Friday, December 14, 2007

Lessons about Sydney

1. Ask the taxi driver at the airport BEFORE he drives anywhere if he knows the SUBURB you want to go to, if he doesn't, leave him there.

2. If you forget rule 1, then make sure you have some idea where you are going and when you know he has it wrong demand he stop, turn off the meter and give him directions until you get there. Refuse to pay more.

3. Don't go to the cafe on Curl Curl beach, it is mediocre and overpriced (try being told you can't buy a sandwich to eat in because "these are for our takeaway customers, what else would I sell them", although Curl Curl is a nice beach. You're far better off going to Dee Why or Manly.

4. Try not to be so drunk that your boyfriend is helping you walk along the beach at 6am whilst the rest of us are having a walk or jog - it's really quite sad.

5. Look at the price for business class airtickets, not just economy. The economy ticket for my flight was over $100 MORE than business class. Then you don't need to look at me in envy when while you're all in a snaking queue to checkin at 3 counters, I walk straight up to a free counter, get fastrack security and immigration, and get fed properly. e.g. it can be cheaper to fly LAN from Auckland to Sydney in business class than flying economy class on Air NZ or Qantas, depending on time/day.


Now I'm off to NZ to see family/friends for Christmas, sitting in the Air NZ lounge at Sydney on the most gorgeous Saturday morning, wondering why the hell any of us from this part of the world would want to be in London this time of year (other than if I keep doing it for a few years I could afford to get a place in Manly).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blog lite

Well it's been a very busy week and I'm flying down under tomorrow - spending a week in Sydney to visit my other half who is there at the present, and then to NZ for Christmas, then Hong Kong for New Years, before shooting back to the mother country. So it will be blog lite for me for the coming weeks. I hope you all, wherever you may be and whoever you may be with (or without) that you take time to enjoy yourselves and have fun over the holiday season.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Visitor from Pakistan

Well from Mardan, North-West Frontier, Pakistan.

Yes you. IP address 203.135.44.133 at 1.48.08pm on 1 December.

Look for your criminal interests elsewhere, I guess Paknet limited doesn't care much about that. Leave those kids alone ok?

I'm no prude, but I don't tolerate violence ok, just because the value of life is cheap where you come from, especially that of women, and especially young girl, doesn't mean you'll find it here.

Two barely democracies

Venezuela
So Chavez lost his referendum, fortunately. It took 51% of the population to ensure that 100% retained some freedoms. However he has gloated according to the Daily Telegraph ""From this moment on, let’s be calm," ... "There is no dictatorship here.""
One could argue the result is conveniently close, but with only 56% turnout it does show Chavez doesn't run a Stalinist state. It also shows that a significant minority is uninterested in his "revolution", which is both good and bad. As the Telegraph also outlines, the Venezuelan economic success is likely to be shortlived, with inflation at 20%, plenty of shortages and declining oil production - this experiment with socialism may fail sooner rather than later, and hopefully will see little blood spilt as a result.
Russia
Around 63% of the vote for United Russia. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Council of Europe have said ""The State Duma election ... was not fair and failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections,".
In second place came the Communists at 12%, the fascist Liberal Democratic party and the socialist Fair Russia party (barely to the right of the communists) also seem to have crossed the 7% threshold.
So Russians vote for the corporatist bully, and some pine for the Stalinists or support other fascists. That's what a long tradition of being governed by strongmen has done, and is the legacy of 70 years of brutal Marxism-Leninism. You know, the type that George Galloway and Chris Trotter both miss.

Rail nationalisation?

So Dr Cullen is thinking about buying the entire railway business of Toll NZ, as there is disenchantment with the "network nationalisation" model that the Greens were cheerleading some years ago.
Let's recall what has happened in the last seven or eight years:
  1. In 2000/2001 Tranz Rail brought on board a new chief executive, Michael Beard, to try to arrest an ongoing decline in profits, share price and a mounting legacy of infrastructure and rolling stock that would need hefty investment. In short, the company was not making a return on capital that was worth investing further in it - what that means is simple, the average investor was better off putting money in bank deposits than in Tranz Rail. Michael Beard announced a new focus on freight businesses by commodity, and that a whole raft of lines looked like they should be closed, with much publicity surrounding the Napier to Gisborne line - an expensive to run line, with barely enough freight to keep a train a day going. He also announced Tranz Rail would sell off its passenger businesses.
  2. Government leaped, various Ministers declared this plan was unacceptable and negotiations began on saving various parts of the network/system with subsidies. Auckland local authorities sought to spend $120 million of ratepayers' money to buy the entire Auckland metropolitan rail network to meet aspirations for a massive upgrade of commuter rail services. Central government did it instead, spending $81 million to buy back the Auckland rail network, despite Treasury valuations at the time, of it being worth no more than a quarter of that. Meanwhile Tranz Scenic was sold, and Tranz Rail agreed to not close any lines while it continued negotiations with government on rail policy.
  3. Tranz Rail's shareholders were keen to bail out, and a deal was struck whereby Toll Holdings would buy the company, in exchange for the government taking over the rest of the railway network for $1. The government would own and maintain the rail network, while Toll would have a monopoly on rail freight services as long as it maintained a minimal level of service on each line. Toll was meant to pay adequate track access charges to keep the network maintained, while the government agreed to put $200 million taxpayers' money into the network.
  4. The railway network has been transferred to Ontrack - a Crown company - which is meant to negotiate track access charges with Toll Rail. These negotiations have failed, and an independent arbitrator has decided on charges that Toll claim are unacceptable.
So. What now?
Simple. The government should, at the very least, call Toll's bluff. It should insist on Toll either paying the track access charges or buying the network off it. Arguably the government should ask for what it has put into it, minus track access charges, but let's face it - it's a dud investment. Something socialists are good at finding. Either Toll will pay up and make a profit, or buy the network and do so, or buy it and run much of it into the ground, or sell up the business to a coalition of rail freight users (you know, the ones who claim it is "so essential", but wont pay enough to pay the cost of running it).
The clear answer is this - the government is not best placed to know whether the rail network is economically efficient or not. However, some think it is.
Idiot Savant for one, is cheerleading this, based on a number of strawmen:
  • Rail services are vital infrastructure: Wrong, countries can exist and thrive without railways. About the only section that can be seen as "vital" is the Wellington commuter rail network, and even then only because the alternative (expensive road widening) is not as cheap as keeping the rail network. Rail services have never made a good return on capital for decades, road transport, by contrast, has been privately run for a long time, and the road network generates a substantial surplus from road user charges that is reinvested in that network. Rail cannot even generate enough revenue to maintain what its got. I don't doubt that some of the rail network could be sustained, but clearly less that what there is.
  • the key problem of private ownership - the tendency of private owners to cut back on maintenance spending and run down the infrastructure: Actually this reflects an economic fact, it was not profitable to maintain the infrastructure to do more. For example, when you can only sustain one freight train a day on a segment of around 40km (Rotorua), and a high level of maintenance makes that unprofitable then what should be done? Should non-customers pay for something they don't use? By the way, have you noticed how run down truck fleets and bus fleets are, not? Most long haul trucks in New Zealand are an average of around seven years old, and most major bus companies don't keep buses beyond 15-20 years. There is not a long haul locomotive on New Zealand tracks that is younger than 20 (or a diesel younger than 28) (and yes I know they have a longer service life, but engine technology has moved on a lot since the 1970s!).
  • (renationalisation will) allow us to have a properly planned rail network and services again: I wonder when he last thought this happened? In 1990 and 1993 it collectively had NZ$1.3 billion (in 1993 values!) wiped, this happened before in 1982 when around NZ$100 million in debt was wiped (it collected this debt while it had a statutory monopoly on long haul freight). Is this the proper planning that saw investment in new goods sheds that were shut a few years later, or the manufacture of its own rivets at several times the cost of buying them off the shelf?

