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Monday, October 31, 2011

REVIEW: TVNZ first leaders debate

The right wing and mainstream media have relentlessly written Goff off, this is his chance to over shadow Key. Let's get ready to rumble.

If Mark Sainsbury is the Walrus of news, Guyon Espiner is the egg man.

Media panel is Fran O'Sullivan, Wallace Chapman and Shane Taurima, and that awful Claire Robinson and Jon Johanson are with Sainsbury.

Key up and running with his first 30seconds, he's claiming his economic plan is working.

Goff is talking about leadership - talks about egalitarianism and asset sales.

Goff claims retirement age has to come down, Key claims under National's plan he can pay retirement at 65. Goff fires up at John's claim that Labour will simply borrow. They clash.

Phil playing the statesman, Key looks like he's prozac relaxed. It comes across as smart arsed.

Asset sales are promoted by Key, he smokescreens where the money will go (education rather than South Island irrigation) Goff makes his heaviest hits telling Key that he doesn't own the assets.

Goff firing up.

Capital Gains Tax, Goff is selling this as fairness and revenue raising. Key claims tax slows the economy down.

First video question is about efficient public services - the way Key is going there won't be a public service. Waste of a question, but have to have one right wing question I suppose.

Key keeps claiming he will get the country back into surplus, Goff points out 100 00 NZers have left the country and that all Key is offering are tax cuts the rich.

Key keeps claiming he will create 170 000 jobs. Goff says he will tax the rich.

Another right wing question bitching about too much business regulation.

Key coming across like a dick with his bananas and retirement age line.

Goff points out Key is a liar over raising GST, Key laughingly tries to justify that lie. Keeps using drunken sailors as a metaphor.

Fran asks how they will half youth unemployment. Goff says he will up skill youth and pay their dole to an employer, Key says he will make young people work for sweatshop wages.

Onto Bennie bashing by Key and his weird nanny state desire to run beneficiaries lives, Goff points out that isn't the solution and $5000 tax free will help them.

The 3rd question is about a new NZ flag??? Where the fuck did they get these questions?

Finally a debate about the Environment, glaring green elephant in the room is that the Greens aren't involved in the debate. Key says Rena was annoying. Goff sticks it to Key over mining.

Another right wing question, this time pro mining??? Who selected these questions? Steven Joyce?

Great question from Wallace about what they would march for, Key says he would march for a competitive economy? The reincarnation of Milton Friedman? Goff lists what he has marched for, and that's the point, Goff has marched, Key would think about marching.

Key then attacks John Minto?

Christchurch rebuild, Goff offers solutions, Key offers platitudes.

Key is ultra relaxed, it's easy to look that way when you don't give a fuck.

Next question - about the Pike River Mine, first one that isn't a waste. Goff gets stuck in over the mining safety standards.

Shane Taurima asks how his family come back from Australia, Key gives some ridiculous excuse about better economy, Goff points out that tens of thousands have fled NZ and that National have failed to close the gap.

Key will close the wage gap with Australia by paying youth sweatshop wages? Who is buying this bullshit?

I'm confused, I didn't realize Claire Robinson was running for leader of the National Party?

Leadership being debated, Goff says he's making the hard calls - Key says something bland.

Key blames 'dynamic environment' for lying - I'm using that next time I'm in trouble with my girlfriend.

Great question about Afghanistan, Key claims we aren't killing Afghans, We have to be in a war propping up a corrupt narco state because we live in a global society? Unbelievable. Key won't say he will not re-deploy SAS - says it's 'unlikely' - this will be the first promise Key breaks if re-elected.

Key says the BMW fiasco was the greatest mistake? Really? The bloody BMWs? That was his greatest mistake? Goff says that selling Assets were his biggest mistake, and that is something Key hasn't learnt.

Great finish.

Surprised there wasn't a 3 way handshake.

So who won? Well, Goff has been written off all year yet he won the argument, Key looked relaxed, too relaxed. The question is will NZers buy Key's style or Goff's substance.

As a final thought, why the hell didn't Wallace Chapman host the TVNZ debate - come on, his question was the best moment of the entire debate!


TUMEKE! Election forecast [UPDATED: commentary]

With the official launches of the major parties it's time to make my predictions for the general election result. Because I'm not perfect and still want to claim I got it right I've allowed a 1% margin for the big parties and a half a percent for the minor ones.

(+/- 1%)
46% National
32% Labour
8% Greens

(+/- 0.5%)
5.0% NZ First
3.0% Mana
2.5% Act
1.0% Maori
1.0% United Future

1.5% All others


National are very high - they won't go over 47% though despite what the opinion polls say. They are high for three reasons: 1. Labour and Phil and Helen's hangers-on are weak. 2. The media have given the Nats an easy ride. 3. Act and the other parties of the right are weak - that's boosted the Nat's bottom line.

Labour are middling - not a meltdown, but they haven't captured the electorate's imagination because of reluctance: to believe them and that they'll do what they say, and a reluctance to support a party that they think cannot win.

Greens are going to have a blinder - a very good day at the office, but not nearly as much as they think they will - or what the polls say. I can't see them getting more than 9%, but I can't imagine them getting any less than 7%. They are the main beneficiary of Labour's decline - a friendly, safe option for defecting, fair weather Labour voters. They may also gain half a percent from Nats who wouldn't have voted for them with Nandor and Sue Bradford - but with a toned-down, bloodless, middle-class caucus they become politically acceptable to these Nats.

NZ First are capable of getting 5.5% or 4.5%, or possibly right on 5%. If the Nats hadn't promoted privatisation of state assets and if Labour hadn't promoted raising the retirement age then Winston would be looking at maybe only 3 - 4%, but the two issues he does have the most credibility on is retaining state assets and doing right by pensioners and he ought to be able to gain quite a bit of traction from that as his point of difference and a viable reason for backing him this time around. The circumstances of the Owen Glenn donation and his slush funds that shaved a percent of his numbers last time and put him below the threshold are gone and his penance in the wilderness should be enough for the doubters to forgive him. But it will be very tight. Because he isn't targeting an electorate it all depends on getting to the magic 5%.

Mana is barely six months old as a party, but there is a real grassroots, flaxroots, movement taking place that goes beyond a collapsing Maori Party vote and extends into the Auckland urban underclasses and their sympathisers. They should get more votes than the Maori Party did last time and this will prove that the movement has passed the ethnic barriers and is attracting Pakeha and Pasifika voters in equal numbers to Maori. However the leadership only expects to get about 3% and that is probably what will happen although I think a higher expectation would yield a higher result. Hone attracts as much as he repels, but that polarisation and the novelty of Mana is enough to put it ahead of other minor parties who have been around a lot longer. The policies they are running are as staunch as their top tier candidates so Mana becomes a clear left wing choice in a field largely deserted by the Greens and Labour.

Act are in all sorts of trouble with an unrecognisable team - a complete replacement to the current caucus. The gamble is not paying off and nor should it with the internal contradictions and the friction between Brash and Banks already evident. It may be too generous to give them 2.5%, but that's because they can't get over 3% with their shenanigans, but Brash and Banks grafted onto a rump 1.5% of hard-core Act voters will have a conservative appeal that should put them above 2%.

