31 October 2008

Trashing the brand

The whole idea of a university press is to publish books capable of dealing with weightier matters than are dealt with in today's headlines. Under Louise Adler, MUP books are today's headlines, only with more dead trees to show for them.

There was John Hyde Page's testament to his own silliness, and the fact that Peter Costello's exercise in strident minging could be comprehensively serialised in a few editions of The Daily Fairfax should have alerted MUP to the dangers of the Adler model. Still she ploughs on, raising issues she should have thought about more carefully, raising more questions than she dares to answer:
IN THE past decade or so, the Australian publishing industry has suffered reputational damage from a long line of literary fraudsters ... Authors who fabricate their identity or steal the work of other writers break a contract that is both legal and moral.

Translation: darling! Simply everybody is doing plagiarism these days! The question is to what extent a publisher is obliged to put a book to market knowing that it has been plagiarised. Both the books that Adler refers to there (Helen D's The hand that signed the paper and Norma Khouri's Forbidden love) sold like hot cakes, and on that basis there is no way Adler would dream of pulling Peter van Onselen's All Right, So We Lost: What Do You Want?.
The legal issues are straightforward.

Are you going to sue Julie Bishop, Louise, are ya? Didn't think so. Sabre-rattling is so yesterday.
But the morality of the false authorship brings into question a more profound contract between the writer and reader.

Yes, it sure does. If Adler was concerned about morality she'd pull the book and wear the financial consequences of doing so, to protect the intellectual integrity of MUP. Instead, the next Melbourne Uni student who gets busted lifting an essay straight off the internet should get Adler to brush away any nasty consequences ("so old hat!").
After the 2007 election, MUP agreed with Associate Professor Peter van Onselen that the decimated Liberal Party was an important subject for a book. We certainly did not share the anti-intellectual view of one publishing colleague who suggested books by Liberals were the literary equivalent of a "dog returning to its vomit".

We believed that Liberal politicians would now enter a reflective period, a phase of rigorous self-criticism and reassessment. We accepted this premise for the collection of essays van Onselen proposed to commission.

Adler needs to consult more widely (and so does van Onselen, for that matter). The whole recent history of the Liberal Party mitigates against the premise behind the book, as does the reality of its reception since.

Toward the end of the Fraser government, there were three schools of thought which emerged and began to criticise, in a muted way, the direction of that government: the moderates, the religious conservatives, and the libertarian deregulationists. After Fraser lost in 1983 the gloves were off, especially as preselections were at stake. This warfare continued until 1995.

By 1995 the moderates had gone or been co-opted, the libertarian deregulationists had their go under Hewson and were either gone or pulled their heads in, leaving a sizeable rump of conservatives. The Liberal Party actively sought out candidates for marginal seats who had established networks in their communities but no factional warfare experience within the Liberal Party, who'd accept Liberal candidacy as a franchise and who'd be given all the perks of Parliament so long as they didn't ask too many questions. That was the class of 1996. These people have always been incapable of imagining a Liberal Party without John Howard, in the same way that KFC franchisees can't imagine their brand without the Colonel.

Then, there was the conduct of the Howard government itself: the overarching principle that 'disunity is death' and that any dissent about even the smallest issue is equivalent to outright rejection of everything the Liberal Party stands for. This attitude prevailed to the very end, and had Howard been re-elected last year it would prevail now. There are no schools of thought ready to go in the Liberal Party (I think Tony Abbott's chapter is entitled "Daddy, come back!").

Today, the Liberal Party is in ideological lockdown. The twin global crises of credit risk and terrorism take government into ideologically uncharted waters. Conservative and liberal ideologues are exhausted, as the failure of the Bush Administration shows, providing no help to people like George Brandis who are looking for new ideas to be given a quick spray of eucalyptus oil and adapted for Aussie conditions.
An essay might also be an occasion to display leadership potential to colleagues.

Oh yeah, because the history of the Liberal Party is one essayist after another buffing their intellectual wares. Who's taking whom for mugs now, Louise?
The Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, agreed to contribute an essay. As the deadline loomed, in lieu of an original essay, he suggested we reprint his most recent National Press Club speech. We declined his offer because the criterion for inclusion was that the essays had to be new.

