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Merchants and Bankers - 2009-2019

Many years later, in July 2019 ...

Yes folks, we now jump in time from 2012-2014 to 2019, ignoring Trump (his shenanigans and confabulations are on other webpages opf this domain) this website has taken off a decade or so to write a book, which is now almost finished, so this webpage is back. And in the interim it's all gotten worse worldwide, and as contributor Shane Muldoon writes in this article ... Australia seems heading for a recession. Now read on ... As this article is posted, some pundits are saying that a huge economic downturn, worldwide, is pending. We hope not, but this website's own figures indicate that the world is about due for another downturn, maybe overdue! And in the US, President Trump is hardly helping with his current trade war with China - Ed

The Spectre of Economic Collapse due to Low Mass Everyday Consumer Demand

Compiled and analysed by Shane Douglas Muldoon.

PhD [Business Management/Leadership], Master of Arts [Criminology, Hons], Diploma of Criminology [Postgrad], Bachelor of Social Work [Hons, Postgrad], Bachelor of Economics [Hons].


Preamble

The following analysis is referenced to supply and demand aggregated across industries and consumer groups against the background of financial institutions and the global economy, not micro-economic supply and demand theory/concepts under cet par conditions. That is, it concerns real world economic activity not simply academic discussion. It refers to news media reports of contemporary economic issues in Australia and relies on online data for easy review by readers. It is also undertaken as far as possible in terms of evidence-based research independent of vested interests in the current economic status quo. Be sure to read the points below and check their bona fides too, not just stop at the introductory comments.


Constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated, focusing on specific points, supported by evidence not simply opinion, and grounded in sound logic not mere argument. Feedback can be forwarded ideally as comments listed under the review function of a Word Document. A general feedback commentary is fine also, but it would be most helpful if targeted to the relevant section of this analysis. Bear in mind the complex and everchanging nature of today’s economic scene especially in view of globalisation and interconnected national economies – so not even this effort can cover everything, although it does have the virtue of being unusually comprehensive. Still, other analyses examine aspects of the economy not covered here. I would be most appreciative of advice on any data gap or alternate analyses that would query or support the current work. I hope to update the evidence and analysis on a continuing basis as the state of Australia’s economy changes over time.


Disclaimer


I am not nor have I ever been professionally employed as an Economist, Financial Advisor/ Counsellor, or Business Manager in the Private Sector. I have, however, earned University Degrees in Economics and in Business Management (focused on leadership skills), and I held a senior manager position in the public service of Victoria for many years. I also have had a life-long interest in economic and financial issues in media/public discussion. I do not herein offer any personal financial advice to readers. My intent is solely to offer publicly available data and a rational analysis of the state of the Australian economy on the basis of what I proffer as its key determinant, viz what I conceptualise as mass everyday consumer demand.


Defining and explaining mass everyday consumer demand


Although this idea is taken to be largely self-explanatory, it can be explicitly defined and explained for the sake of clarity and especially for those who might query its meaning. It is not a concept taken from Economics or Financial or Business Management textbooks. Nor is it a professional or official term used in discussion of the economy.


The closest similar terms employed in media/professional/official discussions are those of household expenditure, household consumption and, most simply, consumer demand. The closest historical term is what Keynes called ‘aggregate demand’. None of these similar concepts covers the notion coined here and offered as a better way of understanding the main driver of economic activity in the real world. Official measures are deficient in gauging and understanding the critical role of this driver, because those fail to capture the actual reality and lived experience reflected in that driver.


Key items of what I call mass everyday consumer demand include: power consumption, food and water, housing/shelter from the elements and rental fees, home loan repayments and maintenance costs, council rates, reasonable bedding and sleeping arrangements, clothing and footwear, transport options for normal life, financial services, communication devices and services, and health/education/welfare purchases, all to enable individuals a modest life style or, at least, not simply survival needs satisfaction. All of these require, most importantly, a level of disposable income above the poverty line, and for the variable relevant purchase periods, although the concept is phrased in terms of ‘everyday’ for the sake of brevity.


Introduction to data-collection and data-analysis: The Significance of Mass Everyday Consumer Demand

The significance of mass everyday consumer demand is that it is the fundamental driver of economic activity. A similar observation was made by Keynes’ in his analysis of ‘aggregate demand’; and by other current observers of economic activity (for example,: https://www.lombardiletter.com/us-economy-59-percent-americans-living-paycheck/31935/?utm_source=OnSite&utm_medium=RelatedArticles&utm_content={3190} May 22nd, 2019). This is despite the role attributed by many to business as being the main driver of economic activity. Business – whether manufacturing, farming, supply chain, logistics, advertising, retail, etc etc – operates on the supply side of the economic equation. Consumer demand operates on the demand side. Without consumer demand (at adequate levels and in appropriate sectors) the provision of a supply of real goods and services will be (and increasingly is) met by a decline in consumer purchasing power. That is, supply meets an economic dead-end.

This basic fact does not deny the role of exceptions such as innovative and emerging industry products/services that sponsor new consumer demands – eg, the supply of Macadamia products with recent burgeoning of Macadamia tree plantations in Australia; and the emergence of Information Technology products and the Internet in recent decades across the world. However, such exceptions do not dismiss the general rule, as demonstrated by the detailed data analysis offered in the parent document to be found at the above website.


More importantly, key decision-makers often appear not to understand the nature and critical role of mass everyday consumer demand in determining whether an economic system is sustainable in the near or medium term, much less the long term. This lack of understanding of the historical pivot point results from many considerations, including the complexity of contemporary economic activity, enmeshment in the global economy, an absence of grounding in economic knowledge and economic assumptions, economic ideologies, and a perceived need to simplify economic messages to the general population. However, if not understood, or simply ignored, there arrives a mass consumer demand crisis point beyond which an economy must inevitably decline into recession, if not collapse into depression. Yet even this threshold seems not easily recognised much less forestalled and redressed by society’s key decision-makers.


In any event, for whatever reason mass everyday consumer demand is routinely ignored in Australia and elsewhere by politicians, economists, business people and other key decision-makers. For example, despite numerous warning signs listed in the parent document of this excerpt, the Australian Industry Group Chief Executive recently commented: "We've had a reasonable level of wages growth … what we have is a cost of living problem and a confidence problem” (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-28/why-workers-are-getting-the-smallest-pay-rises-since-wwii/10942530).


There is now, however, some belated recognition of a problem in this regard by at least some Australian decision-makers. For example: In February 2019, Reserve Bank Governor told a parliamentary committee a 3.5 per cent increase in the minimum wage would make sense and argued stagnant household incomes were a threat to consumer spending. Even this was a muted warning – pointing to only 60% of the economy being influenced by stagnant household incomes – in view of the numerous political economy facts summarised below.

The problem of inadequate and misunderstood mass everyday consumer demand is related to today’s disconnect between the real economy – that of the production of goods and services to satisfy the needs and wants of the general population (the demand side) – and that of the banking/financial sector (See for instance: http://energyskeptic.com/2014/how-to-preserve-your-wealth-in-the-worst-depression-ever/). This disconnect is not driven by mass everyday consumer demand. It is driven by the wealth accumulated by the rich and super-rich – those who have excess consumer power beyond that necessary for everyday needs, those whose discretionary spending power exceeds that required for a comfortable, much less modest or reasonable, standard of living.


The problem is not that some of us are fortunate enough to be very well off materially, but rather that if unchecked or not counter-balanced their wealth threatens to result in an untenable distortion in the economic fabric of society. It is unnecessary to envy the rich and super-rich – good luck to them. The distortion effect of their purchasing power compared to the general population is the real worry (for instance: https://www.acoss.org.au/inequality-in-australia-2018-html/).


This is especially true for the gap between the super-rich and the general population. The super-rich can sensibly spend only a very small fraction of their wealth, so the excess is put away in savings and investments that are often unrelated to the demand for real goods and services that actually fuels the economy. They buy some goods and services with their excess purchasing power, but that is too often in terms of the most sophisticated, the least used, and least useful goods and services. There is only so much travelling that can be done in super yachts, or exclusive aircraft, or limousines, etc. Those are wealth eaters, non-productive for the mainstay of economic activity. Similarly, there is only so much time that can be spent in the country mansion, the city mansion, the overseas mansion, and so on. Overseas holidays spent in palatial hotels and resorts, with expenditures on food, wine and other rich merriments are fine, but contribute relatively little to mass everyday consumer demand. Antiques are good, but only so many can be truly appreciated by their owners, their families, and their friends, and, of course, they are very costly, and unavailable to the general public. So, their economic utility is limited. Yet those are wealth eaters as well.


There is also the advent of globalisation and related increased interconnection of economies across the world, along with serious USA problems which will predictably spread to the rest of the world, China notwithstanding (see below). One analysis describes a grim situation in that respect: There’s too much debt, far more than had built up before the Great Depression (170% of our economy in 1929, now it’s over 350%)” (http://energyskeptic.com/2014/how-to-preserve-your-wealth-in-the-worst-depression-ever/). Despite the fact that this analysis is dated (2014), the economic basics ring the same warning bells, and Australia has a similarly burdensome national debt. Again: “In recent months, Zucman has devoted a great deal of energy to the question of how multinational corporations avoid taxes. He’s produced papers and policy briefs showing that U.S. multinationals shift almost half of their overseas profits to five havens—Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, and the Greater Caribbean, which includes Bermuda. ‘That is a huge problem for the sustainability of globalization,’ he says. Countries and territories are engaged in a race to the bottom, Zucman argues, offering ever-lower corporate rates in the fear that companies will shift their profits elsewhere. He proposes to ‘annihilate’ such competition by apportioning profits based on where sales were made.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-05-23/the-wealth-detective-who-finds-the-hidden-money-of-the-super-rich?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits).


It deserves to be emphasised that insufficient mass everyday consumer demand inevitably produces a widening gap between the super-rich, the rich, the not so rich, and the downright poor, along with a distorted economy that must inevitably fail, unless addressed effectively by decision-makers.


Summary of the Evidence & Analysis


There are now numerous signs of inadequate and tightening mass everyday consumer demand in the Australian economy (and other key developed economies) at the pivot point.


These include an over-emphasis, and often singular focus, on the supply side of the economic equation by key decision-makers. Yet, “business decisions to invest are made only when demand for goods and services increases”. At the same time, there is a rising rate of business and personal bankruptcies, with declining business confidence, and small business is a hidden problem. But profits remain high and growing, as Australia's exports rose to an all-time high and imports fell in February 2019 and the $AUD declined 38% from its 2011 high as of June 2019. Key decision-makers tend to focus on existing and declining industries, not future and emerging industries, thus not future-proofing industries and jobs. Attention is also usually focused on gross economic measures – eg, GDP, GNP – thus giving a false image of the health of the economy and broader society. GDP ignores income and wealth distribution, and it includes foreign owned output and income. Its utility as even a gross economic measure is highly questionable according to a Credit Suisse report (updated 4 July 2019) and other renowned experts. Even so, Australia’s GDP growth is slowing. GNP is also deficient in reflecting the economic health of households since it includes income generated by Australians regardless of whether they reside in Australia. All these considerations are indicators of either erosion or un-acknowledgement of mass everyday consumer demand.


Notably, although not canvassed much in media coverage and political discussion, Australia fell into a per capita recession in March 2019. Observers warn a recession is likely in 2019/2020, with weak household and slower consumer spending – the major part and driver of Australia’s economy. Consistent with falling gross disposable household income, there is declining consumer confidence/sentiment. New vehicles sales have seen the biggest annual decline in more than nine years, with slower finance approvals for buyers in both new and used car dealerships, linked to a negative wealth effect of lower house prices, along with a threat from car sharing and expected falling global sales. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics economic data indicate below average household consumption growth since December 2011. One forecaster even warns of an Australian Economic Armageddon. AMP Capital’s chief economist noted the economy’s recent dependency on government projects investments and net exports kept growth from completely flattening. Recessionary influences abound, with surging energy and water costs along with annually rising Council rates draining the general population’s financial capabilities. In February 2019, imports fell, reflecting lessened consumer optimism. The 2000 introduction of a 10% Goods and Services Tax provides a continuing foundation for lost consumer discretionary expenditure and, thus, for the loss of mass everyday consumer demand.


Symptoms of economic malaise include emergence of pay-day lenders as mainstays of everyday purchases, escalating reliance on credit, and mortgage stress and home loan defaults now at very concerning levels. Real Estate sources advise of households ‘living on a knife-edge’, with more than half spending at least 30% of disposable income on rent or mortgage payments. Australian household debt is now at record highs. Home ownership is falling, yet house prices have been declining in real terms and at historic lows since 1894. Despite historically low home loan interest rates and recent optimism as at 5 June 2019, first home buyer frustrations have been apparent for some years. This situation is reminiscent of mid-1920s USA, when real interest rates were substantially positive due to a very low inflation rate, despite interest rates being kept low. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has reduced the requirement for banks to give home loans only to customers who can make repayments if their interest rate rises a further 7% now down to 2.5%. This encourages riskier home buyer decisions while lessening the likelihood that home loan repayments will be affordable, with higher loans also possible. There are also increasingly unsustainable rental problems. Historically high numbers of people need assistance by welfare organisations, including people who would previously have been modestly or comfortably well off, mismatched with decreasing welfare funds. These considerations are underlined by increasing impoverishment of those most likely to buy basic, everyday goods and services, with over 3 million people (13.2%), including 739,000 children (17.3%), surviving below the poverty line.


