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28 responses to “It would give people something to talk about on Twitter?”

  1. j_p_z

    If by ‘Question Time’ you’re referring to the ludicrous health-care ‘summit,’ you should understand that it’s more like a crisis brought on by the wilful insanity of the bill(s) in question, and the Dems’ obstinate refusal to let go of a thing that the public has resoundingly rejected.

    If you think the GOP is behaving like a disciplined Westminster ‘caucus’ then that’s mostly a refusal to recognize the blinkered raving ideologues driving the Dem agenda. What hath God (by which I mean King Bammy) wrought?

    As some prankster said not too long ago, American politics is mostly fought between the 40-yard lines, but lately the Dems are trying to drive down field into field-goal range. And if the football metaphor makes no sense to you, well then turn in your badge as an analyst of American politics, becuz you just missed the very first clue.

  2. wpd

    Wow.

  3. j_p_z

    Uh-oh, maybe that ‘wow’ at #2 implies that I’ve come off a trifle too emphatic. It wasn’t my purpose to sound acid, Mark, just trying to be economical; but sometimes terseness can seem to sour one’s tone.

  4. Nabakov

    Oh C’mon JPZ, that’s overegging the pudding a bit. They’re all fucking up. The Republicans have no ideas or policies and the Democrats have far too many. As always the US will muddle through the insanity and incompetence offered by both sides.

  5. Mark

    j_p_z, by ‘Question Time’, I’m referring not to Obama’s health care summit, but to an institutionalised forum, as the link in the post indicates.

    There might also be a hint in the post’s title about the great utility of Question Time in our Australian democracy. Whatever it does, it certainly doesn’t promote bipartisan niceness. It’s a ritualised blood-sport.

  6. Mark

    the GOP is behaving like a disciplined Westminster ‘caucus’

    The tendency of Republicans in Congress to vote on party lines predates Obama.

    It’s also interesting to consider some of Gingrich’s delusions when he was Speaker of being some sort of de facto Prime Minister.

  7. j_p_z

    Nabakov: “They’re all fucking up.”

    Well for confirmation of that one, I suppose we could just re-wind to Ecclesiastes, viz., there is nothing new under the sun.

    “The GOP have no ideas and the Dems have far too many”

    While that is of course not inaccurate, I’d argue that it’s mostly missing the (real) point. The Dems have massively mischaracterized the issue, viz., they’re asking all the wrong damn questions. This is because at heart they are crackpot ideologues, not statesmen, and certainly not patriots. The GOP stonewall is if nothing else useful to stop everyone from traipsing down a yellow brick road to catastrophe.

    That isn’t to say that the GOP position is terribly constructive in its own right. But when you’re a blocking tackle (see Meat Loaf, “All Revved Up”) you don’t have to be ‘constructive’ to be, well, constructive.

    The health-care issue, realistically speaking, can only resolve if the Dems were willing to put down their fricking mile-long letter to Santa Claus, and begin some serious horse-trading on a more holistic list of national issues. (Hint:Immigration!!)But to understand why, you’d need to subscribe to my crackpot newsletter.
    Mark — Actually I think the Aus-style question time is a fine thing that’s good for democracy. I wish we had more things like it. Perhaps in the future, through stumbling and cursing, we will. It’s just that the current bit of health-care kabuki is embarrassing in its shallowness. If we could develop a better routine from this low, however,… Why the hell not?

  8. Nabakov

    In the early workshopping days of the American Republic, the perception was that the Prez would be Head of State more than anything else while the Secretary of State would function as Premier.

    Then along came Jefferson, one of the smartest and slyest pollies ever, who basically used the Barbary Corsair caper to rejig everyone’s expectations of the two offices. Then to prove it was no fluke he dobled the size of the fledging USA in a straight forward commercial transaction, leaving the proto-offices of the Treasury and War Secretaries gulping like Adams pere after a big boozy lunch.

    Mind you, having one of his two main rivals disgraced by killing the other didn’t hurt.

    A great 19th century American political quote.

    “In Louisiana if we cannot get rid of a politician at the poll, they are killed off in a duel.”

  9. j_p_z

    Mark @#6: “…predates Obama.”

    Who cares? Throughout the 60s the Dems had a crackpot congressional majority (see nation-destroying Great Society) and then a crackpot President in Clinton’s first year year before he was brought to curb… so why wouldn’t the GOP have a bit of useful institutional memory? Lawd knows it’s come in handy, now that there’s yet another leftist crackpot in the White House (after Bush, that makes two in a row. Lawd help us!)

