Saturday, 25 February 2017

Filthy disgusting toxic scum!

 Edited to include 110% more rant.

While Labour is locked into some aimless struggle with the Mana and Maori parties over the soul of Maoridom, or more correctly the Maori vote (because none of those three really seems to be committed to actually improving the lot of Maori (unless Maori equals the tribal elites or party members themselves)) and The Mt Albert by-election has turned into some weird political bonding session, National has been running silent and running deep, trying to stay out of the media spotlight and happy to let the other parties get all the attention.

Bill English seems to be operating with his MP's like my father did when he took me and my siblings on long Sunday drives when we were kids.

Pack two adults and four boys into a Morris Minor and then drive out into remote, rural Southland, follow random roads or drive out to a then existing meat-works to buy large bags of chicken pieces to stuff in the boot or check the local rivers for a good fishing spots and see how long it takes before boredom turns the cramped back seat into a battleground.

My father would tolerate about five minutes of assorted ruckus before turning round and bellowing, "Shut up and sit down!" in his loudest voice, stunning me and my brothers into silence for about five minutes before we would inevitably start up again and again get shouted at.

Rinse and repeat for an entire Sunday afternoon, except for brief punctuation for an ice-cream or, if Dad was feeling generous, a stop for fish and chips and cold cans of coke (perfect for helping the grease harden in ones stomach). Its one way of family bonding.

English seems to be operating a very similar strategy, keep out of sight on political back roads, surfacing only for a brief comfort stop before disappearing again into the countryside. Keep out of sight, play it safe and say or do nothing that will cause a commotion.

So when Bill and Co surfaced this week (like the monster from the black lagoon out to menace some helpless female (played this time by the environment) to unveil their new fresh water policy I had a funny feeling in my stomach, and it was not from swimming in one of my local, and polluted, rivers.

Neither it seems was I the only one to think so with a range of nothing but highly skeptical response in the usual suspects in the political media (no links this time as far too numerous) with only  the faithful over at Kiwiblog in agreement (nice try guys but this one was a bridge (over a toxic and dried up river) too far).

The reality is that, as predicted, English and co have nothing in the tank to take them into the election but a series of feel good but meaningless policy statements and the usual election year bribes to hand out, and it shows.

With Key gone the polls still show English as preferred PM but lets not get to caught up in that as English is not going to be able to front like his old master did when it comes to the hard questions or when the next scandal hits.

And lets pause for a moment to give John Key some praise on this, like the true speculator he was he was not looking at the market now but looking ahead and got out at the peak of the market, sold his shares and vanished from the collective memory, just like I predicted he would.

But so far English has been able to let the spotlight fall on the various other parties and their struggles as they try and grab a piece of the political pie but the latest poll results showed that while English is up National is down and its another seven months of likely downs before polling day, even at a modest one or two percent for even a few months leaves National totally beholden to NZ First and with a semi resurgent Labour angling to make as many deals as possible to get across the line ahead of them.

Poll degradation in an election year, like universal heat death, is inevitable and English knows this. He knows that the more exposure he gets the more the polls will go down so the evil little gremlins in Nationals spin cabal have identified a few critical issues and preempted the deal by sending gormless fools like Nick Smith and Judith Collins out to spread the "good news".

Only 23 years before rivers are safe to swim in, no mention of toxic dairy or how we got there; or Judith Collins saying that fuel companies better co-operate with the Government on its pricing inquiry but she wont be doing anything about it.

Yep that will keep our polling up.

Worse than that is which of the slimy and toxic beats which make up his cabinet can he let front for any period of time without saying something wrong (Jerry Brownlee must be on a very short leash by now given his propensity to bellow at all and sundry the moment the kaka hits the fan) because none of them have any public persona which people want to see.

Those on the right wing like to always see themselves as realists but the only realist over there packed his stuff up and bolted in early December. The rest like the true political scumbags they are, continue onward knowing (in their hard little hearts) that there is nothing else but this vile game they play, the charade they like to call politics.

I wonder how many of them desperately try and convince themselves that they are actually liked by the general populace or the voters in their electorate, or even their office staff (as both Paul Foster Bell and Todd Barclay well know) because if you can read the above linked article and look at of a photo of ruddy faced Nick Smith holding up a glass of water (knowing what he has done for the environment and not to mention DOC) and not feel your stomach turn then your one of the true believers (god help you).

The environment, that 100% clean green, marketing slogan we hold so cherished is now falling apart with 30% of rivers in a state less to swim in, yet its as much a tool of a greedy money hungry clique of soul sucking miscreants that they can go out and lie with a straight face about wanting to do anything about it.

2040, like that ridiculous target for being pest free is so far away in political terms I am surprised that they have not promised we will all be living on the moon by then with a mortgage free house  made of gold for all and a fair and just society abounding.

I mean why stop there, if you gonna lie go big, just tell a bald faced outright lie because if the water issue is going to be honestly tackled it will also involve tackling the dairy problem (yes it is a problem now) and the attendant farmers and Fontera, and National has no plans to do any of those.