A homelessness crisis is illustrated in the fact that: “On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless”. The US situation is similar, where homelessness has been cited as a product of prosperity, and the homeless are increasingly no longer traditional ‘drop-outs’, but ‘bread-winners’ who simply need higher incomes and lower housing costs. Homeless people have minimal capacity to contribute to mass everyday consumer demand. They are also the least likely to be counted in official statistics on unemployment, consumer demand and other policy determinants.


Irrational government policy is illustrated in deeming pensioners’ earnings’ rates that encourages inappropriate life-cycle risk-taking. Such policy reduces real, disposable income unless they are risk investors which ultimately exposes them to income/wealth losses and greater reliance on the pension. Similarly, retirees relying on share dividends/franking credits are risk-takers instead of life-stage conservative investors. Government policy myopia is also seen in an intent to make superannuation opt-in for under 25s, making it likely that many if not most will retire on significantly less savings. This intent is supposedly justified to streamline the problematic Australian superannuation system, which includes 5million underperforming super fund accounts. The Australian share market is likely to be overvalued at this point in time, and there is gloom in the eyes of investors. Australia’s farmers suffer slashed grain production, national cattle herd 25-year lows with livestock exports value forecast to drop by 11%, and farm production forecast to drop 3% in the coming season. Still, farmers are growing optimistic about their future earnings. At the same time, there is inadequate government financial assistance to pensioners, job-seekers, and vulnerable groups. Older Australians are among the most likely to support mass everyday consumer demand, but only if they have and retain the financial capability to do so.


Federal government policies are concerning in a range of other areas, with recent doubling of national debt from that “Labor added during the global crisis but in a fraction of the time”, with $17billion of interest annually burdening future generations and owing predominantly to foreign creditors. This is reminiscent of the 1920s when federal and state governments borrowed vast sums of money. The current account deficit, even though historically quite low, means an associated reliance on foreign capital. The budget remains in deficit despite government ministers’ optimistic statements, sometimes even saying it is in surplus. Infrastructure spending was at a record low in 2017. Although there is hope of some reversal as at 18June2019 if NSW plans come to fruition, current federal government infrastructure spending is likely to slow after 2019. Also, the federal government plans to burden regional airports with unsustainable staff and maintenance costs of mandatory security upgrades. Overall current government policy action is not conducive to maintaining much less strengthening mass everyday consumer demand.


The current Australian workplace and industrial relations present another set of problems that negatively impact mass everyday consumer demand. The demise of unionisation – with only 10% of private sector workers now covered by unions, down from an historic high of 64.9% in 1948 – along with the virtual collapse of enterprise bargaining, together mean employers now control the workplace and mostly set wages. Current efforts to deregister the CFMEU would further significantly reduce union coverage of workers, given its 120,000 members. These shifts provide fertile ground for workplace abuses such as wages theft and exploitation of illegal overseas workers – with 64,000 visa overstays in Australia as at July2017. Employees fear unemployment or loss of hours unless they meet employers’ expectations. A toxic workplace is reflected in increasing frequency of unpaid work hours: "Across the economy, we found about $116 billion worth of labour time each year is uncompensated”. As well, there are expanding part-time, casual, short-term, contract-out, GIG economy, and other insecure, often poorly paid jobs lacking superannuation and other benefits, at the expense of full-time, secure jobs with superannuation and other benefits. Casual workers make up more than 25 per cent of all employees in Australia”. One million Australians work two jobs to cope. Real wages are stagnant, with the smallest pay rises since the Great Depression and WWII. Government policy has reinforced these trends, with loss of penalty rates, especially for workers already on very low pay rates, yet hundreds of thousands of retail and hospitality workers affected by this decision are also customers”. Technological growth continues unabated to replace workers, with “predictions that up to five million jobs are likely to be automated by 2030”. This is reminiscent of the struggling US agricultural sector during most of the 1920s as technological improvements increased supply, but food demand lagged behind. The rise of the working poor emphasises a working world that no longer works for workers and, hence, erodes the economy’s foundation of mass everyday consumer demand.


Contrary to current government policies, job-seeker to available jobs ratios are very high. Job vacancies draw an average of 17 applicants, with vacancies that draw much higher applicant numbers. ‘Burn-out’ among workers is rising and disillusioned jobless no longer seek jobs, rendering official unemployment and participation figures increasingly meaningless. Still there is a relatively high labour underutilisation rate of 7.4%. Job-seeking and employabilityare restrained by employer bias against older job-seekers, by women receiving less pay than men doing the same work, and by poor government investments in health and child care for dual job families and single parents. Also, poor government investments in education fail to develop human capital for future labour capabilities and job opportunities. Continuing high numbers of workplace deaths and accidents negatively impact the economy. All of these factors mean affected workers are less able to contribute to the demand side of the economic equation, and increasingly so.


Overall growing inequality in both income and wealth over time favours the already wealthy and high-income groups who contribute relatively little to mass everyday consumer demand. The magnitude of inequality in Australia is subject, as the Productivity Commission has put it, to “diverse and competing views”, which serve to mask the reality. Real average household income grew by a sluggish 0.5% per year, but income growth of the lowest 20% was 2.5% per year, compared with 0.3% for the middle 20%, 0.8% for the highest 20%, while that of the highest 5% declined by 0.6% after the GFC, from 2008 to 2016. The average wealth of the highest 20% rose by 53% after inflation adjustment (to $2.9 million) from 2003 to 2016, while that of the middle 20% rose by 32% and that of the lowest 20% declined by 9%. The wealth of the highest 5% grew even more rapidly, by 60% over this 12-year period. The lowest 40% income group rely mainly on social security or (low) wages. Yet the Australian government’s role in reducing income inequality has diminished over the last two decades. Again, the negative impact on mass everyday consumer demand is evident.


Overseas developments support pessimistic views, with one description of a global ‘everything bubble’ and another of a Second Great Depression. The US stock market shows serious signs of overvaluation, rivalling that preceding the Great Depression, and investors are moving towards defensive stocks, gold and cash. Central Banks are buying gold and dumping dollars, as at 1July219. They have also been buying large holdings of the healthiest stocks such that withdrawing from the market “could trigger another global depression”. Deutsche Bank is abandoning stocks as at 9July2019. By mid-2017, the largest private banks hoarded cash – reminiscent of Keynes’ everyday consumers’ paradox of thrift in the early 1930’s – allowed Wall Street easy access to cheap money to increase speculation, but reduced lending to small and midsized businesses. Several Central Banks, including those of Europe, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Japan have reduced their government bond interest rates to below zero! The current US yield curve inversion (10-year versus 3-month) is an almost flawless recession indicator and the eminently reliable Warren Buffett Indicator signals an upcoming Stock Market Crash in 2019. Threats include volatile oil prices, deflation, and a weakened US economic structure after the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. US countervailing factors include housing foreclosures and prices recovery, expansionary monetary policy, and output improvements. But, significantly, while global growth slowed, global debt in the third quarter 2018 neared $244.0 trillion, more than thrice the global economy! There are also a range of geopolitical troubles, including the US-China trade war that shows no signs of resolution as of July2019 and, indeed, appears to be worsening, which alone has dire implications for the already shaky global economy.


When considered against the historical backdrop of the Great Depression as it unfolded in the USA and Australia in particular, there are factors both for and against a near-term repeat. Hopeful signs notably include bank deposit guarantees, and a strengthened banking/financial sector, which nonetheless is dominated by the Big Four banks. There is also a well-developed social welfare system. But both these depend on government financial support, which has its limits. Presently, Australia enjoys a positive balance of trade, but that might well disappear with another Depression. There is however another possible positive factor in Australia’s major trading partnership with China. Like the Soviet Union which weathered the Great Depression quite well due to its central planning and command economy at the time, China is similarly placed for any new crash. So, perhaps our exports will continue to be favourable. Yet that might do little for the ordinary citizen who will remain beholden largely to local circumstances.


Aside from the foregoing caveats about the positive side, there are other unnerving signs of a repetition and likely worsening of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Industrial relations problems are underpinned by poor job opportunities, unlike the 1920s when a ‘fair go’ meant little exploitation and a job was usually full-time and there was long-term work security (until the Depression). The potential for a US stock market crash again looms large, and that can be expected to precipitate a second Depression. Today, there is huge government debt along with proposed falling tax revenues and thus the prospect of spending cuts. The advent of the Great Depression saw a total cessation of foreign long-term loans, but continuing interest obligations. Yet the slow recovery was due to government funded public works and the recovery of major trading partners.


Nonetheless, aside from the China factor, there is a range of government actions that can at least dampen any new Global Depression effects on Australia’s economy. (The full range of measures are listed in the detailed document from which this summary is excerpted, and which can be found at http://www.danbyrnes.com.au/merchants/merchants21.htm). Most efficacious is the provision of extra disposable income via one-off use-by-date cash amounts plus ongoing tax relief and benefits increases to low-income households and impoverished citizens, who will reliably bolster mass everyday consumer demand and shore up the economy. A second major strategy is to expedite and expand public works and infrastructure programs. Both of these would require government expenditure without undertaking extra crippling foreign loans which, in any event, would quickly dry up with another Depression. Government funds would therefore depend upon requiring the most well-off Australians to do their fair share of rescuing the nation through strong increase taxation. Everyone, including the rich and super-rich, would benefit from these preventative measures. Without at least these efforts Australia will share all of the ills of a Second Great Depression with most of the rest of the world.


Concluding Comment


These multiple data warn that mass everyday consumer demand is nearing, if not already at, a critically low level, whilst exacerbating existing distortions in the economic system. Some of these issues can be considered as stand-alone, but their full import can be understood only when viewed as an interwoven whole. The analysis offered above is holistic with historical trend data wherever possible, not piecemeal and time-limited as commonly promulgated by observers of contemporary political economy. Collectively they reveal a disturbing picture of a malfunctioning Australian economy and, where relevant, similar observations are noted elsewhere in the global economy. Altogether they beggar the egalitarian belief in Australian society as ‘the lucky country’. Yet key decision-makers tend to think and act on singular issues, advertise these separately in their media statements to the general population, and provide limited or no historical trend data. More worryingly, some key decision-makers consider that Australians live in an economy, not a society, so they do not understand their view is fundamentally flawed and prone to exacerbate through mis-information the potential consequences of loss of mass everyday consumer demand. One observer reflects rather mildly on how increasing inequality in Australia potentially damages social well-being (https://theconversation.com/the-state-of-australia-welfare-and-inequality-26037). Another observer has remarked that there is increasingly the prospect of “a fast polarising nation” (https://thenewdaily.com.au/money/finance-news/2017/06/29/census-households-poverty/ ). Yet there remain observers of the current Australian situation who do not see or acknowledge the problem of growing inequality and impoverishment (https://www.sharecafe.com.au/2019/06/18/australian-growth-will-be-constrained-but-heres-nine-reasons-why-recession-is-unlikely); and, notably, the Productivity Commission Research Paper (2018) that found – after employing “an array of indicators … giving weight to measures that capture the experience of those households in the bottom part of the distribution” (p. 1) – only slightly increasing inequality since the late 1980’s.


Even so, as of 5 June 2019, Australia is on the brink of at least a recession according to economists (https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/australian-economy-weakest-in-a-decade/news-story/489d06b09ec07f1a63e1c580fc6fea9c), unless there is a stimulus by government (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/australias-gdp-growth-hits-decade-044727000.html); given the “economy expanded at the slowest pace in almost a decade as a prolonged housing downturn weighed on consumer spending”. (https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/australia-apos-economy-expands-slowest-031046234.html). This forecast is made in view of the annual GDP decline to 1.8%, the lowest since the Global Financial Crisis. (https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/gdp, accessed 5June2019). That forecast also takes no account of the per capita recession that already afflicts the fortunes of most Australians. (https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/australias-economy-has-just-slid-into-a-recession-on-a-percapita-basis/news-story/c93b7e604e30f6ac21bf59f3eaaed3ec).


It is now urgent and imperative that Australia’s current Prime Minister and his government win sufficient cooperation from other Australian politicians to take the necessary actions to avoid the spectre of near-term economic collapse.


Shane Muldoon, Melbourne, May-July 2019


Second term for President Obama

Pessimism about the future US politics in 2012

US politics and 2012 Presidential election

Compiled by Dan Byrnes

This website is using the below section on the 2012 US Presidential elections as a way to express concern about the delusory state of politics in the USA, the world´s most powerful country. Politics in the USA has long become an omnishambles. The comments below have been compiled by an Australian who has not spent more than four days in the USA, which happened to be mostly in San Francisco quite some years ago now, at the time when President Bush Snr had not long uttered his absurd line, ¨Read my lips, no more taxes¨. That was in 1989, and things were bad enough in US politics then, two years after a 1987 stock market plunge. Things are far worse now.