Maori Party have sold out their kaupapa and Pita Sharples was on TV the other night saying they could back the privatisation of state assets if National get back in. They are National's lap dogs and the decisions to stand someone who only got 10% against Hone Harawira and then to dump on their Southern Te Tai Tonga MP display continuing poor judgment. The party aparatus and members have defected to Mana in droves, but they may be capable of still pulling one percentage point. Expect the electorate vote to be higher than the party vote.

United Future drifts along on the coat-tails, or bouffanted locks, of Peter Dunne. He's good for one percent, and little else.

iPredict Election 2011 preview

A preview interview for iPredict Election 2011 with Chris Philpott, TV reviewer at Stuff.co.nz

TONIGHT: Phoebe Fletcher and Chris Totter:

Full guest list:

iPredict Election 2011 will include political commentary drawn from a panel including: iPredict Chief Executive Matt Burgess; interest.co.nz founder Bernard Hickey; electionresults.co.nz editor Ian Llewellyn; National Business Review political columnist Matthew Hooton and business reporter Matt Nippert; former Labour Party strategist John Pagani; political commentator Chris Trotter; former National Party research boss Neil Miller; Otago University political scientist Bryce Edwards; Editor of Scoop.co.nz Selwyn Manning; From the University of Auckland Film, Television and Media Studies Department, Phoebe Fletcher; National’s up-and-coming MPs Simon Bridges and Nikki Kaye; Labour’s finance spokesman David Cunliffe and Labour's new blood, Stuart Nash and Jacinda Ardern; Mana leader Hone Harawira; Green Party co-leaders Russel Norman, Metiria Turei and NZs youngest MP Gareth Hughes; UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne; Conservative Party leader Colin Craig; and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Other commentators and politicians are also in the process of being invited.

The programme will be hosted by Citizen A host Martyn Bradbury.

iPredict Election 2011 7pm weeknights, Stratos TV Freeview 21 & Sky 89 from Monday 31st October


Key's justification for flogging off assets to fund irrigation in South Island the height of venal self interest

PM reveals asset sales fund plan
Prime Minister John Key's opening address of the National Party election campaign was disrupted by chanting protesters shouting "stop the war on the poor."

About four protesters chanted as they were escorted out of Auckland's Sky City Convention Centre by police.

They returned to a group of picketers outside the venue, where Mana's Waitakere candidate Sue Bradford was speaking through a megaphone.

As they were being escorted out, Mr Key said "they're welcome to come to our launch because they haven't got one of their own."

At the launch, Mr Key announced that National would put the estimated $5 billion to $7 billion proceeds from partial asset sales into a special fund, the Future Investment Fund.

Well done Sue Bradford for leading the charge against John Key and his blatant attempt to screw the poor for the benefit of the rich under the guise of 'education investment'.

According to John Key, we have to sell our assets to pay for the kind of normal investment into schools we would fund out of basic taxation? Seriously - how sleepy are the Hobbits of NZ?

Education investment should come out of basic taxation, National have run out of basic taxation because they are borrowing for tax cuts to the rich and refuse to reverse that decision while ignoring a Capital Gains Tax or a Financial Transaction Tax.

How necessary is a Financial Transaction Tax? According to Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Auckland, Campbell Jones, very necessary.

National are running down Government revenue so badly that they are justifying flogging off our assets to cover this taxation shortfall. What is most disgusting about this short term plan is that the education element is a smokescreen, what National are not being up front about is that this investment fund will also be used to irrigate South Island farmers!

When Key says investment into infrastructure, he really means infrastructure investment into Dairy who continue to steal and pollute our diminishing water resources in the South Island.

That's what we are selling our assets off for? South Island Dairy Industry interests? Shouldn't National be a little more honest? Surely allowing Bill English to have a dirty lignite production facility in his own electorate to power his brother's Federated Farmer's industry cheaply was payment enough to the Dairy industry, we have to flog off our assets to fund their irrigation as well?

Why on earth are we funding a monopoly who benefit from our collective pristine environment yet do some of the worst pollution damage? Even more corporate welfare while social services are slashed at the cost of our assets?

If NZers buy this bullshit, they deserve all they get.


How biased is the right wing NZ Herald?

How biased is the NZ Herald? Disgustingly so. Forget the fact that they give the bore of Babylon, David Farrar, a propagandist for the National Party, unchallenged blog space to sell his soft sell message points, forget the anti-Hone editorials after anti-Hone editorials, just look at the on-line joke they were yesterday.

First is Derek Cheng, possibly the worst political journalist at the Herald who in his review of Q+A yesterday seems to have forgotten that Hone Harawira was even part if the debate! Except for one throw away line, Cheng seems to have 'forgotten' Hone was there, EVEN THOUGH Dr Jon Johansson on Q+A actually said Hone's line on feeding kids was the best! What does Jon know when compared with the intellectual might of Cheng?

Hilariously Cheng concludes Peter Dunne as having won, that could be the most detached from reality comment of the election. I haven't laughed so hard since John Key's crashing of the RWC handshake.

Next is an awful 'article'- and I'm stretching that word as far as I can, with Alice Neville. This isn't an interview, it reads more like a date, how the hell did this manage to get past the news editor? It should have 'advertorial' written above it.

Then there is the gossip columnist writing political reviews of ACT?

Wtf? Since when the hell did we look to the E Channel for political enlightenment? The NZ Herald is so terribly biased they make Fox News look objective.

Thank God newspapers are dying slowly.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Nation and Q+A current affairs review

The Nation
Ever since National told The Nation that they would get no John Key interview as part of National's campaign to shield Key from any critical media, The Nation have dumped the pro Government stance and are going for the throat now. It's delicious.

Colin James is on, he's one of the best commentators around, he notes along with Duncan that Labour have stolen the march on National and gave support to Labour's opening address as the better opening address.

Very critical of National's stance on retirement age.

Cunliffe is on. Garner is as hard as nails. Cunliffe not sure when the $5000 tax free comes into effect, but he says it will be implemented in the first term. Garner focuses in on those who will be allowed to retire at 65 because manual labour has busted them up, Cunliffe says he wants to be generous, the problem with that is that these agencies generally do their best to turn people down for eligibility.

Russel Norman and Winston are on regarding retirement. Rus says it would be part of a post election coalition deal, and says he is flexible. Winston is on tub thumping, points out that the crises is happening now, not in ten years. Winston sounds like he can work with Labour, Duncan tries to tie down Winston on working together, Cunliffe says he can work with the Greens and NZ First.

Thank God Russel points out the joke of balancing the books by 2015. He is doing very well in the debate. They all agree they won't sell Assets.

I always feared that NZ First wouldn't give the Greens their dues if they were in any type of Government, (as they have in the past), yet Winston sounds far less anti-green these days.


MMP debate is up and running, I honestly think MMP will win by a handsome margin and won't be defeated, it is trending in iPredict at about 80% chance of retaining MMP . Sulky pants Cameron Slater is on, but he just seems so irrelevant since leaving Citizen A doesn't he?

Jordan Williams is on as the anti-MMP voice, he refuses to debate the issue on Citizen A ever since I outed one of his founding members as a white supremacist. He is very bright and one of the next leaders of the right, watch out for his rise even if this attempt to give the elites an electoral system that benefits them falls over.

The Nation do the best pre-produced political stories in NZ current affairs and they focus this time on Ohariu (thank God they chose Dunne as the example of sub 5% threshold and not Hone), but they miss how important this electorate will be and how close Charles is to toppling Dunne. Pity they didn't note the white supremacist founding member of the anti-mmp group I outed was also on Katrina Shanks Ohariu electorate panel.