And this is the poison that flows through the veins of National today. Labour might be stuck in its own toxic mire and unable to see the reality for the ideological blinkers it has on but National is nine years in power and leaving things demonstrably worse than when they came in so a sudden smattering of warm fuzzy policy announcements while English and a few select stuffed shirt line up on a river bank and try and look concerned is not going to wash (it was not even a public event, just the media scrum, the the third photo in the article knows)

Sadly Kiwi politics remains as doom struck as ever and the antics of National remains the perverse purview of atavistic avarice as the greedy hustlers which constitute the party simply enact another screen to deceive the public long enough to disconnect the growing concern about who exactly is running the country and where its actually going.

As I said in KP middle of last year, National is a dead man walking once Key goes and now that he is gone the Zombies are shuffling around, sniffing for brains and generally stinking the place up.

Don't make the mistake of thinking English and co know what they are doing or where they are going, even under Key it was questionable that there was any actual game plan beyond the next greasy hustle but now its clear that the party is in for a rough ride come this election.

At the very best they get back in due to NZ First and then find themselves hostage to Winston playing out his dying fantasy of being PM (don't laugh it could happen) and at worst its back to where they were in the mid 2000s, down where Labour are now but marked as the party that let the housing hernia get out of control, who helped to pollute the rivers, who saw value in co-opting the Maori elite while the rest of Maori got nothing and who drove home the no-liberal welfare state with such force that the shock and dislocation that echo through NZ will reverberate for decades if not longer.

Voters might think about voting National because looking at Labour gives them a bad feeling and I get that but if your looking at National and feeling anything but dread for the next three years then you need your head read, better to vote for Gareth Morgan and TOP and start all over again. Political Year Zero*.

Its a party of crooks, thieves and lairs, with corruption and nepotism as the icing on the crud cake. Its a party of out and out predators previously lead by the greatest huckster NZ politics has ever known but is now fronted by a shell of what was once human behind which stand the ranks of swollen and bloated, suit (or ghastly pant suit) wearing zombies which ooze seditiously from all orifices.

In a sick way it makes sense that toxic water would be the issue to bring these freaks out of their bolt hole long enough to cough up some phlegmy lie about wanting to make the water better rather than act as unchaste handmaidens for toxic farming and manufacturing. Sadly it is a lie and we all know it.

If your believing that National will actually do this then ask yourself why its set so far out and why now?

As I predicted at the start of the year the environment is going to be an election issue but its going to take more than some half assed spin from a bunch of past their prime (if ever they were) politicians to get people off the scent as water issues are far and wide a Kiwi thing; going to the river or the beach is a quintessential summer activity (not to mention going fishing, or to the lake, or camping by the river etc etc) and when its not safe to swim, drink or wade in then you have an issue which exposes them for all their rotten souls are worth and cuts across political lines like few things can.

National party members or not (and I have met a few recently) water, rivers and lakes is something which is a unifying issue, like rugby used to be and the lie of clean and green is wearing dangerously thin.

No stats or fact twisting will save them, no bitter half truths or alternate facts, no picture of criminals fronting the scene of the crime saying "we didn't do it" is going to make a difference. Just the last three months of front pages articles in the Christchurch Press about toxic rivers and ECAN blunders (along with more quake related scandals like CERA staff in major corruption probes) is enough to show that this is not a Labour or Greens based issue.

Truth is, its been nine years and the National brand was co-opted around 2008 and English might be thinking that Keys mana will stick to him long enough to sweep back into parliament but its looking less and less so as the critical mass of negativity that Key was holding back by sheer force of his necrotic will (which is why he made it plain he had "nothing left in the tank") is starting to tumble inwards onto the horrid play fort called National (a structure which appears to be built out of old carpets smelling of cat urine and criminal intent) with predictable consequences and a cloud of repellent odor billowing outwards.

In short, National stinks, whenever they open their mouth they stink, whenever they say something about anything they stink, they look stinky, they act like piss stained winos hassling passers by in the street for loose change when they front up next to a river and say with a straight face (and no trace of irony - but when you have no soul it seems unlikely that you would get what ironic is) that they care about the environment.

They stink, they smell, and they are stinking up parliament (and the country), like some foul smelling stain on the carpet of origin unknown.

Most of National has convinced itself that their high polling is due to them and not the fumbling performance of Labour of the last decade, or that Key was not the magic Ace in the hole that protected them from the just fate about to befall them.

And this is why English and National are running silent and surfacing only for grotesque and embarrassing policy moments like this one about water, they are hoping that if they stay out of sight no-one will attribute the smell to them, better to let the others get blamed (the political version of "who smelt it, dealt it").

My father, while a hard man, was also a rather wise man as well. His take on politics was that politicians and political parties were like turds floating in the toilet bowl. No matter who or what they were sooner or later you had to flush.

National without Key look (and smell) increasingly like something far worse than fecal matter and more like the very thing they are pretending to eradicate from our rivers.

Come September its time to flush.

*-And yes I get that reference, Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Elections 2017: Hows this for a crazy idea, Labour builds AND leads a grand coalition!

Perhaps its all the liberal love-in feel-goodery going on around the Mt Albert by-election playing havoc with my better judgement but the idea has struck me that a potential outcome of the coming election could be Labour building AND leading a broad coalition composed of itself and most (if not all) the other parties.

Now I know the facts regarding the lack of love between the Greens and NZ First and the already stated intent that the twain shall never work together, or the fact that Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters are also unlikely to be sharing a beer any time soon but after looking at the photos of Labour, TOP and the Greens candidates smiling away that makes me have some hope for Labour getting its act together and for National not being in power come Sept 24th.