However he makes one correct point "we're effectively subsidising them, and paying for their profits, by maintaining the infrastructure they depend on to run". Indeed, but the answer to that isn't to pay for the business, after all if YOU were Toll Holdings, wouldn't you ask a good bit of money for the business if the government wanted to buy you out? Labour might threaten to pass legislation to force nationalisation, but wouldn't that look a bit Robert Mugabe or Hugo Chavez - and in election year too.

So, I'm expecting this to drag on. Toll Holdings knows though that its best deal is almost certainly under a Labour government rather than a National one, so it will want to strike a deal - Labour also knows it wants to be the government that "saved rail" for whatever reason. In addition, the Greens will demand it as one of their "faith based initiatives". So you might find another wad of taxpayers' money being thrown into the rail network to prop it up a bit more, otherwise I dare all those who want the government to force New Zealand taxpayers to save rail to do something...

save rail yourself. Get like minded people to come together and offer Toll Holdings a price. You might need to get the rail freight customers like Fonterra, Solid Energy and the like to join you, but make the effort. If you're not so inclined, then buy a train ticket on one of the few long distance passenger services left - at least you can say you've used it, since your taxes have paid for the lines!

Freedom from the pre-modern Islamists

Gillian Gibbons' has received a Presidential pardon in Sudan, which is a tremendous relief - but for it to come to this is an indictment on the Sudanese legal system. She has also said she wants to go back to teaching in Sudan and "I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone and I am sorry if I caused any distress". Her choice of course, although whilst still in Sudan and having had her freedom achieved by Muslim peers means, at the very least, she is hardly going to say anything else while she is still there. She has nothing to apologise for, and her respect for Islam is misplaced. Of course it may be unlikely she has been shown the extend of local calls for her execution!
^
Neverthelessm what this shows is what happens in an Islamist state. It has a legal system that besides having laws against blasphemy (don't forget blasphemy is still a crime in NZ, and the last English prosecution for it was 1977, although it would be fair to say as a law its time is nearly up), doesn't even apply actus reus or mens rea to the crime. At worst she was negligent, she not only had no intent, she didn't DO anything.
^
Pity the Sudanese we never hear of who ever get accused of such a "crime". With mobs of thugs who regard execution as a legitimate punishment for blasphemy, something not seen in England since the 18th century, locals who inadvertently let children do something like - name a teddy bear - wont have the British Government or British Muslim peers on their side. The state of Sudan is just another instrument of initiated violence, and has the blood of hundreds of thousands on its hands because of Darfur.
^
Sudan needs to go through the renaissance, throw off the shackles of Islamist violence and have a state that protects citizens from each other, not turn on them because some offend others.
^
Of course, it's easy to throw stones when Western liberal democracies still have, largely nascent, laws against blasphemy. These should go, forthwith, there is NO excuse. A handful from the religious dark ages will come out and preach censorship, but they should be ignored.
^
By the way, the US Supreme Court decided in 1952 that "It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches or motion pictures" overturning the New York state blasphemy law. New Zealand and those European countries with such laws could do worst than to follow this example.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Have I got news for you

Damned thing wont post but there is buckets of this show on youtube.

Start with Boris Johnson hosting here from two years ago, this is absolutely magic. The man IS the best chance Londoners have of unseating Red Ken Livingstone - frankly, if as Mayor of London he spends more time hosting this show, I think we'll all be winners!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBxkrBaK8vk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaLbBmrS8dw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGKiGz4-Dy0

Is there political satire in NZ on TV yet? Can you imagine any MPs participating?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Russia's barely democracy

It has been clear in the years since Vladimir Putin became President, that Russia is slipping back to authoritarianism. It isn't quite the totalitarian terror of Marxism-Leninism, but something halfway - whereby there is some free speech, there is some private sphere but you daren't think about seriously threatening the incumbents.
^
Putin has been variously sabre rattling, being friendly with bullies to the east and south, and been trying to flex Russia's muscles, largely fueled by the high prices of oil and gas. Many Russians have benefited from this, from the wealthy to a growing middle class.
^
However, Russia has moved from the substantial freedom of the late 1980s and most of the 1990s, to controlled speech and media. In the last parliamentary elections in 2003, the party of Putin- United Russia - gained a plurality with around 37.6% of the vote. With 70 seats out of the 450 largely held by independents loyal to Putin, United Russia commanded a clear majority.
^
This time, the entire system has moved to proportional representation - because, you see, it clears out lots of small parties. The threshold for entering the Duma will be 7%, given only 4 parties crossed that in 2003, you can see what's going on. In 2003, the two main opposition parties to United Russia were the Communists and the Liberal Democratic Party - the latter being a fascist nationalist party (remember Vladimir Zhirinovsky?). The most promising ones (by any measure of support for Western values) - Yabloko and Union of Right Forces - only won 4 and 3 seats respectively last time.
^
So this time the contest looks like a foregone conclusion. State TV is overwhelmingly biased in favour of Putin and United Russia, and Gary Kasparov - who led a coalition of parties of left and right against Putin - is now in prison for leading an illegal march. Because, of course, he would have been allowed had he applied for permission! United Russia refuses to participate in TV debates with other parties
^
The Daily Telegraph reports "there are widespread stories of intimidation and planned ballot rigging. University professors, factory bosses and teachers claim to have been forced to vote for or join the party or face dismissal. Students claim to have been threatened with expulsion if they do not do the same. Regional governors not trusted to secure a sufficient share of the vote for United Russia have been removed."
^
Although it also reports that even in a free and fair election, United Russia may still win. However, it is aiming for more than that. It wants 70% of the vote, so it can change the Constitution, allowing Putin to remain President, although he is at the top of the United Russia party list so he could become Premier as well.
^
So should we fear Russia? Probably not. For now, almost all of its economy is based on fossil fuels - when prices slide back down, then there is little else left. Technology, services and manufacturing remain at a low level. It could well be the mine for China, but it is an expensive mine to operate given the climate, territory and infrastructure. Secondly, its population is in steady decline, falling at around 0.5% per annum. 15 years ago it had the 8th largest economy in the world, now it is 11th. Its rusty armed forces cannot project far, although it still has nuclear capabilities these probably have a serviceable life of about another 10 years at best - realistically speaking Russia will be confined to defending its borders within a generation. So no, it is unlikely to be a threat over the longer term, but this is sad
^
Meanwhile, pity Russians who had their taste of freedom and largely don't want it anymore. Unfortunately, the whole country is generations behind western Europe in having relatively low corruption, transparent politics and bureaucracy - the best hope to change that remains the examples on its borders. Sadly, with the exceptions of Finland, Poland and the Baltic States none are much of an example, and plenty are the opposite (Belarus, Kazakhstan).
^
So on Sunday hope that enough Russians will vote in enough number to ensure the gerrymandering doesn't give United Russia an overwhelming majority. While you're at it, buy a lotto ticket - you might have better odds.