In other words, here was clear proof that the premise under which the book was commissioned was false. Still, Adler ploughed on (I don't blame van Onselen for having a go, but he should have known better).
We certainly did not share the anti-intellectual view of one publishing colleague who suggested books by Liberals were the literary equivalent of a "dog returning to its vomit" ... There is a publishing industry prejudice that Liberals are neither book writers nor book buyers.

Yeah, because what this country needs right now are about half a dozen biographies of H V Evatt, the nutty man of 1950s politics. Mind you, people like that are right to laugh at the idea of bending over backwards to publish Peter Costello's The warm inner glow makes poor light for reading.
It has been disappointing to discover that some politicians are happy to have others do their thinking for them. Even more disappointing has been the cavalier attitude displayed by a few contributors to public debate.

Nobody who has any sort of awareness of Australian politics over the last twenty years has any excuse for coming out with that. It is the mark of a fool to even be surprised at this development, or to describe the norm as the work of "a few contributors to public debate".
Politicians suffering from print-envy but too self-important to tie themselves to the desk for the necessary time display intellectual bankruptcy and contempt for their constituents.

Politicians who enthusiastically accept an invitation to contribute to a book but fail to acknowledge either their sources or their co-authors cross an ethical border. Is it any wonder that the public loses faith in the political process?

Oh please, not again. Here Adler is complaining about a fundamental law of both politics and publishing: lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. Liberals can't see the link between getting published and getting re-elected, and Adler can't see that publishing such a flawed book diminishes her, MUP, the University of Melbourne, and every scholar who might pick up a MUP book and take it seriously.

Nothing to show for it

In today's papers we've seen two reasons why the NSW Labor Party is dead, and the Rees experiment has failed. They haven't done enough; and they've committed to do much less going forward than is necessary.

Frank Sartor has positioned himself as the keeper of the NSW Labor flame, and given this effort it looks like the flame is so dim a sudden cold snap could see him off.
NSW Labor is re-enforcing the claim of the Opposition and Liberal-leaning media commentators, that the Carr and Iemma governments were "bad" governments. Little wonder that Labor's voting base is deserting it.

Labor's most consistent policy over the last thirteen years has to keep state politics reporters close to Labor. It seems that the closer they get to NSW Labor, the more Liberal they become. Ask yourself why that is Franky boy.
Bob Carr lamented to a student audience at Sydney University that the government was failing to articulate its achievements, citing the falling smoking rate as an example, down 4 percentage points in the past four years alone, largely due to the good work of the NSW Cancer Institute.

Consistent with general declines in this area over the past decade. Congratulations on finding an area in which NSW did not fail utterly, though.
Add to this that suicide rates have almost halved, alongside big drops in cancer and heart disease death rates, and there seems to be a lot of good news to tell.

No right to claim them as achievements of the Labor government, though.
But despite 88 per cent of public hospital users rating their experience as "good or very good", the Government is reinforcing a perception of a "poor" health system and, hence, "poor" government.

88% of public hospital users see staff run off their feet and shoddy equipment, with scope for improving these eaten up by bureaucrats with no heath-related role - only to supply stats among themselves, or to the Minister's office for a press release. At a time of plenty we had a right to expect more and better.
With hindsight, every government can do better, and every government deals with some challenges better than others.

This is pathetic. Sartor's ego could not admit of error or it would collapse, which made it impossible for him to act as an agent of renewal. It's this sort of skittishness in the face of scrutiny that makes people turn off when the spruiking begins.
it is healthy to acknowledge past errors

Healthier still to fix them, Frank. That's what you were never good enough to do.
No one can seriously question Carr's environmental gains. His was one of the first governments in the world to introduce a greenhouse gas trading scheme; it protected native vegetation and expanded conservation lands.

OK, so we're not allowed to question Carr's environmental policies - but what you can do is ignore them. The greenhouse gas trading scheme is a non-starter, not part of the Garnaut future nor much evident in the present. Native vegetation has always been protected and Carr would assume lands without providing for their upkeep.
It introduced sustainability controls on new housing - saving 40 per cent on water and greenhouse emissions

All we need now is some new housing.
A recent national education survey showed NSW children bettered the national average for all skills and categories measured and, in many cases, topped the nation.

This was the case in 1995, when Virginia Chadwick was Education Minister, and NSW has only succeeded in this field to the extent that it (repackaged, renamed) continued those policies.
Community services and child protection have been improved

This is a lie. These areas have been run down to nothing.
Almost all public hospitals have been upgraded or rebuilt ...