And the glue that will hold this unwieldy beast together? Mutual opposition to National and its agenda rather than any particular common view point (although given how these three got along you could be forgiven for thinking they do).

Also given the recent mood in the Maori political space we could even see The Maori party come to its senses and join the fun (with the implicit understanding that they can get a better deal by going with a needy Labour than an arrogant National).

The result, National vrs all the rest, or almost all the rest with possibly only NZ First not joining (mostly due to Winston's ego not getting massaged enough).

Its all crazy, pie-in-the-sky, speculation I know but it strikes me as a natural and possible option if Labour and the others can somehow see that they have more common cause opposing National than fighting each other.

Yes there will be egos and yes there will be issues but we have seen similar things before with parties like the Alliance (led by Jim Anderton) and Social Credit in the 70s and 80s but now we have glorious MMP to provide both the mechanic and impetus for smaller actors (and yes I am lumping Labour into the space at this time) to band together to defeat a common cause.

Also I get that once the common foe is dispatched the bickering may begin but still it might work.

I have no further analysis at this time but I am going to think about it some more over the weekend and see if this thing still has legs by Monday.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Elections 2017: It's all about the Rutherfords or why Willie Jackson really went with Labour

While I don't usually get many people in the comments section, anyone planning to fire up here bear with me till the end of this before you do.

Something has been bothering me about Willie Jackson going with Labour and it was not till I read his article in Stuff about why he playing with Little and Labour that I realized what it was.

Now full disclosure, until he surfaced again in the NZ media around Waitangi day I had generally forgotten he existed and only had a vague idea of his background (roastbuster scandal, ex Alliance politician).

But I have become more and more interested in Maori politics since my post on the issue on KP last year and anything which adds another bit of info to the puzzle is info worth knowing so I read his words and tried to put them into context with all the other information about him I could find.

And I admit that the internet is not the best place for info on people below a certain level of fame unless you want to see (or not) their face book page or their other social media droppings.

None the less its amazing what you can find but its always at least one degree removed so trying to draw any definitive conclusions about the actions and motivations of someone who is not fully in the media spotlight is a fraught activity at the best of times.

Even my various friends and associates who either are members of tribes themselves or work in places like Te Puni Kokiri had a variety of opinions on the man including one from an individual who is possibly the most hardcore National party supporter I have ever met* (who I might add, shattered forever any stereotype I might have had about plurality of Maori political affiliations with her picture of John Key proudly hung on her wall) but where most opinions were mild to positive about him and his genuine support for Maori and Maori issues.

So again no real indication of who the man himself is there and I was resigning myself to having to file that nagging doubt about his sudden enthusiasm for Labour in the "too hard" section of my brain and find something else to blog about.

But with his own words in that Stuff article it has been laid bare and while one does have to do a small degree of reading between the lines or textual analysis (for those so inclined) to get what the message it it does not take long to figure out what is really the deal with Jackson going over to the reds.

But first lets get back to what had been bothering me about his sudden decision to join the party.

What had been itching away in the back of my head since I first heard about it was the fact that his decision to join Labour appeared to be a sudden thing and more importantly the burning question of "why now?" was in my mind (much in the vein that I asked the same thing about John Key when he suddenly pulled the plug last year).

Why all of a sudden did Jackson appear at Andrew Littles side on Waitangi day, both of them smiling like cats that have negotiated a lifetimes supply of cream to be delivered to their sun trap every day in little tankers driven by mice wearing bow ties.

And the answer itself it not so difficult to fathom when you realize that Labour intends to retain its hold of six of the seven Maori electorate seats and that if they could not get the Maori King onside then they would swing to the opposite end of the spectrum, Urban Maori, and Willie Jackson.

Because given its current state Labour needs every seat it can get and six seats via the Maori electorate is a handy arrow in its political quiver (one that has been running low as of late).

So from Labours side shoring up potentially volatile seats by getting a well known and generally respected Maori political entity like Jackson is a natural play even if only they came to him as the bridesmaid after their previously more reliable relationship with the Maori King and Ratana had fled the alter when faced with whatever shotgun proposal Labour was proffering.

The next part of the puzzle is the genuine attempt by the Maori and Mana parties to get their acts together and make a clearly unified move for the Maori vote because despite the difficulties they face internally and externally (such as the Maori Party having been a handmaiden for National while in government in a clear break with the previously established mood of the Maori electorate (for which they have paid dearly in their declining vote base and below the margin of error polling) a unified Maori political vehicle (or waka if you will) with all parties pulling in unison and in the same direction has the potential power to be a kingmaker party as much or more than Winston and NZ First.

Thus while we have Labour wooing Jackson to stave off some perceived political threat in the form of the potentially revitalized Maori/Mana party that still does not explain why Jackson signed on, what was in it for him?

The Answer? Rutherfords and lots of them**!

Because Jackson makes no bones about it in his article that Maori are getting the short end of the economic stick and in his role as head of the Maukau Urban Maori Authority (MUMA) he wants Maori to "achieve the same possibilities and outcomes of those in wealthier suburbs of New Zealand" and under National MUMA was "underfunded in every area of Maori development".

And its clear that his position is not the same as the Maori Party (or Mana) because he sees them as "besotted with with the iwi leaders, tribal elite and [the] National Party." while he and MUMA are helping "solo mums and dads, the unemployed, the under educated, former prisoners, the invisible hungry kids who later in life turn on our communities, battered women, victims and even the perpetrators".