This section has become its own web page. But not before we contacted a few friends around the world for comment and contributions for this page. And the page will be serious. One of the symptoms afflicting politics in the USA of late is far too much jokiness, far too much acceptance of silliness. It is said, world-wide, that today we live in days far beyond satire. It seems to this website more the case that in US culture today, the distances between what satire can achieve by way of redressing balance and perspective, and sanity in US politics, are lengthening to a dangerous extent.

Satire, humour and ridicule are less potent as political comment by now, because US politics itself has become more foolish. Girded with religious fundamentalism, self-righteousness, an aggressive sense of exceptionalism, arrogant chutzpah, and sure knowledge of the ignorance and electoral laziness of huge swathes of the US electorate, the US right wing in politics, and to a lesser extent, the harder left-wing, the ultra-libertarians, are not just departing moderation, or centrism in politics ... they are departing sanity. To the extent that the rest of the world might well ask - what happens when half of the world´s most powerful nation goes half-crazy. Crazy on loco weed it has become fashionable, or indeed, normal, to eat, read, or watch on TV.

A sceptic's view of the Shit Happens outlook on life-in-general

(recompiled)

As SHIT HAPPENS in various world religions and other places in life

Life lessons as shit happens for Domestic Animals

Cat: (1) Why do I have to shit in this smelly pan? (2) Let me sleep, you pathetic shit. (3) Dogs are shit. (4) I do not do unelegant things like shit, I excrete. And never in the corner. If it's in the corner, it's the dog's.

Dog: (1) All I do is eat, sleep and shit. (2) I did not chew the shit out of your bedroom slippers. (3) When I catch a car, it will shit! (3a) Oh shit, I caught it!

Fish (in a bowl): (1) All I do is eat, swim and shit. (2) Always the same dried shit for dinner?

Rat: (1) Hey, let's get out of this cage and shit somewhere ...

Snake: (1) If I ever got out of this cage, you'd shit.

AAA (and going global)

Agnostic: (1) Shit might have happened; but then again, maybe not. How can we know? (2) It looks and smells like shit, but I haven't tasted it, so I'm not sure whether it's shit or not. (3) What is this shit?! I don't know shit! How can we know if shit happens? You can't really prove any of this shit!

Amish (USA): Shit is good for the soil. This modern shit is worthless. We like the same old shit the best. Amish: Shit is good for the soil. This modern shit is worthless.

Anabaptist: Shit only happens to adults.

Apathism: I don't give a shit.

Astrology (world-wide): Jupiter is being really shitty to me today.

Agnostic (world-wide): It looks and smells like shit, but I haven't tasted it, so I'm not sure whether it's shit or not. What is this shit?! I don't know shit! How can we KNOW if shit happens? You can't prove any of this shit! Did someone shit here?

Anarchism: We should be allowed to shit when we want, where we want, what we want, why we want.

Anonymous - Alcoholics Anonymous - Twelve Step Programs (Common in Western World): (1) Shit happens - or fails to happen - one day at a time. (2) I am powerless to cut the shit.

Atheist (world-wide): (1) I just don't believe this shit! (2) Shit doesn't happen. Shit is dead. No shit! It looks and smells like shit to me, so I'm damned if I'm going to taste it. I haven't smelt, seen, touched, or tasted it. But it's shit.

AZTEC (Mexico): Cut out this shit!

BBB

Baha'i: (world-wide): (1) Why do you keep shitting on us? (2) Shit happens universally. (3) All shit is truly shit. It's all the same shit.

Born Again Christian (Western World): Shit Happens, but Praise the Lord, I am saved.

Branch Davidian (USA, and maybe in a disparate few sects): (1) May great shit happen to the FBI! (2) If shit happens, have a big barbecue. (3) David thinks he's hot shit and he sure has read a lot of Scripture!

Buddhism: (1) Shit happens, but pay no mind. (2) Shit happens, but it isn't real. (3) If shit happens, it isn't really shit. (4) If shit happens, it isn't really happening TO anyone. (5) Shit will happen again to you next time. (6) Only he who totally gives up the desire for shit or its opposite will have salvation.

Buddhism - Jainism (India, Indonesia): (1) Be more compassionate, don't step on that shit, it's alive! (2) When shit happens, don't step in it.

CCC

Cargo Cult: A barge will come, deliver good shit and take away all the bad shit.

Celtic Paganism: Shit, go bragh!

Christianity: Anglicanism: It's true, shit does happen -- but only to Lutherans.

Christianity: Anglican USA - Episcopalianism: (1) If shit happens, hold a procession. (2) It's not so bad if shit happens, as long as you serve the right wine with it. (3) Fecal matter occurs.

Christianity: Baptist: (1) You are shitting all wrong, and you'll be punished for it. (2) We'll soon wash the shit right off you. (3) Southern Baptist (USA): Shit will happen. Praise the Lord!

Christianity: Calvinism: (1) Shit happens because you don't work hard enough. (2) If you're not saved, tough Shit.

Christianity: Catholicism: (1) If shit happens, you probably deserved it. (2) You were born shit, you are shit, and you will die shit. (3) Christianity: Charismatic Catholicism: Shit is happening because you deserve it, but we love you anyway.

Christianity: Catholicism: (1) If shit happens, you probably deserved it. (2) Shit happens because you are bad. (3) You were born shit, you are shit, and you will die shit. (4) Charismatic Catholicism: Shit is happening because you deserve it, but we love you anyway. (5) Dominicans (Catholic): Believe in shit, or we'll boil you in it.

Christianity, Charismatic: This is not shit and it doesn't smell bad.

Christianity: Christian Science: (1) Shit happening is all in your mind. (2) When shit happens, don't call a doctor – pray! (3) Shit doesn't happen and I am not up to my eyeballs in it. (4) Our shit will take care of itself. (5) If Shit happens, don't worry. It will go away on its own.

Christianity: Congregationalist: (1) Shit that happens to one person is just as good as shit that happens to another. (2) And, versus the Unitarian view: Shit that happens to one person is just as bad as shit that happens to another.

Christianity: Creationism [Intelligent Design Theory]: God made all shit in seven days. Creationism: ... And the Lord said "Let there be shit" ... and there came piles of it. After six days of this shit, He rested.

Christianity: Fundamentalism: (1) If shit happens, you will go to hell, unless you are born again. (Amen!) (2) There's no shit in the Bible. (3) Shit happens, but don't publish it. (4) When shit happens, it's really the Wrath of God! Christianity: Fundamentalism: (5) If shit happens to a televangelist, it's okay. (5a) Televangelism: Your tax-deductible donation could help to make this shit stop happening ... (6) Read Scripture daily and shit your way to a better life. (7) Shit must be born again.

Christianity: Greek Orthodox: Shit happens, usually in threes. Eastern Orthodox: Rome doesn't know shit.

Christianity: Lutheranism: (1) Shit happens, but as long as you're sorry, it's OK. (2) Have faith that shit will happen. (3) If shit happens, don't talk about it.

Christianity: Methodist: It's not so bad if shit happens, as long as you serve grape juice with it.

Christianity: Mormonism: (1) If shit happens, shun it. (2) Excrement happens. (you can't say “shit” in Utah). (3) Hey, there's more shit happening over here! (4) Our shit is better than your shit. (5) Shit happens again & again & again ... (6) This shit is going to happen again. (7) Let the shit multiply. (8) God sent us this shit.

Christianity: Presbyterian: (1) This shit was bound to happen. (2) If shit happens, praise the Lord for it.

Christianity: Protestantism, (general): (1) If shit happens, it's best if it happens to someone else. (2) If shit happens, Praise the Lord for it!

Christianity: Quakers: Let us not fight over this shit.

Christianity: Seventh Day Adventism: No shit shall happen on Sabbath Day. Shit happens every day but Saturday.

Christianity: Unitarianism: (1) Come let us reason together about this shit. (2) What is this shit? (3) We affirm the right for shit to happen. (4) Go ahead, shit anywhere you want. (5) It's not the shit that matters, it's the process. (6) Shit is basically all the same. (7) Unitarian Universalism: There is only one shit and it happens to all of us.

Christianity: Unitarianism (USA): Maybe shit happens, let's have coffee

Christianity: Utopianism: (1) This shit does not stink. (2) Dystopianism – Shit is very real and it really stinks!

Creation Science (via Bishop Ussher of Ireland): Shit has really only been happening since October 23rd, 4004 BC.

Computing under threat as Shit Happens

Ada: It's a package of shit, and it's private shit.

AI: ...wanna bet?

alt.cascade:

alt.flame: Emacs is such shit! I save .00001% keystrokes with vi!

Assembler: 0x000000: 53 68 69 74 20 48 61 70 70 65 6E 73 21

BASIC: It's shit.

C: It's shit, but it's efficient.

C++: It's shit that's in a class by itself.

Cobol: It's shit, but it's also job security.

Compiler: I don't care if it's shit, as long as it has semicolons in the right places.

Computer Science: There's a bug somewhere in this shit.

Cray: If this code weren't such a piece of shit, they wouldn't NEED a supercomputer ...

Database: Where did I put that shit?

Developer: Shit happens on a daily basis, that's why we have maintenance programmers.

DOS: It's shit, but at least it's compatible.

Emacs: Hold down Control-Meta-Shit.

Fortran: It's shit, but I don't know any better.

IBM/DOS: It's shit, but it's compatible.

Lisp: (defun Does_Shit_Happen(exp)(cond(t t)))

Macintosh: ('nuff said)

Murphy's Law-ism: Shit will happen, at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible way.

Pascal: Hey! That shit's the wrong type!

PDP-11: It used to be good shit ...

rec.humor: Can someone send me some shit? I lost mine. Me too! I want shit too!

Robotics: First-law-of-robotics-ism (Asimov): Robots cannot shit nor let shit come to happen.

UNIX: Bowel fault. Shit dumped.

VAX/VMS: No Privilege for attempted shit.

Windows: It's the same shit as DOS, only GUIer.

X/Motif: That's another client's shit.

Confucianism (China): (1) Confucius say, "Shit happens." (2) Confucius say, "If shit has to happen, let it happen properly."

Corporate shit - When SHIT HAPPENS to major corporations

Apple: We don't want this shit unless it makes a profit. That shit looks and feels like our shit!

Coca-Cola: It's the Real Shit.

IBM: Big Blue Shit.

McDonald's: You want fries with your McShit?

Microsoft: NO! That shit looks and feels like our shit! Where do want to go shit today?

Motorola: Our shit is Six Sigma.

NASA: For a mere couple of billion dollars, we can make your shit disappear into space.

Pepsi: The shit of a new generation.

Sony: Everyone wants our shit.

Volvo: Our shit is boxy but it's good.

Wal-Mart: We sell our shit for less, always.

Cultural –various and differing interpretations, since SHIT HAPPENS in a variety of ways

Americanism (Or, US foreign policy): Who gives a shit?

Aneurism: Shit, my head hurts!

Anthropomorphism: Shit Happens to God, too.

Assertiveness (training in): Don't give me any of that shit.

Avoidanceism: With all this happening, I think I'll go shit.

Cannibalism: Don't eat the shit.

Capitalism: Shit happens, and it'll cost you! If you're gonna sell that shit, at least make a profit. That's MY shit.

Communism: It's everybody's shit. Let's spread the shit out equally among every one. It's the Imperialists cause shit to happen, Comrade!

Conservatism: (1) Shit Happens, but not yet awhile, if we can stave it off, and so what I had in mind with this legislation was ... (2) Individuals are responsible for most of the shit that happens, they should all be put in jail where they belong.

Dadaism: Shit bzzt gim blim ba dum boop!

Democracy: Everyone has the same opportunity to make shit happen in a more equitable and transparent fashion.

Denialism: What shit?

Dyslexia: Tihs happens.

Egoism: I am the shit!

Employer: Shit happens, and then it rolls downhill. You may only shit during coffee breaks.

Employee: I've done my shit, so can I take the day off? This shit's not part of my contract.

Environmentalism: Shit is biodegradable. Good shit only happens once; bad shit needs to be recycled. Humanity happens, unfortunately.

EST: I am at cause that shit will not happen. You're responsible for all the shit that happens.

Existentialism: Shit doesn't happen; shit IS. Shit happening is absurd. J. P. Sartre: Shit is meaningless! What is shit, anyway?

Fatalism: Oh shit, it's going to happen!

Feminism: This shit happened before, and this time we won't clean it up! Men are shit. Why does shit only happen to women!? Put the seat back down, you Shit! (Male Chauvinism: Ok, we may be shit, but you can't live without us ...)

Fetishism: I just love it when shit happens! Don't you?

Gertrude Stein: A shit is a shit is a shit.

Hollywood: Robin (Hollywood): Holy shit, Batman!

Yoda (Hollywood): Use the shit, Luke. Do not yield to the dark side of the shit.

Oliver Stone (USA): The government's behind this shit.

Hedonism: There's nothing quite like a good shit.

Hooliganism: Hell-raise all the shit you can.

Impressionism: Seen from a certain distance at certain times to day, shit looks like a beautiful garden.

Abstract expressionism: Look at this shit I just took on the canvas!

Irish - An Irish spelling – Shite (pron: as in “height”)

Japanese: (see also, Cargo Cult): Americans will buy all our shit.