Chavez threatens to not sell oil to the USA

Go on you Marxist thug.
Given CNN reports "United States is Venezuela's biggest oil customer and one of the few countries that can refine its low-quality crude. Venezuela accounts for up to 15 percent of U.S. crude imports". I think it's fine for a socialist to say he's not going to sell to his biggest customer, especially since his product is hardly that well sought after.
He's looking to remove term limits and put the Central Bank under his control, as well as reduce working weeks (given that the work ethic there isn't high according to some reports that wont help). Nice little recipe for more authoritarianism, and more wasting of money following a grand vision for "the people".
Keep watching political science students and economic students - learn how a country can be wrecked by socialism, and pity the average Venezuelan, the welfare state that has been built is unsustainable.

Trotter vs Minto

Chris Trotter is a funny political beast, he is firmly on the left and most of the time I find him quite despicable. After all I recently pulled to bits his bizarre Marxist view of democratic politics being "them" vs "us", the "moneyed" vs the "workers". I remember many years ago a bizarre column of his claiming that when Air NZ introduced business class on domestic flights (which has been gone now for 6 years but will be back in a different form from next year) it was a sign of a change in New Zealand - the class in front was "them" while "us" sat in the back. Sheer nonsense of course as mostly "them" were politicians. He has said that "we pay a toll for our comfortable lives" in that other people's kids get abused. He sung praises for Wolfgang Rosenberg, a supporter of Stalinist East Germany.

However this time he is on the side of freedom, or at least against those who were advocating fomenting violent revolution. His open letter to John Minto in the Sunday Star Times some weeks ago spoke volumes, he nailed his colours to the mast of liberal democracy. His closing statement made a fundamental point:

"Because in the course of the past month, John, I have heard you make many accusations, seen you point many fingers and hurl many fistfuls of abuse. But I have not heard one word from you about the right of a democratic society, such as ours, to be protected from people who think it's OK to run around the bush with semi-automatics and Molotov cocktails. People who think it's OK to train young Maori men to be bodyguards for the Americans in Baghdad. People who think it's OK to reach a level of preparation for organised political violence so alarming that New Zealand's most liberal police commissioner, ever, felt he had no choice but to launch "Operation Eight". Because it's NOT OK, John. Political violence in a functioning democracy is NEVER OK. And I want to hear you say it. "

See that? Political violence in a functioning democracy is never ok. So does John Minto reply yes or no? No, of course not. This self proclaimed champion of human rights, who blames the West for how Robert Mugabe (no doubt one of his pinups) is treating Zimbabwe, who also blames everyone but the perpetrators for torturing their own kids, likes political violence. Indeed he is an apologist for violence committed by anyone he sees as a victim - nice chap.

Minto's response starts by claiming, so innocuously that "groups involved in working for social change saw the long shadow of the state loom over them". Oh "working for social change", which in his world doesn't include libertarians, Christian conservatives or the Business Roundtable, no it is code for socialist Marxist groups. Minto only supports those wanting statist collectivist solutions. He trots out again the excuse that evidence was leaked, of course all of the evidence is now publicly available thanks to the internet - and it IS damning. So he ignores it, he prefers to attack the anti-terror legislation - he doesn't even respond to Trotter's comment. He doesn't condemn the ideas expressed by those accused - because Minto, like too many in the so called "peace" movement have no interest in peace, or non-violence. You see "peace" means surrender.

Minto, rightly, would argue that peace under apartheid was impossible, so it was legitimate to fight to overthrow it. However, he would also argue the same about any other conflict, according to the side he supports. He wouldn't support Palestinians ceasing hostilities in the West Bank and Gaza unconditionally - though he would support them waging war against Israel and overrunning it. He wouldn't support the USA destroying an Iranian nuclear weapon's facility, but he would support the USA abolishing its own while Iran does nothing.
^
Minto is a revolutionary, he cares little for rule of law under liberal democracy. Indeed, his sympathy for Robert Mugabe tells you much about where he comes from - he opposes capitalism, Western liberal democracy (unless it doesn't mean his side wins and gets what he wants) and supports political violence. If the evidence found by the Police proved to be substantial, Minto would say acts of terrorism committed by those with such views were "justified" or "understandable". He's no friend of freedom, he is a sympathiser of thuggery and brutality as long as it is for Marxists. His well known anti-apartheid views were correct, but he was, again, supporting Marxists against a brutal regime - he doesn't criticise the ANC now despite its rampant corruption and intolerance for criticism. However, it is clear what side he is on - the peace he argues for is AFTER the revolution.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A jump to the left

So Stephen Franks is seeking to be the National candidate for Wellington Central.

He always was a rather conservative ACT MP, not warm towards civil unions or legalisation of prostitution. He has a good legal mind, but does this say more about Stephen Franks or ACT? I am sure ACT will be sad to lose him, but if National seeks someone to talk about the Treaty of Waitangi he would be a good man for that role - he's certainly head and shoulders above many of the National caucus.

I don't believe in property rights so...

I can steal. Phillida Bunkle, a sad case of a dejected socialist or just a common thief?

Thieving socialist! One could feel sorry for her, but honestly I don't. She entered public life in order to be a bully, in order to raise taxes, to regulate people and their businesses - while she produced nothing. Remember you paid for her salaries and travel for several years, thanks to the retards who voted Alliance in 1996 and 1999. The Dom Post got this wrong, saying she was elected in 1999 - how much effort is there to do some basic internet research Kay Blundell? Bunkle was number 8 on the Alliance list and got in with such brainiacs as Liz Gordon, Alamein Kopu and Frank Grover. Yes, just over 10% of voters ticked these supreme underperformers (picking Alamein was, of course, part of the "got to have Maori candidates" political correctness of the Alliance, forgetting of course, that as the Alliance was largely driven by hatred of success, good people would be unlikely to be attracted to it).
^
I love Oswald Bastable's comment that "as a former Alliance MP, Bunkum genuinely did not understand that it is wrong to take other peoples property"
^
She still has a website as if she were an MP here. She was Minister of Consumer Affairs - adding to her contempt for producers or sellers. Of course her first claim to fame was co-authoring the famous/infamous article "An Unfortunate Experiment" in Metro which saw the Cartwright Inquiry undertaken. Itself controversial, but that is another story.

Gillian Gibbons needs peaceful Muslims to stand up

and rally to her cause. She's the teacher who let a boy suggest his own name, Mohammed, be used as a name for a teddy bear, which most in her class agreed with. For this she faces jail and 40 lashes.



She's now been charged with "insulting religion" and "inciting hatred" according to the Daily Telegraph. The Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain has fortunately been backing her saying "This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense". Of course he's not defending her because the law is absurd and the punishment obscene, but because "There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith". Presumably if she was trying to insult Islam, he'd happily see her be flogged? By contrast the "Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas" a bunch of stoneage men believe she is part of an international conspiracy against Islam - but then again these are the same men who regard rape victims to be to anything but victims. Vile bastards to a man.



Boris Johnson, Conservative MP for Henley, who is trying to unseat Ken Livingstone as dictator for London, has said "the voices we need to hear now belong to Britain's vast, sensible Muslim majority. If British Muslims speak up decisively and loudly against this lunacy, then they can achieve two good things at once. Their arguments will be heard with respect in Khartoum, since they cannot be said to be founded on any kind of cultural imperialism, or to be actuated by Islamophobia."



Well indeed, although Johnson then slips a bit backwards saying "a strong protest by British Muslims against the imprisonment of Gillian Gibbons would help to contradict the growing ranks of pessimists and neo-cons - the people who say that the real problem is Islam, the religion itself. "



I can understand Boris saying this, and to an extent he's right - Islam as simply practised privately by consenting adults, is not a problem. People must have the right to believe whatever they wish and worship this, as long as they do not seek to initiate force against others. However, Islam as a basis for laws and the state is a problem, it is stone age. It DOES seek to initiate force against others, and more importantly enough Muslims in the West also seek to initiate force against others who insult them.



