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“I want my country back”

May 27th, 2010

Before the 2008 US election, I wondered how rightwing commentators, quick to hurl the charge of anti-Americanism against anyone who disagreed with the policies of the Bush Administration, would deal with the election of a Democratic President. I shouldn’t have worried. In this , Janet Albrechtsen makes it clear that she sees no need to change her views. An anti-American, according to Albrechtsen is someone who supports the current President of the United States, favors the policies of his Administration, and opposes demonstrators invoking revolutionary slogans against the current government.

All of this is summed up in the favorite slogan of the Tea Party crowd “I want my country back”. In the view of this overwhelmingly white and mostly upper-income group, which started operations within weeks of Obama’s inauguration, the only legitimate government is one that embodies their tribal values and hatreds. If the majority of Americans vote for a different government, then, as in Albrechtsen’s twisted logic, that just means most Americans are anti-American.

Update: Quite a few commentators seem to think I’m misrepresenting Albrechtsen here. I find this bizarre. The first use of the term “anti-American” in her article is para 3, which reads (with emphasis added, given that it seems to be needed)

Not just the sleep-inducing sound and sight of five voices all nodding and shaking their heads to the same anti-American melody. Yes, we all voted for Barack Obama , yes, we all want action on climate change, no to religion, nuclear power, the Tea Party movement, the Bush administration (“evil was being actively pursued every single day”),

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  1. cbp
    May 27th, 2010 at 18:18 | #1

    I’m not sure I understand this obsession with smugness that the Right has.

    “You may be correct, but you shouldn’t be so smug” may be a meaningful thing to say in the bedroom to one’s partner, but is of no substance in the political discourse.

    I read article’s like Janet’s and I feel compelled to play a mournful tune on my 2cm violin.

  2. May 27th, 2010 at 18:35 | #2

    It is interesting that the left version of “I want my country back” (not in my name during Bush 11) was castigated as anti-American.

    The election of a modestly liberal President does expose the disingenuity of the claims by the right.

  3. Freelander
    May 27th, 2010 at 18:35 | #3

    The favorite slogan of the Tea Party crowd “I want my country back”. They certainly do, but sadly for them that short lived adventure ended in 1865, and they live in the USA.

    The election of Obama was a pleasant surprise following the mistakes of the previous eight years, but the activities of the birthers, Tea baggers and others, since, has been a nasty counterpoint. There are some large challenges facing the world this century and even larger ones facing the US. There is no real benefit for the rest of the world if the US is unable to meet these challenges, and becomes more and more unstable. The numbers of nuclear weapons that could become ‘loose’ during any significant internal strife, in itself, is a good reason for hoping the US will solve its many problems. Rabble rousers like Albrechtsen and her American brethren have no insight, because they don’t seem to recognise exactly where their form of exaggerated populism may lead.

  4. Alice
    May 27th, 2010 at 19:14 | #4

    What they really mean when they say “I want my country back” ….is “I want my republican president back”. What Janet Albrechtsen means when she agrees “they should have their country back” is that all good children vote republican in the United States and Liberal at federal level (I deliberately said federal because no-one should vote NSW Labor back in)

    But for Janet there is only one way to vote, one way to use her shrill mouth, one side of politics and Janet, quite frankly is an empty vacuous bore…along with her silly sister who also makes a fortune from being part of the lunatic right…

    Malcolm Fraser is so right – voting federal liberal in this country is a definite mark of shame and someone of substandard intelligence who is incapable of critical thought.

    Janet Albrechtsen is a sideshow, a charicature – a cartoon.

  5. conrad
    May 27th, 2010 at 19:18 | #5

    “All of this is summed up in the favorite slogan of the Tea Party crowd “I want my country back”. In the view of this overwhelmingly white and mostly upper-income group”

    I’m not sure that’s an especially correct characterization of them — I think the Tea Party members have similar demographic characteristics to other Americans, at least in terms of income, see e.g. here.

  6. Peter Evans
    May 27th, 2010 at 20:01 | #6

    “I want my country back” is code for “I want the government to have no ability to regulate corporations”. The main task of the Right in opposition these days, in the English speaking world, seems to be to die in a ditch to preserve the right of corporations to screw the rest of us. It’s an utterly bankrupt notion, and the epitome of the “useful idiot” phenomenon in politics.

    Also, the trashbag media stars of the Right (Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, etc, and their pale imitations here) have the whole thing figured out as a cracker scam. They have their hands on the pockets of millions.

  7. jquiggin
    May 27th, 2010 at 20:29 | #7

    The survey supports richer. And although your survey doesn’t give data on race, Tea Partiers are overwhelmingly white.


  8. Alice
    May 27th, 2010 at 20:48 | #8

    And I want my country back too come to think of it…back to a more congenial way of life…instead of one where I am waiting for the next kinghit gouge from some large organisation (now lets see – who are these large organisations? BP…and oil, insurance (home contents car), AGL, Telstra and Optus, Woolies and Coles, the Mining industries, the banks as usual and their lousy interest rates on savings…but Id also like to add to this list…..

    NSW Traffic fines and Public transport Fares and Toll fees Incorporated. Does anyone know if they are planning an IPO soon? Im sure they could get some fund managers interest up…

    Yes Id like my country back from “Gougers inc”.

    Freelander – tax em till their eyes bleed is about right. Thats what they have been unkindly doing to us. As for traitors like Albrechtsen (pure traitor) – if they were so fond of the Bush clan they could always move to Texas. They say everything is big in Texas. Bush showed that with his worship of out of control big business which also led to big global crisis.

  9. Michael
    May 27th, 2010 at 22:37 | #9

    The Australian newspaper should be classified as toxic waste. It’s crossed over into parody and makes the The Onion look like serious journalism.

  10. paul walter
    May 28th, 2010 at 00:43 | #10

    In a word, “astroturfing”. The “I want my country back” is originally a working class impulse directed against the neoliberalist version of authoritarian government, but appropriated by the right, and misdirected against those who could or would help break the stranglehold of Big Capitalism on the US and the World.

  11. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 07:07 | #11

    @paul walter
    Paul – if you read Janets piece – notice hown she conjures up an image of the supposed “left” audience who attended the Sydney Writer’s festival. Now this a prime piece of puerilism for the followinjg reasons;
    a) people in culture or the arts in Australia are all apparently “lefties”
    b) the audience wore sensible shoes, sensible cardigans and scarves (Janets subliminal message is that the audience who actually attended the Writers festival… are to a tee all boring and dowdy and quelle horreur – the worst of all – “old lefties”).

    Whereas I supposed she tripped out down the stairs in her nine inch heels and dominatrix leather pretending to be young. Quelle horror of horrors. I hope at least she managed to learn something about the art of writing while she was there.

  12. conrad
    May 28th, 2010 at 07:27 | #12

    “The survey supports richer”
    Yes, but there’s a big difference between richer, mostly upper income, and slightly more middle class than average (I guess it depends how you want to define upper income, but I’m thinking 100K plus for a rich place like the US as a figure pulled out of nowhere). I agree that they’re mainly white, which is probably where the very slightly richer than average comes in, which is why I’m happy with the Morgan Poll’s characterization of them (basically mainstream, at least in terms of income). This just shows that it’s quite possible to select reasonably large sized groups of people from the normal population that have extremely strange beliefs and no idea of history (including well educated ones), like that you can spend mind-boggling amounts on your military, still not pay tax, and not go broke.

  13. John Mashey
    May 28th, 2010 at 07:39 | #13

    Tea party … Astroturf, funded at least in part through FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, which are funded by the Koch brothers (one is cofounder of CATO, their father was cofounder of John Birch Society. Each, individually is one fo 10 richest people in USA.). They run 2nd largest private company in US, oil&gas, and they fund a *lot* of thintkanks and other folks … like VA Attorney General Cuccinelli.

    Via Sourcewatch, see Tax Day Tea Party , and Koch Foundations.

    The Tea Party folks are fighting hard … for the Kochs to move up a notch in the wealth rankings.

    The Kochs fund a lot of climate anti-science, as can be seen in the money flows sections in Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony or in Koch Industries Secretly Funding….

    If you haven’t heard of Cuccinelli, he shows that Oz has no monopoly on crazed politicians, although perhaps a shared attribute is good funding from coal, electric utilities. See Wikipedia, especially sections “Female ****** shown on Virginia State Seal” (in which he issued reworked pins that covered the lady) and “Environment”, in which he tries to emulate James Inhofe on a more local level.