So credibility established but leaving aside Labours internal tiff over the process by which Jackson was brought into the Labour party and Andrew Little's dunderhead handling of Jackson's appointment and focusing on the sheer vote metrics of the deal its easy to see that the potential payoff for Jackson and MUMA is more and better funding under a Labour government than a National government or a Maori party more inclined to prop up the BMW driving iwi elite than give a toss about urban Maori***.

Thus more Ruherfords for "first time home buyers, safer and less crime ridden communities and public services" and while some might suggest that Jackson is being mercenary by selling his obvious vote block to the highest bidder I think he has done the right thing.

Not because I think his going with Labour is a natural move, as while the first half of his article clearly sets out the dire situation of urban Maori his sudden shift in tone to boosting for Labour rings dreadfully hollow for a man that has no previously clear links to the Labour and appeared to have just joined out of nowhere while spouting words and phrases that sounds like off-cuts from something Labours spin doctors cooked up on the fly as pre-election propaganda.

"In my view Labour is the only political party wherein real change is possible. I want to be part of that change."

Uh, yeah thanks for that Willie.

It was this line, where the words are almost in perpetual rotation, that I realized that a deal had gone down. because while National has been no friend of Urban Maori Willie either has either recently suffered some form of concussion or started drinking the rough stuff to start believing that Labour is the only way forward in such a diverse political landscape and where Labour is tanking in the polls while almost everyone else is getting ahead.

And if he was not down with the Maori and Mana parties why not NZ First, TOP, The Greens or even National?

Also whats Labour been doing to support Maori of late? Little's plays to the public (apart from insincere looking photos ops with soon to be deportees) has been half baked attemptes to recapture the dwindling middle vote while refusing to acknowledge the decaying albatross that has been hanging round Labours neck for the last 30 years and which now turns off more than it appeals to.

No, it was Jackson's sudden speed with which he converted that gave the game away and made it clear that he had either been headhunted for the role or offered himself (and his supporters) up as a possible coalition partner and spoil to a resurgent Maori/Mana.

And if he and MUMA get better funding and such out of the deal then good for him (and urban Maori) but lets not dress this up in ideological babble which has all the subtlety of go fast stripes and a racing spoiler on some beat up Ford Cortina.

So kudos to Jackson for getting into the game, and even to Little for finding a potential means to nuke the Maori/Mana threat but lets not pretend this is not an election year as surely it did not take Jackson nine years (given his background and political pedigree) to realize that National were never going to be interested in alleviating the plight of urban Maori or that his sudden conversion to Labour now would not cause some questions to be asked.

So while I said in my last post I would stop bagging Little and Labour this is not really a dig at them (or Jackson) but more a request to just try and be honest because no superstar political draftee is going to make any difference come polling day if the public perceives the parties as being dishonest about the deals done to get there (lets call it the Clinton effect).

We still don't know if Jackson was worth it but at least we know the price paid.

*-And if you keep your yap closed and just listen when mixing in various social circles its amazing (and highly disturbing) what you can hear from people who are not only proud of being a member of the National party but will also throw words like "coup", "takeover" and "overthrow" when discussing kiwi politics, but I digress and lets save that for another post.
**- If you wonder where I am getting the title of this post click here although I would loved to have found a way to use this.
***-Because I have it on good authority from more than one person inside more than one tribe that while the tribe gets settlement money more than a few in the tribe get little more than gift baskets once a year as way of payout.

Friday, 10 February 2017

This is why Labour cant have nice things: Andrew Little, Willie Jackson and Poto Williams

You had one job Andrew, just one job!

When I first heard that Andrew Little was putting Willie Jackson forward as a Labour candidate last week I was a bit surprised (as all I knew of him at the time was that he was the guy who did not take the whole roastbuster thing serious) but I read the article, looked at the analysis (ie Jackson's popularity with urban Maori) and went on with my life figuring a low news week so the media were trying to pick up on anything going to make copy.

Seems I was wrong.

Over the working week its unfolded in spectacular fashion that Andrew Little appointing Willie Jackson as a Labour candidate was about a sound a move as appointing Hitler as a Labour candidate (for those who read my last post - see how ridiculous that is?).

But I am not going to go into the mechanics of the situation, its been well covered in the media where the analysis has ranged from outright scorn from Andrea Vance over Poto Williams being the one to have to back down, into fury at Labours activist wing (whatever that is) by Martyn Bradbury at the Daily Blog for stuffing it up for Labour (an unusual mood for Martyn I think but as always he has a point), through prosaic disappointment from Chris Trotter (again siding against Poto but being less nasty about it) and Vernon Small (not backing either but probably siding more on the side of Williams) before coming to rest in probably the best analysis of the situation from David Farrer (no friend of the Left) over on Kiwiblog.

Farrer's analysis stands up best because like Small he sums up the factors and because he appears to be less invested in Labours fortunes (perhaps if only in the negative) where the others seem to have something riding on the outcome.

I did read Bryce Edwards piece in the Herald also but his carefully crafted take on the situation seemed to be more explaining the obvious than going into depth as well as trying just a fraction too hard to try and link it into conventional Pol Sci definitions which felt more shoe-horned in than actually having a place in the discussion (picturing this as an ideological struggle seems to ignore the out and out power dynamics which lie behind that struggle and the fact that Little is a man in an isolated faction trying to fend of those who want to take the party over, not really for any ideological bent but simply for the sake of power), still a good piece but like most of the others I feel he has something invested in Labour having a good outcome in the election so he favors damage control rather than really pulling it apart to see what is going on.