You see while Boris seeks to paint Islam as not being the problem he bemoans another fact "If you want grounds for despair, read the entries on the BBC website, in which some British Muslims say that she should be punished; or read the entries from people in Sudan saying that the children should be punished. It is tragic and incredible that we can allow people to take offence over such a simple misunderstanding. If this goes any further, it will entrench prejudice and misunderstanding. "



Frankly, such people are barbarians themselves, and this makes the point further. If there will be those who continue to think that people who do not initiate force against others deserve to have violence done to them, then they need to be criticised and outed for the fascists they are - they are no different from the likes of the BNP.



Sadly I think Boris is wrong with his last statement "But if British Muslim leaders are able to seize the opportunity and speak up for common sense, then they have a real chance to show that there is all the difference in the world between Islam and the ludicrous fanaticism that has incarcerated Gillian Gibbons." Sadly I think the difference is not that great. Most predominantly Muslim countries are full of people who wouldn't bat an eyelid at Gillian Gibbons's

UPDATE: She has been sentenced for 14 days, she wasn't even allowed her lawyers for the hearing. Stone age thugs and Damian Lanigan from the Daily Telegraph has a good comment on it all:

"Politicians have been fair game for millennia and now religions and religious people are as open to ridicule as everyone else. This is of course excellent news, and actually a mark of civilization. We all roll around in the mud together - but at the same time, we actually treat each other rather well. Is it ironic that those who profess to have powerful notions of something 'higher' can act so bestially? Or is it kind of inevitable?"

Indeed, every dictator acts in exactly the same way.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why is SHE being charged?

My most popular recent post has been about this woman (warning link from that post is NSFW), who engaged in group sex on a hotel balcony in Latimer Square Christchurch. All consensual of course, but for some reason she has been charged but none of the men involved have been?
^
Now, as I've said before the only crime really is trespass - if the hotel didn't want them all doing this, then they could have told them to leave, it was private property after all. However, it is an outrage that her name is plastered over the media, whilst those men who availed themselves of the openings that she offered are anonymous and don't face legal proceedings? After all "taking part in a 45-minute group-sex session one afternoon" didn't mean masturbation did it?
^
She was arrested last Friday breaching her bail conditions that she not go within 100m of Latimer Square, so what pervy cops were keeping such a close eye on a young woman who, presumably, means nobody any harm (indeed quite the opposite for some)?
^
So:
1. Why was she charged in the first place for doing an "indecent act" which actually is not an offence in and of itself, but is in a public place? Is the balcony of a hotel a private or a public place? Who forced anyone to look?
2. Given she has been charged, what of the the men involved? Are men immune from prosecution if they gangbang a willing teenager?
^
Finally, you might ask why the Police in Christchurch so eagerly jumped upon this case, so to speak, but will be apathetic about burglaries, car conversions and the like when there IS a victim.
^
Nice to know there is so little real crime in Christchurch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pity Pakistan

Founded from the religious separatism, and bigotry that Jinnah inspired in the Pakistan movement, the artificial division of India into two then three states, the hundreds of thousands murdered and who died in the population transfer, as a heterogeneous India became several lands - and Pakistan and India would be antagonists, fighting over borders and Kashmir especially. It became an "Islamic Republic" ensuring that the common law legal system and criminal law it inherited from Britain would be frittered away with Islamic law and its brutal treatment of women.
So with its cold war with India, it was inevitable sadly that it would become nuclear - and so Pakistan is the only predominantly Muslim nuclear weapons state. It also is the location of not a few madrasses, teaching hatred of the West, fomenting the Islamist attitudes of anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, and anti-individualism. So letting Pakistan slide towards the sort of rule of Iran or the Taliban, would not just be scary, it would be downright dangerous.
Fortunately, the vast majority of Pakistanis are not Islamists, there is an Islamist element, but they are, by and large, moderate. So that is why having secular leaders, which has been mostly the case in recent years, is important. Unfortunately, those who Pakistan has had have either been authoritarian or grossly corrupt.
I didn't cheer the arrival of Benazir Bhutto. She may be a pin up of the left because she is a woman in a Muslim country, secular and a socialist, but her and her husband are under charges of corruption for a reason. Apparently a rather large property outside London was found that was paid for by the Pakistani government, which was allegedly for her and her husband (though she denied it), when the government was seeking to sell it off, suddenly they came out of the woodwork. Pervez Musharraf isn't so corrupt, but his state of emergency and martial law were unacceptable.
Now he has not only surrendered control of the army, but has declared the state of emergency will be over in a few weeks, with elections allowed in the New Year. That is all good, but what Pakistan needs is leadership - secular, modernising, reforming and not corrupt. India is growing enormously because it has finally unlocked the entrepreneurship of its people and its enormous market. Pakistan could share in this, if only it wasn't shackled by socialist policies that India has been throwing away, and the stifling influence of Islamism. The former needs reforms, the latter needs a serious battle against terrorism, seeking of peace with India on Kashmir, and to ensure the judiciary is fully independent, respects private property rights and contracts, and to be open. Pakistan is not Iran, but it is a long way from being a Turkey. That is the model it should be looking to follow, and if the economy is opened up, fear of terrorist attacks against Westerners reduced, then the prosperity that would arise would be a useful antidote against Islamism.
A booming Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran will speak volumes, and will be our best hope that the nuclear weapons will stay in the hands of those who are sane.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hone Harawira's simple approach to life

^
"One media commentator told me that the difference between CNN and Al Jazeera was that “CNN films the missiles being fired from American bases and Al Jazeera films those missiles exploding in Middle Eastern communities” – a simple but powerful analogy that was easy to understand."
^
Yes, but who films the bombs being exploded in Middle Eastern communities by Islamist terrorists, or rockets fired by Islamists into Israeli territory? So CNN wasn't in Baghdad during the last two wars against Saddam Hussein?
^
In fact, where did the technology come from to allow Al Jazeera to even operate, who conceived it, who built it? Oh Hone, take your Anti-Western bigotry and your crayons and go play.