  14. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 08:50 | #14

    I have a new slogan for the Tea baggers that is probably closer to the mark: “I want my President not black.”

  15. Chris Warren
    May 28th, 2010 at 09:04 | #15

    Poor ‘ol Janet better stay away from this event (Canberra);


    The Australia Institute convenes the next Politics in the Pub on Wednesday 9 June, 5.30pm for a 6pm start.

    Don Russell will discuss ‘Is the US in decline? Is it time to reconsider our relationship with America?’

    Don was Principal Adviser to Paul Keating during his time as Treasurer and Prime Minister and has served as Australia’s Ambassador to the US in Washington.

    The event is free and will take place in The Lounge Bar, Level 3, @ The Uni Pub, 17 London Circuit.


  16. James
    May 28th, 2010 at 09:52 | #16

    Never a dull day on Planet Janet. Never any warming either.

  17. BilB
    May 28th, 2010 at 09:55 | #17

    That is a delightful turn of phrase there, James.

  18. BilB
    May 28th, 2010 at 10:06 | #18

    That is a huge issue there, Chris W, with so many aspects. Particularly right now. I don’t think that it has really twigged with the debating world just how many “forces” are on collision course at this very zone in time. If you stop to think about it for a few moments, it is absolutely fascinating.

  19. Ken Lovell
    May 28th, 2010 at 11:36 | #19

    The ‘our country’ thing is surely just a bit of old-fashioned tribalism; it’s the same as juvenile surfers spraying ‘locals only’ at the beach car park. Translated, it means something like ‘a country where we are recognised as the ideal citizens, our values are the official values and “otherness” is dismissed as an unhealthy aberration’. It reflects all the pent-up resentment of years of forced tolerance, multi-culturalism and the entropy of American exceptionalism.

  20. BilB
    May 28th, 2010 at 11:49 | #20

    There is a huge chunk of that, Ken, but I recon that there is something much greater at play. I have been thinking about it and I’m prepared to suggest that WWIII has begun. It is not a war of weapons, but of cultures, resources, energy, technology, communication, minds and economics.

  21. conrad
    May 28th, 2010 at 14:20 | #21

    “It reflects all the pent-up resentment of years of forced tolerance, multi-culturalism and the entropy of American exceptionalism.”

    At least for Australia it doesn’t. There was far more of the “our country” sort of BS at the start of multi-culturalism 30 years ago than now. Indeed, at least in Melbourne, for example, the sort of “Asians go home” type graffitti and other such things didn’t start disappearing until the mid 90s (which was replaced by similar things against the Arabs/Lebanese in Sydney and to a far lesser extent Melbourne). So the growth/reduction of these sorts of attitudes doesn’t seem especially strongly related to those factors you mention. Is the opposite true of the US? That is, did, say, the attitudes to Mexicans 30 years ago start off really positive and end up what it is today?

  22. Ken Lovell
    May 28th, 2010 at 14:43 | #22

    Conrad I was referring specifically to the US tea party mob. Their counterparts in Australia would be the One Nation supporters from the late 1990s, but nobody has managed to mobilise them here the way Fox News et al have done in the USA.

    The overt expressions of racism that you mention are more likely to come from a different cohort altogether, mainly street kids. Not too many Pauline Hanson disciples went around spraying graffiti; in fact one of their pet whines is that they have no way of expressing their grievances. You can see this exploited brilliantly in the USA by the ‘liberal media’ meme that lets them all feel angry about being disenfranchised even as 9 of the top 10 rating cable TV shows belong to the Limbaughs and Hannitys and the like.

  23. BilB
    May 28th, 2010 at 15:35 | #23

    I think that the “we want our country back” is really “what has happened to the American Dream”, the hope that to work hard can lead to get rich quick. The sad thing is that the dream seekers don’t realise that the hope that made the dream has been corporatised, mergered, outsourced, and finally sold to over seas interests, principally China.

    What did they think would be the final outcome of “we need to merge to be competitive”? Well monopoly of course. Isn’t Albrechtsen beholding to the key monopolist in here field? Well now any dream of making wealth in news serves only one man’s interests. Mineral, BHP Billiton. Oil? BP, well used to be BP. Consumer goods, WallMart. Entertainment? Time Warner. And so on.

    And no longer is the dream for “great wealth”, it is for absolutely bizarely over the top unimaginable wealth. You don’t count if you are a simple multimillionaire, you’ve got to be a billionaire. So not only is the hope for dreamers drying up, the successful dreamers who have made it are going to trample down anyone else trying to climb out of the mud.

    The American Dream has out done itself. It has run its course.

    Albrechtsen should be lamenting that there is “no room for dreamers”. But, no. We’re gonna blame the Black Guy, he killed the dream.

  24. may
    May 28th, 2010 at 16:55 | #24

    Planet janet.

    on the board of “our” ABC.

    does this give a purely Oz meaning to “librul bias”?

  25. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 17:13 | #25

    Seems Janet has always depended on the kindness of strangers, and friends. Stacking the ABC seems to have been very successful for the Libs. No one can credibly claim now that there is any Labor bias there.

  26. billie
    May 28th, 2010 at 17:21 | #26

    Is she still on the board of ‘our’ ABC.

    Perhaps that explains their editorial list to the Right

  27. Jim Rose
    May 28th, 2010 at 17:31 | #27

    Democracy can be surprisingly raucous as previous posts obliquely note.

    In the 1990s, the American Right suffered from Clinton derangement syndrome.

    In the 2000s, the American Left suffered from George Bush derangement syndrome.

    The American Right is now denouncing elitism.

    The danger of responding with derision and counter-insults is that these responses appeal only to the people who will vote for you anyway. They do not reach out to the discontented that are interested but are undecided and not yet persuaded by the ideas of the emergent movement because you are not answering what troubles them so much.

    As an example, the Left spent a lot of time belittling Reagan as an ill-educated conservative well outside of the mainstream, as defined by them.

    So busy was the Left with their insults that it did not notice that Reagan, a first time political novice, unseated a two-term sitting governor in 1966. In 1976, he got within a 100 delegates of taking his party’s nomination away from a sitting president. Four years later, Reagan unseated a sitting president and was re-elected in a landslide. Winning elections against the odds is a good criterion for political effectiveness.

    Underestimating your opponents because they lack education and refinement risks condemning your-self to long spells on the opposition benches. They still have the vote. Crude insults gives them free publicity and will mobilise their support base and will shift the undecided in their favour because the issues that troubled them were dismissed with personal insults. Grievances can be resolved, grievances can be resolved, but slight someone and they will fight you forever.

  28. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 17:55 | #28

    Yes, you are quite right Jim.

    Regan and G W Bush show by their example, that widespread recognition of how totally defective a candidate is, is far from any guarantee that the knuckledraggers of this world won’t vote them in anyway.

  29. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:00 | #29

    Abbott and the other rabble, despite their obvious failings, cannot be dismissed as having no chance in the coming election.

    At least some of us can always move to another country. In my case, given that NZ is a basket case and anywhere in Africa even worse, it may be Northern Hemisphere here I come.

  30. Jim Rose
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:15 | #30


    Elitism is another reason why the Left is condemned by its own actions to the opposition benches.

    Hawke, Keating and Rudd won office by firmly camping themselves over the centre of politics and keeping the Left well in check.

    All three knew that the policies of the Left of their party fail at the ballot box because they are deeply unpopular, always have been, and always will be.

    1972 to 1975 was an aberration due to having to face a government of 23 years vintage and even then Bill McMahon was beaten narrowly on points. Nine seats, as I recall.

    The collapse of public support for Rudd in about 2 months defies explanation. The fastest I have ever seen.

  31. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:23 | #31


    The American Dream was mostly just that, a dream. It was a mass delusion that anyone could get rich. There was a time when someone, with luck and exceptional talents, from most any social strata could get rich, could ‘make it’ in some way or other, and that time has not passed. They still can today. Obama is but a recent example. But Americans in general brought a fiction that that possibility was really there for everyone, regardless. And like the soldier who believes they have a field marshal’s baton in their knapsack, many Americans imagine themselves ending up on top of the tree.

    I think that is the reason the US has less social cohesion and less concern for their fellow citizen, as exemplified in their reluctance to create an adequate medical system. If almost everyone is under the delusion that they are going to be top dog, the type of society they tend to choose is one that only satisfies the winner in a winner take all society.