Jordan finally announces he is fronting for Supplementary Member which is a bastardization of MMP and really just gives First Past the Post a winners bonus. Ugly, but a clever attempt to look 'moderate'.

Let's be clear, Supplementary Member is a first past the post wolf in proportional clothing.

Jordan tries to claim that he has massive online support, Sean points out that he only has 220 facebook members.


Bill Ralston and Brian Edwards are the panel, excellent choice. They point out how schizophrenic the Herald were damning Labour about hiding Phil Goff and then praising them for policy.

They both note how much better Labour's opening address was and how appalling National's was. They note how important the debates will be, Brian says Phil will win the debates, Bill tries to pull that back, but admits that Goff will be strong. They both fail to note that Phil has been written off by the mainstream media and that voters aren't expecting much from him so his underdog position will surprise viewers.

They all give the first week of the campaign to Labour.

I like how Andrew Geddis on Pundit blog criticized Q+A producer and baby boomer wannabe Tim Watkin as craven for not mentioning my banning on Radio NZ. That was hilarious.

So this weeks craven baby boomer episode of Q+A is the minor party leaders debate, how Q+A can claim this is the first debate when Native Affairs did it first last week is craven.

I'm craven about the word craven this week.

Weird news thing to start the show, don't like it, they should do a 'weekend newspaper headlines' segment rather than an actual news bulletin.

Paul and Guyon are 'chewing the fat' in the week that was rather than the amusing brilliance of Damien Christie. Sadly Paul and Guyon are as entertaining as a car crash. If I wanted 5 minutes of biased right wing opinion talking to itself, I'd read the NZ Herald. The 'week that was' segment should now be renamed 'the sound of one hand clapping'. Unsurprisingly they both conclude that they love John Key.


No mention of how Labour's opening address shat all over National's - note of course that every other commentator in the mainstream media have all argued that Labour's opening address was head and shoulders over National's.

No mention of that in the 'week that was''sound of one hand clapping' segment.

David Parker is up against the hollow brain of Steven Joyce. Parker is sharp and Joyce doesn't face that too much inside the National caucus. Steven is sweating under his nose. Doesn't look comfortable and is leaning too far forward trying to defend keeping the retirement age at 65 when National probably secretly wish they could dump it all together.

Joyce is a lot more defensive than he normally is, I like watching him squirm.

The panel is Pagani, that awful Deborah Coddington and Victoria University’s Dr Jon Johansson.

Deborah squarks about something, I don't really listen to her, Jon notes Labour's move to increase retirement age is significant, Pagani notes it's an idealogical division. Deborah squarks about something.

Minor Party leaders debate. Met says she wants clean rivers, Hone says he wants to feed the kids, Pita says he is the only authentic Maori voice, Don says there's too much crime and borrowing and Peter says 'fairness' heaps.

Age of Super is discussed: Don supports the age rise. Peter wants a more flexible arrangement. Pita points out Maori die younger and the age of retirement should be dropped. Meteria says Peter's position traps people into poverty. Hone points out 20 Maori will pay for retirement, yet 19 will die before they can get retirement and he demands retirement age is lowered.

Compulsory super is discussed. Pita says we have to rebuild Christchurch, and can't afford compulsory. Meteria says it's a symptom of our low wage economy. Peter says Labour don't like him. Hone says Meteria is right about making a higher wage economy and that we have to save.

Discussion about low wages. Don says something. Peter says people need to be incentivized into saving.

NZers moving to Australia, Meteria attacks ACT over not wanting a high wage economy. Pita says we can't afford compulsory, Peter says 'there will never be a right time' to make retirement compulsory'. Hone argues that Labour and National have always supported the market economy and that support is driving our chase of the global market place to put profits over people.

Hone goes on the attack and is on fire. Privatization of assets has them all scrambling, Hone is up in Don's grill full time now. He is reading the anger of the electorate of poverty, the others are not.

Youth unemployment - Don wants youth rates, Peter is wishy washy, Pita has been crowded out, Meteria attacks youth rates,

Decriminalization of marijuana: Pita no, Don yes, Meteria yes, Peter no, Hone lets look at it after we've fed the kids.

Feeding kids in school - Pita no, Don no, Meteria maybe, Peter no, Hone yes - makes the point we are spending $40 million on the war in Afghanistan and that's what it would cost to feed every kid in decile 1, 2 and 3 schools - feed the kids, not war has a ring to it.

The panel is back - Pagani supported Meteria, Debs supported Peter, Jon liked Hone's 'feed the children' line and that Hone is actually the authentic voice of Maori and not the Maori Party. Debs attacked Dons style.

They all said the first televised debate will matter.

The last ratings I have show Q+A dropping terribly, The Nation building on Sundays, pretty flat on Saturdays.
During the election they should be rating much higher, with NZ on Air funding for both shows up for decision, they should both be nervous.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

REVIEW: Opening TV election addresses of ACT, Maori Party, NZ First, United Future, Alliance, ALC and Conservative Party

Second salvos in the Election fight, tonight ACT, Maori Party, NZ First, United Future, Alliance, ALC and the Conservative Party (MANA wasn't formed in time to be eligible for TV time - although MANA will launch one on-line)

Awful country and western folk song as the back ground? Really? It sounds like strangling cats. Don's trying to convince us that there's too much 'red tape' blah blah. Very up tight and beige. It's like a corporate video on the importance of good customer service.


Lots of different Maori voices singing Maori Party praises. No discussion about how they are prepared to work with John Key and ACT. Lots of discussion about 'whanau' - some mention about 'disappointments' (there are so many to mention).

No real policy initiatives whatsoever. Bad job of the blue screen editing btw. List of crumbs Maori Party have managed to obtain (runs too fast to read).

Pretty weak all round.

United Future
Much better video, but it's all wonk stuff that busy the mind of Dad's who are accountants. I'm not sure tying Mum into staying at home for tax purposes is really the type of universal suffrage Kate Shepard fought for. The problem for Peter is that he has a high chance of losing his electorate to Charles Chauvel, 14% of Ohariu are state employees, they know a vote for Peter is a vote for National and a vote for National is a vote for more public service cut backs.

Ohariu will be one of the most important electorates this time around and a canary in the coal mine for a National lose if Peter loses.

NZ First
It's Winston at his tub thumping best. Every time I want to write him off, you hear about him filling a town hall somewhere to capacity. NZ Firsts key issues of national economic sovereignty have never had so much resonance with the electorate as they nervously note the global economy.

God damn it, he might get over 5%

Conservative Party
Colin Craig raving. Should have mentioned God more to reach out to his Christian voting base.

Alliance Party
Are they still around? Really? I saw their opening address and I'm still not convinced.

Libertarianz Party
Weird video outside the war zone that is Christchurch. Trying to claim Christchurch as an example of bad regulation is intellectually skanky.

Love the stoners, great video, won't go anywhere as stoners always forget to vote.


Is John Key about to throw up on this kitten?

Is John Key about to throw up on this kitten? At least it's not as offensive to the sensibilities as National's opening address last night.



Third and final Nikki Kaye & Jacinda Ardern debate on Citizen A

Citizen A this week with the third and final Auckland Central frontrunners debate between Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern.

