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Doublethink doubleplusungood

March 3rd, 2012

The news that Republican members of the Wyoming Legislature wanted the state to investigate buying an aircraft carrier[1] as insurance against a possible collapse of the US seems as good an occasion as any to signify the final descent of the party into irredeemable loopiness. Add to that the revival of birtherism, the inability to deal with Rush Limbaugh, and the absence of any coherent economic policy except tax cuts for the rich and you have a party that has seriously lost touch with reality.

As I observed a couple of years ago during the epistemic closure memetime, reality-denial mechanisms have some major political benefits, particularly in mobilising resistance against policy innovations, and tribal solidarity against outsiders of all kinds. But it seems clear at this point that the costs I mentioned then are now bigger than the benefits for the Repubs.

On any standard political calculus, they ought to be cruising towards a clean sweep in November – the economy is still in poor shape, and enthusiasm for Obama has declined massively as a result of policies in areas like civil liberties[2]. Instead, Republican pundits are already giving up on the Presidential election, and even on the Senate, and are starting to focus on whether they can even retain control of the House.[3]

Why is reality-denial turning out so badly, after working so well for so long. There are at several related factors at work here.

First, the parallel universe created by Fox News, the rightwing thinktanks and so on has turned out to be unstable and uncontrollable. Once released, viruses like birtherism cannot easily be recalled, and can mutate into new forms.

Second, there’s what might be called “cafeteria craziness”.  Although no-one on the Repub side of politics can afford to be openly sane on all issues (even Jon Huntsman vacillated on global warming when he thought he had a chance in NH),  only a minority are consistently crazy, and even they don’t all agree. So, it’s easy to get into trouble by saying something crazy that might, in other circumstances get a free pass, or even become a requirement for orthodoxy. This happened to Michelle Bachmann when she pushed the anti-vaccination button, and to Newt Gingrich with his lunar colony.

Third, there’s the requirement for doublethink, most obvious on issues like evolution. Creationists don’t wnat their kids to be told the Bible is wrong, but most are uninterested in changing university-level science courses and would be horrified if Exxon started using flood geology to locate oil. The problem is that there can’t be any honest communication about which parts of the orthodoxy are occasions for doublethink and which are actually supposed to be true. So, when true believers in the base discover that their representatives are merely mouthing shibboleths, there is potential for all kinds of trouble.




fn1. Presumably, this would have provided a basis for demanding a corridor to the Pacific, along with other territorial demands on neighboring states without the foresight to prepare for war. And to forestall killjoy commenters, please don’t bother pointing out that the aircraft carrier was an amendment added as a joke.

fn2. I know that polls show majority support for Obama’s appalling policies, even amomg Dems. But those who are most appalled are precisely those who provided the most enthusiastic support in 2008.

fn3. Of course, anything could happen. But it’s a bad sign when that’s the most promising aspect of the outlook.

Posted via email from John’s posterous

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  1. paul walter
    March 3rd, 2012 at 20:58 | #1

    They’re a weird lot there, they’ve just started a cull on already endangered wolves and a delightful photo up on the internet has a truck full of carcasses, along with two grinning, in-bred crackers who look like refugees from Southpark. It apparently home turf for the crank extremist group Aryan Nation and is famous for being a location for the Hidden or Secret Soviet armored divisions poised to attack the heartland of democracy, once the communists put a stooge in the White house, like Obama. If fact, I think someone is trying to run another Birther effort through courts or local legislative houses; also their Chief Justice is in strife for nakedly racist remarks, the other day.

  2. paul walter
    March 3rd, 2012 at 21:03 | #2

    The good news is that Obama came out publically in support of a young law student shock jock Rush Limbaugh called a”slut” for not rejecting contraception because someone elses money contributes to the scheme. Its analogous to the guff they come up with about paying tax in case it inadvertantly”educates someone else’s children”, or help someone else hit in a car accident, for example.

