Belgium, man, Belgium

by Henry Farrell on June 19, 2005

“Matt Yglesias”: notes that “MPAA rules for avoiding an R-Rating … allow you up to two uses of “fuck” as long as the word appears in a non-sexual context.” A bit reminiscent of the “Rory” Award, featured in Douglas Adams’ _Life, the Universe and Everything_, which was granted for the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word “Fuck” in a Serious Screenplay. In the US edition of _LTUAE_, this was changed to the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word “Belgium” in a Serious Screenplay, neatly proving Matt’s point about the unique censoriousness of American media.

Crossing the floor

by John Q on June 19, 2005

The Howard government’s partial backdown on mandatory detention laws points up a striking feature of the Australian political system, the iron discipline that makes a threat by four backbenchers to cross the floor and vote against the government a major news event in itself. The government was in no danger of being defeated on a vote, with a majority of 27, and in many other countries an event like this would not be news. But in Australia it happens perhaps once in a decade.

Until recently, the US was at the other extreme. I recall a news story saying that Jimmy Carter had copped some flak for refusing to campaign for any Democrat who hadn’t voted for at least half the legislation he proposed. Apocryphal or not, it was a pretty accurate representation of a system in which the parties did little more than ensure that, most of the time, voters had a choice of two candidates, who would, when elected, vote just as they pleased.

I doubt that either alternative is healthy.

[click to continue…]