Who would be better for NZ in terms of the Economy, the Environment and in Foreign Affairs?

Citizen A plays 8pm Stratos Freeview 21 & Sky 89 Fridays


Final War on News before the election - ONLINE NOW!

THE WAR ON NEWS:In this weeks political media crimes against reason kill zone

Dear NZ - I don't want to hear another bloody word about Rugby for 4 years

John Key's aspirational poverty not so optimistic

Government still expect surplus by 2015 the way I still expect to win Lotto this weekend

The War on News won't be on again until after the election because the iPredict Election 2011 show playing 7pm weeknights will take up most of my time over the next 4 weeks.

Join Bomber’s Blog – The War on News Facebook group

Friday, October 28, 2011

REVIEW: Opening TV election addresses of National, Labour and the Greens

The opening salvos of the election started proper tonight with the National Party, Labour Party and Green Party opening addresses, and what a fascinating voyage into the psyches of the leafy suburb living campaign managers it was.

Why are National using The Feelers as their background song? Artistically The Feelers are that warm can of Fosters you only drink to wash down the pills during a suicide attempt. Can't buy good taste huh?

Okay so it's John Key answering more questions in this fake and boring question and answer set up than he has actually answered in his whole first term as Prime Minister.

He's talking about economic credibility? We had a credit downgrade under his watch and blew the budget out by $18 billion.

He is so stiff and robotic, and oddly dressed. Why doesn't his jacket and trousers match?

Usual deregulation, low tax free market stuff. Sounds like he's about to start singing 'always look on the bright side of life'.

Talking about decisive leadership, go forwards, blah, blah. Talking aspiration. Short speech, now onto the fake questions segment. Actually these soft patsy questions from National Party faithful are more critical than Key has been asked by the mainstream media all year.


Answers don't really stack up, what's he doing with his hands now? He looks like he's giving a sales seminar. Why is he doing that? It's like the sort of thing a motivational speaker presenting on The Office would do.

Crosby and Textor must be on the next flight into Wellington, National's opening address was woeful. If that stiff crap is what they think will inspire votes, they have misread the electorate by a type of margin so vast, only hubris can explain it.

This opening address is an utter failure, compare the energy Key showed in the 2008 election, it's gone in this flaccid attempt. They should be appalled by how badly it came across in comparison to what Labour did.

After such an epic fail, National will realize they've misread this election and will do what they do best - get nasty, oh for the days of old...

Next it's Labour's turn and BAM! They nail it...

It is a history lesson, necessary because most of the media probably aren't aware of it. The social justice basis of Labour reminds NZers who they are, it gives them an identity and in times of economic uncertainty, that narrative creates more security than our multi-millionaires vacant aspiration.

It's a cry to arms, it's a rousing clarion call for solidarity, it says, 'we are the Government and we have a responsibility to you the people'.

Selected MP's explaining why they have the fire in their belly almost re-intriduced Labour to the masses and along with the history lesson managed to surprise the viewers.

Labour should feel bloody good after this, they have captured the zeitgeist of the moment; the uncertainty, the battle of ideas, the willingness for NZers who are feeling the recession to listen all combine to make Labour's opening address a rallying signal to those core Labour voters who didn't bother voting in 2008, and the way their opening address managed to stand head and shoulders above National's will see them as real contenders now.

It was a bloody good opening address.

The Greens are on with their multi faced diversity routine, and they interestingly decide to personalize Meteria's life and Norman's life. Meteria's is fascinating, Norman's is as painfully dull as Canberra.

Strong push for research, great desire to harness State Power to generate new technology, looks like it's been produced by Prime TV though in a 'trying not to be cheap' kinda way. Big on cleaning up water, will go down well in the provinces. Promoting gardens at school, everyone loves that. Real progress on the poverty front with an actual plan to get NZ children out of poverty by expanding Working for families to the poorest families.

Great ideas, well played, but in the wake of Labour's charge at the Government, it faded from green into lime. Suddenly the Greens look less radical and more quirky, they lacked the urgency Labour presented and as such came off limper than they actually are.

Perhaps the Greens have zigged when they should have zagged?

Phil Goff's TV debate will be the moment of truth. Most NZers see Key as a clipped one liner in the mainstream news, they chuckle and think John is nice. As an avid viewer of Parliament TV, I can tell you, Key is not nice. He has a nasty streak that simply isn't seen. Being the most spun PM of modern times, Key has also been shielded by having to answer hard questions by a critical media. Over his 3 years, John Key has cut back on more and more critical media so that all he had was Paul Henry's racist joke comedy act duo, the Tony Veitch blokefest, appearing on The Edge and most insanely, hosting his own radio show, where he doesn't have to talk about politics.

In short, Key hasn't had to sustain a 90 minute critical interview one on one since gaining office. What makes the stakes so much higher for National, is the fact that Key will be on with a guy the media have already written off. The tactic to rub Phil Goff's face in the mud and weaken him with leadership coup rumors has now backfired terribly, viewers are not expecting anything from the guy who they've been told by the media is so far behind in their deeply flawed landline opinion polls that John Key will waltz to victory.

Suddenly a wider electorate who are tuning in to see that nice John Key may be confronted by the nasty bloke you see in Parliament weekly who is woefully out of his depth in a debate where he's being overshadowed by the guy he's supposed to be thrashing.

The TV debate will make or break Goff, and the success of Labour's opening address puts the wind in his sail.


Radio NZs double standards when it comes to bombers

Whoa, whoa whoa, let me get this straight, when it comes to me criticizing the Prime Minister on the panel, I get banned, yet when it comes to blatant Muslim bashing with their terrorist bomber Barbie not a whisper?

Criticize the Prime Minster and get banned, bash Muslims and get a Tony Veitch-esk lads laugh along?

What the hell?

The sooner this baby boomer dinosaur of a station gets some competition, the better.


Starting out a step back

National's policy on screwing over younger workers is nasty. It is straight out of the Employers and Manufacturers wish list, probably because they wrote it for them. It is a policy for bad and mean employers in the same way that the 90 day dismiss-at-will law was made to empower for the worst of employers. "Starting Out" is a continuation of the harsh, sharp edges that will be cutting into worker's rights if the Nats get back in. The way the most vulnerable have been targeted for punishment is just simple exploitation:

The starting-out wage will be set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage and three groups of people will be eligible:

•16- and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer.
•18- and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a designated benefit.
•16- to 19-year-old workers training in a recognised industry course involving at least 40 credits a year.
Mr Key also announced an extension to flexible working arrangements, improvements to collective bargaining and a review of constructive dismissal.

It's a licence to rip off young workers. That's bad for 16 and 17 year olds, but what is planned by the Tories for the 18 and 19 year olds is cunty, really cunty. Because anyone - of any age - has to accept a job offer - no matter what it is - or they get their survival-level benefit chopped it means these teenagers will be forced to accept the lower wage. The twisted use of the word "eligible" to describe the rip off - as if it were some sort of an opportunity - is sick.

The Nats are trying to create a pool of cheap labour for their mates in business to profit from, meanwhile - because their pay is so low - this class of subject worker will probably not escape the indignity of the benefit system and WINZ because they will need to be topped up to afford to live in places with high rents such as Auckland and Wellington. So in that respect it's a subsidy to the rich.