Now I don't buy the opinion that this has stuffed it for Labour in the coming election, its too far out for that kind of thinking but this has, once again, shown that Labour is not a happy house.

Andrew Little (now sans glasses) seems to have made a decision which has done more damage than good and given all other parties (including the Greens) easy runs on the board.

Because there can only have been two option in his mind when he decided to take Jackson on. They were:

     a) He knew that the appointment of Jackson was going to have a backlash and went ahead and did it      anyway; or
     b) He did not know what was coming and got blindsided by the response.

Which do you think it would have been and which would have been the better one?

The answer is neither. Either Little figured that the gain would be greater than the losses (and so far that gain seems to be Jackson's popularity with Urban Maori) or he was simply implementing what seemed like a good idea at the time without having any idea of who Jackson was and what he potentially represented to many sections of Labour.

Either way it was a bone headed move.

Now I am kind of tired of bashing Andrew Little.

Mostly because he is an easy target and because there are so many other matters in the coming election that could provide much better fodder (such as whatever is going on in National which has gone quiet and seems to be trying to fight the various small fires in the media (think Jonathan Coleman unable to admit that mental health in NZ is in crisis) and because I have a genuine wish to see Labour get its act together this time round but I cant excuse the stupidity of the play.

Little has not only fumbled the ball, he has fumbled the ball AGAIN and I find myself starting to wonder again how likely it will be that this may be just the excuse people need to try and roll him.

Heck, I am probably wrong but no matter what, Little, by bringing Jackson into the fold, has once again exposed Labour as a bunch of competing interests and feuding factions.

It appears that Jackson will go into the Tamaki Makurau seat which means that if he wins the seat that's the maximum extent of his effect (the payoff so to speak) on Labour in any practical terms, one single seat.

I am hearing that its a potential block on the Maori/Mana alliance and that may be so but that particular dynamic had yet to coalesce into a significant threat to Labours hold on most Maori seats so it may have been a prudent preemptive strike but still for what cost?

Because in the larger political space Labour is now, once again exposed, as a fractured in-fighting entity and for what?. So that Labour could nip a minor threat (great band by the way) in the bud while the main problem (National) sails along quietly.

And while Little and Jackson are the main idiots in this little drama Poto Williams comes in for some questions for the simple fact that she hired a PR firm to write up her opposition to Jackson for her FaceBook. Not only does that smack of duplicity on Williams part but it also begs further questions around why?

So if you have not read Kiwiblogs list of why this is a disaster go and read it now and see if Willie Jackson was a smart move and realize that at best this is a Phyricc victory for Andrew Little but possibly its a badly planned, ill thought out blunder which will simply add further tarnish to the Labour brand.

The reality is that with John Key gone and Winston potentially neutralized by Gareth Morgan and TOP there is a genuine chance for Labour to make it into government but that's not going to happen if things like this keep occurring.

Its just another blunder by Andrew Little, who was grinning in the initial photos from Waitangi like a man who had just bought a very expensive sports car and could not wait to take it for a drive only to leave it parked in the driveway while he went inside for a moment to come back to find the car crashed halfway through the wall and defaced with various slogans by unruly family members who were upset that he had spent all the families money on such a luxury when there were other things that needed attention (like the roof, walls or foundations) in the house of Labour.

And this is why Labour cant have nice things (like a cohesive party, or become a government, or have a robust leadership etc etc).

I can only say Jackson had better be worth it.

*-For those wondering if I am going over to the Right in the tone of my post, never fear, I have a few bones to pick with National and will do so soon enough.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Build your very own BS detector with this handy kit!

This post could just have easily been titled "Its going to be a long four years part II: The Bullshit Strikes Back!" but I thought it might be better to approach this issue with a more constructive approach rather than just point out the stupidity of the situation (and some people).

So I told my older brother off last week for posting a link to a "why Trump is Hitler video" on Facebook.

I did it politely, as he is my older brother after all, and I did it by pointing out that in the old days I used to be the one sporting all sorts of crazed gibberish about Dubya, Jim Bolger (and even John Key) being like Hitler and other sorts of  half baked nonsense, that I was once (and still probably am) known for, yet here I was being the one suggesting otherwise, and by referencing Goodwins Law to boot.

So it would be easy to say the glove was on the other foot and its an especially bizarre position to be in because I do still believe in much of that "crazed stuff" (and will do until I see evidence otherwise).

And it turns out I am not the only one amazed at the Bat Guano levels of insanity now passing for acceptable public utterances these days (specially this guy).

The problem, you see, is not so much the conviction or passion of people and their opinions but rather the lack of actual knowledge to support them and the highly knee-jerk behavior generated by the media in general coupled with the fact that their reaction to Trump is bordering on the kind of ranting found on the lower levels of the internet and not on a mainstream news website like Stuff.

But that's just what I ended up seeing in the latest column by Jane Bowron which reads like she finally snapped after one to many glasses of chardonnay and her meds were kicking while spending the day reading an endless stream of anti-trump propaganda online.