  3. paul walter
    March 3rd, 2012 at 21:13 | #3

    The reason the Republicans are in trouble is because the Tea Party nutters still have control of the Republican party. At the moment, many women in the states are upset at what they see to be an “attack on women”, typified in both the vile attitude of people like Limbaugh and some of the shenanigans going on at rigged House inquiries into women’s issues in Washington and because of bizarre legislation like the rubbish cooked up in Virginia recently concerning compulsory invasive/intrusive ultrasounds on women seeking terminations. With this, women are forced to watch the heart beat of a foetus before deciding to continue with termination, as some sort of guilt trip.
    The physicality of the process proposed was invasive enough to produce legal opinions comparing the process to rape and the crackpots finally had to let it drop.

  4. Freelander
    March 3rd, 2012 at 21:16 | #4

    To be fair, the request for the aircraft carrier was an add-on by opponents of the bill, added-on as a means of ridiculing the bill’s intent. The bill seems amongst the more reasonable ‘initiatives’ any bunch of Republicans has been involved in in recent years and the proposed expenditure was rather small

    Next time, please read the footnotes before commenting – JQ

  5. March 3rd, 2012 at 22:14 | #5

    Pr Q said:

    On any standard political calculus, they ought to be cruising towards a clean sweep in November – the economy is still in poor shape,

    A “standard political calculus” machine that predicts an Obama fail in 2012 is badly in need of a valve job because it seems to be based on absolute levels, rather than relative rates, of economic achievement. To be sure the economy looks “in poor shape” when compared to the boom years 1995-2005. But it looks much better than the bust years 2007-10. Given the modest signs of recovery the basic political-econometric models (Fair, Hibbs) predict an Obama-DEM victory in 2012, independent to the ongoing farce in the REPs.

    More generally, incumbents generally win because voters tend to give a President two bites at the cherry and usually feel some sort of obligation for all the patronage dispensed during the first term.

    FWIW, since early 2010, I have predicted an Obama victory in 2012, based on my reading of his basic triangulating strategy of tacking to the Centre in 2008-12 and Centre-Left for 2012-16 and my prediction that the Tea Party would crash and burn during which he would “play rope-a-dope, let them burn themselves out in a flurry of wild swings”:

    My gut feeling is that the current Tea Party movement is a flash in the pan, generating more smoke than fire and will burn out in a year or so. I therefore tentatively predict that Obama will suffer a bit of a short-term set back in the 2010 mid-term Congressional election. If the DEM vote holds up or improves in 2010 then we are looking at re-alignment.
    Over the medium term the absence of a falling-in-sky from this moderate health care reform will reassure white independent voters so he will probably recover and achieve a convincing victory in the 2012 election, better than Bush’s victory in the 2004 election. Over the longer term he will shift the polity further to the Centre-Left, to readjust the welfare state to adjust to fiscal policy and ethno political reality. In effect over the tennies he will do what Clinton wanted to do over the nineties, but more easily due to the weakening opposition.

    These predictions stand up pretty well, especially in comparison to Pr Q’s relentless pessimism and despairing counsels over the Obama admin’s admittedly timid and half-hearted reform agenda.

  6. March 3rd, 2012 at 22:54 | #6

    Pr Q said:

    enthusiasm for Obama has declined massively as a result of policies in areas like civil liberties[2]…fn2. I know that polls show majority support for Obama’s appalling policies, even amomg Dems. But those who are most appalled are precisely those who provided the most enthusiastic support in 2008.

    I doubt very much the “massive decline in enthusiasm” for Obama is related to his “appalling…policies in areas like civil liberties”. The people most depressed by Obama’s minor key authoritarianism and militarism are people like Pr Q, aging white baby-boomers with liberal convictions. In 2012 they will drag themselves off the polling booths and reluctantly tick the Obama-DEM boxes, but without much enthusiasm. Their hurt feelings won’t make any difference to the pre-ordained result.

    Turn-out for both parties will probably decline for the DEMs in 2012, but it usually does in the incumbent election cycle. The government base wearies of its champions charms and the opposition base won’t turn-out unless it has something to get worked up about. Thats about where we stand now.

    Obama’s political base is mainly ethnic – black, Hispanic – together with young people. There is no evidence that ethnic minorities are especially troubled by his admin’s authoritarian policies.

    And young people aren’t much more hopeful or changeful about Obama because they are a bit hopeless and changeless themselves. The “Occupy” movement seems to have less legs than the Tea Party. Harvard voting surveys, perhaps reflecting campus anxiety, indicate that “Millienials” are mainly depressed about their job prospects rather than the degradation of habeas corpus.