And who gets the advantage here? It's not the young worker - it's the employer who is pocketing the difference. No amount of semantics from the Nats changes that. It doesn't encourage the training and addition of young workers into employment, it sets up a scheme to screw them for half a year. The only pricks who would do that are the sort of pricks who dump them after five and half months - that will be the sad reality.

Ominously the 90 day instant dismissal law looks just like the beginning:

Mr Key says National will also take a close look at how allegations of constructive dismissal can be better managed.

“Altogether, these initiatives are part of National’s plan to give businesses the confidence they need to invest, grow and create higher-paying jobs.

The leap in logic to assert that ripping young workers off and making it easier for bad employers to fire people will lead to higher wages is remarkable. Only a fool would say or think that paying people less for a job will create higher-paying jobs. That makes no sense.

The rest of their policies are just Employers and Manufacturers policy in drag. "Flexible" can be be freely translated to "unreasonable". Read it and weep. Does your average worker voting for National know this is on the cards?

Schloppy Trader

Before we jump to the conclusion that it was the drunken captain's birthday that caused the Rena running aground, let us consider the option a little closer to home.

NZ Herald: Engine failure is thought to have caused a container ship to crash into rocks at Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty.

Port of Tauranga said the 133 metre container ship Schelde Trader hit rocks as it was exiting the port 10:35am.

No oil was observed in the water and there was not thought to be any risk of a spill.

Operations manager Nigel Drake said it seemed the incident was due to mechanical failure rather than human error, he said. Something had gone wrong with the engine of the ship before it hit the rocks, he said.

Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson said the vessel was at secure and there were no reports of injuries to crew.

"They're saying the damage to the ship has been superficial but they're getting that seen to right now," Maritime New Zealand said.

The port said the ship is now under the control of tugs outside the harbour entrance.

What control? The Rena disaster and now this. The one thing we can say about the Port of Tauranga and the harbourmaster is there is no control.

John Key's sweatshop youth rates

Funny way of looking at the world isn't it? MANA wants to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote, National want to see them as an easy source of slave labour. Paying young people less than the minimum wage is in effect slave labour. While the right will claim this is 'job creation' and allows their struggling business mates some respite from draconian Government regulation, the fact still remains that according to the Forbes Survey, NZ is actually one of the best places to do business in the world.

All this right wing criticism and claims of being hard done by and how tough it is to swim against Government regulation gets shown up as the self interested cacophony of spin it really is when compared to the rest of the planet.

Paying an age group less who can't even vote and extending it to 18 and 19 year olds who are one of the largest groups not enrolled is a cynical move aimed at denying a living wage to those already disenfranchised from the political process.

Expoliting youth unemployment to pay them less is not a solution, it's ugly sub standard pay that amounts to sweatshop wages.

Our young people deserve better than this.


URGENT DENIAL: I was NEVER Facebook friends with Deborah Hill Cone. Never

No matter what Deborah 'desperately-in-need-of-a' Cone Hill says we were NEVER Facebook Friends.


I could lose my subscription to Adbusters if this terrible lie finds any traction.

PS - I find Deborah Hill Cone's attempt at distancing herself as a far right zealot by painting me out as a left wing zealot extra amusing as she recently turned up and wrote a column about the launch of Lindsay Perigo's TV show, Debs if that ain't far right zealotry, I'm the living incarnation of Milton Friedman.


Labour's raising of retirement age racist, anti-worker and intergenerational theft

Labour need to appeal to middle class baby boomer's within a month or they are toast. They've done the math, if Dunne goes, if ACT goes and MANA splits Maori Party vote enough for Labour to come through the middle reducing the Maori Party to 2 seats, then National's sleep walk to victory stumbles by having no coalition partner.

For this one shot at the Death Star to work however, Labour need to appeal to all those middle class baby boomer's who voted for Labour in 2005 and feel guilty about voting for John Key in 2008.

Labour have offered the poor $5000 tax free and gst off fruit and veges, they now need to woo middle class baby boomers with property portfolios who know the economic system is structurally damaged and feel guilty about these facts and will respond to a firm paddling of our lazy no savings bums by raising the retirement age the way they fervently respond to their new found crash diets and fitness regimes after celebrating their 55th birthday.

Strategically brilliant but sadly politically corrupt.

I applaud Labour for recognizing our savings problems and are prepared to do something about it, but raising the age of retirement is racist, anti-worker and amounts to little more than another intergenerational theft by baby boomers against Gen Xers.

The life expectancy for a Pakeha male is 79, the life expectancy for a Maori male is 70, the poorest sector of NZ has to pay for a super plan that few of them will be alive to see? The injustice of raising the bar even further, to actually make an unjust situation even more unjust is outrageous, and the fact Maori well being hasn't even fluttered into the debate is just another example of the casual suburban racism of NZ.

Raising the retirement age is anti-worker, the 2010 Social Report points out the poorest suffer the same level of shorter life expectancy...

There is an association between life expectancy and the level of deprivation in the area where people live. In 2005–2007, males in the least deprived 10th of small areas in New Zealand could expect to live 8.8 years longer than males in the most deprived 10th of small areas (82.1 versus 73.3 years). For females, the difference was smaller, but still substantial, at 5.9 years (84.6 versus 78.7 years). These differences illustrate the links between socio-economic status and health.

...the working poor are the ones losing out here, and while Labour offer those worn out by work the opportunity to take retirement at 65, that body will inevitably be set up to turn down many claims as 'natural wear and tear' and not work related in the exact same way ACC misuses that definition.

The third way raising the retirement age is politically corrupt is in that it amounts to little more than another intergenerational theft by Baby Boomers against Gen Xers. Those bloody boomers have like a plague of bloated locusts taken their free education and tax payer funded privileges and property speculated debt ridden Gen Xers out of a first home and now they get to raise the retirement age allowing them to claw more of the career ladder stopping Gen Xers from advancing WHILE making Gen Xers work longer for privileges afforded those in a progressive democracy?

Who will rid me of these troublesome boomers?

Strategically brilliant, but politically corrupt and it'll probably give Labour their best shot at wooing guilty baby boomers over.


Greens continue to flirt with National - why the left can't vote Green

The Greens may be saying no, but their eyes are saying yes, their dance of the 7 hemp veils continued this week with glad eyed comments from the Greens as to a flirty date with John Key in the middle of the election similar to Don Brash's 2005 coffee date...

Earlier today Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said it was possible her party's leadership could meet with National at some stage during the election campaign - a version of then National leader Don Brash's café meetings with minor party leaders during the 2005 election campaign.

As someone who has voted Green most of my adult life, the idea that my party vote could go to propping up John Key makes me gag, I criticized this strategy of cuddling National when it was launched to the screams of 'unfair' by former Green comrades and even had Nandor responding with what I think was the most ridiculous piece he's ever written, let's have a wee gander at this defense for flirting with John Key shall we?

The Greens can be described as 'left', just as the colour of a puriri tree can be described as 'dark', but not adequately so. The Greens have an uncompromising commitment to fairness and equality. They also have a commitment to individual rights and to limitations on the power of the State, but I wouldn't describe them as 'rightwing' either. What I would say is that by rejecting the left / right dichotomy as inadequate to describe Green politics, the Greens become free to adopt what is valuable from either end of that spectrum and evolve it in accordance with their own philosophies. Some people on the left would say there is nothing valuable to be found on the right, and vice versa. That kind of locked-in thinking is exactly the problem. Being 'green' identified provides room for finding creative, holistic, solutions to current social and environmental challenges.

