Thats a difficult call to make. By my calculations your “opinion” that the DEM base is predominantly white is probably wrong.

    Base is potential value, only actualised by turn-out. The size of the Mexican- and African-American voting blocs is 1/3 (100 million) the US population, of whom about 2/3 (66 million) are eligible to vote. Say about 2/3 (~40 million) of those vote, about 3/4 (30 million) of which will routinely vote DEM (very ballpark BOE figures here). That is ~40% of the 70 million citizens who cast their votes for the DEMs in 2008.

    There are about 40 million more white voters in the DEM column. But I doubt that more than 30 million of these are base voters have an enduring high marginal propensity to vote DEM. More likely 1/2 (20 million) will be DEM base voters and the other 1/2 (20 million) will be the tantalizing and elusive swing voters in swing states. Those are the voters the parties fight for in their headline campaigns.

    Therefore the DEM base is predominantly non-white, hence the phrase “majority of minorities” party.

    gerard said:

    But I’m not interested in continuing this ridiculous debate – I’d rather argue with a brick wall that didn’t have such pompous pretensions of scientific genius.

    I have always said I rely on standard theory to predict elections. No pretensions to “scientific genius” there. You on the other hand…

    “If I have seen farther than others, it’s because I’m knee-deep in dwarves.”

    Greg Cochran

  23. gerard
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:28 | #23

    Base is potential value, only actualised by turn-out. The size of the Mexican- and African-American voting blocs is 1/3 (100 million) the US population, of whom about 2/3 (66 million) are eligible to vote. Say about 2/3 (~40 million) of those vote, about 3/4 (30 million) of which will routinely vote DEM (very ballpark BOE figures here). That is ~40% of the 70 million citizens who cast their votes for the DEMs in 2008.

    About 34.7% of the 2008 Democratic vote came from blacks and Hispanics, according to NYT exit poll data, and the 2008 vote had a much higher than usual turnout, with many first-time voters. Even assuming that no Hispanics are swing voters (which isn’t true), you’d only have to have half of white Democrats belonging to the “base” for an even split. You might be able to make a case for this if you tried, but as you say, it’s a difficult call to make, and it’s not a precise term anyway. As it stands today, taken as a single ethnic group, whites would still be a larger share of the base than either black or latino alone, and quite likely larger than both combined. For this reason I hope you can understand why I took umbrage with the comment identifying the base as being “African” and “Mexican”. I will grant you this though – whites will soon be a minority in the Democratic party for the same reasons that they will soon be a minority in the United States. But they’ll probably still be a majority in the GOP for a lot longer after that. One would think that the GOP would see homophobic, anti-choice, conservative Catholic Latinos as a guard against terminal decline. But I think they’re too dumb, and I expect most Latinos, unlike the rednecks, aren’t dumb enough to throw away their economic interests over kulturkampf issues. Immigration reform is an opportunity for Obama to wedge the GOP, as it presents them with a no-win choice between the racist teabagger wing and the cheap-labor, union-busting big-business wing. And unlike healthcare, immigration reform (which might be the next big-ticket item after finance reform) really does directly benefit one minority demographic very specifically.

  24. March 31st, 2010 at 20:38 | #24

    gerard

    I am in the sin-bin for repeated (low-range) comment policy violation, duration one week starting today. I will respond to your comment 1800 on WED 06 APR 10. Don’t think you have heard the last on this.

    jack

  25. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:40 | #25

    10 Gerard zero Jack.

  26. gerard
    March 31st, 2010 at 21:44 | #26

    Don’t think you have heard the last on this.

    Actually I choose to think I have, purely in the interests of getting on with my life. Although I’d be a bit more generous than that Alice, I really don’t want to be still on this boring thread a week from now! Let’s argue about something more interesting than the semantics of one vague term. If it’s any consolation to you Jack, our host once refused to release from moderation one extremely long and detailed response I had made to a comment of yours.

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