  32. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:29 | #32

    @Jim Rose

    Elitism is a problem of the right as well as the centre and the left, and Albrechtsen and various other Aus opinion writers demonstrate. That said, in the case of the right (and the left) it is a faux kind of elitism as exemplified by that cult comic Quadrant. The occasional perusal of Quadrant is always good for a hearty laugh.

  33. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:31 | #33

    I found the high initial level of support for Rudd in even greater need of an explanation.

  34. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:33 | #34

    Planet Janet and the others of their obvious capital O obvious) bias on the ABC makes it a libully bias. Such an obvious stack by Howard….rather disappointed Rudd still hasnt reversed it.

    Quip of the day to Freelander!

  35. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 18:37 | #35

    The American dream grew conquered expanded and is now weakening the umbilical cord to its own people…reminds me of the Roman Empire. They have forgotten what made them great and simply spread too thin in their quest for greater greatness. The weakness of the supply chain becoming too remote from its main markets.

  36. Jim Rose
    May 28th, 2010 at 19:33 | #36


    On your comments on the inexplicable rise of Rudd to office, are you able to explain or provide some initial reasons for anything that happens in politics and world affairs? For example, why elections are won and lost, and why ideas and wars are popular or not?

    Rudd won because he seemed a safe alternative to a tired and smelly government that outreached itself after it won control of the Senate.

    Rudd is on the nose because he has been discovered to be a phoney. You are on the way out as PM as soon as people perceive you to be weak. Howard, Hawke, Keating, and a far back as Menzies knew that you can be popular or unpopular, but it is more important that most people respect you even if many of them disagree with you.

    Rudd has been exposed as having no convictions; he does not stand for anything, and he will happily swap talking points to take the other side of almost any public debate if it wins him the next news cycle. Rudd seems unable to risk unpopularity and know how to fight back to win people back over again and to forgive him.

    In 2007, Rudd was the safe default option rather than a street fighter coming back from behind. Howard spent most of his career fighting back from behind and even from the political graveyard. That taught Howard how to stay calm, set goals, sell initially unpopular policies and win back respect.

    Rudd could have been somebody, he could have been a contender, but he has just got no respect.

  37. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 19:52 | #37

    @Jim Rose
    Jim Rose – I suppose you think the vacuous big ears big triceps no policy is the answer? Youve been here before harping on the same tune. You are a tribal.

  38. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 19:57 | #38

    @Jim Rose
    I might add at this point your hero sides with big business against the majority of businesses, he sides with kicking the youth of Australia with workchoices and now he wants to kick retirees by denying them access to their super. Make no mistake…your hero is a sell out to big business donations to the liberal party….and it makes me sick that some of the brainless will vote for him.
    Even Malcolm Fraser thinks he was an insult to “liberalism” and Abbott is…just that – an insult to conservatism and liberalism. Jim you are so far behind you cant see your own way out of your narrow (one vote one party) ethos. The worry is there are plenty more like you and youll get what you deserve.

  39. BilB
    May 28th, 2010 at 20:24 | #39

    Spot on Freelander, and Alice.

  40. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 20:26 | #40

    @Jim Rose
    And Jim Rose…..you have no respect. The people of Australia voted Howard out and his attack dog Abbott out. Abbott is a relic and could never have been a contender and never will be a contender. He wants to say a few words now about how “the Howard government is over”…but he only wants to say those words because he knows how much Australians hate the word Howard now. But Abbott hasnt changed and he cant change. Abbott was Howards deputy.

  41. Jim Rose
    May 28th, 2010 at 20:29 | #41


    You yourself have supported work choices style laws when they suited your political agenda and growing thirst for show trials.

    In a posting a few weeks ago on Enron, you supported marching the executives out the door and firing on the spot anyone left behind who was unwilling to work for public wages.

    Forcing workers to accept pay cuts under threat of instant dismissal, as you longed for, requires that there be no laws against unfair dismissal, bad faith and abuse of employer power. You cannot have your show trials, public denunciations and general bullying at Enron without work choices style employment laws in the legal background.

    It is just so easy to support the rights of people you like. It is a lot harder to accept that equality under the law requires that those rights extend to people you hate.

    Remember that one day the always fleeting and sometimes impassioned majority might define the unpopular and unpleasant to include you and yours. Of course, the careerists and Chardonnay socialists that make up most of the ALP these days will run to your defence, but only if doing so wins the next news cycle.

  42. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 20:45 | #42

    @Jim Rose

    Jim do you resort to lies also? You say

    “You yourself have supported work choices style laws when they suited your political agenda and growing thirst for show trials.”

    I have never ever supported Workchoices style laws. I always knew it would end up in tears before bedtime unlike you.
    And you have it all wrong on Enron. What I really would have supported was the frogmarching of the executives to the nearest jail (where they should have gone) and nationalisation and the offer to existing employees not implicated in the fraud thye chance to accept puclic sector wages (or not job at all).

    That is not the same and no amount of twisting makes it the same. I would have supported government takeover of Enron – apparently you cant tell the difference between public sector wages and workchoices wages Jim….slightly better I would think (unless you were one of the criminal directors).

  43. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 20:49 | #43

    @Jim Rose

    Jim really – I cant help myself…I have to make the call…. “chardonnay socialists’ is so passe – yesterday’s expression.. you know ..just out of date.

    You are really showing your vintage with this one…

  44. Freelander
    May 28th, 2010 at 20:59 | #44

    Yes, Jimbo. I have to agree with Alice. You are starting to become particularly clichéd, trotting out the trite repeatitive nonsense those faux intellectuals on the extreme right (and left) seem to mistake as providing evidence of insightful thought. Consequently, in search of a source of greater stimulation, I am going to see if I can find some repeat to watch on TV.

  45. Michael of Summer Hill
    May 28th, 2010 at 21:06 | #45

    Jim Rose, you say ‘Rudd could have been somebody’. Well the last time I saw him on TV he was still the Prime Minister of Australia. Try a little harder next time.

  46. Jim Rose
    May 28th, 2010 at 21:28 | #46


    We agree: you support work choices style laws when its suits you.

    When a company is nationalised, the government becomes the owner.

    As owner of the company, you admit that you would want the government to make the remaining honest employees accept public sector wages under threat of dismissal.

    To be fair to you, you are the right of work choices.

    Work choices is more generous than you when businesses change hands.

    The transmission of business rules under Work Choices protects existing awards and agreements for 12 months. Maybe you would sneak behind this and other protections with a bogus claim that all who rejected public sector wages are, by sheer coincidence, redundant and have no protections of their contractual rights at all.

    What you want for wages at the nationalised Enron cannot happen unless work choice style laws are in place to prevent the employees from suing for unfair dismissal.

    You made a momentary lapse into left-wing popularism.

    p.s. The term chardonnay socialist appeared in Australia and NZ in about 1989 and is regularly used by people from throughout the political spectrum to criticise opponents. For example, Australian left-wing true believers levelled it at the supporters of the failed republic referendum of 1999.

  47. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 21:29 | #47

    Better look for a repeat of Mr Ed Freelander in keeping with the current level of repartee on offer….

  48. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 21:36 | #48

    @Jim Rose
    Jim – “chardonnay socialists” was a term the sad right used to pillory “any one” who didnt subscribe to the free market agenda that has totally stuffed everything up.
    The bell has tolled, the crisis is upon us, the world gave your ideas a run but the referee has signalled and its game over…you lose (even with your out of date expressions).

    Kind of sad Jim but maybe its time you changed because the world is changing, with or without you…and its not going “left” or “right” – its just trying to clean up the unholy mess the right made. Ever heard of moderation Jim. Ever heard of being “bipartisan”. Ever heard of political parties working together? Well neither have I for quite some decades bit its about time it happened and everyone got over their phobias, ambitions and petty political aspirations to actually work for the majority in this country.

    Now tell me Jim you dont have a problem with that? (And if you do you are part of the problem …not the solution…and I will respond accordingly).

  49. Alice
    May 28th, 2010 at 21:48 | #49

    @Jim Rose
    I also object to people who claim I agree with them or rather then “its settled – we agree then”.

    We do? We actually didnt….quite the opposite… and your views are views I dont agree with as should be obvious to you and everyone (except for your apparent insensivity in the interpretation).

    Ill make it plain Jim Rose. Its all settled. I dont agree with your views. I havent in the past. I dont in the present. If you come up with something in the future I actually do agree with…Ill be happy to let you know about my agreeement.

    I dont want to be unkind but there it is…

  50. Jim Rose
    May 28th, 2010 at 22:23 | #50


    I see you have accepted that you made a lapse.