Basic maintenance has been meagre, as you'd expect under a Labor government.
... the health budget more than doubled ...

Given an increasing but ageing population, a baby boom and significant advances in health technologies, not to mention bureaucratic bloat, this can only be described as pathetic.
... and waiting lists for predicable surgery have been slashed.

No, they have been fiddled with until they cease to function as useful indicators of reality.
... the Olympics was an outstanding success and five expressways were completed ...

These were legacies of the previous Coalition government. Again, Sartor is seeking credit for not screwing them up rather than claiming success for Labor.
... critics dwell on teething problems with the Cross City and Lane Cove Tunnels, where the government rightly shifted the risk to the private sector.

These were Labor initiatives, Labor screw-ups. The government was absolutely wrong to shift long-term transport planning to commercial interests that had no interests therein.
But recent changes to planning bodies -

Oh Franky boy, don't even go there, Rees will look after the ALP donors, that's all you need to worry about.
In public transport the Carr government built major bus transitways and started the rail clearway program.

So? A pathetic and desultory effort. At a time of plenty we had a right to expect more and better.
Iemma ... devised the visionary metro line to Rouse Hill. This was to properly connect Sydney's east and west.

The metro line was always the wrong solution of the northwest, and the clowns who spiked the Parramatta to Epping line can claim credit for nothing.
Carr and Egan have been criticised for paying off all the state's debt - $12 billion of it - and not spending more on public transport infrastructure instead. One can agree with that criticism with the benefit of hindsight.

Fine, but the whole idea of you being there was to change that decision at the time, not to mince around it in hindsight.
The trouble with the stampede to rebrand the Government is that it risks ditching good policies for the sake of short-term political expediency.

If NSW Labor loses the next election its only legacy will be the good policies it fostered. Political gymnastics and spin is never enduring. If that happens Labor's Sussex Street head office will have a lot to answer for.

It has ditched non-policies and flung itself into a void, and as to NSW Labor having anything to answer for - you helped create non-answerable Labor, Frank, Labor that spruiked but did not listen. Thirteen years of achievements press releases have wafted down Macquarie Street and are choking turtles as we speak, Frank. This isn't atonement, it's nothing at all.

A bit like this, really. Rees has been planning to ditch the northwest metro for ages but has not had the guts to announce it. People stopped listening to him once he commissioned the Supercars thing at Homebush. He really thinks that the future of hundreds of thousands of people matters less than the Leg Man from Bankstown.
"Labor's planning policies are putting a city the size of Canberra into Sydney's north-west and now Mr Rees has condemned those people to continued use of buses and cars."

Too right Barry, this is the single biggest failure of thirteen years of planning Sydney. Now, you have to come up with some ideas given that Rees is so discredited.

30 October 2008

No wiser after the event

I'll state my biases up front and declare that the problem comes down to the whole notion of "packaging" or "bundling", whereby high-risk housing loans were presented as low-risk collateralised debt obligations through sleights of hand. Ratings agencies are to blame here, as is the sheer sloth of the institutions involved - if just one had challenged the idea that a CDO made up of high-risk loans could not seriously be classified as a low risk bundle/ package/ other, it would have been a triumph for the lawyers concerned and the whole business could have been unwound in a much less messy way than has come to pass.

Richard Clapton sang "we search for leaders on our hands and knees", and searching for answers on the economic issues besetting the country and the world is little more elevated. However, I do know bullshit when I see it and Stephen Kirchner has helped put some of the problems in clearer perspective, however unintentionally.
In the world according to the Prime Minister, "this culture was never challenged by a political and economic ideology of extreme capitalism". The credit crisis "bears the fingerprints of the extreme free-market ideologues who influence much of the neo-liberal economic elite".

The Prime Minister almost sounds like a conspiracy theorist, blaming the world's problems on shadowy elites and greedy capitalists. Unfortunately, Rudd is not alone in this. Politicians across the world have been quick to point the finger at financial markets and the executives who preside over financial institutions. Even US Republican presidential candidate John McCain has sought to blame Wall Street, which he describes as a casino.