    As for Gingrich, he’s an absurd creature, so you won’t get much of a defense of him outta me. I guess he played a useful part in the ’94 Clinton sack (there’s that damn football again!), but I’m not much of a scholar of the era. To be honest, during the Clinton years I didn’t give a rat’s about politics, I was consumed with art instead, and I liked it that way. It’s only with the advent of the crackpot GW Bush that regular folks started to realize that politics was again being conducted on crackpot grounds; and personally speaking I resent the drain on my attention span.

  10. Nabakov

    JPZ, re the USA Healthcare issue, I think the rest of the world will with agree with me that it’s quite incomprehensible on parliamentary procedural grounds alone.

    Knowing what I know of America, whatever solution or adjustment that may work better here ain’t going to be effectively imposed from the Federal top downwards.

    But it seems to be a bit of a tradition among POTUSI lately. Republican ones look for a new war and Democratic ones wanna fix healthcare. And they always fuck up.

    A great line from Bruce Sterling’s ‘Distraction”, one of the best novels of politics ever, delivered by the 55th Oval One. “I’ve only got about a month in this job to get something done before I get watergated.”

  11. Nabakov

    “…and begin some serious horse-trading on a more holistic list of national issues.”

    Yeah, build up your political capital by tackling the urgent bipatisan issues first, then wait to your second term to tackle healthcare or attack Iran.

    Like Clinton before him, Obama thought he could dive headlong into one of the US’s thorniest issues in his first year. An issue loaded with vested interests that need to be carefully wooed over a few years, not rushed for a few yards in the first quarter.

    The Australian Hawk/Keating Government until around 1993 were so good at this incremental approach.

  12. Nabakov

    I blame my sloppy spelling and grammar above on obstructionist elements like WHISKY! Specifically a nice nubile yet robust 18 year old sherry cask aged Glenmorangie accompanied by Vegas-era Tom Jones and a decent Cuaba Diademas stoogie.

  13. Nabakov

    Dammne if Tom’s version of ‘Polk Salad Annie’ isn’t as good as in it’s own way as Tony Joe White’s original.

    … some more Louisiana references too y’all…

    If some of ya’ll never been down South too much…
    I’m gonna tell you a little bit about this, so that you’ll understand
    What I’m talking about
    Down there we have a plant that grows out in the
    woods and the fields,
    looks somethin’ like a turnip green.
    Everybody calls it Polk salad. Polk salad.
    Used to know a girl that lived down there and
    she’d go out in the evenings and pick a mess of it…
    Carry it home and cook it for supper, ’cause that’s about all they had to eat,
    But they did all right.

    Down in Louisiana Where the alligators grow so mean
    There lived a girl that I swear to the world made the alligators look tame

    Polk salad Annie polk salad Annie
    Everybody said it was a shame
    Cause her mama was working on the chain-gang
    (a mean, vicious woman)

    Everyday ‘fore supper time She’d go down by the truck patch
    And pick her a mess o’ Polk salad And carry it home in a tote sack

    Polk salad Annie ‘Gators got you granny
    Everybody said it was a shame
    ‘Cause her mama was aworkin’ on the chain-gang
    (a wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin’ woman,
    Lord have mercy. Pick a mess of it)

    Her daddy was lazy and no count
    Claimed he had a bad back
    All her brothers were fit for was stealin’ watermelons out of my truck patch
    Polk salad Annie, the gators got your granny
    Everybody said it was a shame
    Cause her mama was a working’ on the chain gang
    (Sock a little polk salad to me, you know I need a mess of it

  14. Nabakov

    Can’t find the Tom Jones version on You Tube but here’s the original.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DKEpBdDv0waY

    – on Swedish TV.

    “Sven, a large reptile will consume your in-law, yeah!”
    “Yeah too Bo. Rock down!”

  15. Nabakov

    And I always thought Bill Withers and Tony Joe White were two sides of thesame bright silver dollar.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3hBYTkI-sE

    Both shy but totally brillant singer-songwriters who appeared roughly around the same time, created a small but perfectly formed body of work based on yet pushing forward classic American musical idioms and then cheerfully vanished from the public eye to enjoy their well-gotten gains.

  16. j_p_z

    Nabakov — yes I too am a fan of the Glenmorangie sherry cask; that is, when I am able to drink whiskey which is not terribly often. As for cigars I always recommend the Butera, esp. the B. torpedo. An extremely thoughtful cigar, more like watching Bob Wilson than Mamet or Pinter.

    Although the other day on the Sunset Strip I found a torpedo by Romeo y Julieta that was quite worth the trouble. No whiskey however. I don’t like to have my lawyers involved.

  17. Nabakov

    Yeah right, you’ve all pissed off to bed haven’t you?

    Very well then, it’s off to the alt.history.erotica chat sites for me.

    “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking for a light for our cigar.”

  18. Nabakov

    “An extremely thoughtful cigar, more like watching Bob Wilson than Mamet or Pinter.”