    You seem to agree that employers cannot legally cut employee’s wages unless they get prior agreement? No contract is open to unilateral variation.

    Do you agree that redundancy provisions must be observed in good faith with any payouts in accordance with the rates in the existing employment agreement?

    Chardonnay socialist is regularly used by people throughout the political spectrum. Australian left-wing true believers denounced the supporters of the failed republic referendum of 1999 as chardonnay socialists.

    Chardonnay socialist is derivative of champagne socialist which is a pejorative political term originating in the United Kingdom dating from 1855.

    Champagne socialists may claim to be against the Capitalist system but will still happily function in it and prosper from it. Marx was a champagne socialist, a glutton and letch. His fellow letch super rich Friedrich Engels was a most bourgeois of a creature – a wine snob and a regular participant in the Cheshire fox hunt.

    Champagne socialist came into more use as a different sort of sneer from different quarters when New Labour won power in 1997 and dumped its socialist past.

  51. Donald Oats
    May 28th, 2010 at 22:35 | #51

    Just to claim credit where credit is due, “Tax ’em ’til their eyes bleed” was originally my expression :-), but feel free to use it liberally…

  52. Savvas Tzionis
    May 28th, 2010 at 22:37 | #52


    “Their counterparts in Australia would be the One Nation supporters from the late 1990s, but nobody has managed to mobilise them here the way Fox News et al have done in the USA.”

    Could one reason be that the One Nation types here still had some belief in some sort of minimum wage/union’s, etc?

    The Fox News devotees appear to include a large dose of working class strugglers who refuse to see that neo-liberal market ideas are of no help to them.

  53. Jill Rush
    May 29th, 2010 at 01:05 | #53

    From Planet Janet “This is the same kind of blubbing uniformity you find at a Tea Party convention.” This comes after a castigation of those who denounced the tea party. It seems that she is able to deride the tea party adherents as she is from the right whereas those from the left are not to do so.

    It will be an interesting day when she writes a column devoted to those who are anti democratic because they lost the election; who now have Democrats in charge and black people living in the white house as the bosses.

    Until then her writings have all the predictability of fat in fast food. Its fills the space but is strangely unsatisfying.

  54. paul walter
    May 29th, 2010 at 03:38 | #54

    It seems to me that it (Albrechtsen) seems almost angry, like a witchetty grub hooked out of a gum tree trunk, wriggling away there as it finally cops the uncomfortable light of day.
    Good on John Mashey, about the sort of goons behind America’s latest atroturfing antics. Yahh!
    But be comforted. Someone utterly stupid enough to actually beleive, after such a length of time, that we’d rather live worse of than we are now, not even for the benefit of the poor but for more the sort of creatures of Bernie Madoff /Goldman Sachs notoriety, is already “gone”as far as I’m concerned.

  55. Michael of Summer Hill
    May 29th, 2010 at 06:19 | #55

    Update, Update, Update, after reading the story Financial crisis ‘cut greenhouse gas’ I decided to check the facts and would you believe it that was sexed up. According to the report they state emissions dipped to 537 million tonnes in 2009 a return to 2005 levels. But the graph clearly shows 2009 levels was equivalent to the last quarter of 2006 and not 2005. Of concern is the expected rise in emissions as the economy peters out of the GFC slump.

  56. Michael of Summer Hill
    May 29th, 2010 at 06:24 | #56

    Sorry John, posted in the wrong section.

  57. Alice
    May 29th, 2010 at 07:44 | #57

    @Donald Oats
    Sorry Don – re yr policy – “tax em till their eyes bleed” Humble apologies. I should be more careful with my citations.

    Gotta say regarding the Miners (and the Banks later hopefully…and how about Big Macca and a few other biggies and then maybe that Lowy clan?) I just love it.

    When can we start?

  58. Alice
    May 29th, 2010 at 07:52 | #58

    @Jim Rose
    Jim Rose – I think you drink too much. You completely forgot to mention all the semillon sauvignon social democrats and the cabernet sav merlot social democrats and come to think of it the schooner of beer social democrats around now.
    Gross ommission – you left out most of society from your sneer.

  59. May 29th, 2010 at 11:18 | #59

    Pr Q said:

    An anti-American, according to Albrechtsen is someone who supports the current President of the United States, favors the policies of his Administration, and opposes demonstrators invoking revolutionary slogans against the current government.

    Can Pr Q point to any part of JA’s article where she makes these assertions or implications? I am wondering if we read the same article because the JA article I read did not oppose “the the current President of the United States, criticise “the policies of his administration” or lend aid and comfort to “demonstrators invoking revolutionary slogans against the current government”.

    The only reference she makes to the “Tea Party” is where she suggests the reflexively conformist Left-liberalism displayed by some of the Sydney Writers Festival Panellists is “the same kind of blubbing uniformity you find at a Tea Party convention”. This does not suggest that she identifies with the Tea Party views.

    On the subject of “Americanism”, both anti- and pro-, JA was somewhat balanced. She quoted James Fallows, who writes for the moderately Left-liberal Atlantic, as having “the intellectual honesty to explore what is great about America while also exploring its greatest flaws”. She also observed that America was “a big country that makes big mistakes, to be sure”. This does not sound like the stance of a blind pro-Republican or even reflexively anti-Leftist.

    What bothered JA, and it bothers me too, is the moral snobbery of Left-liberals and their unwillingness to attribute intellectual credibility or even moral decency to their critics. As JS observed, “the smugness of the Left…the refusal to try for nuance, difference or debate on a panel”. As JA plausibly supposed:

    the authors on stage subscribe to the view of novelist Peter De Vries, mentioned in Hitchens’s new book, Hitch 22. De Vries said his ambition as a writer was for his books to attract a mass audience, “one large enough for his more elite audience to look down upon”.

    It does tend to get on ones nerves after the umpteenth iteration.

  60. May 29th, 2010 at 11:20 | #60

    Pr Q said:

    I wondered how rightwing commentators, quick to hurl the charge of anti-Americanism against anyone who disagreed with the policies of the Bush Administration, would deal with the election of a Democratic President…

    If the majority of Americans vote for a different government, then, as in Albrechtsen’s twisted logic, that just means most Americans are anti-American.

    JA was not particularly concerned with “the election of a Democratic President”, the state of US public opinion and partisan alignments. She was attacking the knee-jerk, lock-step Left-liberalism of Sydney Writers Festival panellists, focusing on Anne Summers who is not even an American citizen. I’d say there is a bit of cat-fighting sub-text on this issue.

    Summers stereotypical views of “heartland” populism were set into reinforced concrete ever since Nixon won the Presidency in 1968. Most of the panellists she criticised sounded more reflexively anti-American than pro-Obama. They were happy to riff of Summers set-ups:

    Summers presided over and, with simplistic questions, prompted 90 minutes of bashing America in general, and conservative America in particular. She kicked it off with a quote from a book by panellist Lionel Shriver. “Americans are fat, inarticulate and ignorant. They’re demanding, imperious and spoiled. They’re self-righteous and superior…” and so on. Cue the panel.

    Left-liberal intellectuals have been chanting this anti-American mantra ever since I was at uni, it goes back to the Frankfurt school. Its has nothing to do with social science, it is essentially a status-marker for cultural elites, showing them to be socially superior to their philistine fellow citizens who are pre-occupied with grubby materialism and flag-waving chauvinism. Hence the need for periodic bouts of self-affirmation at writers festivals, cocktail parties and now blogs which are turning into solipsistic echo chambers.

    And just like clock-work, JA and Gerard Henderson pop up every year to do their ritual Left-bashing, its part of their job statement as Right-wing columnists. (The job of a Left-wing intellectual is to critique society, the job of a Right-wing intellectual is to critique the Left-wing intellectual.)

  61. May 29th, 2010 at 11:42 | #61

    The problem is that both ideological camps are still fighting a political battle that has more or less fizzled out: the battle for the ideological affiliations of white middle-class Americans who remain ambivalent about “liberalism” in all its contrary manifestations.

    But we are no longer in Kansas anymore, Tonto.

    The Left, and their contra-egos on the Right, both identify “America” with the heartland populism most effectively exploited by Nixon in his quest to capture the votes of “the silent majority”. Both sides are trapped into the stereotype of ideological contests that began when they were at uni.

    What makes matters worse is that AUS intellectuals are still 10-15 years behind in this debate, hence the periodic farce of luvvie festivals. And AUS’s Right-wing intellectuals are generally ex-Leftists who are trapped within the same assumptions. It gives AUS ideological debates their chronically out-dated and derivative character.