Liberalism: Society's to blame for most shit happening.

Libertarianism: Get your filthy hands off my shit.

Marxism: The rich shit exploits the poor shit, but deep down all shit is alike. We espouse The Dictatorship of The Shit. The workers take all the shit, but they're gonna dish it back out again. Workers of the world, unite, you have nothing to lose but your shit!

Materialism: Whoever dies with the most shit wins.

Mesmerism: You are getting sleepy ... soon you will find that shit will not happen ...

Nihilism: (1) Let's blow this shit up! (2) No shit.

Paganism: Shit happens for a variety of reasons.

Political Correctness: Heavily processed, nutritionally-deprived biological output happens.

Post-modernism: All new shit is just a mix of old shit.

Procrastinationism: I'll take care of this shit ... tomorrow.

Purism: If shit has to happen, let ONLY shit happen.

Rastafarianism: Let's smoke this shit! Hey, this is good shit, mon.

Realism: I think I need to take a shit.

Repressionism: I'll hold this shit in forever.

Republic: We elect others to take care of all the shit for us while we go to enjoy the games in the Coloniseum. 

Republicanism: There's nothing quite like a good shit. Better flush the toilet now, do you think?

Shirley MacClaine: Haven't I seen this shit before...?

Socialism: The same shit happens to everyone.

Soviet Union (Now defunct): None of that shit worked very well.

Spoonerism: Hit shappens.

Surrealism: Fish.

Vandalism: Break all the shit you can as quickly as you can.

Victorianism (English): Excrement occurs, but we do not discuss it at all in civilized society. When shit happens, dealing with it can be quite character building, you know.

Vegetarianism: If it happens to shit, don't eat it.

Yuppie Shit: It's my shit! All mine! Isn't it beautiful?

DDD

Darwinism: Survival of the shittiest. This apparent shit was once food for some life form or other.

Deism: Shit just happens. Deism: God does not make shit happen.

Denialism: What shit?

Descartes: I shit, therefore I am.

Determinism: Obviously, that shit was bound to happen to you.

Dianetics: Your mother gave you shit before your were born.

Discordianism: (1) Shit makes the flowers grow and that's just simply beautiful. (2) Some funny shit happened to me today.

Druidism: Shit Happens. The Trees say so in verse.

EEE

Albert Einstein: God does not play shit with the universe. Shit is relative. Shit comes in a continuum like time and space.

Empiricism: Prove that shit!

Epiphenomenalism: Shit's in the air and falling down.

Epistemology: How do you know that shit?

Eschatology (End-time movement): You think shit happens now, you just wait ... you ain't seen nothin' yet!

EST: If my shit bothers you, that's your fault. EST: I am at cause that shit will not happen. You're responsible for all the shit that happens.

Evangelism: Shit Happens. (Pass it on)

Evolutionism: The world is getting shittier all the time.

Existentialism: Shit doesn't happen; shit IS. What is shit, anyway?

FFF

Fascism: Political shit that makes the trains run on time.

Fatalism: Oh shit, it's going to happen.

Forteanism: No shit??

GGG

Graeco-Roman Mythology: The Gods will tell us when Shit happens.

Genocidalism: Far less shit will happen if we kill everybody that's different.

HHH

Hare Krishna (via India): Shit Happens, Rama Rama Ding Ding. She-it happens, She-it happens, happens, happens, she-it, she-it ... (Repeat until you become one with she-it) Please take this flower and buy our shit.

Heisenbergianism: Shit happened, we just don't know where or how much.

Hinduism: This shit has happened before. Hinduism: I've seen this shit happening before. This shit is not a religion, it is the way of life. This shit happening IS you. Hinduism: I've seen this shit happening before. This shit is not a religion, it is the way of life. This shit happening is YOU.

Holism - Holistic: There's more shit happening here than I initially figured on.

HOPI Indian (USA): Corn fertilizer happens.

HUMANISM – SECULAR: Shit evolves.

III

Idealism: I can deal with any shit.

Idolism: Let's bronze this shit.

Illuminism (The Illuminati): We make shit happen, we really can do that, but we do it in secret.

International Red Cross / Red Crescent: Shit has happened - send money now.

Issac Newton: So why did that shit fall on my head?

Islam: (1) Shit happens if it is the will of Allah. (1a) (If shit happens, it is due to the will of Allah, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the wills or actions of individual Muslims or of any groups of Muslims.) (2) We don't take any shit. (3) If shit happens, it is the will of Allah. (4) Whatever happens, happens.

Sunni Islam: (1) If it happens to be shit, it's Allah's will and you'd better submit! (2) Shi'ite happens.

Shi'ite Islam: (1) WE WILL DESTROY YOUR SHIT! (2) If shit happens, take a hostage.

Nation of Islam: (1) Don't take no shit! (2) Don't ever take no shit! (3) Also, singer Billy Joel at the end of his concerts these days, “Don't' take no shit!”

Islam - other: (1) If this shit happens, it is the will of Allah. (2) If shit happens, take a hostage. (3) We don't take any shit. (4) If shit happens, kill the person responsible. (5) If shit happens, blame Israel.

Islam - Nation of Islam (USA): Don't take no shit! (NB: US Singer Billy Joel feels this way also, not forgetting the movie line, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!")

JJJ

Jehovah's Witnesses: No shit happens until Armageddon. There is only a limited amount of good shit. Knock Knock, "Shit Happens." Here, we insist you take our shit. Shit happens door to door. Good Morning, I have some shit here for you to read.

Jehovah's Witnesses: No real shit happens until Armageddon, and then you'll really see some shit happening! There is only a limited amount of good shit. The best shit happens in the Watchtower. Knock Knock, here we are again, "Shit Happens." Here, we insist you do take our shit. Our best shit happens door to door. Good morning, I have some interesting shit here for you to read. Want to buy a subscription to our shit? May we have a moment of your time to show you some of our shit? Shit has been prophesied and is imminent; only the righteous shall survive its happening.

Jesuitism: If shit happens and when nobody is watching, is it really shit? Jesuitism (or in first-year philosophy courses at certain universities, to this very day): If shit happens and nobody sees or hears it fall, did it really make a plopping sound?

Jim Jonesism: If shit happens, gather your children and drink poison Kool-Aid.

Judaism: Why does shit always happen to US? Judaism - Hasidism: Shit never happens the same way twice. Lubavitcher Hasidism: Blessed are they upon whom He sends His most holy Shit to happen.

Judaism: Why does shit always happen to US? Why does shit always happen just before closing the deal?

Judaism: (Reform): Got any laxatives?

Judaism: Why does shit always happen just before closing the deal?

Conservative Judaism: Why does shit always happen to us?

Orthodox Judaism: So shit happens, already!

Judaism (Reform): Got any Kaopectate? Reform Judaism: Got any laxatives? Shit happens to whom it may concern.

LLL

Literary -

Steel Magnolianism: "Honey chile, the shit that happens makes us stronger."

Hitchhikerism of the Galaxyism: The answer to all shit is 42.

James Tiberius Kirk: ... to boldly shit where no one has shit before!

Shirley MacClaine (or, the experience of deja vu): Haven't I seen this shit before.

Shakespeare: To shit or not to shit, that is the question.

Edgar Allan Poe: The telltale shit.

Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Shit.

MMM

Manichaeism (Re-read St. Augustine for a refutation): How can Shit be Happening? There's good shit, and bad shit, but it's all shit.

Masochism: Do shit to me!

Masonic: Shit happens, but we can't discuss it during Lodge meetings.

Meliorism: Shit is happening now, but soon it will cease to happen.

Mennonite (USA): None of this modern shit now.

Mithraism: (Ancient Iran, religion of Roman Army): Bullshit happens.

Moonies: Only happy shit really happens.

Mysticism: What really weird and very ineffable shit is this!

NNN

Native American Church: We want our Shit Back! Native Americans: Shit when it happens is sacred.

New Age: Visualize shit not happening. That's not shit, it's feldspar. A firm shit does not happen to me. This isn't shit if I really believe it's chocolate. I create my own shit. If shit happens, honor it and share it. Sheeeeeeeeeeit! Were all part of the same shit. For $300, we can help you get in touch with your inner shit. Shit happens, and it happens to smell good. This isn't shit if I really believe it's chocolate. Crystal power counteracts Shit.

NIHILISM: (1) Who needs this shit? (2) Suicide bombers: Let's blow this shit up!

OOO

Objectivism: (1) Our shit is good for you. (2) Shit is shit.

Occupationally, just how does SHIT HAPPEN? ------------------------

Accountant: Why doesn't this shit add up?

Acupuncturist: Hold still or it will hurt like shit. Let all that shit go. This will really get the energy shit moving.

Artist: (1) Shit, I wish I had thought of that. (2) Anything you can buy for $2.99 isn't art, it's shit. (3) If Jessie Helms likes it, it's shit.

Biologist: Is this shit alive?

Botanist: What this daisy needs is some fresh shit.

Bureaucrat: (1) I'm sorry, but we can't make this shit happen until you fill out form XJ-314159 to make an appointment with our Assistant Sub-Deputy Manager to obtain form ZN-271828. (2) Red tape is the shit we do.

Chef: It needs some more of this green shit.

Chemist: Gee, what'll happen if I mix this and ... SHIT!!!! Damn, this shit smells! ... Chemist: I hope this shit doesn't blow up on me.

Computer software developer: Computer shit happens on a daily basis, that's why we have maintenance programmers.

Computer Programmer: It's shit, but at least it compiles.

Dean of faculty: Now, let's see how much shit the faculty'll take.

Doctor: Take two shits and call me in the morning. Yes, it's definitely a case of shit happening. $90, please ...

Economist: I hope no one figures out that I don't really understand this shit.

Engineer: I hope this shit holds together.

Farmer: (USA, EU): I get subsidies for my shit. (In novel Catch-22, one of the characters has a father who is the biggest non-producer of alfalfa in his entire state!)

Historian: The same shit happens again and again.

IRS Auditor (USA): I'll make 'em squirm for putting this shit on their tax forms.

Lawyer: For a sufficient fee, I can get you out of ANY shit.

Linguist: What I'm doing is a bunch of faeces tauri (Latin for excrement of a bull).

Mafia boss: Rub the little shits out.

Mathematician: Shit happening is just a special case ...

Mechanic: Shit, this will cost a lot, mister ...

Musician: This shit is out of tune.

New York taxi driver: Damn, looks like I hit that shit.

Philosophy SHIT HAPPENS - according to the Philosophers as follows: Thales: Earth, Air, Fire, and Shit. Epicurus: If shit happens, enjoy it. Socrates: What is shit? Why is shit? The truly wise do not claim to know shi t... Know thy shit. Plato (on how most people live): ... watching flickering images, living deep in shitty caves. Plato: There is an ideal shit, of which all the shit that happens is but an imperfect image. Aristotle: The essence of shittyness ... Archimedes: Hmmm... why doesn't this shit float? Give me a place to stand and I'll move any piece of shit. Descartes: I think, so why am I in this shit? I shit, therefore I am. Leibniz (as interpreted by Voltaire): The best of all possible shit in this world made for shit. Thoreau: I wanted to live deliberately ... to suck all the shit out of life. Freud: Shit is a phallic symbol. Jung: The Shitter is the most important Archetype. Jungianism: Shit is a fundamental archetype. Utilitarianism: Whatever does the most shit for the most people is best. Utopianism: This shit does not stink. Epicureanism: Shit happens, but best in moderation. Scientificism: We seem to think that Shit Happens, but it's just a theory.

Poet: My childhood was shit, let me share ...

Politicians: Taking shit from politicians:

Iraqi Ba'aathist: Oh shit!

Politician: It's shit, but it'll get me elected. If you elect me, shit will never happen again. Shit happening is bad for the economy. My Fellow Americans, All I stand for is shit.

Psychologist: Shit is in your mind. Everything that happens is shit; some of it is just you repressing its subconscious shittiness.

Physicist (Theoretical): Shit SHOULD happen.

Physicist (Experimental): To within experimental error, shit DID happen.

Quality Control Inspector: This shit isn't good enough.

Social Scientist: Let's pretend that shit doesn't happen ... Social Scientist: Let's pretend that shit doesn't happen ... (Political scientist: And so now we can be much clearer about the shit that went on when ...

Statistician: There is an 83.7% chance that shit will happen. Maybe.

Surgeon: Shit, where's this organ supposed to go?

Teacher: Repeat after me: one shit + one shit =?

Union Leader: Give us more shit or we'll strike.

PPP

Practicality/Pragmatism: Deal with shit one day at a time.

Popular Culture: Shit! KEEP SHOVELLING!!

PSYCHOANALYSIS: Shit happens because of your toilet training.

QQQ

Quakers: Let us not fight over this shit. Be silent and wait for shit to happen, friend.

RRR

Rajhneesh: Give us your shit and put on this orange shit.

Realism: I think I need to take a shit.

Repressionism: I'll hold this shit in forever.

SSS

Sadism: I will shit on you!

Satanism (Western World): (1) We hope bad shit happens to all of you. (2) We will make your shit happen. Satanism: We hope bad shit happens to all of you. We will make your shit happen. Shit doesn't just happen ... it's created by an asshole. What's wrong with shit happening? SNEPPAH TIHS. Shit rules!