This defence is so over simplified, I'm embarrassed for him - we are not talking about taking the 'best' from the left and the 'best' from the right and knitting together an organic flax bridge here, we are talking about the most hard right privatization, borrowing for tax cuts for the rich, ramming through more erosion's of civil liberties under urgency ever seen in our political history outside war time, with real poverty rates spiralling, quarter of a million children in poverty while 150 of the richest families made $7 billion in one bloody year right wing political party! THAT is what Nandor and the Greens are talking about cuddling up to, THAT is what they want to cut a deal with - to claim it is some bullshit selection of the best from the right misses the fact that John Key represents the Death Star and there is no negotiation with the Death Star.

My call for loyalty from the Greens was not to the Labour party as Nandor claims, because let's face it, Labour have shat on Green aspirations since day one, my call to loyalty was to the political philosophy of the left, by flirting with National and actively attempting to form a relationship with a party so single minded in its transfer of wealth to the already wealthy, the Greens simply become the next Maori Party, a convenient relationship that makes the National Party seem much more moderate than they actually are.

If the Greens lust for power is so all consuming that they are prepared to be used as National's new camouflage of moderation, then they will suffer a backlash schism post 2011 that they will never be allowed to live down.


That only Catherine Delahunty was prepared to say that she would quit if a deal was cut with National, and not one other Green MP joined her speaks volumes of how real such a deal actually is.

What the Greens are saying is that if you despise John Key, then the only way to make sure your party vote won't go to propping up his unjust policies, is not to vote Green.

When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change, you do. Despite this, the Greens seem to have booked and paid for dodgy Ceroc lessons.


Third and final Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern debate on Citizen A 8pm Stratos tonight

'Citizen A presents the third and final Central Auckland Frontrunners debate between Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern

Tonight: Who will be better for NZ on the Economy, Environment and Foreign Affairs, National or Labour?


Join Citizen A Facebook group

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Labour's lack of launch and savings policy

Phil+Goff+Elected+Leader+Labour+Party+2h3LXOZzzpxl1 530x355

Labour's decision not to launch their party is being taken by many as an acknowledgement of the lack of popularity of Goff as preferred leader. This is partially true - Goff is only polling at 8% in the preferred leadership polls compared to Key's 56% and rumors of a potential leadership coup have dented faith in Goff's capacity to generate the personal rapport necessary for electoral victory.

However, the build up to this election has been unusual and left Labour with limited options for gaining traction. While we would usually have a little more emphasis in the mainstream broadcast media coming up to an election, this has been largely forsaken for the last month due to the pleasurable vacuum that was the nationalist euphoria of the World Cup (so pleasurable indeed, that a third of New Zealanders when polled said that they cared more about who won the RWC than who their future leader was). This has left Key with a plethora of photo opportunities that have been heavily capitalized on by National, not only in the radio interviews that Key did with celebrities such as Richard Branson, Peter Jackson and Ritchie McCaw, but also in the omnipresent paternal figure of Key looking over every single one of his candidates on billboards across the country. As a leader, Key has been extraordinarily popular in the polls, and his overexposure has meant that photo opportunities of Goff with a spade cleaning oil in the Coromandel have not been able to get the same kind of traction when he was already viewed as not as popular. The commentators are right in saying that much of the election campaign is fought on personality, although this is not good for New Zealand's long term policy in an economically difficult time, particularly when the rosy projections of our economy ignore the reliance that we have on commodities and exports, which are much more fragile in the global scheme of things than they have been positioned.

In light of this, the lack of launch on Labour's behalf is perhaps not so silly, or at least not as silly as Brash's trip to Europe four weeks out from an election. They need to focus on policy, as that is where they are most likely to gain points against Key. This is where the coincidence with Labour's launch of the savings policy today is prudent.

The main criticism of Labour by National is that they blew the economy under Cunliffe with overspending, and that the economy is still trying to recover from this. However, National have been slow to address this overspending, and where they have announced cuts, they have been careful not to isolate the middle class before the next election. Thus while they've directed heavy critiques at Labour for policies like Working for Families and Kiwisaver, they have hardly touched them, knowing that both policies are aimed at the precious middle classes that largely dictate coverage and reaction from commentators (partly because they have the disposable incomes that appeal to television and newspaper advertisers, and partly because the majority of the commentators themselves fall within this income bracket). Working for Families was only altered at the top, ranging from around $5 less a week for those earning $50,000 to around $9 a week for those earning $90,000. This was hardly the move that many of the hard right expected in the party, as the opinion is that the Working for Families is a waste of taxpayer money through middle class welfare. Kiwisaver, we are told, National will make compulsory if they manage to maintain to keep the government's books on track. This will cost them an extra $550 million over four years. Most of National's proposed cuts have been aimed instead at those on the bottom: 100,000 off benefits as recommended by the Welfare Working Group, and a whole lot of rhetoric on solo mothers and teenagers who buy cigarettes and alcohol. As Matt McCarten pointed out the other week on Radio Live, the National Party at the moment has all of the rhetoric of a centre right party, but little of the bite, as it opts to preserve votes for a second term over cuts.

Labour's raising of the retirement age to 67 allows Labour to position themselves as harder in relation to National to some of these criticisms. That this occurs over 12 years means that they will not be isolating the people that are already in the retirement bracket now. Kiwisaver will become compulsory, but it will be the employers that cop the brunt of the rise in contributions, going from 3% to 7%.

The policy has raised some interesting debate. Farrar predictably has focussed on the impact it will have on employers, citing the same argument as the minimum wage. While this notion of losing jobs by increasing wages to the young has been the subject of much international debate, such as the lack of correlation with this in the UK, Farrar's arguments will hold with employers but not really with Labour's traditional voters, who are currently being hit hard by inflation and the accompanying rising costs in food. Sue Bradford for Mana tweeted that this would disproportionately affect lower incomes, and No Right Turn has stated that it will also impact on Maori's lower life expectancy. John Tamihere on Radio Live was interested to see if it was appealing to people who would not vote for Labour over their own voters. But as Bernard Hickey pointed out on Twitter, the Kiwisaver moves will accelerate private savings, which is essential to control a debt in New Zealand that is largely private rather than public. Whether Labour could maintain the policy of raising the retirement age to 67 with their potential coalition partners is another matter to be seen. Russel Norman of the Greens has done a press release that says this needs to be open to discussion.

So while Goff and Labour might be appearing to be minimizing Goff's presence before the election, focussing on the policies with one month to go is probably the most sensible thing as they will make more ground than they would by focussing on a presidential-style campaign.

Terrible strategic blunder in Labour's failure to launch

Labour ditches big campaign launch
The Labour Party has broken from tradition by deciding not to have an official campaign launch this year.

Are they even awake over at the Labor Party Election nerve centre? Who the bloody hell is running this campaign? They aren't doing a launch? They do know there's an election in just over a month right?

The strategy behind this is that Goff can't beat Key in a 'presidential style' election and they will focus on policy. This is a great idea and really shows up National's utter lack of policy and their reliance on John Key's smile and wave, that's fine, but to dump the launch? Are you nuts? Do I smell the over hyped hand of Grant Robertson?