    “While we are more than a year away – it’s important to note that with enthusiasm about politics and Washington down, nearly three-quarters of Millennials seriously concerned about jobs and the economy – and more believing that the President that they helped elect will lose, rather than win re-election – this survey may well serve as an ominous sign for Barack Obama’s 2012 chances and the political engagement of America’s largest generation,” said John Della Volpe, Polling Director at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

    If I were a progressive liberal I would be trying to win over and re-vitalise the white working class which is demoralised by both sides of politics. They have it in them to be stand-up guys which is what you need in a fight. But progressive liberals have spent the past generation sneering at the cultural aspirations of white working class guys (“bogans”, “red-necks”) which is kind of self-defeating when you think of it.

  7. March 3rd, 2012 at 23:25 | #7

    http://cjw.id.au/WordPress/reminds me of the time Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt came on NPR to announce that his state had annexed Texas “in order to secure a warm water port”. April 1, of course, and nicely delivered, too. But reality is almost more bizarre. In 2011 a 1/3 billion dollar cable was entrenched between the NYSE and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in order to save 3 milliseconds on programmed http://cjw.id.au/WordPress/?p=932. Sadly, of course, the arcane realities of that weird world of trading made this infinitely more “rational” than launching the Wyoming Navy.

  8. Mel
    March 3rd, 2012 at 23:31 | #8

    Thankfully the GOP in Virginia has backed away from its original plant to mandate the medicalised rape of women who want an abortion. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0223/Abortion-wars-Virginia-retreats-on-invasive-probe-in-ultrasound-bill-video

  9. Michael
    March 3rd, 2012 at 23:41 | #9

    It’s hard to know whether this kind of politics is the long-term normal in the US and they occasionally indulge in clear thinking for a couple of decades here and there before revert to the norm. The tea party is all about authoritarian freedom, you can’t beat that for doublethink.

  10. thereisnorule6
    March 4th, 2012 at 00:28 | #10

    what is most troubling is the lack of unified opposition from women on these attacks (birth control, abortion, etc). The streets should look like it is 1968 as these measures are every bit as de-humanizing as anything that was done against any minority group in the US. What’s next, women isolation camps?

  11. rog
    March 4th, 2012 at 07:53 | #11

    9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror has sucked the oxygen out of progressive politics. And since the collapse of Lehmans most people are acutely aware of just how close they are to financial catastrophe – about 6 mortgage repayments.

  12. Charles
    March 4th, 2012 at 10:49 | #12

    Prof Q attitude to politics at the moment seem to be; the boat isn’t going to go exactly where I want it; so lets sink the thing.

  13. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 11:55 | #13


    Hey. Its not rape. They will get ‘consent’ first. The victims will be ‘free to choose’.

  14. Romanoz
    March 4th, 2012 at 12:05 | #14

    The Wyoming bill had an appropriation of $16,000. Why John, that wouldnt pay for a chapter in your latest book would it!
    BTW, could you list your grants on your web page? After the David McKnight affair I am curious to know where my taxes are going.

  15. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 12:16 | #15

    Deleted – read the footnotes, for heaven’s sake

  16. Fran Barlow
    March 4th, 2012 at 12:54 | #16


    Prof Q attitude to politics at the moment seem to be; the boat isn’t going to go exactly where I want it; so lets sink the thing.

    Hardly. That would describe Tony Abbott, but not PrQ. You’ll need at least one example of this if you’re not to be dismissed as trolling.

  17. Ikonoclast
    March 4th, 2012 at 13:28 | #17

    I’m finding it hard to believe that Americans in general (not just the GOP) have any real grasp on reality. They are completely blinded by their own enormous pride, selfishness and arrogance. Denizens of the USA simply have not grasped a set of simple facts.

    1. A God who favours the USA does not exist.
    2. The USA is not exceptional.
    3. The USA does not have a manifest destiny.
    4. The USA is past the peak of its power.
    5. The USA long ago trashed its supposed “moral superiority”.
    6. The US way of life can’t survive a collision with the laws of thermodynamics.
    7. Darwin was right.
    8. Marx was right.