Scepticism: Nope, I will not necessarily be convinced that shit is necessarily happening, not at all!

Scientology (USA): (1) All this happens to be shit. (2) If you leave us, bad shit will happen to you. (3) This shit has happened before, but we can clean it up if you pay us enough. (4) This Shit is expensive. Scientology: If shit happens, see "Dianetics", p. 157. SCIENTOLOGY: Shit happens if you're on our shit list.

Shamanism: (1) Whoaa ... Holy Shit! (2) Only some can see the real shit.

Shintoism: (1) You inherit the shit of your ancestors. (2) Shit is everywhere, so as long as you're stepping in it, show it some respect. (3) Everything except Japan is Shit. SHINTOISM: Shit is everywhere. Shit happens.

Sikhism (India): Leave our shit alone.

Solipsism: All this shit is just a creation of my own imagination.

Stoicism: This shit happening is good for me. Stoicism: So shit happens, big deal, I can take it.

TTT

Taoism: (1) Shit happens. (2) If you can do shit, it isn't shit. (3) Shit happens, so flow with it. Taoism: (1) Shit happens. (2) If you can do shit, it isn't shit. (3) Shit happens, so flow with it.

Theosophy: You don't know half of the shit that happens.

VVV

VOODOO: (1) Hey, that shit looks just like you! Voodoo: Shit doesn't just happen -- somebody dumped it on you. Let's stick some pins in this shit! This shit's gonna get you!

WWW

WICCA (English version of Witchcraft, etc): (1) Mix this shit together and make it happen! (2) And if it harm none, let shit happen. (3) If shit happened once, it will happen twice more. (4) The Goddess makes shit happen.

ZZZ

ZEN BUDDHISM (Western variety a la Alan Watts et al): (1) What is the sound of shit happening? (2) Shit is, and is not. (3) First, shit was shit, then it wasn't; now I'm one with Zen, and shit is shit again.

ZOROASTRIANISM: (1) Bad shit happens, and good shit happens. (2) Shit happens half the time. (3) Christianity stole half its shit from us.

(Ends the Shit Happens listings)

We proceed to a survey of some late 2012 post-election remarks on websites, and/or to questions posed by various websites. The search was for the most piercing insights into what has gone wrong with US politics that are findable on the Internet in late 2012.

The Christian Right

Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues
NY Times LAURIE GOODSTEIN November 9, 2012
Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.
“Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. “It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”
The younger generation is even less religious: about one-third of Americans ages 18 to 22 say they are either atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. Americans who are secular are far more likely to vote for liberal candidates and for same-sex marriage. Seventy percent of those who said they had no religion voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls.
“This election signaled the last where a white Christian strategy is workable,” said Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington.
“Barack Obama’s coalition was less than 4 in 10 white Christian,” Dr. Jones said. “He made up for that with not only overwhelming support from the African-American and Latino community, but also with the support of the religiously unaffiliated.”
“In the long run, this means that the Republican constituency is going to be shrinking on the religious end as well as the ethnic end,” said James L. Guth, professor of political science at Furman University.
Meanwhile, religious liberals are gradually becoming more visible. Liberal clergy members spoke out in support of same-sex marriage, and one group ran ads praising Mr. Obama’s health care plan for insuring the poor and the sick. In a development that highlighted the diversity within the Catholic Church, the “Nuns on the Bus” drove through the Midwest warning that the budget proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would cut the social safety net.
The pressing issue of immigration trumped religion and Mr. Obama won the Hispanic vote by 44 percentage points. Mr. Obama retained the Catholic vote, 50 to 48 percent.

Demographics

Demographics and National Politics: What is it about changing demographics in the USA that vote-chasing Republicans and Tea Partiers still do not understand? The demographic changes in the US population have been evident for 20 years or so. Why are these conservative politicos such slow learners? What is it that they really want? And is it realistic for them to want it?

From a news report received 12-11-2012: ... These provide more numbers than opinions. It's not just that the US demographic is changing, Obama's team sought them and brought them out. Secular America won this time. Moderate Americans shy away from negativity and extremism and usually stay away; not this time. Bottom line: Republicans cannot win with only super-religious whites. The 2000 election was not as nearly based upon extreme views. My personal opinion is that the black president brought out the true colours of right wing politics; people don't say "nigger' any more so they rely upon indirect ideological extremes to voice their fears. They just want the so-and-so out of there.

From www.jamaicaobserver.com on the electoral result
News: Obama wins Florida, tops Romney in final tally -- Sunday, November 11, 2012
ST PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — President Barack Obama was yesterday declared the winner of Florida's 29 electoral votes, ending a four-day count with a razor-thin margin that narrowly avoided an automatic recount that would have brought back memories of the 2000 [US presidental] election. No matter the outcome, Obama had already clinched re-election and now has 332 electoral votes to Republican challenger Mitt Romney's 206. The win gave Obama victories in eight of the nine swing states, losing only North Carolina. In addition to Florida, he won Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. ...
Obama's win came in part from heavy support from black, Hispanic and younger voters. Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press showed Obama was favoured by more than nine of 10 black voters and three of five Hispanic voters in Florida. The president also was the choice of two-thirds of voters under age 30. Romney led among both white and older voters.
On election night this year, it was difficult for officials — and the media — to call the presidential race here, in part because the margin was so close and the voting stretched into the evening. In Miami-Dade, for instance, so many people were in line at 7:00 pm in certain precincts that some people didn't vote until after midnight. The hours-long wait at the polls in some areas, a lengthy ballot and the fact that Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend early voting hours has led some to criticise Florida's voting process. Some officials have vowed to investigate why there were problems at the polls and how that led to a lengthy vote count.
If there had been a recount, it would not have been as difficult as the lengthy one in 2000. The state no longer uses punch-card ballots, which became known for their hanging chads. All 67 counties now use optical scan ballots where voters mark their selections manually. Republican George W Bush won the 2000 contest after the Supreme Court declared him the winner over Democrat Al Gore by a scant 537 votes.
US presidents are not elected by national popular vote, but in state-by-state contests that allocate electoral votes. Each state gets one electoral vote for each of its representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Washington, DC, gets three votes.
All told, there are 538 votes in the Electoral College. A candidate must have at least 270 to win. Except for Maine and Nebraska, states award all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state. In Maine and Nebraska, votes are apportioned by congressional districts.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Obama-wins-Florida--tops-Romney-in-final-tally_12973768#ixzz2By83XSO3

Demographics, as they change

A mathematics-minded emailer in Sydney tells us by 14-11-2012.
======== The demographics have shifted and the Republicans missed out. I heard these on the radio:
Latinos: 8% in 2008, 10% 2012
Blacks: 11% 2008, 13% 1012
Under 30: 17% in 2008, 19% 2012
"The New America"
= Post copied from a blog: Mon, 11/12/2012 - 11:05 | 2972610 economics9698 economics9698's picture --
Black voted 93% for Obama
Asians voted 72% for Obama
Latinos voted 71% for Obama
Jews voted 69% for Obama
Whites voted 59% for Romney
I can see only two ways the Republicans can win the next US election:-
(i) There is a financial meltdown, blamed on the Democrats for excessive spending of money they don't have.
(ii) The Republicans will have to swing greatly towards the middle. Extreme Christian candidates did not do well. Right-wing comments on rape and abortion are asking for trouble - those issues are settled and gone. And I didn't read much about the Tea Party at all - perhaps all that was just an overnight sensation.
Otherwise the Democrats will win easily. But, check out the map of the USA, all the southern states except Florida vote Republican. This goes right back to the civil war. And they are more patriotic too. I almost forgot, but I did read the Ku Klux Klan were mainly Democrats. And a big gender divide has opened up too. When Obama completes his second term, it will be heaps of adulation. (Ends))

Education, quality of

Texas Education Board - More to come

Electoral questions

Electoral Questions: When is the USA going to update its voting systems for presidential elections, such that the potential for allegations of electoral fraud is reduced to an absolute minimum? And a minimum acceptable to all political parties! If the USA is truly a world centre for progress in skills-in-computerisation, why would this question even need to be asked?

Electoral questions: Has the US Electoral College system for electing presidents reached its use-by date? Is it true that the Electoral College system has been in use since the time of President George Washington? What kind of workable voting system for finding and installing a new president could replace it? If this is a valid question, why is it not being discussed in US newspapers?

Electoral questions: As a US emailer tells us by 10-11-2012: This will be worth watching: The Supreme Court will consider overturning a signal achievement of the civil rights movement, agreeing to hear a challenge to part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a case loaded with racial and political ramifications. Acting three days after minority voters propelled President Barack Obama to re-election, the court Friday said it will review a provision that requires all or part of 16 mostly Southern states to get federal approval before changing their voting rules. Opponents say that “preclearance” provision is no longer warranted. They (Republicans) tried to restrict voting this year but this law prevented it in most cases. It's partly the law and partly intent, like the difference between defective pricing and fraud.

Environmentalism, USA style (drill, baby, drill)

It was complained during the November 2012 US presidential election campaign that during their debates and speeches, the two main contenders, Obama and Romney, were not mentioning the environment, or the risks of climate change. These complaints were more than valid, they were a recognition of the national sense of irresponsibility that the American electorate has consigned itself to. Ironically, Atlantic City and New York City were hit with a superstorm named Sandy that was a killing combination of a warm tropical hurricane and a giant cold front moving south from the wintry North of the Northern Hemisphere. Weather and the damage it can inflict knows no political boundaries. Perhaps God was commenting, perhaps Gaia was commenting. In any case, Sandy happened, and had quite a late impact on the campaign results. If the problem made some useful impact on US delusions of US invincibility, that is fate, and enough said.

And, today, the Internet gives us an ever-more interconnected world. This is happening for the USA as much as it happening for the so-called Arab Spring in the Middle East. US voters might well be reminded that country singer John Denver became world-famous in the 1970s. One of his songs (written by John Prine) was titled PARADISE, which has the lines, ¨When I was a child, my family would travel, down to ...
And Daddy won´t you take me back to Muhlenberg County,
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?
Well, I´m sorry, my son, but you´re too late in askin´,
Mister Peabody´s coal train has hauled it away.

Anyone who paid attention to environmental issues in the 1970s will have remembered this song. This webpage recalled it when the 2012 campaign was criticized for not discussing environmental issues. And it so happened that in Australia during the campaign, the voice of the US Green Party was reported hardly at all. Sadly, it received little coverage in the USA itself. Meaning that for US voters, the environmental aspects and issues of the future are not on the national agenda. Meaning, that the US media has joined with the national sense of irresponsibility. Evidently, political passions are such today, that the capacity of the US media to help compile the national agenda is at an all-time zilch. When in fact, the days of drill, baby, drill, are over.


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Evolution, Theory of

On Evolution: A wikipedia page has it that: The US has one of the highest levels of public belief in biblical or other religious accounts of the origins of life on earth among industrialized countries. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, about 43% of Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." This is only slightly less than the 46% reported in a 2006 Gallup poll. Only 14% believed that "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process", despite 49% of respondents indicating they believed in evolution. Belief in creationism is inversely correlated to education; only 22% of those with post-graduate degrees believe in strict creationism. A 2000 poll for People for the American Way found 70% of the American public felt that evolution was compatible with a belief in God.
The same wikipedia page has it that: Re US Religious denominations that dispute evolution (Catholicism does not dispute Evolution as a scientific theory, but accepts it) -- On the other hand, in the U.S., many Protestant denominations promote creationism, preach against evolution from the pulpits, and sponsor lectures and debates on the subject. A list of denominations that explicitly advocate creationism instead of what they call "Darwinism" or evolution include the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Free Methodist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Christian Reformed Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and the Pentecostal Oneness churches.

Fiscal Cliff, The

A view from Southern Africa -- From Business Day Live - Business Times at www.bdlive.co.za/
Obama's win 'just reinforces the status quo' -- by René Vollgraaff, November 11 2012, 09:13 | 0 Comment(s)
DESPITE the amount of airtime and ink in South Africa devoted to the US election and Barack Obama's victory, the events across the Atlantic this week should not have any major effect on the local economy.
"From a South African point of view, it will pretty much be business as usual" said Chris Hart, economist at Investment Solutions.
The big issue in the US economy is the so-called fiscal cliff. This refers to a series of enacted legislation which, if unchanged, will result in spending cuts and the end of $540bn worth of tax benefits, and will take effect on January 1. If the tax benefits are not extended, it will push the US economy back into recession, said Kevin Lings, economist from Stanlib.
Obama and the Democratic Party want most of the tax breaks extended, except for high-income earners. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party want it all extended. However, the two parties have not been able to reach an agreement of how to handle the cliff. After this week's election the Democrats still control the Senate and the Republicans the House of Representatives, the two houses of the US Congress, where the decision will ultimately be made.
Dave Mohr, chief investment strategist at Citadel, said the fact that Obama was re-elected improves the chances of a compromise being reached in terms of the fiscal cliff. "Internationally, growth will still be slow, long-term interest rates will not move up and the search for yield will continue. Emerging markets like South Africa and emerging-market bonds will still be one of the favourite asset classes globally."
However, Jeff Gable, head of research at Absa Capital, said Obama's win just reinforces the status quo and the different houses in the US government still have different views. "It is still early days, but the very first moves [after Obama's victory speech] do not suggest a very comfortable conciliation between the various factions," Gable said. "The likelihood is of at least some of this cliff coming and smacking the US economy, and risk sentiment globally, now seems higher than otherwise."
Hart said while he does not expect any compromise around the fiscal cliff, the US Federal Reserve might be more decisive than the US Congress and might raise its quantitative easing from the current $40-billion it pumps into the market a month, to compensate for the effect of the cliff.
* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times
NB: An astute Australian commentator tells this website the so-called US fiscal cliff is actually more like a fiscal slope, albeit without mentioning how slippery this slope might be.