    I say Goodbye to All That.

    It’s likely that the US’s populist Right-wing has lost its pre-dominant political power: Reagan won the 1984 election ~ 59-41. Obama won the 2008 election ~ 53-47. Thats a 12% turn-around in 24 years.

    The Tea Party is over-rated. I predict that the DEMs will retain control of Congress in the 2010 mid-term elections, although they will no doubt lose a few seats in both houses.

    A good Tea Party turn-out could create an upset. But the general trend is clear: the US is swinging to the Left, for better and for worse.

  62. May 30th, 2010 at 00:46 | #62
  63. Jill Rush
    May 30th, 2010 at 00:57 | #63

    “Not among decent-minded people surely. Not among our audience anyway, who reek of sensibility with their sensible shoes, their sensibly warm cardigans and scarves.

    It’s true the audience seemed content, clapping, heads nodding and shaking in tune. Perhaps this is what the elderly do to relive their salad days of unruly protest marches. ”

    It appears that if you dress warmly on cold days that you must be elderly and rather stupid in Planet Janet. Worthy only of derision.

    Janet has done a great piece in deriding those who she calls the equivalent of the tea party.

    She has a number of other goes at people who are sixty or so
    “the audience — with a mean age of 60 — seemed to be here to have their views affirmed. And so did the aging activist Anne Summers, who chaired the panel session. Alas, the taxpayer-funded Sydney Writers Festival is not meant to be a political or ideological gathering. Or a protest march for oldies.”

    In these statements the act of being sixty appears to be the crime as if only the young have the right to a political opinion – and the oldies shouldn’t be smug as if they may have learned a thing or two in their lifetime about compassion.

    I wonder if she would be as hard on a gathering at a church which in many ways sounds similar to the Writer’s Festival she describes.

    It does seem rather confused to suggest that the participants shouldn’t condemn the tea party while saying that they are bad like the tea party.

    Still Planet Janet has achieved her aim which is to be talked about.

  64. May 30th, 2010 at 08:30 | #64

    At first sight, the behavior of the tea party protesters seems extraordinary, as it is undemocratic. I realize that many of us get emotional about issues. It happens all the time. Protest is by its nature emotional. Yet if we are to be democratic we have focus on the common good and to recognize the concerns, values and interests of those affected by public policy, whoever they might be. That implication of democratic citizenship requires personal application and discipline. Democracy is inherently a social process and a social technology. I don’t find this process of dialogue, thinking and patience easy.

    Such a basic proposition seems to have escaped the American Tea Party crowd, who to my surprise we are told are wealthier and better educated than average. They seem to be driven both by a sense of entitlement and a fear of demographic change. They cannot be engage fully their racist purpose, because it would be bad PR, which their handlers well understand. To their credit, some involved, perhaps a significant number, have refused to emote on cue.

    The fact that such behavior can be induced illustrates it seems to me the techniques of political manipulation and marketing to a media segmented groups are dangerous and not merely pragmatic with electoral outcomes and the reinforcement of power “elites”. What are the long term effects of subjecting populations and psychographic segments of that population to systematic and constant propaganda? Often these methods are inducements of fear. The deliberative application of these methods also calls into question the license given to media proprietors to identify pliable, profitable, population segments without regard to social outcomes.

    Losing our democracy, with NSW, even without the antics of a tea party, the model of the failures of representative democracy – we can claim that distinction, even with six independents in the Legislative Assembly – ought to be a greater concern than “losing our country”. The NSW planning laws and the disenfranchisement of local government based on top-down control in which democratic corruption cannot be recognized by forensic and dutiful legal servants of the people. It is simply outside their terms of reference and their sense of public obligation, a far greater shortcoming than the antics of any emotionally-charged, benighted tea party activist.

    I suggest bailing out of the televisual circus and the radio noise machines, including the estimable and esteemed “Our ABC”, through which journalistic standards trump the simple-minded punchline every time, especially illustrated in recent times by ABC Online. Yet print has the advantage of allowing mental space for reflection and rational conversation.

  65. conrad
    May 30th, 2010 at 09:07 | #65

    “At first sight, the behavior of the tea party protesters seems extraordinary, as it is undemocratic”

    I don’t see why it’s undemocratic. This is just a problem with democracy, where some groups want to use their numbers and politically savvy to oppress others and get what they want. If the Tea Party can convince people of their values, vote themselves in and implement a bunch of policies lots of other people think are crazy, what’s undemocratic about it?

    “we have focus on the common good and to recognize the concerns, values and interests of those affected by public policy, whoever they might be. ”

    I’m sure Hugo Chavez would say exactly the same thing, so I’m not sure what set of political philosophies don’t subscribe to that sort of belief.

  66. paul walter
    May 30th, 2010 at 09:22 | #66

    Conrad, the difference is the Chavez phenomena is about the legitimate aspirations of the poor, but Tea-partying is merely about a wealthier classes grip of grim death on its privilege.

  67. conrad
    May 30th, 2010 at 10:05 | #67

    It seems to me that the most of the demographic “differences” people find with the Tea Party are basically trivial. The only demographic variable they differ on meaningfully appears to be the lack of black members (big deal, cf. e.g., demographic differences between blacks and whites). This is basically a classic case of social in-grouping and social out-grouping, where one group tries to invent differences between themselves and another rather demographically similar group, since no-one likes to think that their neighbor, who happens to be almost identical on many variables as themselves, thinks rather differently (“they’re richer”, “they don’t believe in the true meaning of democracy like we do”, “they’re XXXX” on some trivially different demographic variable or irrelevant stereotype). Very similar things happen with race-based differences, where you can take races of similar demographic characteristics yet still find that people think they differ a lot overall on a hundred and one different dimensions (go and ask someone what the differences are between Greeks, Chinese and Anglos in Australia, for example).

  68. May 30th, 2010 at 10:26 | #68

    I find it amusing that not a single new comment has been added to this article at Planet Janet since the 14 comments that were there when I clicked on the link. I posted there right after I read the link so we may conclude that they havce decided not to entertain further commentary.

    It’s possible (though unlikely) that nobody but me bothered to post — and in that case this might be even more damning of her influence. If only a maximum of 15 people thought it worthwhile making a comment … what is her reach?

  69. May 30th, 2010 at 12:28 | #69

    Conrad, when I suggested the tea party activists were undemocratic, I am proposing that democracy requires rationality in its process of discussion – which is likely to generate emotion – and dialogue. The way I see it, that component is essential, thus there is an implication for behavior. I agree with you the tendency to dismiss other people’s values is too easy, and then we tend to stereotype them and fail to appreciate what they are saying. Values are never trivial to the people who hold them.

  70. Alice
    May 30th, 2010 at 13:00 | #70

    @Fran Barlow
    Her reach is rather piddling I would suggest Fran as is Miranda Devine’s these days without a like thinking prime minister for these two to serve as an echo chamber…which is why, from the much more intelligent commentary available, I wonder why Rupes “tired” news is still giving the overexposed Miranda page three slots. Both have become jokes….but then so has the news.

  71. Alice
    May 30th, 2010 at 13:05 | #71

    @Fran Barlow
    Dont forget they censor Fran – probably got more negative responses to PJ than positive ones. Same in letters to edior – censorship rules in Rupe’s free market world.

  72. Ron
    May 30th, 2010 at 15:37 | #72

    Whilst i’ve never agreed with JA politcaly , th interpretaton put on her article by our Host I feel bears little remblanse to what her actual gripe was written in her post , although what our host says may be what she thinks but did not write

    JA neither pushed Tea Party nor knocked Obama nor reely claimed Democrats elections had no legitimacy

    Her whole articel when one reads it was based on her claim of th general Anti American bent of far left liberal progressives , and there zealotary & superiority smugness , and lack of diversity at Forum I think her 3 points ar valid in generic terms however JA convenient forgets her ilk ar over pro consevative American , and black & white vitriolic instead of arrogantly smug Fortunate that vast majority of oz reprsent neither extremist thinkin Grouping

  73. May 30th, 2010 at 17:46 | #73

    [email protected]#22 said:

    Whilst i’ve never agreed with JA politcaly , th interpretaton put on her article by our Host I feel bears little remblanse to what her actual gripe was written in her post , although what our host says may be what she thinks but did not write
    JA neither pushed Tea Party nor knocked Obama nor reely claimed Democrats elections had no legitimacy.

    Ron, my reaction was exactly the same as yours, see #9 and #10.