Labour have terribly misread the electorate and bought the lies from the failed landline methodology opinion polls. The level of poverty and hurt caused by the recession is real, and Labour's policies do more to address that than National's ever do, but refusing to launch looks weak and that Labour don't actually have any faith in their own solutions.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

MANA is launching on Guy Fawkes day, who doesn't want to celebrate a pakeha who wanted to remind Parliament that one person can make a difference by blowing it up? That sense of occasion and drama can be captured for the theatre of the launch which gives voters a sense of purpose and strength as to why they should be inspired enough to volunteer their time and help. Deciding that Goff can't foot it against Key is a terrible miscalculation by a Labour Party who don't seem to believe they can actually win.

What makes this decision even more stupid is that in the Key-Goff TV debates, Labour has a real chance of recapturing the debate. Goff has been written off so enters the debate as the under dog, most punters only see Key when he has been media clipped for his one liners, a sustained 90 minute debate will throw up all those elements of Key they don't see and surprise viewers with how well Phil does compared to their current low view of him.

Labour still can win, but they aren't making it easy for themselves.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Full guest list of iPredict Election 2011

iPredict Election 2011 will include political commentary drawn from a panel including: iPredict Chief Executive Matt Burgess; interest.co.nz founder Bernard Hickey; electionresults.co.nz editor Ian Llewellyn; National Business Review political columnist Matthew Hooton and business reporter Matt Nippert; former Labour Party strategist John Pagani; political commentator Chris Trotter; former National Party research boss Neil Miller; Otago University political scientist Bryce Edwards; Editor of Scoop.co.nz Selwyn Manning; From the University of Auckland Film, Television and Media Studies Department, Phoebe Fletcher; National’s up-and-coming MPs Simon Bridges and Nikki Kaye; Labour’s finance spokesman David Cunliffe and Labour's new blood, Stuart Nash and Jacinda Ardern; Mana leader Hone Harawira; Green Party co-leaders Russel Norman, Metiria Turei and NZs youngest MP Gareth Hughes; UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne; Conservative Party leader Colin Craig; and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Other commentators and politicians are also in the process of being invited.

The programme will be hosted by Citizen A host Martyn Bradbury.

iPredict Election 2011 7pm weeknights, Stratos TV Freeview 21 & Sky 89 from Monday 31st October


IRB pulls Key's awkward handshake: The cult of NZ self censorship

IRB pulls John Key handshake from YouTube
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has apparently clamped down on video footage showing Prime Minister John Key's bumbled attempts to shake Richie McCaw's hand following the Rugby World Cup final.

Key's awkward and desperate 'me too' RWC handshake is just another eye rolling foible that our Optimist Prime has busted out in public.

Let's not forget his cannibalism joke after suddenly ending Tuhoe settlement negotiations based on opinion polls from angry white voters from Auckland's North Shore after an inflammatory piece on TVNZ that threatened Maori world domination if the deal went through.

Let's not forget the embarrassing beat down handed to him by BBC's HardTalk that tore into his position on scientists and his inability to retain the 100% pure brand we've invested so very much money and time into, for a world increasingly becoming polluted and will be willing to pay a premium for our product. That was cringe worthy.

Let's not forget his impersonation of mincing on the catwalk at a Rugby World Cup volunteers launch.

Let's not forget his stilted performance on Letterman that actually made the role of PM look exactly like that portrayed in Flight of the Concords.

Let's not forget his whole, 'it's your fault you're getting food parcels' comment and his belief to Church leaders that if he cut the benefit that bugger all would die.

Look, we have to accept our PM is a bit of a gormless dick at times and he brainfarts ill conceived and vile ideas. We should be forgiving, the All Blacks have won after all.

But what we can be contemptuous of, is the gutless self censorship gagging the NZ Mainstream Media at the moment. From denying the Herald access for 10 days after publishing a legitimate news story, to banning me on RNZ for criticizing John Key too harshly, the IRB's decision to remove John's awkward triple handshake is the sort of needless deference to power that should rankle every NZers sense of egalitarianism and fairness.

John was a clown, it was on Youtube, removing that content is an over reaction and level of self censorship that isn't healthy in a Democracy. We value debate and I think as a nation hunger for it, but this type of behaviour is a deference to power that should be noted and challenged.


iPredict Election 2011, 7pm weeknights Stratos TV starts Monday 31st

Stratos Television Bets on a Sure Thing

National broadcaster Stratos Television will screen what is believed to be the world’s first current affairs programme based on a forecasting system operated by the commercial arm of Victoria University.

The programme “iPredict Election 2011” will screen every weeknight from Monday October 31 leading up to the general election on November 26th.

Hosted by Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, a rotating team of panellists, including NBR’s Matthew Hooton, Scoop’s Selwyn Manning, blogger Phoebe Fletcher, interest.co.nz’s Bernard Hickey, Commentator Chris Trotter, Labour’s David Cunliffe, National’s Simon Bridges, Green's Gareth Hughes, Labour's Jacinda Ardern, Conservative Party's Colin Craig, Green's Russell Norman and Metiria Turei, United Future's Peter Dunne, Mana’s Hone Harawira and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters will debate and discuss key election issues using the daily predictions from the iPredict website.

iPredict was established shortly before the 2008 General Election as a market-based political and proved to be more accurate than 15 of the 19 polls published in the run up to the election. Since inventing prediction markets in 1988, the University of Iowa has successfully predicted every US Presidential race.

iPredict and similar markets work based on the theory of “the wisdom of crowds” which says that a large number of people making individual judgments on future events will prove more accurate than any individual.

The producers believe what makes iPredict predictions so accurate, compared with traditional polls, is the growing number of homes that no longer have landlines, preferring to turn to internet and mobile phone for communications. This means there is a large chunk of voter opinion that is under-represented in polls.

Instead participants in the iPredict process can visit the iPredict website to invest in favour or against possible outcomes. This has proven to be a very reliable way of predicting outcomes of all kinds.

“iPredict Election 2011” will screen for four weeks from Monday October 31st at 7.00pm on Stratos Television and will be repeated the following morning on Triangle Television at 11.30am Tuesday to Friday and 11.00am on Saturdays.

Programme schedule information is available online at www.stratostv.co.nz and www.tritv.co.nz


Government still expect surplus by 2015 the way I still expect to win Lotto this weekend

So Treasury have popped out their latest 10 commandments from God and amazingly growth is forecast to bring the country back into surplus by 2015. The only people who believe Treasury predictions are John Key and Bill English, from 2008 Treasury claimed we would get 1.5% growth, 2.3% growth and then 3.2% growth. We actually got -1.1% growth, -.4% growth and -.1% growth.

Treasury have been out by as much as 3.1% of GDP as little as last year and we are supposed to believe we will be back in surplus by 2015? How that will happen when Treasury admit that we could lose twice the cost of the Christchurch Earthquake if the global economy turns and that things could be worse than even that suggests that we have entered a glorious reign of utter denial with Emperor John Key wearing new clothes of fine spun gold encrusted with diamonds and sapphires...

Nats fail to stop growth of 'underclass'
The National Government's commitment to halt the growth of the "underclass" is patchy - with statistics showing many areas the party focused on in Opposition have worsened.

...John Key's economic policy seems totally reliant on everyone in the country winning Big Wednesday.