It's one thing to quote someone selectively, but it takes breathtaking stupidity Kirchnerian skill to miss the point of the selective quotes that are used: well, half of them anyway. Rudd was having a go at the US financial markets as well as the US regulators. This includes not only elected members of Congress but also those who work for public-sector agencies charged with regulating the US financial system. Congress passed lazy, watered-down legislation. Regulatory agencies were slow to detect, let alone pursue, breaches of the law. The Administration of George W Bush and the Republican-dominated Congress for much of his term discouraged enforcement of such regulations that there were in the financial markets.

Kirchner could only have supported such a tame approach to financial sector regulation. Do you really want a vigilant set of regulators, Stephen, and would you support a tax system that paid for such? What if there were Congressional hearings in say 2005, with Senators McCain and Obama railing against shonky debt instruments, when neither of them had any experience with the finance sector? What if Richard Fuld or some of the clowns from Bear Stearns (remember them?) had gone to prison around that time? Stephen Kirchner would have been the first to condemn such heavy-handedness by the dead hand of the state (actually, he would have followed closely behind otiose Washington gossip queen Grover Norquist).

What if an Australian financial institution, as recently as last year, had refused to participate in packaged/ bundled/ other shonky debt instruments? Stephen Kirchner would have condemned them as Little Australia protectionists, out of step with the wider world, you just don't get it do you.
It is not surprising that politicians seek to scapegoat capitalism in general and financial markets in particular. Capitalism and free markets have always been objects of popular suspicion, even in a notionally free market country such as the US. Politicians pander to these popular prejudices, not least because focusing attention on supposed market failures diverts attention from their own policy failings.

Here, Kirchner tries to pretend that a recent fundamental philosophical turning point underpinning the interoperation of markets and government did not take place. Alan Greenspan admitted that he overestimated the self-interest of institutions as a mechanism for market self-correction. Greenspan effectively admitted that it was not the regulations themselves, not even the regulatory environment that he had helped create, but the very idea that markets contain self-correcting features (in which Kirchner clearly still believes).
On the one hand, capitalism is accused of elevating self-interest above all other considerations, such as altruism. On the other hand, we are also asked to believe that financial market participants are driven by irrational sentiment that ultimately harms their own interests.

Whatever one's view of human motivation and individual rationality, one needs to make consistent assumptions about human behaviour. People are not altruistic or rational one day, then greedy or irrational the next.

Kirchner underestimates just how many examples there are in both of his "hands", and if he regards this as a paradox then perhaps he has framed his argument wrongly. Wait till he discovers that individuals can be greedy on occasion and altruistic on other occasions! Wait until he confronts the idea that an action can be interpreted as both altruistic (helping poor folk buy their own homes) and greedy (people sucked into obligations they can't afford; financiers "packaging" a high -risk debt as a low-risk one) at the same time.

How does Stephen Kirchner deal with the paradoxes of the modern world? Hurtle back three centuries into the past:
David Hume noted as long ago as 1741: "Avarice, or the desire of gain, is a universal passion which operates at all times, in all places and upon all persons."

In 1741 the beaver-fur traders of Wall-street did not have the clout to depress markets for credit and real estate in Edinburgh. Hume can be excused for not addressing the issues of 2008, Kirchner cannot.
The advocates of free markets seek to make consistent assumptions about human behaviour and argue that all people respond to incentives. Good people can be led to do bad things and bad people can be led to good things, depending on the institutional setting in which they are located. If we are distrustful of the motivations of people in the private sector, we should be just as wary of the motivations of those in the public sector, not least because the latter have considerably more power over the rest of us. Their mistakes can consequently prove much more costly.

This is sheer intellectual laziness, an unfounded and unsupported assertion. It sounds more like a statement of religious faith, a lunge for solid truth amid a swirling, churning and frightening reality, which might explain why Catallaxy people snarl at you for daring to question a fatuous statement like that.
What we need are institutions that are robust to the inevitable errors of public as well as private actors.

Any ideas? What do you mean, no?
The routine violations of perfect competition are often viewed as automatically justifying government intervention to correct market failure. The inevitable violations of the efficient markets hypothesis also have been used to argue that free markets deliver inefficient outcomes, without bothering to establish whether proposed regulatory interventions are likely to improve on these outcomes.