    I have no particular sympathy for JA’s political obsessions – denying AGW, ignoring the GFC and justifying the Iraq-attack – but she does have a point: White Left-liberal cultural elites are congenitally prone to preening snobbery when putting the American general populus in its place.

    Its tiresome and indicates that they are not really interested in social scientific understanding, what they want is social stratification standing. For more on this see Stuff White People Likes.

  74. Monkey’s Uncle
    May 30th, 2010 at 21:08 | #74

    I agree with Ron and Jack. From my reading of the JA article, I don’t think there is much there that accords with the interpretation JQ offers. I am not the greatest fan of Albrechtsen either. While she does write some sensible pieces, she also has a tendency to lapse into populist posturing and at times has a somewhat inflated view of her own intellectual abilities. When first reading JQ’s assessment, I half expected him to be right until I actually read the Albrechtsen article.

    Albrechtsen is generally right that a lot of left-wing forums have a tendency to be intellectually lazy and incurious, self-righteous and condescending. The only valid criticism is that this is hardly the most original insight anyone can offer, and anyone who is not a knee-jerk leftist tragic would surely already know this.

  75. jquiggin
    May 31st, 2010 at 09:16 | #75

    @Ron The first use of the term “anti-American” in JA’s article is para 3, which reads (with emphasis added, since you and others seem to have missed it)

    Not just the sleep-inducing sound and sight of five voices all nodding and shaking their heads to the same anti-American melody. Yes, we all voted for Barack Obama, yes, we all want action on climate change, no to religion, nuclear power, the Tea Party movement, the Bush administration (“evil was being actively pursued every single day”),

  76. Jim Rose
    May 31st, 2010 at 09:43 | #76

    There is nothing unusual about ill-mannered political discourse. In the 1980s, the cartoonists went a search for Ronald Reagan’s brain.

    A good discussion of political manners is in the Supreme Court judgment on Larry Flynt–Jerry Falwell case, which included a 200 year history of American political cartoons.

    The Court noted that the political cartoon is a weapon of attack, of scorn and ridicule and satire; it is least effective when it tries to pat some politician on the back. It is usually as welcome as a bee sting and is always controversial in some quarters, and continuously goes beyond the bounds of good taste and conventional manners. Lincoln’s tall, gangling posture, Teddy Roosevelt’s glasses and teeth, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s jutting jaw and cigarette holder have been memorialised by political cartoons with an effect that could not have been obtained by the photographer or portrait artist. From the viewpoint of history it is clear that our political discourse would have been considerably poorer without them.

    Shrillness is common-place is political discourse as is ignorance and ill-manners. Everyone has the right to speak and all adults can vote, including those who disagree with you and even fill you with revulsion.

    Every day spent pondering on the raucousness of your opponents and preaching to the converted is a day not spent showing the middle ground that the opposing viewpoint is wrong. You play into their hands by taking your eyes off the prize.

  77. May 31st, 2010 at 10:05 | #77

    [email protected]#25 said:

    The first use of the term “anti-American” in JA’s article is para 3, which reads (with emphasis added, since you and others seem to have missed it).

    We did not miss it, merely put it into context of her general point, which Pr Q missed or ignored. Which was that the SWF panel was yet another iteration in the endless procession of luvvie Left-liberals on show at such proceedings. The cardinal sin here is not “Left-liberalism” but being boring.

    Her rambling and incoherent shopping list of “anti-American” traits is a clumsy exercise in cultural epidemiology, compiled to construct an “ideal typical” syndrome of “anti-Americanism”. The traits are merely “risk factors” which taken together imply a higher probability that we are dealing with a reflexive “anti-American”.

    This does not imply that expression of any of these traits is clear proof of “anti-Americanism”. No more than having a chocolate biscuit implies obesity.

    JA’s streotype is not an essentialistic dogma. Thus she quotes Fallows, who for sure voted Obama and is a critic of the Tea Party, with approval because he did not conform to the anti-American stereotype. Her classification is open-ended and allows for some individualism.

    But the other members of the panel could have been wind-up dolls for all the open-mindedness of their opinions about America. Summers in particular has made a career of “pointing and spluttering” about the outrage du jour from the Red State chamber of horrors.

    More generally, this whole episode is an example of how tedious and tiresome the ideological shooting gallery can become. With contestants for-ever going through the same dreary process of constructing straw men (or women) targets and then taking pot-shots at their leisure.

    The world is not composed of polarised Platonic types who can be charged on the basis of literalistic evidence and then hauled in front of the bar of world opinion for a legalistic show-trial. Its a multi-dimensional spectrum, our models try to predict trait clusters.

    JA’s composition of an “anti-American” stereotype is not much more useful than her targets moronic conformity. And Pr Q’s counter-battery fire only forces the opposition to dig in. Typer and type complement each other in an epistemically closed circle.

  78. paul walter
    May 31st, 2010 at 10:08 | #78

    Amazing, isnt it! That one exception to the rule, America.
    The one place and people on earth who have transcended the recalcitrant phenomena of all too human nature, a nature common to the rest of us, to arrive at a state of just that perfection so patently beyond the rest of us.
    It and its Siamese twin Israel, assume a sort of righteous Godhead that challenges scrutiny and refutes even questioning, most specifically as intrinisically wrong and an outrageous intrusion. Well, stand back and admire, children: the if it looks odd, no worries, if it’s American it must be right, even if it looks patently wrong, for no other reason that its American.
    Eg, Morning Horizon. but we know from some sources it was actually the North Koreans, torpedoing the rig, don’t we?

    Since by definition, America is perfect- it says so loudly itself- we must join with Ron, Strocchi and others here in removing even the notion even of scrutiny, let alone criticism, since, as America is perfect, any examination is beyond superfluous; in fact absurd.
    What a medieval, Aristotelian fantasy universe and feel sorry that people, paticulalry Jack Strocchi who knows better, insulting our intelligences with a reiterationof Albrechtsen’s delusional viciousness, libelling and black fantasy propaganda..

  79. jquiggin
    May 31st, 2010 at 10:57 | #79

    Jack, your question was “Can Pr Q point to any part of JA’s article where she makes these assertions or implications?”

    I pointed to Para 3 and you started wittering about context, ideal types and risk factors. A simple “thank you” would have sufficed.

  80. Freelander
    May 31st, 2010 at 11:17 | #80

    It is anti-American to vote for Obama, or to have claimed to have voted for him. Janet can’t put it clearer than that. Or more stupidly. I wonder if she, even reads what she writes?

  81. May 31st, 2010 at 11:30 | #81

    Pr Q said:

    Update: Quite a few commentators seem to think I’m misrepresenting Albrechtsen here. I find this bizarre.

    Solipsism warning! Epistemic closed circle ahead!

    Pr Q said:

    the same anti-American melody. Yes, we all voted for Barack Obama,

    Obviously she is saying that voting for Obama is but one note in a symphony which, taken in totality, sounds “anti-American”.

    But that note, taken in isolation or in the context of complication, is innocent enough. Or else why would she quote Fallows, a fairly warm supporter of Obama, with approval?

    Voting Obama is not definitive proof of ones attitude towards America. The SWPL brigade, of which SWF are a good sample, all vote Obama. But most of them despise the heartland of America, including working class stiffs, many of whom probably also voted Obama.

    Of course both JA and the SWF both consider that the heartland, whichever way it votes, is the ideal form of American culture, which is Platonic essentialism. Obama falls into the same trap, remember his infamous “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” quote.

    I have my doubts about this stereotype. I think there are still plenty of Caucasian, Christian and Constitutionalist working class citizens who vote DEM, even Obama, but are not happy with the cultural politics of the SWPL folk. The Culture War is still being waged for their vote.

  82. smiths
    May 31st, 2010 at 11:48 | #82

    a well-informed anti-Americanism is an essential part of a modern healthy worldview,
    it doesnt mean you dislike individual americans or think the grand canyon is over-rated,
    it just means you object to the pattern of american actions and justifications over most of the twentieth century,
    most of the criticisms expressed against america were eloquently expressed by americans themselves long before everyone else got *** with them,
    it is a poor mind that equates a genuine criticism with a kind of racism,
    but we all knw Janet has a poor mind,
    i feel sorry for her, i really do pity hateful little gits like her

  83. jquiggin
    May 31st, 2010 at 13:09 | #83

    Again, Jack, a simple “Sorry, I was wrong” would suffice.