  18. David Allen
    March 4th, 2012 at 14:15 | #18

    9. The USA is the greatest threat to peace in the world.
    10. The USA is the greatest threat to the world.

    also, seriously Fran Barlow, are you in a relationship with JQ or are you just an acolyte?

  19. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 14:32 | #19


    @David Allen

    To which should be added: the USA was never exceptional and never had “moral superiority”.

    The orgy of fracking was expected to bring oil prices down this year but the confected threat of a nuclear Iran, and the convenient embargo, means the US will get top dollar as a new net exporter of oil and gas products. Very convenient.

  20. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 14:33 | #20

    Moderation? Again?

  21. rog
    March 4th, 2012 at 14:37 | #21

    The Wyoming bill had an appropriation of $16,000. Why John, that wouldnt pay for a chapter in your latest book would it!

    Just shows how out of touch those folks from Wyoming are.

  22. rog
    March 4th, 2012 at 14:44 | #22

    @David Allen I would argue that the USA will never be the greatest threat to peace in the world, there are always plenty of other hopefuls wanting to take a shot at it. The hopeful’s ambition is usually thwarted by the presence of the US.

  23. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 15:39 | #23


    They weren’t out of touch as far as expenditure goes. That would be all it would cost, additionally, to do their report. As far as thwarting, the US has provoked much more conflict than it has ever ‘thwarted’, and brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation at least once.

  24. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 15:42 | #24

    The years of greatest threat from the US are before us. Within five years it will be the number two economy. And then it will be an economy with continuing manifest problems. The crazies will not go quietly into the night. And the break-up is likely to unleash massive numbers of loose nukes ready to go to the highest bidder.

  25. Ikonoclast
    March 4th, 2012 at 16:59 | #25


    Despite my criticism of it, I don’t expect the US to break up, not in the next 50 years anyway. Russia lost its satellites but retains all its modern heartleand territories including Sibera. US central governance is still stronger and more effective than Russia’s. The US may well have to retreat from regional ventures (like the M.E.) and wind back its world network of bases. Nonetheless, the US will retain all its states and territorial integrity I would think.

    China, USA and Russia will retain ample power to blow each other and the whole world up. This should continue to ensure a Mexican stand-off. The world may well benefit from being truly tripolar. The USA will benefit culturally (one hopes) from learning some humility and economically from retreating to a more realistic continental power status rather than its attempted unipolar world status.

    Having said all the above, it is still of great concern that so many Americans (even part of the educated class) have lost all contact with objective reality. It is quite bizarre.

  26. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 17:20 | #26

    The question is will it survive to 2020? There is no question about whether it will survive to 2050; it won’t. Enough different factions are involved in Federal government and as a unified force it is so dysfunctional that Federal assets will go to a variety of different groups. Lets face it. They fell to bits once already. This time there are many more fracture lines than North/South.

  27. rog
    March 4th, 2012 at 18:31 | #27

    @Freelander I think you underestimate the US freelander, by a significant factor.

  28. PeakVT
    March 4th, 2012 at 19:02 | #28

    @Freelander: Don’t be ridiculous. The US is far more integrated in 2012 than it was in 1861. The chance of it breaking up by 2020 is zero. The chance of it breaking up 2050 is pretty damn close to zero as well. As was the case in the 1800s, there’s absolutely no provision in the US Constitution for any state to withdraw, or for the entire thing being broken up into its current constituent states (none of which have been independent countries for well over 100 years). If energy issues become important enough it could split because the various resources are not evenly distributed. But it’s still less likely to fracture than countries with long-standing ethno-linguistic divisions (Belgium, Spain, Russia, Italy).

  29. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 19:08 | #29

    Cohesion has only ever been achieved in the US through the prospect of booty through the expansion of empire or through the confecting of external threats. As they increasingly become an inconsequential power the reality that these external threats are illusory will dawn on the manipulated masses and nothing will constrain them from turning on each other. A prospect preferably viewed from a distant planet.

    Hopefully I’m wrong!