The best way to guarantee 'perfect competition' is to be transparent about who you are and what you're doing. Most corporate regulation since the 1980s has been geared around this principle: be transparent, disclose up-front, use disclaimers. In the past ten years or so there has, in Australia and the United States, been little in the way of high-level thinking about corporate regulation. Instead, there has been a kind of urban warfare over individual clauses, played out not in open court but by lobbyists in backroom deals. Kirchner would be wrong to blame politicians and regulators for this phenomenon, except insofar as they did not tell the lobbyists of free-market champions where to get off.
Governments and regulators for the most part rely on the same information and the same methods for analysing that information as the private sector. This is why regulators and governments are no better at avoiding mistakes than the private sector.

This does not follow logically at all. It is possible for two parties to have access to the same information and for one party to make better (however you might quantify that) use of information than the other. Again, this is a statement of faith.
But the private sector has the distinct advantage of a focus on the bottom line. This is a powerful incentive to avoid mistakes, but only when the costs of those mistakes are borne privately rather than publicly.

Have you learned nothing from the failure of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock? Nothing? Such companies cannot be said to fail privately. Perpetrators of such all-encompassing failure cannot expect, cannot demand to have their yearning for privacy respected. If a thief who steals $100 is tried in open court, so too the fool who sends a company, an economy down the tubes must be examined publicly, if for no reason other than this does not happen again, that actions have consequences. Can the man who flaunts his wealth credibly seek privacy?
Markets also have the advantage that they are self-correcting.

No, Stephen, they do not. No correction is possible in the current market without government intervention. This is not an assertion of faith, it is a shriek of denial.
Falling US house prices are the market's way of correcting the oversupply in US housing. US house prices began responding to this oversupply well before the problem was recognised by regulators or by government.

The US housing market is not in equilibrium, and any disequilibrium cannot be sheeted home to government.
In credit and other financial markets, the present crisis can be interpreted as a global re-pricing of risk following an extended period in which risk was incorrectly priced. Again, no government or regulatory intervention was required to set in train this market correction. We may not like the price signals generated by markets in the context of the credit crisis, but that does not mean the market is not working or the price signals are wrong.

Yes it does actually. It isn't just the price of credit that's the issue. Australia has not engaged in subprime lending to the extent as has happened in the US, yet Australian lending has not only been repriced but actually restricted. The whole idea of the US government's intervention was not just that credit would be repriced but that the supply of credit between institutions and within the market would actually dry up. Please understand this Stephen: government, politicians and regulators, have stepped in to avoid market failure.
If there is a role for government, it is in facilitating the re-emergence of these private markets, without crowding them out or standing in the way of the market adjustment process.

I love the arrogant assumption behind the If there. It's a straw man to expect that regulators are seeking a non-market solution, or to "crowd out" such market as remains. Such an assertion also puts the finance market in breach of one of the fundamental laws of both politics and economics: beggars can't be choosers.

This is why you work to avoid market failure: the alternative is the humiliation of being regulated by government. CIS does the market no favours by seeking to remove this threat.
The financial crisis is as much a failure of regulation and government intervention as of markets and should be a humbling experience for governments and regulators, no less than for market participants.

Market participants have the consolation of bonuses, even in the face of catastrophic failure, which is not open to government employees. Sometimes you just have to cop the superiority on the chin. If resentment of this treatment avoids market failures going forward, so much the better.

Stephen Kirchner is an intelligent man wedged in an ideological crevasse. The idea that government has no role to play in the global financial crisis is nonsense, as is the idea that it must be more respectful to those who have led us here. The CIS and all of its research fellas should be adapting their ideology to fit current and foreseeable reality. Peter van Onselen tried to do this; he only had the thin intellectual soil of the Liberal Party to work with he had almost set himself up for failure. Kirchner, with the Lost Boys of the CIS and Eye Pee Yay to draw upon, has no excuse for embarrassing himself so publicly.

17 October 2008

Psycho sister, qu'est-ce c'est?

Miranda Devine was under pressure to get a story in by deadline. What with driving the kids to school in the 4-wheel drive and having her hair done, it wasn't as though she was not busy. So when the person from Fairfax hissed: "You don't want to go the way of Mike Carlton, do you?", she flinched. For years she had always threatened to go back to News Ltd, but Daddy doesn't work there any more and shrieks of "don't you know who I am?" would seem a trifle intemperate. From a Journalist of her standing.