  84. Alice
    May 31st, 2010 at 13:51 | #84

    @Jack Strocchi
    So now even voting for a non republican president becomes “anti American” just like being “anti iraq war” was “un American” and disagreeing with anything the conservatives party thinks is “un American”.

    What JA really means Jack – seeing as you obviously cant accept the unpalatable through your own false sense of “political expertism on factions and subfactions” …which is unfortunately dripping with politically slanted ideologies, without considerable obfuscation and deflection and diversion (tap dancing wildly) is that voting for a democrat president is, well simply “un American.”

    What JA means is…its even more anti American to have voted for Obama when he wins.

    Cut to the core of this argument and it becomes “its un american (for everyone else) to vote” when your favourite doesnt win.

    Youre completely sunk Strocchiverse. Apologise and get over it. There are idiot conservatives and JA is definitely one of them. I refer you to the para starting with “shocking!” in the following link – for a nice summary of JAs stock standard dumb cliches.


  85. May 31st, 2010 at 14:31 | #85

    Pr [email protected]#29 said:

    Jack, your question was “Can Pr Q point to any part of JA’s article where she makes these assertions or implications?”

    I pointed to Para 3 and you started wittering about context, ideal types and risk factors. A simple “thank you” would have sufficed.

    Thankyou for providing some substantiation, which is true as far as it goes. But that is no where near far enough to make your point.

    I am not wrong therefore no apology is obliged. Pr Q’s critique of JA is partisan, ignores contrary evidence and is useless in predicting her (admittedly contradictory) ideological position.

    True Pr Q did point to a part of JA’s article where she makes these assertions. But he pointedly ignored other parts of her article where she made statements in contradiction to this. So the most honest interpretation of the article is that JA is divided in her own mind or confused or considers cultural values rather than partisan politics to be a surer sign of “anti-Americanism”.

    The trouble is that JA attributes different and contradictory characteristics to “anti-American”. So Pr Q cannot insist that his partisan reading of her article is definitive and conclusive. Which means that my “twittering” about the inadequacy of stereotypes and her ambivalence is based on a fairer reading of the text.

    In one part of the article, which supports JQ’s reading, JA states that an “anti-American” is simply someone who votes for the basic DEM platform, which is now mainstream. In another part of the article she allows that one can be a mainstream DEM without falling into the trap of anti-Americanism, so long as this is not accompanied by smug put-downs of heartland values.

    In the passage quoted, referring to the SWF panellists, she does identify “anti-Americanism” as someone who supports the current President of the United States [“Yes, we all voted for Barack Obama”], favors the policies of his Administration [“yes, we all want action on climate change”], and opposes demonstrators invoking revolutionary slogans against the current government [“no…to the Tea Party”].

    But later on she favourably mentions James Fallows, who voted Obama, favours action on climate change and opposes the Tea Party, as a generally pro-American commentator. She quotes Fallows as a commentator who recognises the bad and the greater good in the politics of the American heartland in

    a thoughtful piece about the American cycle of crisis and renewal, Fallows has the intellectual honesty to explore what is great about America while also exploring its greatest flaws.

    Its worth quoting Fallows to get a full and fair picture of JA’s views on what does not count as an “anti-American”:

    Barack Obama’s very high popularity ratings just after the election suggest that even those who now oppose him and his policies recognized the potential for a new start.

    So Fallows is a “supporter of the current President of the United States” of America.

    Today the economically important technologies…climate-change-monitoring systems that measure the size of glaciers or extent of forests.

    So Fallows “favors the policies of his Administration” on climate change.

    At the moment, Republicans are objectively the more nihilistic, equating public anger with the sentiment that “their” America has been taken away and defining both political and substantive success as stopping the administration’s plans.

    One of those ingredients is exaggerated complaint by whichever group is out of political power….those who attend “tea bag” rallies against the Obama administration now.

    So Fallows “opposes demonstrators invoking revolutionary slogans against the current government”.

    According to Pr Q’s construction of JA, she must regard Fallows as an “anti-American”. Yet clearly she does not. Therefore Pr Q’s construction of JA’s “anti-American” stereotype is wrong, or at least partisan and therefore useless in prediction.

    I would suggest that a more accurate construction of JA’s notion of “anti-American” is someone who is both a stereotypical member of the Obama-supporting, DEM voting, Tea-Party-hating cultural elite who also expresses snobbish disdain for the cultural values of the traditional (Caucasian in race, Christian in religion and Constitution as ruler) heartland America.

    It may well be that the traditional heartland values of America are going from a majority to minority preference. This process has to go through the formality of actually happening. Until it does its fair to treat is as the majority cultural identity, for the moment at least.

    The SWF panel fits both sides of this conjunction, whilst Fallows only fits the former. Therefore the SWF are “anti-American” whilst Fallows is broadly “pro-American”.

    A more Occam’s razor interpretation of JA is that she identifies “anti-Americanism” as a cultural philosophical, rather than partisan political, condition. This is more consistent with general Culture War interpretations.

    I only go the ball-busting trouble of quoting chapter and verse on both sides of this blog squabble to show how ideologues reinforce each others caricatures by selective quotation and the construction of straw men.

    Undoubtedly JA is the worse offender here. But Pr Q is not all that far behind. Which is a pity. BUt it seems to be a pattern as many Left-liberal commentators are hardening their ideological positions in response to the Tea Party and associated Right-wing reactions in the RoW.

    Like I said, its becoming an epistemically closed circle.

  86. Jim Rose
    May 31st, 2010 at 14:55 | #86

    Popularist uprisings are common in US politics.

    Remember Perot. He was a well-mannered TV friendly version of the tea party.

    Perot won 19% of the presidential vote in 1992, and 8.4% in 1996.

    Perot appealed to disaffected voters across the political spectrum who had grown weary of the two-party system. NAFTA played a role in Perot’s support, and Perot voters were relatively moderate on hot button social issues.

    Perot siphoned votes nearly equally among Bush and Clinton in 1992, but of the voters who cited Bush’s broken “No New Taxes” pledge as “very important,” two thirds voted for Clinton.

    Attacking Perot as politically unrefined, arrogant and more than a little unstable did not do any good in 1992. Just made him fight harder and also belittled the concerns of his potential supporters turning them even more against the major party candidates.

    Combing fiscal conservatism with social moderation was Clinton’s response to the Perot insurgency by the time of the 1996 election. Adapt or lose office. Clinton was re-elected easily. Made him the first elected incumbent Democratic president to be re-elected since Roosevelt

    The worst way to ask for someone’s vote is to belittle what troubles them and insult them personally to round things off.

  87. Ron
    May 31st, 2010 at 15:00 | #87

    It seems diferent bloggers hav interpreted JA diferently

    JA is not claiming a vote for Obama is un American at all , which is where our Host I feel is wrong to claim

    Clearly voting for Obama can not be un American , and it wuld be ilogical for JA or anyone to think so given Obama won 364 E/V votes including most ‘heartland’ American States

    What JA (corectly) is claiming is th far left ‘liberal progressives’ & there Media suporters , (who ALSO voted for Obama) is A Grouping (of far left liberal progressives) who have a general zealous anti American bent And it was THAT Grouping that made up th Forum I agree with her on that

    Further , JA is claiming THAT Grouping ( (of far left liberal progressives) display a smug arroganse of there Elitist rightousness on most issues I generally agree with her on that

    And finally , JA is claiming Forum lacked opinion diversity , a claim hard to dispute

    JA then (corectly) identified what that Group ALSO stood for…climate change , anti Bush , anti Tea party….yet 53% of Americans (Democrats and millions of voters in th “Independents” demograpgh) ALSO held those views which is wh THEY voted for Obama …..so those above views ar hardly ‘owned” alone by th approx 15% of US voters who ar far left liberal progressives It was lazy of JA to omit that point

    Theefore overall , I saw JA’s articel simply as a broad swipe at THAT Grouping of far left liberal progressives AND there Forum for there generally zealous anti american attitudes , and a swipe at that Groupings superiority smugness of there views as if anyone elses is imoral I felt JA had a point

    But JA does lives in a glass house herself , because her right wing consevative Grouping of Rush Lumbagh , Anne Couter , Andrew Bolt , Piers Akermann & MSN express vitriolic views as well , but from th reverse politcal spectrum as opposed to th far left liberal progressives , and her Grouping does so with th most cutting offensive false accusations (as opposed to th far left liberal progressives superiority smug false Elitist approach)

    Finaly , Paul Waters claims I suggest USA is beyond critism , yet there is nothing in my only blog to suggest that In fact elsewhere i’ve been accused of being a blogoshere leeder of th “Anti Semitic Left” , simply because I’ve critised US for its shocking un even handed treatment of Palistiniens

    I dont agree with JA on virtually any specific politcal issue , but what our Host said was not what per post was about I felt , her post was about th forum and far left liberal progressives Grouping it was made up of

  88. Alice
    May 31st, 2010 at 17:25 | #88

    @Jack Strocchi
    Strocchi – you even refer to complete delusions in your defence of JA.