Green party faith based initiative

Ahhh the regular ballot for private member's bills has brought up one of the loony Green ones, which I already blogged about last year.
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In my assessment last year the "Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill" was the second looniest one of the lot. What does it do? Well it aims to dramatically increase the proportion of your road taxes (fuel tax, road user charges and motor vehicle licensing fees) spent on modes where the users don't pay any (or the full costs) of any contribution to that fund.
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The effect of this would be to run many of the country's roads into the ground, because it would increase funding of slow modes of transport so much that it would cut significantly into the maintenance budgets for roads. Some work undertaken by Transit NZ in the early 1990s indicated that there were fuel savings/emissions savings and safety gains by maintaining roads to a high standard - something that the USA and much of the UK hasn't learnt - that would be destroyed. So this bill could be the "potholes and lower speed limits" bill.
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You see the Greens see money collected from road users for roads as being money that can be pillaged to pay for their pet projects. Unhappy with a funding framework that has shifted from regarding economic efficiency as the primary criteria for funding transport projects, to a multi-faceted criteria (which they agreed with). Unhappy with a funding framework whereby the Minister can direct Land Transport NZ to spend larger amounts of money on public transport, walking, cycling and the like, now the Greens want to make it mandatory.
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It is a faith based initiative.
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For starters it is anti user pays. The Greens don't like road users money being spent on roads, I mean, how ludicrous that you pay for what you use? They far prefer road users spend money on other people travelling by other modes, or freight going by other modes -EVEN if the benefits to road users are less than what is spent on the subsidy.
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Apparently, the travel time savings, fuel savings, safety improvements and environmental improvements from many road projects are simply ignored by the Greens, but the merits of railways and public transport simply don't need evaluating - they are good so should be funded. The Greens reject objective appraisal criteria to decide if it is better to pay for a road or a railway, because odds are the railway probably wont win, and this goes against the Green article of faith: railway good, road bad. Bus better than car, train better than bus, electric train better than diesel train.
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Jeanette's complete naivety or rather, willful stupidity (as the Greens have advisors who understand the system but don't like its results) is shown in this statement
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"With the cost of fuel steadily increasing, people are already seeking alternatives to using their own vehicles. It is pointless to keep pouring money into more and more new roading projects, which will only end up being very expensive white elephants."
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Well actually Jeanette, if the appraisal by Land Transport NZ indicates that the projects will be little used and not worthwhile, the project wont be funded.
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She waffles on: "It will also decrease the amount of freight transported on roads. Getting freight onto coastal shipping and rail has huge benefits. It gets long-haul trucks off the roads, saving fuel and reducing the amount of CO2 emissions."
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Huge benefits really? That's why the shippers aren't actually choosing to do this without others subsidising them to do it? Utter drivel. If it saved so much fuel, the freight would go by the other modes, but then it isn't all about fuel Jeanette, some of us value other things too.
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Finally the Green press release emits "In the 2007/08 year the National Land Transport Programme spent six times as much maintaining and expanding the road network as it did on providing more sustainable options like public transport."
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Oh sounds awful, except that almost all of its funding came from road users. The faith is seen here, because public transport is "sustainable". How on earth something that requires people who don't use it to be forced to pay for it is "sustainable" takes a belief in the Green faith to cloud your mind to sustainability being about anything other than the environment. You see, nearly empty trains and buses are good, cars are bad.
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Scratch the surface and you see the Greens are completely banal on transport. They treat any emissions from cars and trucks as "bad", but emissions from buses and trains as "good", because those modes CAN carry more people. The holy grail is electric transport, bikes and walking of course. The difficulty they have is threefold:
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1. People make choices based on a whole host of factors. Fuel use, travel time, availability/convenience of parking/public transport, flexibility and other costs/benefits. If you don't respect that, you wont understand why you see trucks carrying freight beside railway lines, or people driving past bus stops. People make the choices best for them.
2. Oil will never "run out", at the most it will become unaffordable compared to other fuels, which are numerous. The trend to private mobility has been inexorable since the 1920s, there has been no sign of this changing, it simply changes pace.
3. Refusing to accept objective analysis that goes against their holy grail. Just because you believe it is so, doesn't mean the evidence supports you. Electric rail in Auckland will do virtually nothing to relieve traffic congestion, and cost a fortune to do it - that's a fact - along with the fact that the users will not pay any more than a small fraction of the cost to have this toy. The Wellington Inner City Bypass is another tale, a tale of constantly refusing to accept the evidence, even after the Greens changed legislation to meet their vision of the transport funding world, the project still got funded. So their own beliefs, when applied objectively, failed to be backed by evidence.
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My point is simple. If fuel cell cars and trucks become economically viable within the next 10-15 years, what then is the environmental argument against them and in favour of, what is basically, collectivised transport?
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The USSR restricted car ownership for control, and advanced railways over roads, for control. Is not the "if only people caught the train" mentality a weakened reflection of this failure to understand that in a free society, people often make decisions you don't think they should?

So when does my biased report become news?

New Zealand Herald reports "Wellington law researcher Moana Jackson has repeated a poll he did of 2000 Maori people in 1988 which found that Maori ranked the police 20th out of 20 occupations, and found that earlier this year the police had climbed to 11th out of 20."
Ignoring that Moana Jackson is an extreme leftwing ethnonationalist activist who believes that Maori should have a separate judicial system, no doubt even if they commit crimes against non-Maori.
After all he also said "Mr Jackson restated his 1988 analysis that high Maori crime rates could not be blamed solely on immediate factors such as poverty or dysfunctional families, but could be traced back to 167 years of dispossession and marginalisation. "If you are dispossessed, if your land is taken, if your power is denied, if your right to say things in your own way and to make sense of the world in ways that are unique to you and your history are taken away," he said, "then you are oppressed.""
It's not our fault we bash our kids, it's cuz we were, I mean are like oppressed eh man? I mean we aint allowed to say things in our own way or make sense of the world in our own way - it's rong bro, just rong. No wonder we bash our kids.
In a separate report, parking wardens undertook a poll proving that they are very popular people, who perform a task that is genuinely respected and admired, but that most of the public think they are underpaid. North Korea undertook a poll proving that Americans are the most hated people in North Korea because of the imperialist murderous tyranny they run in South Korea.

Second chance for Muslims to uphold human dignity

Of course I have these in the wrong order, but the case of the 19yo girl sentenced to 90 lashes and six months in prison in Saudi Arabia again speaks volumes about what could be called a different "civilisation".
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Seven men raped her and her former boyfriend when they were in a car together, understandable since only sluts and perverts meet in a car don't they when they are not married? After all, if all the world did this it would be like the West, and we know how so few people want to emigrate to those countries don't we?
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She was married, and her husband criticised the judicial system, so HER sentence went up to 200 lashes.
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However, the boyfriend is getting 90 lashes too, so Saudi Arabia at least treats male and female rape victims identically - as criminals. The Nazis treated the Jews like this.
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The Saudi Justice Ministry is reported as saying "The Saudi justice minister expressed his regret about the media reports over the role of the women in this case which put out false information and wrongly defend her. The charged girl is a married woman who confessed to having an affair with the man she was caught with."
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No, your stone age legal system can't even distinguish between alleged criminal events and where liability stands. EVEN if we were accept your fascist law, this is what should have happened. The rapes, infidelity and meeting illegally should all have been treated as separate charges, with only the second and third cases treated together. All crimes should have been investigated thoroughly. The husband protesting the sentence should be a mitigating factor in sentencing, and the girl should NOT be punished for what HE says.
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So I expect to see Muslims and "peace activists" marching the streets calling for this woman (and man) to be freed and not to be punished for this victimless crime, for them to be left well alone - but no, the former would rather get agitated about a fucking cartoon insulting their ghost, and the latter.... it's not America so they don't get excited about it.
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UPDATE: So while the NZ government has expressed dismay, Helen Clark has said that "New Zealand fully respects the judicial system of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and notes that the case is still working its way through the courts". SOLO's press release on this is damning and quite right.
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NZ only took a strong stance on nuclear issues and apartheid only when a government was determined to do so, governments that listen to MFAT will always be wishy washy and always want to compromise. Imagine if NZ took a strong stance against governments that punish rape victims, wouldn't you think that might do more good than waffling on about the nuclear phobia?