The thrust of the article has echoes of my Plumbing The Depths Part 1 post from back on KP but with a whole lot more crazy and a lot less actual logic going on and in the end comes off like a drug fueled defeatist rant for which she will get paid (how can I get a gig like that?).

Check out this Book of Revelation style apocalyptic comment from Jane, presented here verbatim as it was in the Dominion Post.

Sick (literally) and tired of dumb humanity, the planet will watch we rough beasts slugging it out, fighting each other to the death, as we take the Earth, as we narcissists know it, out with us. 

Huh?

Or this, where I truly don't know if she is being ironic or not.

The planet will always hold the Trump card and win against The Joker because it plays the long game. We can't say we weren't warned. 

What? 

And those are only two choice cuts from what is a spectacular piece of late night mondo bizzaro, the kind that comes from spending too much time getting your information from one pool of biased sources and an entrenched point of view that has no flexibility to dissenting opinions or thoughts (we could call it cognitive dissonance but lets just say crazy cat lady syndrome).

Its not that I don't share a few opinions with Jane about the fate of the species or Trump (because there is plenty about him to genuinely criticize (including this rather nice bit by Pablo over on KP) without having to slide off the deep end into frothing mouth foam land and either go all Goodwins Law or invoke a nihilist stance and prepare to burn it all down (what I have previously termed as Joker Politics).

And its not like I have talked about this before but people have been warned and now the backlash is starting to happen and its only going to get stronger as the arguments get absurder (and shriller and more desperate).

Its simple stuff really: trying to maintain such a hyper aggressive stance will alienate more people than it will appeal to and in direct proportion to the level of unfocused vitriol being spewed which in the long runs leads to a small burnt out core of fanatics locked into a reality tunnel (bit like ISIS) that is nothing but a one way trip down the hole into paranoia (believe me I have been there so many time I ended up bying real estate), hate and eventually violence.

So how do we go about building that BS detector I mentioned at the start of this post?

Simple, exercise your critical facilities before you speak, see it from all three sides (to quote Extreme: Yours, Mine and The Truth), know your history if your going to compare a dingbat president to one of histories monsters (I recommend the following books to get started: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer;  Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer; and The Order of the Deaths Head: The story of Hitler's SS by Heinze Hohne) and never sink to the level of those you are criticizing (ranting at the ranters or using violence against those who preach it) because if you do your playing their game with their rules on their terms and you will loose!

Its ironic, and rather painful, that one side looses an election and becomes just as bitter and partisan as the other side when Obama won but this time its being played out by people who have built a house on supposedly rational and informed debate, moderation and tolerance for others but one bad result and its the end of the world and the hate (and the punches) start flowing.

And just keep this one little thought in mind if you are not convinced about the road your preparing to walk down: The definition of terrorism is using violence and intimidation for political purposes (I knew my Masters in Strategic Studies would come in useful one day).

Oppose the power all you want, as its a position I support wholeheartedly (and actively engage in) as well, but do it with intelligence, style and an understanding of what your ultimate goal is or don't be surprised when you end up on a watch list or get black bagged by the rough men who stand ready***.

So I am going to end this post by leaving the last word to Scott Adams (he of Dilbert fame*) to say why in the wake of the riot at Berkley UC in the US he is going to no longer be supporting his Alma Mater or the absurdity of the argument.

*-If you don't know who Dilbert is get Googling!
**-And yes I just figured out how to put pictures in my blog
***-I know its not really Orwell but I like to think he did say it.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The $10,000 dollar question

So what I really want to know is, was it worth it?

One part of me can see that its the right of the Te Tii Marae to charge the media to go on, as far as I can see no one else is being refused entrance and in some ways by not having the media there might help defuse the inevitable scene that Waitangi day usually becomes.

On the other hand they were not banning the media, they were charging it and its the medias right to refuse an obvious attempt at extortion (and they should because once you give in and pay once you will always pay).

Trying to turn Waitangi day into a pay-per-view like the rugby only works if its something that people actually want to see and for most Kiwis Waitangi day is mostly a day off work and not really any positive expression about our nations background.

Certainly we are not glued to our sets or breathlessly waiting for the next article in the media to keep us informed.

At its best Waitangi Day is a day to celebrate our shared history but usually the best is not what Waitangi day is about and its becoming clear that attitudes on both sides of the line are hardening towards the kind of intractability that makes things difficult if not impossible to resolve.

I think that addressing Maori grievance regarding the treaty issues is important but when Maori also make up a large percentage of negative demographics as well (think prison, health, wages etc) then Waitangi is less a day to celebrate and more one to forget because a treaty is usually the document signed to formally end a war and help start build the new peace between former combatants, not be the cause for further conflict.

Unfortunately it seems that the Treaty was singed and that's was it, done and dusted, one part ugly colonial legacy, another endless cause for grievance by tribal leaders but mostly irrelevant to the previously mentioned Maori who are living in poverty and ill circumstance.*

NZ needs a national day but its clear that Waitangi Day is not it.

I know my history on NZ pretty well, I know about the conflict between tribes that lead to the Treaty and the subsequent Land Wars that followed due to expansion by English settlers and I know that despite all attempts by the English to dominate the Maori through force they never succeeded (in large part to Maori being excellent fighters and tacticians) and then the subsequent encroachment by stealth and numbers which finally overwhelmed Maori over time.

I know about the Land marches and Bastion point and the revival of Maori culture and language and all in between.