    “But most of them despise the “heartland of America”…..

    There is no “heartland of America” …the term is a non descript indefinable subjective view. Who’s Jack Strocchi??? Yours?? Or the other myriad groups and demographics that make up the US majority…

    They voted. The “American heartland voted”. Obama is who the “American Heartland” voted for.

    Your definition of the “American heartland” would be most welcome Jack…if it isnt the one that voted Obama in I wouldnt be at all surprised (which is what JA is laying claim to – some BS knowledge of where the American heart lives but apparently they didnt win the election) but it would just prove to me you and your ilk have no idea of where the “American heartland” is at.

    With and behind your black president.

  89. Alice
    May 31st, 2010 at 17:37 | #89

    @Jim Rose
    Rubbish Jim Rose. It was the Sydney Writer’s festival – for all writers not just as JA incorrectly read it “a meeting of far left liberal progressives”

    Damn writers and artists – not all writers and artists are some sort of extremist and liberal progressives and nor should JA be able to make up damn political wingnut lies about a writer’s festival just because the greatest wingnut of all (RM) gives this shrill harpy media space. In more genteel times the writers would have been complimented and Im fed up with ratty political views on which side of politics people like writers and artists in our society vote.

    None of her damn business to make up lies from her twisted view, have them published by a slack sympathetic right wing media and to make the Sydney Writers festival into a “political event” because one shrill loudmouthed right wing harpy says it was.

    No iot wasnt and in times past these writers would have received the praise they well and truly deserved. Where is our sense of pride in our cultural achievements – where has it gone?

  90. paul walter
    May 31st, 2010 at 19:39 | #90

    Ron, 36, given your feelings concerning Israel, you will be disappointed to hear of the attack by the Israeli navy on that fleet of boats bringing aid to Gaza?
    quite some blodshed, one reads…

  91. Freelander
    May 31st, 2010 at 20:35 | #91

    Jim Rose :
    . In the 1980s, the cartoonists went a search for Ronald Reagan’s brain.

    Did they find it? If they did, did they return it to him? And did that have any impact on his policies?

  92. Jim Rose
    May 31st, 2010 at 21:38 | #92


    Your remarks are unflattering to Reagan’s opponents.

    Someone you say is a brainless Republican:

    1. In his first run for office, unseated a two-term sitting democratic party governor in 1966.
    2. In 1976, he got within a 100 delegates of taking his party’s nomination away from a sitting president.
    3. Four years later, Reagan unseated a sitting Democratic party president.
    4. Re-elected in a landslide – Mondale won his own state, just.

    Reagan could whip you lefties without even pausing for thought, if you are to be believed.

  93. paul of albury
    May 31st, 2010 at 22:10 | #93

    And GWB won two (well one anyway) presidential elections. You don’t need brains to get elected president though it probably helps you do the right things once you’re there. What you need to get elected is powerful friends.

  94. Jim Rose
    May 31st, 2010 at 22:43 | #94

    @paul of albury

    ‘What you need to get elected is powerful friends.” Not sure about that.

    Obama was the first president to be elected while still a senator since Kennedy. Before that, you need to go back to 1920. Dole resigned from the Senate mid-campaign in 1996 because it was a draw back with the voters. Seen as too close to the Washington elites.

    Many presidents who get in by election are governors. This requires them to build coalitions that go well outside the state and regional areas of strength and they often play on their status as Washington outsiders.

    Primary elections have ruled since 1972, which means you must win millions of votes from ordinary people all across the country, with a lot of retail politics.

    The best soapy on TV in 2007-08 was the US election.

  95. Jill Rush
    May 31st, 2010 at 23:30 | #95

    Alice – the Planet Janet approach to anti Americanism is that not only are the writers supporint Obama but they are elderly and wear sensible clothing. Her obsession with the age of the people at the writer’s festival and her general disrespect for people who probably attended because they are interested in engaging intelligently with the world while having the means to do so is, I suspect, anti Australian.

  96. Jill Rush
    May 31st, 2010 at 23:34 | #96


  97. Freelander
    May 31st, 2010 at 23:57 | #97

    Jim Rose :

    Reagan could whip you lefties without even pausing for thought…

    He never had to pause for thought. That was his real advantage. His thoughtlessness was part of his charm. That is how those who voted for him recognised him as “one of us”. Same appeal that GW Bush used.

    And Ronnie was a success. Yes, he simply used that “Aw. Shucks.” old boy charm, the same charm he used to sell cigarettes, and to the same, gullible, by then coughing, public.

    Nevertheless, I don’t know who you think is a lefty, but, whoever your target, regun might have problems whipping them, (unless he is a zombie), because he is dead, and before that, that is before he was officially buried, he was the walking dead, because he had Alzheimer’s. The question still unresolved, and currently being fought over by historians, is whether he started suffering from that, before or during his first term. And whether it was he, who gave it to the rest of the Republican party. Which, frankly, has never been the same after they turned on Nixon.

    Sounds like you probably own the Right’s version of Ken and Barbie – Ronnie and Maggie dolls.

    But seriously, you really are pulling our legs with all this tripe you have been posting? Seriously. Haven’t you? You couldn’t possibly believe any of it. Could you?

  98. Freelander
    June 1st, 2010 at 00:07 | #98

    By the way, Jimbo. As, from your comments, you seem unaware… Winning a presidential election is not, as far as I know, one of the ways of qualifying for Mensa (not that anyone would want to join such a silly group).

    Before Reagan, I would be surprised if any of Republican presidents would have had any trouble qualifying. Since Reagan (and before) the Democratic Presidents wouldn’t have had any trouble. And lets face it. Of the three, Reagan, George the Elder, and George the Younger, even George the Elder wouldn’t have made it.

  99. Ron
    June 1st, 2010 at 00:21 | #99

    Paul Water

    “Ron, 36, given your feelings concerning Israel, you will be disappointed to hear of the attack by the Israeli navy on that fleet of boats bringing aid to Gaza?”

    1/ yes , I am very disappointed that a humanitrian aid flotila should be ambushed by Israel , that aid workers were slaughtered , that Israel is also in breech of International waters laws and disappointed that desperate needed aid did not get thru th to trapped Palestinien millions living in Gazza , under a virtual Israeli concentration camp

    I was also disappointed to hear th Channel 9 News “report” quote: ‘that Israeli Navy stopped th blockade of Hamas extremists’

    ….ie with Channel 9 implying Hamas is exercising th blockade when in fact Israel is ! ( geez Hamas do not even hav a Navy !) , and when Chanel 9 ALSO uses th inflamotory words ‘Hamas extremists’ , simply to camoflage that th aid is for 2 million human beings being Palisitiniens One wonders Then Channel 2 most aid workers were alled pro palestininen “militants” One wonders when oz Public will ever be told by MSN what is actualy happening in M/E unbiasely

    2/ As for JA , I am amazed she has creatd such a storm here , and damn , only due to that storm did I actualy read one of her articels for first time ! , but I learnt nothing She objected to th Forum Panel of mainly far left liberal progresives , a Grouping that DOES hav generaly anti American views and often uttered in smug elitist superiority I do not disagree with her on either point

    However JA the thru in red herrings about anti bush and Tea Party views she implying they were only those of Forum Panel to suport her argument , when factualy 53% of US voters held those views which is why 53% voted for Obama , and almost 40% of those ar NOT far left liberal progresives at all AND quite clearly ar NOT anti American at all Quite sloppy logic

    Whereas JA’s ilk of far right consevatives hav a quite OVER pro American view , almost uncritical of US whatsoever , and these far right consevatives Group can be equally criticised for this , and also for there offensive remarks against anyone disagreeing with there Grouping ( and JA qualifys there with Bolt etc ) I happen to beleive (thankful) most Aussies belong to neither of these 2 Group’s thinkin

  100. Freelander
    June 1st, 2010 at 01:47 | #100

    Clearly some of these peaceniks in the flotilla dressed themselves up as Israeli commandos and attacked themselves in international waters, all in a desperate attempt to make the Israelis look bad. As if we were about to be fooled so easily.

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