This was the result. It is not the first article on the US Presidential race which focused more on Palin than McCain, but it is the first which failed to mention McCain at all. It takes as given a number of strange and ultimately unsustainable positions:
  • The Vice Presidency is more powerful than the Presidency, to the point where Palin's Presidential running-mate is not worth mentioning.

  • All feminists everywhere have to vote for any woman running for any office over any man. Feminists are therefore 'useful idiots' in getting any woman elected to anything.

  • If only those lefty feminists had gotten behind Palin ... what Palin needs right now is a punster from Cronulla & Islington, a pretty-boy actor, a standup comic and an editor of a radical-feminist magazine (but I repeat myself - no really, I call on the editors of Jezebel to disprove my thesis that their readership is largely comprised of conservatives fishing for outrage).

Then, there are the lies:
[Palin] had five attractive, seemingly well-adjusted children and was successful in her career.

Lucky she isn't a leftwing politician or the idea of a 17-year-old daughter getting pregnant would be condemned by someone like Miranda Devine. Is there any way anyone could produce proof to the contrary of this without being sinisterly political? This belies the first sentence in the next paragraph:
If she made any sacrifices or compromises they were not apparent. And she had won the marriage jackpot: a hunky house-husband who is able to take a back seat without losing his cojones.

The fact that Todd Palin didn't take a backseat in Alaskan politics is the reason why his wife is in trouble over the "Troopergate" scandal, a cover-up that failed because the small-town politician ovverreached by lunging for a wider stage for which she was not skilled or prepared. Sarah Palin is also a "surrendered wife" under her religion, which is why she can't and won't put her husband in the back seat - that's where Miranda is, waiting for him.

Did you think you were clever by omitting this? Does anyone think that "surrendered wives" ought to be feminist icons or something?
There is even a bumper sticker, "Abort Sarah Palin", and no diatribe against her fails to mention abortion.

All those Republicans chanting for Obama to be killed - not worth mentioning for our Miranda. The fact that this post won't mention abortion means it is obviously not a diatribe.
That a virtually single-issue lobby group could have seized power in one of Australia's two main parties is what's really scary, not Sarah Palin.

No more scary than having right-to-lifers own the other main party, Miranda. Not too clever being silent on that: perhaps because it doesn't feed into your high-school jealousy thing, you'll need to grow up to fully appreciate that. Part of growing up means we leave behind Kathy Lette and movie stars and undergraduate-shock mags.

The only way to save Fairfax is to lift the quality of the writing. We all have to make sacrifices, and Miranda of all people will understand if you axe her. Someone this silly has no business using the politics of another, more powerful land as a mirror-pool for her own protracted adolescence.

06 October 2008

Why you don't sell out

John McCain was seen a man of principle. All politicians have to backflip occasionally, and McCain was forgiven his involvements with the Keating Five and other not-a-good-look measures of the Reagan, Bush and Clinton years because he was basically a man of principle. When he was brought down by his own side in 2000, it was fair to assume that the Republicans would put him in reserve if things really went pear-shaped for them, which they have.

However, the Republicans have so tarnished the McCain image that they may as well not have bothered with him. More to the point, McCain should have stood up to them and built an insurgency, as Reagan did in taking out the East Coast moderates in the 1970s. McCain had become an old man in a hurry.

The trouble with selling out is that when you ultimately lose, you lose everything.

McCain endorsed US torture and its rampantly contradictory and silly immigration policy, he has signed onto All War All The Time, and is owned by K Street. His campaign is winding down in marginal states. he only lively thing about this moribund campaign is his running mate, Spiro Agnew in drag, who makes a mockery of his experience. She gives hope only to those determined that George W. Bush is looked upon favourably compared to those who follow him. All Obama need do to seal his victory would be to call a vote for "McCain "Re-electing the Republicans".

Michael Schaffer thinks McCain will be forgiven, and he may well be right. Palin will have to crawl out of the rubble of that campaign and she'll do so by bagging McCain; people who castigate McCain for selling out will rush to defend his essential decency. It's just a shame that this decency looks moribund in the face of challenges now before America: the financial bailout that follows the ethical one, the All War All The Time foreign policy, bloat and listlessness generally. It's as though McCain had nobody to turn to when he sought to craft a post-Bush Republican legacy.

Mind you, had McCain stuck to some semblance of principle he'd have been as stuffed as this guy. Being in an exhausted political movement can be a real bastard.