Chance for Muslims to stand up for human dignity

but I wont expect to see Sudanese flags burnt in the street or thousands swarming onto the streets outraged that a peaceful English woman has been arrested in Sudan for blasphemy and faces 40 lashes and 6 months in prison. I also don't expect the so called "peace movement" to campaign for her either, after all she should respect the laws of the free decolonised country she chose to move to, and be grateful the evil US imperialists haven't destroyed the beautiful culture and traditions of the place.
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Her crime, she allegedly let a class of children choose to name their teddy bear Mohammed. Yes I know, this is worse than a girl being raped.
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Several parents complained about this to the authorities, and like the jackbooted faith based fascists that they are, they arrested her.
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According to the Daily Telegraph:
"She asked one of the female pupils to bring in a teddy bear and asked the students to name it. "They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Mohammed," said the school’s director, Robert Boulos. Twenty of the 23 children opted for Mohammed and the toy was taken home by a different pupil each weekend to record a diary of the bear’s "activities"."
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It speaks volumes of priorities in a country which ranks 141st out of 177 in development, that letting children name a teddy bear Mohammed is a reason to inflict violence upon someone. In fact, it probably reflects one of the reasons why it has such low development.
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UPDATE: Substantial efforts are being made by the British government to get her released, and some statements from British Muslim representatives have indicated that this appears to be a misunderstanding and they are calling for her to be released. Apparently the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Sudan is "unhappy with the unlawful way in which she has been treated". She hasn't even been charged and she is being held in a police cell! The Daily Telegraph also reports the boy who suggested Mohammed's name did so because - it is his OWN name.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A seed planted in Australian politics perhaps?

Silly me, freedom loving Australians did have an option to vote for, well in some electorates.
47 electorates had candidates for the Liberty & Democracy Party, a party that looks somewhere between ACT and Libertarianz. On top of that, LDP stood for the Senate, where there is always a far higher chance of smaller parties holding representation. In fact, all minor party Senators will be needed by Labor to get legislation through the Senate in this term.
This is the first time the party has stood for the federal elections nationwide (previously it only stood in ACT). So how did it go?
Well for a first time standing, for House of Representatives candidates, it got 0.1% of first preferences, actually about half of the votes of the redneck bigots at One Nation. Not too shabby when so much attention is given to the big two parties and a bit less to the Greens and Democrats.
For the Senate it did slightly better, with:
0.23% in ACT (the capital votes for freedom?)
0.21% in NSW
0.1% in Vic, WA and Tas
0.16% in QLD
0.12% in SA

More detailed results on Labor Party Broadcasting, I mean ABC's website here.

So, I'm hoping after this early start that the LDP in Australia can grow bigger and better. Under Labor, and with the Liberal Party in disarray, Australia could do with a decent third party of freedom as a foil to the Greens.

A constitution but...

Not PC's excellent post reminding us that government needs to be restrained by a constitution reminds me also about my wariness of the republican movement and those who talk simply about such things. Arguing about a republic and a written constitution is a bit more than simply saying it's a good idea - you have to know what the purpose of the constitution is for.
Simply codifying convention would be virtually meaningless. A constitution is a statement about the role of the state and the limits of the role of the state, and what freedoms and rights the state guarantees to its citizens. In New Zealand there are a handful of wildly disparate views of this. Think of those who, like followers of a faith, want to include the Treaty of Waitangi, assuming somehow that this will do something about the state other than accentuate ethnic division. Others will see it as a chance to enshrine not rights against people doing things to other people, but in favour of the state doing things for people. Put the Greens, Maori Party, Labour, NZ First, National and Libertarianz in the same room and you'll get very different answers - most fundamentally conflicting.
You see, this is not something that should be left to politically appointed commissions or groups of nodding heads from people who follow the same vision. It needs to be evolutionary, and indeed until politicians start respecting property rights and individual freedoms more widely, a constitution would merely entrench nanny state.
So for now, the matter of shackling the state should be a point of debate and discussion. I wouldn't give anyone on the left a chance to ever start creating a constitution worth wiping my arse on. A constitution should be about two things: What the state can't take do, and the creation, maintenance and checks and balances on that state. Unfortunately, with a Prime Minister who declares "the state is sovereign", and around five political parties happy to keep her in power, one way or another, precious little evidence of the former exists in the minds of the majority of existing MPs.

Archibishop of Canterbury no great supporter Western civilisation

According to the Sunday Times, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has said that the US wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.

Interviewed by a British Muslim magazine, he criticises Western civilisation saying "Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul".

Continuing he says "If the soul is, to give the most minimal definition, that dimension of us which is most fundamentally in conscious relation with the Creator, then those things which speed us up and harden us are going to get in the way of the soul. We don’t know how to talk about it any longer but it is language that we still reach for." In short, it appears to be something about the pace of life getting in the way of religion. Hmmm. He doesn't seem shy about spending the fruits of hard work though.

He also says "The more our education system is dominated by functionalism, skills, productivity, and the more our whole society is determined by that kind of mythology, the harder it is for the religious voice to be heard. There is a real abrasion between lots of the forms of modernity and religion". He has a point about education being vocational not educational, but to claim that work is a mythology given HIS job as a professional proponent of mythology, is a joke. He is right there is abrasion between modernity and religion - but I would say it is reason and religion.

Meanwhile while saying that the Muslims world must acknowledge that its "political solutions were not the most impressive" we commends praying five times a day. He calls for more engagement between communities, fine in its own right, but also to, in his words "help Muslims see that "not everything about the West is destructive, secular and undermining of virtue."

Not everything no, he isn't exactly a defender of it is he?

Ah to end the links between the church and state completely!