But what strikes me about all Kiwis regardless of our heritage is that we either have very divergent views on Waitangi and all it represents or treat it as the extra respite from work that it is.

The thing is we cant go back in time and fix things but we keep on trying, there is no forward in this space that is really enduring or constructive if this is still whats happening.

On the other hand I know that a lot of people (Maori included) don't agree with the charge or the attitude of keeping the media out.

So was Te Tii Marae just having a go or trying to make a point, whats going on there?

I do not think Waitangi or our history should be obscured or forgotten but instead its should be acknowledged and be relevant but instead its being ignored and marginalized as an excuse to have an extra day off work and nothing more.

Keeping out media to an event that really only matters to a select few politicians, the media itself and a limited number of interested parties while the rest of the nation enjoys the weather, does some gardening and makes the best use of the extra free time is not a good way to keep an already marginal national holiday relevant.

So was it worth it?

*-Among the Maori that I know and associate with (including those well set inside tribal hierarchy and agencies like Te Puna KOkiri) few see Waitangi as a reason to celebrate outside it being an extra day off for them also.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Elections 2017: Paging Dr Unpredictability

Be careful what you wish for...

Two months ago when I wrote about NZ politics being locked into stasis by the dark magic of John Key I noted that for anything to change a "shift" was needed, and boy did we get one.

In the two months or so since that post two major things have happened which have flipped the locked in Dynamic of John key and National for a fourth term on its head and opened the floodgates to what could be a decades worth of pent up political change.

The first, and most obvious, was the resignation of John Key as PM. Keys immense mana and popularity as PM was the bedrock on which a fourth term National government was based, and all and sundry knew it.

Andrew Little would have been annihilated on the hustings had he faced Key and, which in part, was what contributed to the psychological block that seemed to impede his development as Labour Party leader.

Of course opposition inside his own party and his general low key personality seemed to contribute but he must have worried about going head to head in a leaders debate against Key.

Its not hard to imagine Little lying awake at night, on sweat stained sheets, tossing and turning, crying out phrases like "Labour will build 10,000 new homes" in the voice of a drowning man while helplessly watching the ship sail away.

So with Key gone, Little has taken the glasses off (in a move which has all the symbolism of Clark Kent taking off his) and suddenly seems to be more "resourceful and dynamic" when he appears in the media but with the caveat that if Key (or Lex Luthor) were to suddenly reappear he would put them straight back on.

But lets not bash Andrew Little too much because this is the moment he has been waiting for as while he was never going to able to beat Key he now has a fighting chance against the cadaverous looking Bill English (as we have previously noted if Key was the Necromancer King of NZ politics keeping the zombies of National animated through his dark magic then Bill English was the shuffling husk of the man he once was, stripped of all life and doing the evil bidding of his dark master with no thoughts of his own) and Paula "has the same facial expression as a Labrador which just got promoted to deputy PM" Bennett.

Against these two and a Keyless National Little and Labour have a fighting chance.

The second factor which has now left the political log flume open for business is the introduction of Gareth Morgan as a contender for the middle NZ vote and its subsequent effect on Winston Peters and NZ First.

To be sure Winston still is the popular choice but Morgans attack on him at Ratana has set the stage for a struggle the likes of which Winston has never really faced: A head to head brawl with another contender for the middle voter without any of the niceties that would usually accompany such a situation due to the need to consider possible coalition partners.

Nope, Morgan wants it all and to do that he must eliminate Peters in the same manner as the adage about the first step in any revolution is to get rid of all competing revolutionaries. As I noted in a recent post there is not room enough for both of them in that space so Morgan has nothing to loose by going hard.

And these two factors have changed the dynamics of the coming 2017 election as a dead, dull and dry election with the inevitable outcome of Key and National for another three years.

All that is gone now, blown away, like a planet in the path of the death stars destructo beam.

What we have left are the glittering fragments of a political million possibilities and permutations raining down out of the sky like pennies from heaven.

The most obvious of these is the fact that National is no longer a shoe in for Government, that ship sailed the moment Key handed in his resignation as PM.

But that is just the first of many.

Another is that in the wake of Keys leaving the top job a whole lot of other National Party MPs as well as others in Labour and the Greens (and NZ First), also decided to take a hint and leave politics. Some are list MPs and their passing wont be felt so much but many are electorate MPS and that leaves a lot of electorate seats up for grabs.

To be fair some of those seats (like Nationals in Canterbury or Mt Roskill for Labour) are safe seats and can probably survive loosing one particular personality without going over to the other side.

On the other hand there are seats out there that are possibly not going to survive the passing of one particular personality or another (like Hutt South where Trevor Mallard has been MP but who will not stand in 2017) and that means that a fresh face in one parties color or another is not a guaranteed measure of electoral success.

Then there those seats which are weakly held by one party, such as Greg O'connor targeting Peter Dunne's seat in Ohariu Belmont on behalf of Labour (something which I suggested Labour should do last year when I first started blogging at KP).

Seats like this and possibly Epsom in Auckland are prime targets for any party wishing to chip away at the soft edges of National or in Epsom's case, National deciding not to stand aside and let ACT win it and taking it for itself if things look desperate (which they may start to do soon if National start slipping in the polls).