A view on fiscal cliff from Australia from www.businesspectator.com.au/
Obama must divide and conquer says Edward Luce, Financial Times, Published 10:14 AM, 12 Nov 2012
Barack Obama's US election victory did not break the Congressional deadlock, and if he fails to split the Republicans the country will become cripplingly ungovernable. [Sorry this is truncated. But really, just after a US presidential election, the country could become ungovernable? Really? This is good politics? -Ed]

Foundation Effect, in history

More to come here on de Tocqueville. A great many voters in the USA evidently badly need to get over the American Revolution, and their own interpretations of the Constitution, as distinct from the interpretations of the Constitution made by the US Supreme Court.

Global Financial Crash in 2008 (GFC)

A computer programmer friend in Sydney who works for a bank sent the following by 14-11-2012. Also sending a link to a newstory on causes of the GFC (see below).

The Americans should have gone over the fiscal cliff 10 years ago when the national debt was still manageable. Now, US$16 trillion is totally unmanageable and will be defaulted on (probably by printing money until its worthless). BTW, the causes of the GFC were: - Abandoning the gold standard in the 1971, - Revoking Glass-Steagel legislation, - Government intervention in the market to create sub-prime loans.

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending - From New York Times By STEVEN A. HOLMES, 30 September, 1999

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.
The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.
Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans. Ads by Google
''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''
Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.
''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.
Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.
Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.(Ends).

Lies

Lies: The US blogger Steve Benen, who meticulously curated and documented Mitt’s false statements during 2012, by 11 November 2012 had supposedly clocked a total of 917 Romney lies as Election Day arrived. Those lies, which reached a crescendo with the last-ditch ads accusing a bailed-out Chrysler of planning to ship American jobs to China, are not to be confused with the Romney flip-flops.

Media, The

Media: News Media: The news media in the USA is in chaos. The news media is approximately as dysfunctional as politics has been. This is being admitted by US media outlets, but none of them have the power to redress the obvious problems. The 24x7 news cycle is harming political processes, and discussion of politics, in the USA, the UK and Australia, and probably Canada and across Europe as well. It is also harming once-respectable news media outlets, which cannot cope with the cycle. But since there is little that politicians can do about the 24-hour news cycle because of the state of the Internet, it seems everyone will simply have to get used to it. So will political lobbyists of all stripes. Political commentary which does not recognise this as an innovation which cannot be ignored probably needs to be quickly binned.

Moderates

How Obama won the Middle and How Romney Lost It DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS / SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2012
Self-described moderates and independents — groups separated by the fact that moderates are generally more liberal than independents — were a large portion of the electorate in this election. There were 48.9 million self-described moderates and 34.7 million self-described independents. That Obama carried moderates, and lost independents by a much smaller margin than predicted, is a repudiation of the extremism of Romney’s campaign. A traditional Republican, especially in the era of the Tea Party, does not offer the kind of thinking and policies that these voters look for. From here on, candidates who are not moderate and bipartisan will find very little luck at the polls.

Nate Silver and the statistics of electing a president:

From The Independent newspaper, UK: -- David Blanchflower: Obama's win shows the numbers always count Economic Outlook: We will teach about the failures of forecasters for years in statistics -- Monday 12 November 2012
So Obama won. It was one of the most bitter and negative campaigns ever, and living in a swing state we were bombarded with phone calls and attack ads. My family was divided; some strongly backed Obama, and others were Romney fans. Thankfully I left for the UK before election day, and was able to escape, and along with many I was an early voter and avoided the lines. Before the results were known the pundits on the right such as Karl Rove and most Fox News commentators were convinced that Romney was going to win.
Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on 5 November argued: "I think it's Romney. I think he's stealing in 'like a thief with good tools', in Walker Percy's old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney's slipping into the presidency. He's quietly rising, and he's been rising for a while … All the vibrations are right." He hadn't been rising actually. Bill Clinton's ex-pollster Dick Morris forecast a Republican "landslide". They thought there would be a huge Republican turnout because of the deep hatred for Obama. That didn't happen. Steve Forbes predicted on election night: "Mitt Romney will win big tonight."
We had our own clueless ones; Janet Daley, for example, in the Telegraph this week wrote "the election is – at this moment – so close that virtually all of the battleground states still defy prediction." No they didn't.
I was much struck by how uninformed the coverage was by the media in the UK who, right up until the last, said the race was too close to call, when it wasn't. The UK public was told that polls showed that the two presidential contenders were in a close race because the national polls suggested there was nothing to choose between them in the national voting. This just showed their ignorance, or perhaps was just designed to generate interest in the race. A US election isn't determined by who gets the most votes, but who wins the majority of the 538 votes in the electoral college. Each state has a set of electoral votes that are given in a first-past-the-post system where the winner takes all. The number of votes given is determined by the size of population. Big states like California and Texas with 55 and 38 votes respectively are much more important than little New Hampshire, where I live, which has four electoral votes.
The reality, though, is that the election was only ever about the so-called swing states. The country is so split that there was absolutely no chance on God's green earth that Romney was ever going to win California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the rest as Obama held double-digit leads. Conversely, Obama had no chance of winning Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, etc, as Romney held double-digit leads.
The two candidates barely campaigned or ran any adverts in these states, so any statistic that included them, such as the share of the popular vote, was utterly irrelevant as a predictor of the overall outcome and should have been ignored. The only places that mattered in the end were half a dozen states – Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida. By election day Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania weren't even competitive, with big leads for Obama which were well outside the margins of error. South and North Carolina were going to be Romney wins, but they were too little and too late.
Over the final week four factors sealed it for Obama. First, the biggest weekly fall in oil prices for four years. Second, Hurricane Sandy, which Obama appeared to handle well. Third, New Jersey governor Chris Christie's praise of Obama's handling of the crisis; and finally, the pretty good job numbers that were announced just before election day.
This in many ways, though, was a victory for the pollsters, who called it right, and the pundits, especially the Republican-supporting ones, were left with egg on their faces. In particular Nate Silver, a number-crunching 34-year-old University of Chicago graduate at fivethirtyeight.com who tracked the polling data and called it spot on. By polling day Silver had Obama with a 91 per cent chance of winning, and called the races correctly in all 50 states plus DC. He did better than he did in 2008, when he called 49/50 states correctly. Other pollsters also did well; YouGov called it for Obama early, and the betting site Paddypower paid out a couple of days before the election. Intrade.com, which sold shares in the two candidates, consistently had Obama well ahead. It was never close. In all the polls that were conducted in Ohio, which was the crucial swing state, Romney was ahead in zero.
On election night Karl Rove even disputed Fox News' own call [see remarks on this webpage on this from comedian Jon Stewart - Ed] that Obama had won Ohio and hence was going to be President. In the end Obama won Ohio by 1.9 per cent. Another career bites the dust.
Of interest also was that a number of polling companies were hopelessly wrong. Rasmussen Reports, for example, had consistently showed a fall-off in Democratic party identification. Apparently a good part of Rasmussen's failures were because they sampled people by phone using only landlines. There is a growing trend among the young to use only cellphones, and Rasmussen simply missed them, which was a major problem given that the young disproportionately voted for Obama.
Gallup's daily national tracking poll put Republican nominee Mitt Romney ahead by five points until it was suspended for Hurricane Sandy. We will be teaching about such supreme forecasting failures for years in statistics classes on how not to conduct surveys. Apparently most Republicans including the Romney campaign believed these flawed polls to the very last and thought they were going to win. The better modellers called it right. There are many lessons for the UK here, not least that it is hard to dislodge an incumbent even in a weak economy. But the biggest lesson is that spin won't beat the hard science. (Ends)

Nazis, Black

During his first term of office, President Obama was routinley called ¨a Black Nazi¨. Here, this webpage would beg the daffy citizens of the USA who utter such nonsense to consider just how crazy this sort of insult seems to non-Americans around the world. Due to the impossibility of there being any such person as a Black Nazi, at least to anyone who has read German history since 1900, it should be noted that the use of such insults are one of the many reasons why the USA has lost so much credibility around the world in recent years. US citizens who use such insults as political weaponry are merely trashing their national reputation. When the Land of Free Speech has become the home of loud-talking political nutters, the rest of the world tends to shudder with revulsion and a kind of dread that such insanity can be tolerated for a second in the American communities where it arises.

On 25-11-2012 our US emilers tells us this: Here is where the Republican catechism of no tax increase came from and where it is crumbling. Obama is making progress.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Saxby Chambliss this week became the latest Republican lawmaker to loosen his ties to Grover Norquist, the anti-tax lobbyist famous for getting elected officials to sign a "taxpayer protection pledge."
The rebellion, albeit a modest one, comes as Republicans prepare to negotiate with Democrats and President Barack Obama on a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff - some $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to start jolting the economy at the beginning of 2013.
"I care more about this country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss told Georgia television station WMAZ on Thursday. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that."
Chambliss, who represents Georgia, is a member of the so-called Gang of Eight group of senators, a bipartisan alliance working for deficit reduction, formed last year when the country was on the verge of default thanks to a partisan battle over raising the country's borrowing limit.
A vast majority of elected Republicans have signed the pledge Norquist created in 1986, which commits them to voting against tax increases, and it became a type of litmus test among U.S. conservatives.

Nutters

Or as one US emailer tells us: ¨One problem is that everyone [in the USA] treats the nutters way too politely.¨ - Ed

Nutters: In recent US political history: From US Rep Todd Akin by 20 August 2012, defying medical knowledge and all of biology: Quote of the day from New Statesman magazine: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Representative Todd Akin, who is a Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, on rape. He has since issued a statement clarifying his remarks. Wikipedia said ... While making remarks on rape and abortion on 19 August, 2012, Todd Akin, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, candidate in the 2012 U.S. Senate elections in Missouri, and long-time anti-abortion advocate, made the claim that women victims of what he described as "legitimate rape" rarely experience pregnancy from rape.
The comments from Akin almost immediately led to uproar, with the term "legitimate rape" being taken to imply belief in a view that some kinds of rape are "legitimate", or alternatively that the many victims who do become pregnant from rape are likely to be lying about their claim. His claims about the likelihood of pregnancy resulting from rape were widely seen as being based on long-discredited pseudoscience with experts seeing the claims as lacking any basis of medical validity. Akin was not the first to make such claims, but was perhaps one of the most prominent.
While some voices such as Iowa congressman Steve King supported Akin, senior figures in both parties condemned his remarks and some Republicans called for him to resign. In the resulting furore, Akin received widespread calls to drop out of his Senate race from both Republicans and Democrats. Akin apologized after making the comment, saying he "misspoke", and he stated he planned to remain in the Senate race. This response was itself attacked by many commentators who saw the initial comments as representative of his long-held views, rather than an accidental gaffe.
Lyndon Larouche (¨the perennial candidate¨). Paranoid US political commentator, now very old, who confusingly manages to merge both the left and right wings in US politics at the expense of accuracy and balance in history, common sense and evidence-based ways of looking at socio-political scenarios. Runs an outfit named Executive Intelligence Review which publishes material which purports to give the reader the low-down on lies and corruption in US affairs, but which is mostly crudely-biased anti-British if not anti-Jewish propaganda, all surprisingly consistent over the decades, so presumably he believes it all.
Sarah Palin. Follows several ¨definitions¨ of Palin from websites: Sarah Palin is the controversial beauty-queen turned governor of Alaska turned vice-presidential candidate (2008) turned news commentator turned leader of the right-wing Tea Party movement turned future presidential candidate, turned... ? Sarah palin has found a way to constantly remain in the news, despite being dismissed by the majority of Americans as unqualified to lead the nation.
And, sarah palin: Moronic, self-serving, imbecilic, hideous human being, shame of America. Arising from obscurity, and entirely self-appointed as a spokesperson on US political affairs, once she perceived some opportunities, Palin is famous for accidentally inventing a new word, ¨refudiate¨ when she meant to say, repudiate, which is a good example of everything else she understands badly, or rather, misunderestimates. Fundamentalist in religion and shows all the signs of that sort of problem with her views on right-wing politics in the US and on the role of government, big or small, in the US Federal sphere. Dahlia Lithwick nailed Palin nicely at www.slate.com on 8 July 2009. Palin was simply a woman who made no sense ... her rise and fall will say less about American than you think ... Which unfortunately, however fails to tell us how and why US media outlets gave her the attention they did.
Ayn Rand (Russian-American novelist died 1982). Wrote novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and a variety of non-fiction works. Developed a pseudo-philosophy termed Objectivism. Despite being an atheist became influential in right-wing politics and American libertarianism. Preferred promotion of the individual over collective or community-based interests.
Paul Ryan, Romney running mate, regarded as a noted conservative policy wonk. We quote from www.tnr.com as it was listing many points about the platform espoused by Romney/Ryan. Point 5. Ryan really does want the biggest transfer of wealth, from poor and middle class to rich, in modern U.S. history. Forgive the long direct quote, but this statement from Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, is something that every single reporter covering the campaign should read—and that every American planning to vote should understand: ¨The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). …¨
Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured. It would also impose severe cuts in non-defense discretionary programs—much deeper than the across-the-board cuts ("sequestration") that are scheduled to take place starting in January — thereby putting core government functions at still greater risk. Indeed, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that Chairman Ryan himself requested shows that, after several decades, the Ryan budget would shrink the federal government so dramatically that most of what it does outside of Social Security, health care, and defense would essentially disappear.