  30. alfred venison
    March 4th, 2012 at 19:14 | #30

    dear guys
    maybe joel garreau’s 1981 nine nations of north america thesis will finally get a real world test run. with rises in motor car & aircraft fuel prices, continental distances will bite as never before. free fantasy economy & worsening weather will stretch federal ability to respond adequately to disasters. regions could be increasingly forced to turn within & rely on their own resources for disaster relief & soup kitchens, even. in that scenario, it just takes one yahoo, in a state legislature, to defy a federal gov’t order, requiring federal intervention in response, and its on for young and old, militias private & state. the soviet union fell from a lower baseline. and its citizenry were conditioned to service & privation. the usa citizenry/consumer pool are conditioned to a sense of entitlement to instant gratification & would start the fall from a higher standard of living on the whole. i think american “resentement” would be great & would feed a centrifugal individualism/regionalism that would be hard to contain, let alone reverse, once it got going. then again, i may just be thinking aloud in the open. and, actually, the last time they didn’t fall to bits, their union was preserved, which was a very good thing for canada, mexico & the caribbean at the time.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  31. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 19:21 | #31

    Indeed. My eyes are already tearing up in contemplation of the horror this inevitable collapse.

  32. Dan
    March 4th, 2012 at 19:45 | #32


    ‘As they increasingly become an inconsequential power…’

    I can’t see the most economically powerful country on the planet, with by far the most formidable military in the world including a nuclear arsenal, becoming ‘inconsequential’ any time soon, even if they become the second- or third-most economically powerful.

    Increasingly dysfunctional: maybe, probably even – but then again no-one’s going to have a smooth ride over the next forty years. Inconsequential: definitely not. Split up by 2050: vanishingly unlikely.

  33. Charles
    March 4th, 2012 at 19:59 | #33


    Prof Q attitude to politics at the moment seem to be; the boat isn’t going to go exactly where I want it; so lets sink the thing.

    Hardly. That would describe Tony Abbott, but not PrQ. You’ll need at least one example of this if you’re not to be dismissed as trolling.

    @Fran Barlow

    Oh I can give two; no vote for Labor Queensland, and a bit of a slagging of against Gillard. But I’m happy to be dismissed as trolling.

  34. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 20:02 | #34

    Soon all that fancy hardware will sit untended, unloved, and unguarded, awaiting tenders for scrap. Overreach in many dimensions accelerating arrival at their manifest destiny. Oh the horror!

  35. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 20:25 | #35

    @alfred venison

    Excellent analysis. States that never had much social cohesion to begin with are less resilient when times are tough. And tough is all the US faces.

  36. Sam
    March 4th, 2012 at 20:57 | #36

    Also, Limbaugh doesn’t understand how contraceptive pills work. http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-rachel-maddow-show/46610339#46610339

  37. John Quiggin
    March 4th, 2012 at 21:20 | #37

    You can Google my ARC Federation Fellowship grant for the research I’m funded to do, on uncertainty and adaptation to climate change in the Murray-Darling Basin*. RePeC (Google that too if you need to) lists my scholarly research output on these and related topics.

    Pointing out that Republicans, and their Australian hangers-on, are either liars or loons is something I do in my spare time, mostly for fun. Lately, though, I’ve been doing pretty well on the book sales front, as you are kind enough to observe (not to the tune of 16K a chapter, as you suggest, but doing well all the same). Feel free to help me along by buying the Australian edition of Zombie Economics, which will be coming out soon.

    * As the magic code word “adaptation” should indicate, this was a research priority of the Howard government, under which I received my funding.

  38. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 21:36 | #38

    In the long run, we all adapt.

  39. Mel
    March 4th, 2012 at 21:59 | #39

    The Democrats need to lift their game as well:

    “Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) has proposed a 2012-2013 budget that includes heavy cuts to some key departments while giving a $43 million tax break to a massive creationist theme park.

    In his plan, Beshear calls for a 6.4 percent cut to Kentucky’s higher education department, a 2.2 percent cut to the State Police force and sizable cuts to other agencies in what he calls an effort to cut the budget to the bone.”


    America is an odd place.

  40. Dan
    March 4th, 2012 at 22:12 | #40

    Kentucky particularly so. Remember that in very recent history plenty of Southern Democrats were out-and-out racists.

  41. Freelander
    March 4th, 2012 at 22:21 | #41

    But those Democrats became Republicans after they were ‘betrayed’ .