Brothers and Sisters, despite what the captain of the Titanic says, we are in for a hard landing, pretending we are not is part of the problem.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NATO, the dictator and the aftermath

Over the weekend we finally saw the end of Muammar Gaddafi, found in a sewer wearing gold pants and missing his characteristic toupee, relayed through live tweets by media that replayed every video of the Libyans captured on their mobile phones. Gaddafi, bloodied and tied to the front of the car was shown dragged and beaten, then raped with a stick, then placed unceremoniously in a meat freezer with his son Mutassim as jubilant Libyans took morbid photos beside his corpse.

Gaddafi's death has both delighted and horrified the international community and exacerbated the divides in ideologies and theories that circulate around international interventions. The Libyan situation is difficult to read at the moment, which is largely a result of it being currently a nation in flux and the pervasiveness of rumor, which we have seen in the rumors of the F16 jets before NATO arrived, Gaddafi mercenaries from Chad that resulted in the impromptu genocide of many of Libya's migrant workers, the use of Viagra by soldiers, and also the propaganda from Gaddafi's Green Brigade of being some kind of socialist oasis of women's rights in the Arab world where everyone receives free electricity. Libya is rife with rumor at the moment, and we will need to wait for the dust to settle for some of these to be verified. However, we do know that life in Libya under Gaddafi was not as open as it seemed under a leader who rose to power through force, engaged in the extra-judicial killings of his political opponents throughout the 1970s and 80s and tortured those who promoted dissent. The extent of the misinformation is summarized here in a wonderful and humorous account by a Libyan forced to translate for Gaddafi's regime.

Gaddafi's brutal end is the opening of a Pandoro's box for the west, but not in the sense that many predict. The National Transitional Council has claimed that they were unable to control the rebel fighters. This does seem viable given the way that the conflict arose. Gaddafi sent the military in on his protesting citizens, who took up arms in force forming a rag-tag bunch of rebels, with some reports that there was a Kalikshnikov per 14 men. While many have pointed the finger at the US, Italy and the UK for their role in the NATO intervention, the British SAS were training pro-Gaddafi troops in 2009 before switching in approach. Gaddafi's previous role as a darling of the west is evident in the snap happy photographs of former times, where he is pictured with world leaders, perhaps most evident in his son Saif's deep relationship with sociologists like Anthony Giddens at the London School of Economics and his proposed 'third way' for international politics (Libya, apparently, was the 'Norway of Africa'). Saif was also awarded his PhD here, and was guarded by MI6 while in London. Despite the conspiracy theories emerging now, as Juan Cole highlights, it was far more in the west's national interests to keep Libya as it was - a nation for which there was no problem in trading arms and securing lucrative oil agreements with companies such as BP. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' well publicized protestations that it was not in the US' national interests to intervene in Libya should be a cue here that this was not the preferred option. The resistance moved quickly from being referred to as 'rebels' in the western media to 'activists' as the interpretation of the west swung. The confusion over the west's role in Gaddafi's regime and the circulation of discourses on the rebels is well documented here by Andrew Gavin Marshall in an article well worth reading if you have the time.

The problem with the NATO intervention is perhaps less the movements within the country, and more in its interpretation by blocs of alliances. We do not know yet what the National Transitional Council will do, what kind of Sharia law they will introduce, and what kind of implications this will have for some of the most important issues facing the country: the division in allegiances and protection of pro-Gaddafi forces from retaliatory violence; whether they will lean towards the Arab world, the west, or the African Union (Gaddafi was successful in courting the latter two); what implication this will have for women's rights (which despite Gaddafi's prediction that every woman would become a "killing machine" for preserving Green Libya, simply did not materialize). Women did have many restrictions on them in Gaddafi's society, and they did play a very active role in the revolution with many women's civil rights groups emerging, but their role will be affected not only by the NTC's decisions, but also from pan-Arab discourses that played a vital role in kick-starting the rebellion and saw women contesting the interpretation of the west that they had no role in civic political life. There is a lot of debate over the role of international interventionism and it is complex. Where the west has not intervened in genocide they have faced fierce criticism, and sometimes intervention has led to more stable societies (as in the example of the Bosnian War). There is even more debate over the legality of such actions - no fly zones, for example, are a violation of national sovereignty and aggravate tensions over the western led extrajudicial killings of figures like bin Laden, the lack of consistency in their application (the US and UK have turned a blind eye to the Saudi led brutal oppression of the uprisings in Bahrain, which is not considered in the national interests for achieving democracy), the vestiges of colonialism and the inconsistent application of war crime trials, which since WWII's Nuremburg Trails, have tended to favor the victor and the economically powerful.

The NATO intervention has upset both the Arabs and the Africans, who represent two of the most important negotiating blocs due to Gaddafi's unique ability to appeal to all sides - darling of the African Union for promoting pan-Africanism, favored by Arab nations for his condemnation of Palestine and creation of an Islamic League in the early 1970s (although to be fair, many were suspicious of his behavior and perplexed by his near complete lack of decorum, entourage of women bodyguards and Swedish nurse), and friend of the west for his oil.

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The foundations of the Libyan uprising seem to have flown across the borders through the influence of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which have now seen protests or uprisings in 17 nations and are currently threatening Syria's Assad. Others, such as the protests that saw 1/4 of Bahrain protesting, have seen brutal oppression, with doctors and nurses being tortured for treating patients, the introduction of Pakistani troops by the Saudis who feared the uprisings reaching the Gulf, and the painting of this conflict as sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia muslims by the western media. While the protests across the Middle East and North Africa were initially treated with suspicion by the western media, who looked back to the Iranian Revolution for an example of things swinging backwards for citizens, they eventually challenged the long held myth in western culture that Arabs like being dominated by dictators (as US right wing commentator Ann Coulter, who is immune to both the winds of change and reason, concluded "my dog knows more about Arabs than Obama"). There is evidence to suggest that many were acutely aware of western bias in the media, from Egypt's incorporation of the V for Vendetta Anonymous symbols and production of music videos, to the efforts of Moroccans and Libyans to subtitle videos in English, to the enormous popularity of the remix of T-Pain's 'Zenga Zenga' by Israelis of Gaddafi's speech where he referred to his challengers as 'cockroaches'. It appears that the Obama administration is taking note, with Obama stuck in a difficult position with Republicans accusing him of 'leading from behind' and the release of statements that say 'iron-fisted regimes' should be worried. Such lip service, and it is lip service in regards to foreign policy, is a much smarter approach than Netanyahu's, who despite being surrounded by nations entering flux seems keen to stick with his own interpretation in spite of the response from many Arab nations that he should talk to the hand cos' the face ain't listening.

However, the role of NATO will be of much debate as it highlights the complicity of western countries in generating instability to their own ends - the recent intrusion of US troops into Uganda, for example, draws attention to the hypocrisy practiced in foreign politics for African nations. For Arab nations, the involvement of US troops in 97 nations in what is increasingly referred to as 'Obama's arc of instability' is not hidden by the veneer of mainstream media as it is in the west. And while those in the west increasingly condemn the Libyan rebels as barbaric for their treatment of Gaddafi in death, across the borders it just serves to highlight western indifference from the violence that we are involved in. While as Foucault traces in his 1977 work Discipline and Punish, the west has been involved in a process of hiding torture and prisoners, for many of those outside, violence is an every day reality. As borders become more transparent through the rise of social networking technology, and many journalists now seek sources through mediums such as Twitter, state representatives are increasingly surpassed in compiling narratives. We may now be entering the era where these hypocrisies are much more transparent.