Zimbabwe's slide to horror, as Ian Smith dies

The latest movement by Mugabe's kleptocracy is nationalisation, without compensation, of the country's mines. According to The Times, the largest mining company, ironically, is Zimplats, a subsidiary of South Africa's Impala Platinum - reaping the rewards of the ANC government's appeasement and support for Mugabe. Also facing this hteft is Rio Tinto. Of course, the appropriate response by both should be to get their workers to install explosives in the mines and blow them up. Short of sending their own mercenaries in to defend their property against Mugabe's regime, there is no alternative.
Meanwhile, Rhodesia's last leader - Ian Smith, has died in Cape Town. Mugabe's regime loathed him, in fact back when Chris Laidlaw was being NZ's sycophant to the regime Mugabe expelled Smith from the Parliament at Harare. Smith is largely seen as an unrepentant racist, who wanted to move from Empire to white supremacist rule. Certainly the now infamous acronym UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) for Rhodesia was universally condemned. Smith saw the results of decolonisation in some parts of Africa, particularly Belgian Congo, and was less than impressed. There was a strong desire for Rhodesia to gain independence, peacefully, and to retain a political system based upon what was inherited from the UK.
However, internally it was divided. The black majority saw independence elsewhere and was agitating for majority rule, the white minority feared being overwhelmed. At the time the Rhodesian Parliament's franchise for voting was dependent on income and education, much of the black population did not qualify and of those who did, many boycotted as Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo's resistance movements called on them to do so. When Smith became PM in 1964, he threw much of the black resistance movement in prison - and the next year undertook UDI. The UN Security Council condemned it, and sanctions were imposed on the newly independent Rhodesia. Smith believed it was necessary to maintain stability and had the backing of white-run South Africa, and the fascist president of Portugal, Antonio Salazar. The UK tried over many years to negotiate a way forward for Rhodesia to have universal suffrage. However, as South Africa started a process of detente with black Africa, and Salazar died allowing Portugal to decolonise and move towards liberal democracy, Rhodesia became increasingly isolated. South Africa no longer assisted in the fight against the communist black rebel movement. In 1976, Henry Kissinger told him he had to allow for universal suffrage within two years.
Smith tried, valiantly, to save Rhodesia from what he saw, rightly, though few accepted it at the time, a bleak future of rule by communist autocrats. He negotiated with Bishop Abel Muzorewa, a moderate black nationalist of the United African National Council (UANC) and ZANU, two black African parties that were not aligned with the Mugabe/Nkomo communist guerrila movement. The so called "Internal Settlement" was an attempt to achieve black majority rule peacefully. As a result, Rhodesia's first election under universal suffrage was held in 1979, with the UANC winning power. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
However, the "Internal Settlement" still maintained 28% of Parliament chosen for almost exclusively whites only seats, with continuity of the white dominated judiciary, civil service and armed forces. While there was a vision of a transition towards broader involvement at all levels, Mugabe and Nkomo continued to fight for a revolution. Nevertheless, the election which was held was deemed to be free and fair by international observers, with a 63% turnout.
In other words, despite calls for a boycott from ZANU-PF and ZAPU, the majority voted and a majority government emerged. However, it was damned by the UN and not recognised by the UK or the US administrations.
ZANU-PF (backed by China with North Korean support) and ZAPU (backed by the USSR and its satellites) had long been fighting a civil war against the Smith regime. They had strong backing from neighbouring Marxist dominated Zambia and Mozambique. This battle was bloody, with the communist militants engaging in activities such as shooting down an airliner then summarily executing the survivors. Bloody fighting continued on both sides, until both the new Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government, ZANU-PF and ZAPU agreed to negotiate in what was known as the Lancaster conference.
The agreement was reached including much aid from British taxpayers and agreement to fund so-called land reform - or rather purchases of white owned farms to be redistributed. Mugabe, as head of ZANU(PF) became President, as Zimbabwe's freest elections ever were held in 1980, and his party came to power. He promised to maintain a private enterprise economy, but as time would tell, Mugabe was to start a slide downhill to tyranny. He talked openly of one-party rule, and Smith was ejected from Parliament when the remaining whites only seats were abolished, and as his criticisms of Mugabe's regime were tolerated less and less. The 1990 election spoke volumes, as opposition candidates were harassed, some murdered, and the President gained the right to appoint 30 MPs of his choosing. The 20,000 Ndebele massacred by Mugabe's 5th brigade in the 1980s should have warned others, but Ian Smith saw it as vindicating his opposition to black majority rule. In truth, it reflected the acceptance of the murderous thugs of ZANU-PF.
Ian Smith may seem vindicated today, he warned of Mugabe and he saw him as a "communist gangster", which he is. Mugabe seduced the international community enough in the early 80s to get power, and since then to be a more murderous, violent, corrupt and despicable leader than Smith ever was. Smith, at worst, was racist and failed to make early steps to move Rhodesia to a peaceful transition towards universal suffrage. The creation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was too little too late, but had it happened ten years earlier it may have seen a united government able to fight the communist militants. Indeed, one can perhaps blame the Carter, Wilson and then early Thatcher administration for not sticking by it. However Ian Smith did not bulldoze people's homes while they were in them, he didn't massacre civilians in the street, and he didn't steal millions from the state to enrich himself and his cronies. He was no hero, but history should look fonder upon him than Mugabe - they were both authoritarians of their own kind, but only one destroyed an economy, engaged in indiscriminate murder on a wide scale and halved the life expectancy of the population. Smith's biggest mistake was seeing it being a fight of race, not one of ideology.
As the Times reports, more than a few Zimbabweans say it was better under Ian Smith, and I don't mean white ones.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aussie takes a step sideways

So it's Rudd. 6.3% swing to Labor, meaning Australia was sick of Howard and despite prosperity it was looking for something more. So what'll he do?
He'll take Australian troops out of Iraq - but then, Iraq seems to be improving in any case. No doubt this wont help Australia-US relations on trade of course.
He'll soften labour laws, increasing unemployment and reducing growth - but well Labor Parties typically don't represent working people, rather trade unionists.
He'll sign Kyoto, but not much will change. After all, Australia's per capita contribution of CO2 is largely because it has very energy intensive mining industries, and the transport costs across a vast low density country are high. Peter Garrett as environment minister ought to frighten a few though.
On the bright side, the loose wheel third party of Australian politics - the Democrats - have vanished from the Senate, though largely replaced by the Greens. However, even with the Greens and renegade independent Senator Xenophon, it is still a hung Senate between that lot, and the Liberal/National coalition, with a single Family First Senator. It wont be easy to force much change through the Senate.
So a slight swing to the left, and the new Labor cabinet will learn a lot from officials in the next few weeks - about what they can't really do, or about delaying things. No doubt Helen Clark will be cheering, although Rudd is probably more conservative than John Key!
Australians voted for a new Prime Minister, but they really didn't vote for new policies. So unless Rudd has some tricks up his sleeve, it's business as usual, by and large.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Us vs Them - Trotter, Marxism and what he REALLY thinks.

Not PC and Lindsay Mitchell both comment excellently on Chris Trotter's column (on Mitchell's blog), which paints an explicitly Marxist view of the debate on free speech and democracy. It is one that puts in stark reality what the view of those on the left is based on - one that should be a lesson to you all.

For Trotter it is "us" and "them". "Us" means the masses, the working classes, or as he would say those who are "obliged to earn a living by hiring ourselves out to the fortunate fifth". A view you'd find taught in Moscow 30 years ago. Those earning salaries could NEVER set up a business of their own could they? No. Indeed, those earning salaries are somehow inferior, at a disadvantage, though you might wonder if people didn't set up a business and didn't get a job, how Trotter would expect them to survive, except by the charity of others - or force (one he quite understands).

More telling is his view of "them". The "fortunate fifth". The despicable envy ridden venom for those who own more than others. You see if you save some of your salary, and set up a business, or make some investments, instead of drinking it, or spending it on consumption you are "fortunate". In the world of the Marxist success isn't something that everyone can aspire to if they work hard, apply their minds and try to get ahead - it is luck. It is clearly "luck" that such people are sought after by companies, not the fact that in most cases, hard work and intelligence get rewarded by those who value them. No, in Trotter's world it is binary.

"Them" own most things, it was luck they got it, and that is unfair isn't it? "Us", well we work for "them" increasing their wealth and they pay us a little to keep us going. See where this is heading? It is heading for the view that at the least, the state must exist to take from "them" to compensate "us" for the fact that "luck" bestowed property upon "them". At its worst it grants justification for the rivers of blood in revolution brought about by Marxists throughout the 20th century. After all, if you are taught that this is the way the world works, you might be angry and see the inequality in incomes and property as being unfair - not a simple reflection of the wide range of human abilities, intelligence, decisions made that were right and wrong, that those at either end of the "them" and "us" spectrum (rather than it being binary) may shift roles in our lives. More than one millionaire has ended up destitute or salaried, and vice versa.

For Marxists, the rich that have fallen are to be laughed at. The poor that have succeeded either better be engaging in significant amounts of charity and transfers, or are liars, cheats and have only succeeded through exploitation.

It is a fundamental bigotry against success - a bigotry that should be counter to human nature - imagine a civilisation that despises success. You don't have to imagine - go to North Korea, Cuba, look at China 1949-1979, Cambodia 1975-1979, "Myanmar", Albania 1945-1991, Romania 1947-1990, and on and on. It is a bigotry that at best stagnates and suppresses, with a little blood spilt from day to day (Cuba), at worst it murders en masse (China, Cambodia).

So this is how Trotter sees the debate - a debate about democracy. He sees democracy as only being legitimate when it grants the masses the right to say what he deems they would say if only they knew their best interests. These are leftwing views. He derides other views as those of the "owning classes". You wonder if he even thinks the "owning classes" should be allowed to participate. He knows if he said "no" he'd be walking right into the countries I listed above. After all, many communist states used the word "democratic" in their titles because they genuinely said they were "people's democracies" - "us" being represented by the communist party, in which case why represent "them" as they exploit, lie and cheat, so you only need one party to encompass the interests of "us". Trotter's view may perfectly align with the one party state.