  42. Freelander
    March 5th, 2012 at 06:56 | #42
  43. Freelander
    March 5th, 2012 at 07:04 | #43

    Freelander :
    Deleted – read the footnotes, for heaven’s sake

    Read your own footnote for heaven’s sake!

    Your footnote accepts that the idea that “”that Republican members of the Wyoming Legislature wanted the state to investigate buying an aircraft carrier as insurance against a possible collapse of the US” is complete nonsense, a misrepresentation, so provides no support to the loopiness claim. Much as I enjoy bashing Republicans lets be fair!

  44. Fran Barlow
    March 5th, 2012 at 10:20 | #44

    @David Allen

    also, seriously Fran Barlow, are you in a relationship with JQ or are you just an acolyte?

    Hardly. I just disagreed sharply with him on CSG, for example. I don’t share his view on the potential for nuclear power in industrial scale energy systems (he is much more sceptical). He once said he’d vote tactically for the “B-team” in QLD (i.e. the LNP) — I’d never do that. He takes a rather more benign view of the Obama administration than do I.

  45. Fran Barlow
    March 5th, 2012 at 10:36 | #45


    Oh I can give two; no vote for Labor Queensland, and a bit of a slagging of against Gillard. But I’m happy to be dismissed as trolling.

    Neither of these view amount to:

    the boat isn’t going to go exactly where I want it; so lets sink the thing.

    The QLD ALP voted to steer itself onto the figurative political rocks by privatising public assets and turning on its support base in the labour movement. It was and is sinking itself without PrQ’s help. All he was saying was that they would not be doing that with his endorsement. Voting for “the B-Team” is not something I’d do, (AIUI he’s not voting for either now) but his disinclination to put his name to such a stupid move is entirely defensible.

    Even less is “slagging off Gillard” a case of trying “to sink the ship”. Gillard has been an egregious figure. Her pandering to the right and venom towards the left have been the biggest things the Federal Coalition have going for them. It seems entirely plausible that she will lead the ALP to a rout in 2013, again without PrQ’s assistance. She has earned being “slagged off”. Given that she is pitching at the right, it seems quite likely that having left-of-centre folk express their dismay at her regime is something she sees as a good thing. PrQ may actually be doing her a favour, at least in her opinion.

    It seems to me that PrQ is pitching at turning the ship away from a Costa Concordia-style disaster in favour of one in which we all sail off into serene and pleasant waters.

  46. rog
    March 5th, 2012 at 11:59 | #46

    @Mel There is a difference with the example of Kentucky – the investment is to show a commercial not ideological return.

  47. paul walter
    March 5th, 2012 at 12:39 | #47

    FB, I could sense Quiggins jaws drop when you finally revealed, “hardly” as to the relationship.
    Please reconsider. A man flush with the proceeds of a Howard research grant would make a fine sugar daddy.
    As to Gillard being the Tories best ally, isn’t this countered by the fact of Tony Abbott and asbestos-constructed Bishop “leading” them?
    What an astonishing opportunity they scotched with the last week, by lazily sitting on their arses waiting for Labor to implode, instead of seizing the moment to forward their own credentials!
    Their inability to mole whack a myxamitosis-paralytic ALP from six centimetres really raises the question of whether they could run a chook raffle at the local, let alone the country.

  48. Jim Birch
    March 5th, 2012 at 13:19 | #48

    Borowitz has humorously proposed a Birther Index as a measure of US economic performance with birther statements increasing on positive economic data; Barry Ritholtz finds it actually fits some data.


  49. Troy Prideaux
    March 5th, 2012 at 14:15 | #49

    @Jim Birch
    …hmmm… yeah… I suppose if psychologists ever needed irrefutable empirical evidence that “some mothers do have em”, then yup, the republican movement could be considered their smoking gun.
    However, alas, the democrats are (in my opinion) more corrupt.

  50. Dan
    March 5th, 2012 at 14:48 | #50

    @Troy Prideaux

    I’m curious as to the basis on which you form that opinion.

  51. Troy Prideaux
    March 5th, 2012 at 15:46 | #51

    Dan :
    @Troy Prideaux
    I’m curious as to the basis on which you form that opinion.

