PAULINE HEARTS VLAD – What is it with the Neo-Populists around the world and their love affair with Vladimir “Ras” Putin? Pauline Hanson joins the conga line of suckholes:

During the wideranging interview on ABC’s Insiders, the Queensland Senator said Australians wanted a leader like the “strong” Russian president, who she respects a great deal.

“He is very patriotic towards his country, the people love him, he is doing so well for the country,” he said.

“So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia. They want a leader here to stand up for the people and fight for this nation.

Pushed on how that view tallied with Russia’s involvement in shooting down the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, killing 298 people including 38 Australians, Hanson said the downing of the flight was disgusting but queried the proof of Putin’s influence.

“Did he push the button?” she asked.

I’m going to skip commenting about the moral and political fitness of anyone, particularly in the West, who admires and wants to emulate Putin. Instead let’s note that there seems to be one major thing about the strongmen of this world that their populist fanboys and girls seem not to understand – or, worse, do they? Putin does not exist in a political vacuum; he is made by his political system, and in turn he further shapes that system to suit his needs, interests and vision. And that system is not our system. You can have Putin, if you want to, or you can have a liberal parliamentary democracy, but you can’t have both. Modern Russia is a crony capitalist kleptocracy ruled over by the secret service elite – the real deep state – that through nefarious means have amassed immense wealth and power. It is a democracy of sorts, but it’s not a free country. Media is cowed, real opposition harassed, the uncompliant and troublesome disposed of. And Russia today is as unsavoury abroad as it is at home, whether or not Vlad himself pushes the button. Putin’s purported popularity is due to the combination of his soft authoritarian influence and the historical, cultural and political legacies of Russian history. But he can’t exist and thrive anywhere outside that environment. Putin comes as a package.

So, Russia or Australia? I’ll have Australia, thanks.