US Nutterwatch by 15-11-2012

Our favourite US e-mailer reports 15-11-2012:
1. Secession petitions are now filed for all 50 states. (Said petitions need to have 25,000 signatures at least to be given official attention.)
2. Ron Paul (Libertarian presidential candidate and Texas congressman): 'Our Constitution Has Failed'
3. Romney blames 'gifts' for defeat; Mitt Romney said Obama's generosity to black, Latino, and young voters fuelled the Obama win.
4. 5 US generals reprimanded or investigated in past two weeks; questions are raised about culture. (NB: Adultery is an offense against US Military Law)
5. Apparently they forgot to tell Mitt Romney that the job of “whiney failed GOP presidential candidate” is already taken.
6. Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the first ticket since 1972 that failed to carry their home states.
7. Holly Solomon, the pregnant woman accused of running over her husband because he didn't vote in the presidential election, is being held on a $50,000 bond, reports ArizonaFamily.
8. Applebee's (restaurant chain) Obamacare Rant Reveals the Lies of the Deficit Hysteria.
9. Macy’s Inc., the second-largest U.S. department-store chain, is under pressure to ditch Donald Trump-branded apparel after the billionaire mounted political attacks on President Barack Obama in the election campaign.
(And now the Editor wants to know if tax cuts for the wealthy are not a ¨gift¨ of any kind?)

US Nutterwatch by 20-11-2012

From crikey.com on 20-11-2012: The views of a man who would be president. As Republicans in the USA start thinking about a Latino as their next presidential candidate, the name of Florida Senator Marco Rubio tops the early favourites list. So here's a little something to keep in mind as the Cuban-American member of the science subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee keeps getting mentioned over the next four years.
An interview with GQ magazine published this week included this exchange:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: ¨I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.¨
This man is on an official US government Science committee? So now you know how bad things have gotten in the USA -Ed

Ownership of the Nation, fantasies of

Ownership of the USA? It seems to this website that the fantasy adopted by the Christian Right (and the Tea Party) in the USA, that somehow they own the USA due to some arrangement with the God in whom they trust, is based on a hydra-headed, religion-based misunderstanding of North American history since 1610. Also, due to misunderstandings of the political meanings of the American Revolution. (Most of the Founding Fathers were Freemasons, which means their views were free of devout, unthinking belief in any sort of religious dogma.) This fantasy seems to spring from the beliefs and experiences of the New Englander Puritans who settled from the 1620s, and has at its heart a paranoid fear that freedom (defined mostly as freedom to obey God) might be curtailed by some political regime. (See the high-quality documentary, God in America, which has now been screened twice in Australia alone.)
The Seventeenth Century American Puritans made an impact that still resonates in the USA today, in politics, and in popular culture. Once again, to the rest of the world, this outlook seems quaint, outmoded, obsolete, and politically, counter-productive. So in short, anyone on the USA who feels that they or their lobby group have an in on the ownership of the USA, such that they could take it back (take it back from other voters?), is also bringing the USA into contempt around the world. Because the idea is so ludicrous. No one, nor any group, in any country in the world, owns any country in the world, nor does any Deity. If only politicians (and a great many Islamic Mullahs) would learn this. And we might also ask, if a great many facts have gone missing in US discussions of US politics, what has replaced them? Truthiness? Faith-based hopes? Agonising existential angst? Or plain nuttiness?

Paranoia

More to come

Paranoia

Carroll Quigley - More to come

Political correctness

We have to say, that the most cynical definition of Political Correctness we have ever heard of is that it is: the quaintly earnest belief that it is possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.

Retreat from reality

Reality: Retreat from: From the website of New Statesman magazine: Video: Jon Stewart describes Fox News election night coverage as "crisis on bullshit mountain" -- The insane moment of panic on the network when Obama was re-elected “will … live forever", Jon Stewart says.
By Caroline Crampton Published 08 November 2012 8:59
Jon Stewart on Mitt Romney's defeat -- In his look back over the events of election night, Jon Stewart reserved special attention for Fox News, and in particular the five minutes of crisis on the network after Ohio was called for Obama - a moment that Stewart terms "crisis on Bullshit Mountain". He gleefully tracked the pundits as they blamed the concept of mathematics itself for the declaration, before trying to come to terms with the fact that Mitt Romney, the candidate they had been saying would win for months, had lost. Watch Stewart in action here: (sorry, link not given here - Ed)

Retreat from reality

Reality: Retreat from: from www.wnd.com -- WND whistleblower / WorldNetWeekly Sunday, November 11, 2012 But the author of this piece seems not to be given, unless it is retired entertainer Pat Boone, it is not clear!
ELECTION 2012
Surprise! We voted for God's judgement Exclusive: Pat Boone likens presidential result to Israel getting a hoped-for king Published: 1 day ago author-image by Pat Boone -- Pat Boone, descendant of the legendary pioneer Daniel Boone, has been a top-selling recording artist, the star of his own hit TV series, a movie star, a Broadway headliner, and a best-selling author in a career that has spanned half a century. During the classic rock & roll era of the 1950s, he sold more records than any artist except Elvis Presley. To learn more about Pat, please visit his website.More ↓ twitter icon Follow author rss feed Subscribe to author feed
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me (wisdom) will your days be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff … you will bear it alone.”
– Proverbs 9:10-12
Jesus Christ: Real StoryRead What Jesus Really Taught Order Your Free Print Copy Today! www.ucg.org.au
Well, America went to the polls. At least 120 million or so of us did. Over 56 million voted one way, for one direction, for one set of principles – and some 58 million voted for an entirely different set. And so the larger group takes all of us, the whole of America, in their chosen direction.
Without going into all the specifics, the lesser number voted for fiscal responsibility, limited government, respect for the Constitution and law itself, proven experience in management and success in financial matters, and adherence to time-honored, biblical values. For strong military defense, commitment to Israel and traditional families. Dull stuff like that.
The larger number (though just enough to gain dominance) enthusiastically voted for Big Brother socialist government, “redistributing the wealth,” anti-biblical values, geometric growth in national debt, a weak, vacillating defense and a sapped, hamstrung military, relativistic disdain for the law and the Constitution itself, and more Marxists and socialists appointed to positions of power – including our Supreme Court – in the months ahead.
And the group most responsible for this decisive turn in our national destiny is the sizable group of eligible voters who stayed home, thereby voting for the inevitable outcome – by their absence, their laziness, their ignorance and irresponsibility.
Post-election research will show, as it always does, that perhaps 50 percent of Christians and Bible-believing Jews – who could always win any election if they voted on common principle – failed to exercise their blood-bought privilege and duty to go the nearest poll and vote for righteousness. Theirs is the greatest guilt, in my view, and they will pay a price.
What “price,” you ask?
Was Nov. 6 another harbinger? Don’t miss Joseph Farah’s new documentary based on the best-selling book “The Harbinger” — “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is There An Ancient Mystery That Foretells America’s Future”
From our beginning, birthed from a group of colonies by people who had little or no experience in operations of government, America was “one nation under God.” We flourished as an independent, self-reliant republic under an unprecedented Constitution that proclaimed equality and rights to life, liberty and the pursuit, not the government guarantee, of happiness.
For over 200 years, we were the most successful, admired and envied nation in world history. Unashamedly, we declared ourselves to be a Christian nation, granting security and protection to all faiths, creeds and ethnicities. Our laws demanded obedience to the laws of God – because they had proven to be the best ever conceived for creating and maintaining a healthy, productive and fair society.
We were a church- and synagogue-going nation. We quoted the Bible precepts freely and expected all citizens to voluntarily practice them. And because this worked so well and we grew so prosperous, we assumed that this way of life would just keep perpetuating itself, generation to generation. We literally took it for granted, even as more and more citizens began looking for “loopholes” and ways to cheat, to get around moral prohibitions and keep the society while breaking the moral rules that sustained it.
Politicians, trying to present themselves as “moderates,” increasingly caved in to man’s baser nature in order to keep themselves in office. The current president proclaimed himself not in favor of abortion, but by executive order funded pro-abortion advocates lavishly; as a married man himself, proclaimed his belief in marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman – and then “evolved” in his thinking to endorse same-sex “marriage.” He swore to defend the Constitution and defend our borders, then acted unconstitutionally and defended 14 million illegals, granting many full rights of citizenship.
So again, what’s the “price” we all will pay? Let me give you an apt, explicit, biblical example. What we’ve experienced, and what we’re about to experience, isn’t new. It’s entirely predictable, and it’s just. In fact, I take you to the book of Judges, in the Bible, chapter 2.
“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel. “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt, worshipping the gods of the people around them. “This made the Lord angry, so He handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them.”
Do you see the lesson? Do you draw the parallel between God’s chosen people Israel and God’s modern-day most blessed people, America? The ancestors of both were blessed, protected and provided for – as they committed themselves to walk in His way, professing their faith in Him and looking to Him for guidance. They had every good thing, including capable leaders.
But throughout the book of Judges, God’s people rode a seesaw, now being blessed and then rebelling, turning from Him and being abandoned to the consequences of their unfaithfulness. Over and over again. Finally, the wayward people decided they were tired of judges who demanded they each shoulder their own responsibilities – and they desired a king, who they imagined would take care of them, protect and guide them. Not God, but an earthly king. Samuel the prophet was now old, and his sons took over as judges, but they were corrupt, greedy, accepting bribes and perverting justice. Sound like many of our elected “leaders”? So the elders of Israel confronted Samuel: “Give us a king to judge us … like all the other nations have.”
Get that? “Like all the other nations …” – i.e., we’re no longer exceptional, let us be like all the other nations. Sound familiar?
Old Samuel knew this desire was wrong and would lead the people even farther from God, into servitude, injustice and moral darkness. So he went to the Lord for guidance. But what did He say? “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is Me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer.” From then on, for hundreds of years, the people suffered under foolish kings, many worse than the one before, still wanting their own way and forsaking the way of God who had made them great in their beginning. They ended in abject slavery, in Babylon captivity.
Don’t think that can happen to our America? Friend, our people have rejected the very same God and His way, and clamored after a king who has promised to provide, protect and lead them into a Promised Land where “everybody has everything.” So that same God must take His hand off those who have rejected Him and allow them to reap the consequences.
It’s not going to be fun. (Ends))

Reaction to the above: stanleyannd: So who pushed GOD out of the democrats platform at the DNC? Does anyone believe that anything would slide past Obama unless he approved it? Nope. Therefore Obama is godless and was caught pinko commie handed. When they were caught with the trial balloon, he had to put it back. Kind of like the suggestion that Israel go back to the 1967 borders as a trial balloon. Typical Obama. I wonder when he throws out the trial balloon that he is a fruitcake.
Reaction to the above: stanleyannd I recently took a look at a dollar bill. It still says.... IN GOD WE TRUST. Wonder how that got there if we are a secular nation. Answer. The premise that we were founded as a secular nation is a modern myth in an attempt to rewrite history. Christianity and the Bible were saturated into society during our founding. IN GOD WE TRUST. Sounds pretty Monotheistic to me.
Reaction to the above: There are so many reasons why I don't like this article. Number one is that God isn't going to bring judgement on the USA just because of who got elected to office. As Christians we're under the new covenant, so to compare America to the Old Testament is ridiculous. However, since that's what the article is doing, then the question I would ask is, why would God be willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah, under the old covenant, with only 10 righteous people living there, but not be willing to spare America, under the new covenant with all the new covenant promises, where there are millions of God's children? Doesn't make much sense to me.
Reaction to the above: The media is spouting the republicans need to change their ways. Really. Obama lied, stonewalled, demonstrated incompetence, cheated, used the media to protect him in the debates(Candy "wideload" Crowley fact checking incorrectly on Benghazi and not fact checking the whoppers told by Obama related to Sequestration, deficits, taxes....) The only the thing the republicans need to do is to get mean like the liberals. Obama and Biden were total jerks in the debates. But our guy was told to be presidential which is code for playing nice while their guy lies through his teeth, distorting our guy´s background.