    From listing to republicans 🙂

    Obviously the Cheney’s, De Lay’s, Cunningham’s, Ney’s et al of the world are no shrinking violets in such exploits, but it was under the Clinton watch that the Glass-Steagall act was repealed (granted it took both sides of congress to pass). Large pharmaceuticals initiated their serious power drive during the Clinton years.
    The amount of campaign donation that Obama is receiving is downright alarming! Why hasn’t the Obama Admin taken bank reform seriously*after* the crisis? Could it be at the risk of upsetting his crony banking mates?
    For those who haven’t seen it, I can recommend a Google search of (former White House Press Secretary) “Bill Moyer Crony Capitalism” and watch the show for a glimpse of the cronyism entrenched in Washington today.

  52. Jim Birch
    March 5th, 2012 at 15:47 | #52

    @Troy Prideaux
    AFAICS arguing about whether the Republicans or Democrats are more corrupt doesn’t have a lot of value; there’s no clear empirical measure so it’s as much a statement of your own personal bias as an out-there truth.

    What matters more is is good policy and good governance and I think the Dems – corrupt or not – clearly are the best pick right now. The Republican appear to have well and truly vacated reality.

  53. Troy Prideaux
    March 5th, 2012 at 15:55 | #53

    @Jim Birch
    I was just expressing an opinion Jim (all of 2c worth). I agree with you in general and also agree the Dems are probably the best pick right now.

  54. Freelander
    March 5th, 2012 at 16:05 | #54

    @Troy Prideaux

    That might just be a true statement when applied to the Australian scene as well. Corruption is always difficult to judge as the successful ones disguise it so well.

  55. Dan
    March 5th, 2012 at 18:49 | #55

    I guess the reason I asked what I did is because, quite apart from suitcases full of cash near the Potomac, there’s a lot of what one might describe as legalised corruption or legalised bribery in, heck, let’s face it, most democracies. I imagine if you’re thinking about campaign finance from big business probably the Repubs get an, erm, ‘better’ deal.

  56. paul walter
    March 5th, 2012 at 19:59 | #56

    Y’know,on teev tonight, we find they’ve done it again!
    This time riot coppers moved in to violently bust up a small demonstration of people, mainly women, protesting Virginia’s curious recent forays into legislative territory they feel is “anti woman”.
    Is democracy, truncheon style, still democracy?

  57. paul of albury
    March 5th, 2012 at 20:26 | #57

    As to Gillard being the Tories best ally, isn’t this countered by the fact of Tony Abbott and asbestos-constructed Bishop “leading” them?

    On the contrary, I’d have thought their success proves it.

  58. Freelander
    March 5th, 2012 at 21:03 | #58

    @paul walter

    What’s more disturbing is how few people nowadays find this increasingly regular spectacle disturbing!

  59. Ram
    March 6th, 2012 at 01:53 | #59

    Do you guys get Bill Maher via HBO in Australia? He’s been so right about the bubble that the Republicans live in.

  60. Dan
    March 7th, 2012 at 20:13 | #60

    We get him via YouTube etc.

  61. Fran Barlow
    March 10th, 2012 at 10:39 | #61

    This is fun:

    In Positive Economic Sign, Republicans Starting to Say Obama Wasn’t Born in US Again

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In what some experts are calling a strong indicator of improvement in the economy, Republicans in recent weeks have begun renewing their claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States {…}

  62. March 14th, 2012 at 17:38 | #62

    Wait… Wyoming’s landlocked right?

    Perhaps the sheer batshit craziness of the Republican nominees are actually having effect on the American populace. Gingrich with his much lauded Moonbase, Romney for changing his opinion on a five cent piece and Santorum for advocating a Christian version of Sharia law. (1) And no one really listens to Ron Paul, who is a libertarian… occasionally. The word “moderate” as being used as a slur. I’m sure Eisenhower is facepalming the whole fiasco from beyond the grave.

    Also congrats on using the shibboleth. It’s got to be one of my favourite words, and too obscure for my liking.

    (2) http://articles.cnn.com/2012-01-05/opinion/opinion_obeidallah-santorum-sharia_1_rick-santorum-santorum-two-santorum-one?_s=PM:OPINION

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