In addition there is the fun factor of a brand new, first time political party (the Opportunities Party) lead by Gareth Morgan doing a kiwi version of Donald Trump by threatening to upset the cosy relationship of Establishment politicians (and this includes the Greens, Labour and NZ First as well as National) and potentially end up with the balance of power come September 24.

Also, if they can get it together, Mana and Maori are making a big play for the Maori seats currently held by Labour (which if they did would make them a major force in any split government).

Such a situation would be an all bets are off, all hands on deck and highly unpredictable situation for the rather dull dynamic that NZ politics had become. The last time such dice were rolled was in 1996 with Winston Peters, and look where that got us.

But wait there is more

How about the potentially toxic situation of the Greens and Labour splitting votes by campaigning in the same electorate or Bill English recently downplaying the prospect of being in government with NZ First or the "crazy but in this environment anything goes" idea that The Greens will do a backdoor deal with National if Labour is not able to give over some power in the event of a Greens/Labour win.

Then there is the potential for scandal hitting the current government and torpedoing the National garbage scow in deep water without any life jackets.

Bill English managed to keep his chin up and avoid any major scars with the Peter Theil "lets give NZ citizenship to the ultra rich" two tier immigration system sandal but September 23 is eight months away and that is plenty of time for the Housing Hernia to go, another scandal with health or tourism or dairy or something completely out of left field to swoop in and wreck any carefully laid plans.

So what we have now is a very fluid, very unpredictable situation where the two crucial factors which were ensuring the political stasis of this day and age are gone and all sorts of permutations have started to blossom in their wake.

In may ways this is NZ's Brexit or Trump moment. The die is not cast and with such obvious restrictions removed the political will may manifest itself in unexpected colors and shapes. The frustrations that have boiled away under the surface under a scummy layer of government denials, ignorance and inaction for the last nine years are going to surface on September 23 if not sooner, that much we know.

What we don't know yet is what form (or forms) this energy will take but if results in the US, England and elsewhere are to be considered then anything can and may happen.

We might get a Greens/National Coalition government, or Labour governing alone (probably not but such  imagination is free and harmless), we could see some sort of grand cabal with TOP holding away and not giving any side permanent support but using its position to swing things and do deals.

Maori and Mana might be able to bury the bad vibes given the sweet pickings on offer and kick off a Maori political renaissance (something that is long overdue).

We could even get a fourth term National thanks to Gareth Morgan, Winston Peters and anyone else.

At this point anything could happen as the sparks struck from Keys leaving and Morgan's entrance have ignited a fire and not some casual suburban BBQ or blaze but a potential firestorm.

NOTE - If any readers have their own particular versions of what will happen I would love to know as no combination or permutation is too far out in such circumstances.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Elections 2017: Labour/Greens cakewalk in Mt Albert ruined by Gareth Morgan and TOP?

Well it looks like Martyn Bradbury will get his wish fulfilled with regards to the Mount Albert by-election.

Of course I am being facetious as I don’t think Martyn wants to see what is now unfolding in Mt Albert as The Opportunities Party Geoff Simmons has thrown his hat into the ring but to give him kudos as he did see it coming.

And Martyn would be right to wonder and worry about the situation as there are too many variables now in play to just treat this as a re-run of the Mt Roskill by-election in December where Labour just ran in an easy first over National.

In that event it was just Labour in a relatively safe seat vrs National newcomer (and political inept) Parmjeet Parmar while this time National has stepped aside and its Labour, Greens and now TOP into the fray.

I don’t agree with all of Martyn’s analysis but it’s clear and correct that he sees trouble coming with the dynamics of what instructions National will give to its 14,000 plus voters in the zone and the spoiler effect of TOP now hustling for votes along with the rest of them.

My main disagreement is his view that Labour and the Greens would not be able to play nice but I am willing to hedge my bets given that their MOU is in effect untested and this as a safe as place as any to test it.

Will the Labour/Greens relationship hold up in the campaign? (I think it will); which way will National voters go? (Like Martyn, I suspect that TOP will be a much more palatable candidate to them than Labour or the Greens); and what message will this send to the wider electorate? (that depends on the outcome but if TOP do well expect them to build on it).

I would be careful to say that this will be a microcosm of the coming general election but I would be a fool not to say that some portents could not been seen in the tea leaves when it’s all over.

First up: If Gareth Morgan and TOP do well then its game on for them and while not everyone likes an underdog, a lot more people like an underdog when it has a fighting chance (we could call this a mild version of FukYoo politics manifesting as a reactionary vote for TOP as a warning to both National and Labour) and that’s just what a good showing could provide to TOP, imagine, shock horror, what a surprise victory in Mt Albert could lead to (Winston are you paying attention?).

The kicker for this will be if National sends its troops into bat for TOP or not which is based on who National would prefer to work with in the outcome, Labour Greens or Gareth Morgan. So Bill English has a decision to make if he still has control of his 14,000. It might be that he does not and they go whatever way their whims take them.

Also Morgan can use this as a test run for TOP on the hustings and that’s invaluable experience which would normally be only able to be gotten in a general election so there is that factor as well.

If, as Martyn fears, a Labour/Greens breakdown could be the start of a bad run for the two and signal very plainly to the electorate that Labour and the Greens cant work together. Such an outcome would play out very badly later when the main event starts.

In essence I think Martyn has identified the highly variable nature of the situation and is right to have some unease about it.

So like him, watch Mt Albert carefully, very very carefully.