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Retreat from reality

Reality: Retreat from:
Fantasyland
Denial has poisoned the GOP and threatens the rest of the country too.
By Frank Rich, Published 9 Nov, 2012
Mitt Romney is already slithering into the mists of history, or at least La Jolla, gone and soon to be forgotten. A weightless figure unloved and distrusted by even his own supporters, he was always destined, win or lose, to be a transitory front man for a radical-right GOP intent on barreling full-speed down the Randian path laid out by its true 2012 standard-bearer, Paul Ryan. But as was said of another unsuccessful salesman who worked the New England territory, attention must be paid to Mitt as the door slams behind him in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s brilliant victory.
Though Romney has no political heirs in his own party or elsewhere, he does leave behind a cultural legacy of sorts. He raised Truthiness to a level of chutzpah beyond Stephen Colbert’s fertile imagination, and on the grandest scale. That a presidential hopeful so cavalierly mendacious could get so close to the White House, winning some 48 percent of the popular vote, is no small accomplishment. The American weakness that Romney both apotheosized and exploited in achieving this feat — our post-fact syndrome where anyone on the public stage can make up anything and usually get away with it — won’t disappear with him. A slicker liar could have won, and still might.
All politicians lie, and some of them, as Bob Kerrey famously said of Bill Clinton in 1996, are “unusually good” at it. Every campaign (certainly including Obama’s) puts up ads that stretch or obliterate the truth. But Romney’s record was exceptional by any standard. The blogger Steve Benen, who meticulously curated and documented Mitt’s false statements during 2012, clocked a total of 917 as Election Day arrived. Those lies, which reached a crescendo with the last-ditch ads accusing a bailed-out Chrysler of planning to ship American jobs to China, are not to be confused with the Romney flip-flops. The Etch-A-Sketches were a phenomenon of their own; if the left and right agreed about anything this year, it was that trying to pin down where Mitt “really” stood on any subject was a fool’s errand.
His biography was no less Jell-O-like: There were the still-opaque dealings at Bain, and those Olympics, and a single (disowned) term in public service, and his churchgoing—and what else had he been up to for 65 years? We never did see those tax returns. We never did learn the numbers that might validate the Romney-Ryan budget. Given that Romney had about as much of a human touch with voters as an ATM, it sometimes seemed as if a hologram were running for president. Yet some 57 million Americans took him seriously enough to drag themselves to the polls and vote for a duplicitous cipher. Not all of this can be attributed to the unhinged Obama hatred typified by Mary Matalin’s postelection characterization of the president as “a political narcissistic sociopath.”
As GOP politicians and pundits pile on Romney in defeat, they often argue that he was done in by not being severely conservative enough; if only he’d let Ryan be Ryan, voters would have been won over by right-wing orthodoxy offering a clear-cut alternative to Obama’s alleged socialism. In truth, Romney was a perfect embodiment of the current GOP. As much as the Republican Party is a radical party, and a nearly all-white party, it has also become the Fantasyland Party.
It’s an isolated and gated community impervious to any intrusions of reality from the “real America” it solipsistically claims to represent. This year’s instantly famous declaration by the Romney pollster Neil Newhouse that “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers” crystallized the mantra of the entire GOP. The Republican faithful at strata both low and high, from Rush’s dittoheads to the think-tank-affiliated intellectuals, have long since stopped acknowledging any empirical evidence that disputes their insular worldview, no matter how grounded that evidence might be in (God forbid) science or any other verifiable reality, like, say, Census reports or elementary mathematics. No wonder Romney shunned the word Harvard, which awarded him two degrees, even more assiduously than he did the word Mormon.
At the policy level, this is the GOP that denies climate change, that rejects Keynesian economics, and that identifies voter fraud where there is none. At the loony-tunes level, this is the GOP that has given us the birthers, websites purporting that Obama was lying about Osama bin Laden’s death, and not one but two (failed) senatorial candidates who redefined rape in defiance of medical science and simple common sense.
It’s the GOP that demands the rewriting of history (and history textbooks), still denying that Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” transformed the party of Lincoln into a haven for racists. Such is the conservative version of history that when the website Right Wing News surveyed 43 popular conservative bloggers to determine the “worst figures in American history” two years ago, Jimmy Carter, Obama, and FDR led the tally, all well ahead of Benedict Arnold, Timothy McVeigh, and John Wilkes Booth.

Next: The GOP’s retreat from reality ...

Religious faith

Religious faith: In what sense are calls made in the USA for a more scripturally-sound politics, a more faith-based politics, allegedly more true to Protestant Christian values, markedly different from calls in economically under-developed Islamic countries for the imposition, or re-imposition, of Sharia Law? For the obvious pretence here is that Holy Books written more than 1000 years ago still present useful prescriptions for running modern, expensive, technologically-complicated nation-states which might become subject to stresses and strains due to global warming/climate change.

Secession, Fantasies of

These new wave aspiring US Secessionists are not unlike radicals in the Islamic World who for all sorts of reasons want separate or split-off states to be created for them to free them from perceived interferences -Ed.

Our US emailer reports on 13-11-2012: Secession petitions filed in 20 states By Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo! News | The Lookout 11/12/12
In the wake of last week's presidential election, thousands of Americans have signed petitions seeking permission for their states to peacefully secede from the United States. The petitions were filed on We the People, a government website. States with citizens filing include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Oddly, folks from Georgia have filed twice. Even stranger, several of the petitions come from states that went for President Barack Obama.
The petitions are short and to the point. For example, a petition from the Volunteer State reads: "Peacefully grant the State of Tennessee to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government." Of all the petitions, Texas has the most signatures so far, with more than 23,000. An article from WKRC quotes a University of Louisville political science professor who explained that these petitions aren't uncommon. Similar petitions were filed following the 2004 and 2008 elections. Still, should the petitions garner 25,000 signatures in a month, they will require an official response from the Obama administration.
From the We the People site

More Secession: From BBC News on 13-11-2012 -- 2 November 2012 Last updated at 21:40 GMT
US election: Unhappy Americans ask to secede from US -- Barack Obama on Veterans Day The petitions were filed after President Barack Obama's re-election
More than 100,000 Americans have petitioned the White House to allow their states to secede from the US, after President Barack Obama's re-election. The appeals were filed on the White House's We the People website. Most of the 20 states with petitions voted for Republican Mitt Romney.
The US constitution contains no clause allowing states to leave the union. By Monday night the White House had not responded. In total, more than 20 petitions have been filed. One for Texas has reached the 25,000-signature threshold at which the White House promises a response. 'Blatant abuses'
The last time states officially seceded, the US Civil War followed. Most of the petitions merely quote the opening line of America's Declaration of Independence from Britain, in which America's founders stated their right to "dissolve the political bands" and form a new nation.
Currently, the most popular petition is from Texas, which voted for Mr Romney by some 15 percentage points more than it did for the Democratic incumbent. The text complains of "blatant abuses" of Americans' rights. It cites the Transportation Security Administration, whose staff have been accused of intrusive screening at airports.

Truthiness

On Truthiness. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Truthiness is a quality characterizing a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" or because it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.
American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined the word in this meaning as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse. He particularly applied it to US President George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Colbert later ascribed truthiness to other institutions and organizations, including Wikipedia. Colbert has sometimes used a Dog Latin version of the term, "Veritasiness". For example, in Colbert's "Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando" the word "Veritasiness" can be seen on the banner above the eagle on the operation's seal.
Truthiness, although a "stunt word", was named Word of the Year for 2005 by the American Dialect Society and for 2006 by Merriam-Webster. Linguist and OED consultant Benjamin Zimmer pointed out that the word truthiness already had a history in literature and appears in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), as a derivation of truthy, and The Century Dictionary, both of which indicate it as rare or dialectal, and to be defined more straightforwardly as "truthfulness, faithfulness". Responding to claims, Colbert explained the origin of his word as, "Truthiness is a word I pulled right out of my keister ...".
Adoption of the term by Colbert
Colbert chose the word truthiness just moments before taping the premiere episode of The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005, after deciding that the originally scripted word – "truth" – was not absolutely ridiculous enough. "We're not talking about truth, we're talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist", he explained. He introduced his definition in the first segment of the episode, saying: "Now I'm sure some of the 'word police', the 'wordinistas' over at Webster's are gonna say, 'Hey, that's not a word'. Well, anybody who knows me knows I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true. Or what did or didn't happen."
When asked in an out-of-character interview with The Onion's A.V. Club for his views on "the 'truthiness' imbroglio that's tearing our country apart", Colbert elaborated on the critique he intended to convey with the word:
Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word… It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the President because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true? …
Truthiness is 'What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.' It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.

See also on Wikipedia: Confabulation. Doublethink. Factoid. Newspeak. Noble lie. On Bullshit – an essay by Harry Frankfurt, originally written in 1986 but published as a book on 10 January, 2005, 9 months before Colbert coined Truthiness. Rathergate. Rhetoric. Verisimilitude. Wikiality – another word coined by Colbert. -Ed


The Merchant Networks Project
Merchant Networks Project logo by Lou Farina

The history websites on this domain now have a companion website on a new domain, at Merchant Networks Project produced by Dan Byrnes and Ken Cozens (of London).

This website (it is hoped) will become a major exercise in economic and maritime history, with some attention to Sydney, Australia.

Worry re New Millennium Message: What Does The Future Hold For You?
From the Jehovah's Witnesses at this website´s own front door, during December 2000. Yes, we are visited too by these God-botherers!
Gee, just consider here the immense scope of just a few of the problems we humans face.
Pollution: Industrialized lands are "causing environmental damage on a global scale and widespread pollution and disruption of ecosystems". If present trends continue, "the natural environment will be increasingly stressed". From Global Environment Outlook, 2000, UN Environment Program
Sickness: By the year 2020, non-communicable diseases are expected to account for seven out of every ten deaths in the developing regions compared with less than half today. Source: The Global Burden of Disease, Harvard University Press, 1996. Some experts claim that "by 2010, 66 million fewer people [will be alive] in the 23 countries with the most severe [AIDS] epidemics. Source: Confronting AIDS: Evidence from the Developing World, a report of the European Commission and the World Bank.
Poverty: "Nearly 1.3 billion people live on less than a dollar a day, and close to one billion cannot meet their basic consumption requirements". Source: Human Development Report 1999, United Nations Development Program
War: "Violence within [various lands] could reach unprecedented levels... generated by ethnic, tribal and religious [divisions]... such violence will form ... the most common type of conflict in the next quarter century... killing hundreds of thousands each year". Source: New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, US Commission on National Security/21st Century.


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2006: Saving the earth can't be left up to God, the faithful are warned: A consortium of religious leaders in Australia has formed to issue a statement (named Common Belief) on spiritual duties and attitudes that the faithful should adopt in terms of environmental challenges. However, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell, has refrained from comment, though he has earlier said that “pagan emptiness” and Western fears of the uncontrollable forces of nature were leading to “hysteric and extreme claims” about global warming. Anglican bishop of Canberra and Goulbourn, George Browning, said, “If Christians believe in Jesus they must recognise that concern for climate change is not an optional extra but a core matter of faith.” ... the church's commitment to eradicate poverty was an empty dream without address of questions of climate change. Bishop Browning added in the practical area, for less reliance on heating and air-conditioning, use of energy-saving lights, use of rain tanks and grey water systems. The more general message for Christians is that they should become responsible stewards of God's creation and quickly tackle relevant questions of environmental care. Almost by definition, Christians are answerable to God for the way their actions will affect future generations. The groups concerned are Australian Evangelical Alliance and Australian Christian Lobby in association with the Climate Institute, and are Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Salvation Army, Lutheran, Catholic, Uniting Church, plus Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Jews. (Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 5 December 2006)

2040: Arctic ice to be gone by 2040 say scientists: From San Francisco is a report that global warming will melt the Arctic's during summer by as early as 2040. This will have serious environmental, commercial and strategic outcomes, say scientists at US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at University of Colorado in Boulder. There may well be a slow but steady decline of Arctic ice (as measured September-to-September), with a “dramatic tipping point” arising about 2020-2025, after which ice will retreat four times faster than previously. Supercomputers have been used for modelling work on the problem. By about 2040, perennial ice would only be found on the north coasts of Greenland and Canada. The mode of opening new shipping routes will benefit Canada and Russia, but wildlife will presumably suffer. (Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 2006, see recent issue of journal, Geophysical Research Letters)

By 2020: A billion people worldwide will be aged over 60. (From a magazine).

Wars by 2020?: "Violence within [various lands] could reach unprecedented levels... generated by ethnic, tribal and religious [divisions]... such violence will form ... the most common type of conflict in the next quarter century... killing hundreds of thousands each year". Source: New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, US Commission on National Security/21st Century.

From New Millennium Message: What Does The Future Hold For You?
- from the Jehovah's Witnesses at Lost Worlds' own front door, December 2000:
(Ever noticed that Christian fundamentalists are always discussing wars and rumour of wars, as they fear from reading The Book of the Apocalypse, while the fact is, anyway, there are always, all the time, independent of one's preferred ideology, somewhere in the world, wars and rumours of wars... ? More fool, humanity? -Ed)

Prediction for November 2026: End of the World scenario? In the 1960s, commentators on population projections (Heinz von Foerster and colleagues) in the journal Science predicted an end of the world scenario due to excess population, by, say November 2026. (Reported by The Sunday Telegraph, Sydney, on 30 June 2002 in Science column by Graham Phillips).



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