    Well Mamet is a professionally rolled Dominican pretending it’s a foul green Chicago stoogie and Pinter is a Sobranie dragged down as a Craven A.

  19. j_p_z

    “Her daddy was lazy and no count…”

    Some of you fine Am. Lit. folks may recall that back in his hometown, Mr. William Faulkner was derided as “Count No Count” a propos of his comically fussy aristocratic airs combined with his lack (to date at the time) of any notable achievement to justify ’em. Guess they didn’t know what he was doing at the power plant at night.

    I like to consider the unrealistic idea of Count Bill and James Agee crossing paths in the 30s while the latter was busy researching “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” There are one or two similar such literary happenstances in my own family which, although entertaining, I can’t or won’t detail… oh well.

    But “As I Lay Dying”… aaah, now *there’s* a book. Some of you may recall my attachment to it. Or not, I can never keep that shit straight.

  20. Nickws

    Nabakov: But it seems to be a bit of a tradition among POTUSI lately… Democratic ones wanna fix healthcare. And they always fuck up.

    Actually, the current POTUS is very close to getting his bill passed through the lower house of congress. Sure, it’s not a big fix, but it most do something, otherwise the American Rightwing+pretend Not-Rightwing wouldn’t be going nuts about how it’s an afront to that great word/value created by Warren Harding, normalcy.

    ‘Warren Harding, I don’t defend Warren Harding. Stop trying to put me into an ideological box!’

  21. Phil

    It’s interesting, I watched Obama’s “question time’ with the Repubs then followed the US political discourse on that on Twitter and elsewhere and they were all lauding the event, we need more of this etc.

    And I kept thinking be careful what you wish for…… QT here and in Canada and the UK is a pantomime of nonsense useful only to the political classes and commentators who see politics as sport.

    However, it was clear that American political fans are desperate for a new kind of conversation, one that they sure aren’t having right now.

    ((As an aside, the Twitter activity here in Oz during our QT is utter bollocks, it’s become a juvenile exercise led by the Crikey crew, Annabell Crabb and some doorstop journo from a radio station. I now avoid my Twitter streams when QT is on as a result))

  22. Mercurius

    @ 21 Thanks for dragging this thread out from under all the chips on Japerz shoulders.

    Yep, I think the All-American Question Time push was ignited by Obama’s visit to the Republican caucus. Not just media commenters, but blogizens, were saying “we should have more of this!”. One comment I read compared it directly to the British PM’s Question Time. I think perhaps he had never seen the British PM’s Question Time.

    I think the enthusiasm for a QT was because Obama’s visit to the Repubs’ Den looked like the first “real” conversation occuring in US politics for many a year. Of course, as Mark as stated, once a QT is institutionalised, the participants find it a way to render it into a sterile recitation of talking-points, so, status quo…

  23. anthony nolan

    Question time in the Australian parliament is boring and witless these days. For the sake of it here is a question once put by Fred Daley who asked “Mr Speaker, it is known that the Labor Party has a youth wing called the Young Labs and that the Liberal Party also has a youth section known as the Young Libs and my question to the house Mr speaker is, is it correct that the Country Party has a youth branch and if so, Mt Speaker, is it also correct that they are known as ….” (house in uproar, words not heard). Or words to that effect.

    I think that both here and in the US a televised parliamentary karaoke session might be more informative.

  24. Mercurius

    …As somebody once remarked of the US Senate proceedings: “It’s not even good Kabuki” !

  25. Helen

    their fricking mile-long letter to Santa Claus

    By “letter to Santa Claus” I assume you mean medical policies to fix the situation where you’re spending a higher percentage of your GDP than on health than other developed countries while at the same time having a higher than average infant mortality? Yes, obviously a frippery the US public aren’t entitled to ask for.

  26. Mercurius

    *braces for more boring Japerz talking points, whenever the heck the USA wakes up*

    But come on Helen, credit where it’s due. At least “mile-long letter to Santa Claus” is a more creative, evocative and amusing than “Socialist! Nazi! Communist! Muslim! Kenyan-Indonesian!”

  27. su

    As a constituent you can ask your local member to “ask a question” in QT and that can be a highly effective remedy if you are caught in the jaws of a policy that has gone feral. I guarantee that Judi Moylan’s question on behalf of an aged pensioner taken in by a fly-by-night insulation installer will see action and remedy for someone who was likely to have fallen through the cracks otherwise. Amongst all of the chest beating and club waving of QT there are glimmers of effective representation and I am grateful we have that in Australia.

  28. anthony nolan

    I’m actually a bit of a fan of the occasional outbreak of fisticuffs. Youtube has some excellent footage of parliamentary violence. I like the way the Koreans and Japanese just go for it. Must be the martial arts tradition. Or shoe throwing. Who would have thought that such a gesture would have become an internationally recognised insult?