However he isn't QUITE there yet. You see he also knows Labour swings from right to left, the 1980s being the period he despises most. He likes having the Greens and Maori Party keeping Labour honest with a leftwing perspective, and remember the Alliance which he credits as bringing Labour home. He also doesn't think you need you do away with liberal democracy to keep the left in power, you just need to regulate the expression of views of "them" by passing laws to ensure nobody can spend more money than "us" on that expression. Trotter's steady state democracy sees Labour permanently in power (pretty much), with the Greens and Maori Party keeping them there and honest. National permanently in opposition (by and large) and he'd just wish ACT would disappear, because that is "them" par excellence. He sees NZ First as representing a conservative version of "us", the one Rob Muldoon cultivated and which is long gone in National. Besides, Winston and Peter Dunne have been keeping "us" in power, so let's not get too upset (and both are one man ponies who are likely to retire in one or two elections).

Trotter also believes that, for all of his advocacy of "us" - most of "us" are really quite simple folk, bless them, salt of the earth I am sure. "Us" are easily swayed by lots of advertising, billboards, television, leaflets which advocate the election of "them", which criticises those who defend "us". In 2005 that's what happened. "Them" conspired, with a tiny religious sect (you can smell the evil), to produce billboards, leaflets and advertising that wasn't regulated or restricted enough. "Us" almost lost the election. Now "us" can't let "them" seduce the simple "us" to vote against their best interests can we? So we need a level playing field of advertising.

So the word "equality" is bandied about. Not actual equality mind you, he'd never expect Libertarianz and Labour to have the same amount of publicity - "don't be ridiculous", but enough to keep Labour and National on the same level. He says "them" want to "restrict ready access to effective mass communication technologies to people like THEMselves".

Funny how the argument to do the precise opposite is turned on its head - Marxists do that. However, his view is that such technologies aren't owned by the owners. He wants access to newspapers (which he actually has if he didn't notice it), broadcasting, forgets the internet is very much a free for all, forgets that anyone can publish leaflets, booklets and the like if they want - but hold on, what if you have MORE money. Ahhh, that's unfair. So he wants to restrict it. You see if you have the means and will to spend more money on political advertising than others, then you are one of "them" - which means you got the money from "luck" - and when you engage in politics you're ONLY going to express one political perspective.

You see, Trotter thinks "them" only want one thing - to use the state to defend the "them" and "us" system he has structured society and the economy into. So if you believe in "them" and "us" there are only two points of view. Therefore those with money want to use the state to advance themselves (ignoring that most advanced themselves in spite of the state!). We can't have the state advancing "them" can we? It's unfair. So that is why we need the EFB from his perspective.

Marxists want the EFB so "them" (people with money, who by definition got it by luck or exploitation) can't convince "us" (people without money, who are seduced by the advertising of "them" and don't know what's best for them, and who can't aspire to be one of "them", because "them" don't want it), to put "them" in power, defeating "us" (many of whom live and act like "them" but let's not mention that) in power. If "them" got in power they would use the state to make "them" richer and more powerful, and exploit "us" more and take away more of the "fair share" for "us". While "us" are in power, we'll take from "them" and look after "us". If we let "them" do as they wish, they would always be in power because most of "us" would be seduced by the advertising of "them".

It is a stark view of democracy that says most people are too stupid to know what is good for them and wont vote for their best interests, unless the views expressed at elections are in equal quantities - only then is it clear that they should vote for "us".

Arguments about freedom are meaningless in this world view. He sees those advocating freedom as "them" wanting freedom to not give "us" our share, and to exploit "us". Freedom for "us" is enough if you can protest and not get arrested, but that's it.

Of course, I wonder what category a man who has considerable access to all broadcast media and major print media would put himself in. He will claim to be one of "us", but how many of "us" have his power to influence? Or is it ok to be one of "them" in this situation. You know, a bit like how those high up the communist party would act and live like one of "them", but say if they didn't then the rest of "them" would get "us".

and in Australia, how come without such a law, it looks like "us" might beat "them"? Ah, but "them" have been in power for so long - they let "us" win for a term to remind us it's still democracy don't they?

Funny to be in the brain of a Marxist isn't it?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Australia - where shalt thou head now?

I'm glad I am unable to vote in the Australian federal elections. The choices are grim for one who believes in less government.
For starters, there is compulsory voting which does mean that those who are inert, end up taking whatever is easiest for them without being truly interested. That's the first thing that should change.
I could go on about the complications of a federal system, the preferential voting system and the like, but what this election is about is really a two party contest. The parallels between NZ and Australia are considerable. Labor vs the Liberals is not unlike Labour vs National. However, they are far from identical.
NZ Labour is further to the left, rejecting tax cuts until very recently, and clearly not as male dominated as Aussie Labor. Aussie Labor is reasonably conservative, after all Kevin Rudd does not approve of gay marriage and he's a practicing Christian. The Liberal Party isn't very at all! Howard's conservative as well. While Australia happily accepts open markets and there is little debate about the reforms of the 80s and 90s, it certainly doesn't have freedom or even liberal market attitudes expressed much politically. While NZ Labour is dominated by feminist, unionist, gay and Maori sections, Aussie Labor is a union based party with not a lot of room for the rest.
So what's up for grabs? In the Senate, 40 out of 76 seats are up for election. The Liberal/National coalition current holds a one seat majority there. Indications are that neither Labor nor the Coalition will hold a majority here, with the hotchpotch of loony minor parties holding the balance of power. In Australia this means the Greens, the Democrats (who stand for virtually nothing) and the conservative Christian Family First Party. Hmmm. nothing to cheer about there. Minor parties in Australia are all about growing the state!

In the House of Representatives all seats are up for grabs. There are 150 seats (contrast that to NZ's rather bloated 120+ Parliament notwithstanding Australia having a Senate and states). Labor needs to win 16 seats to govern in its own right.

So it is a two horse race. John Howard, PM since 1995, with the Liberal/National coalition (National being effectively the slightly more conservative rural version of Liberal), and Kevin Rudd the new more charismatic face of the Labor Party.
The issues? Well it has been the true advance auction of stolen goods, with a couple of exceptions. The Liberal promise of extensive (and welcome) tax cuts has been nearly matched by Labor (except at the top rate). Howard is also promising more labour market flexibility and streamlining of processes, while Labor is rejecting most of them. Beyond that though, both parties are promising to spend money. Some of these include:
- Liberal promise to rebate private school fees;
- Liberal promise of tax breaks for first time home buyers, childcare and supporting "carers";
- Labor promising money for 65,000 apprenticeships;
- Labor promised high speed broadband for all schools;
- Labor promised all students in their final four years at school to get access to their own computer;
- Liberal promise 50 new emergency medical centres which Labor said was its policy;
- Liberal promise of a 15% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020, Labor said 20%
- Liberal promise to spend a great deal on roads.
In other words, tweedledum, tweedledee. The real battle is one of style. John Howard looks old and from the past, the rather smart Mandarin speaking Kevin Rudd seems, like the BBC has quipped - like a younger John Howard.
So, by and large, I don't care. The worst thing that can happen under Labor is that, like in NZ, being out of power for a long time means that the harder left is more motivated to change, to tinker and grow the state. However, frankly, John Howard and the Liberal Party hardly deserve to win either. They don't deserve to be "Liberal", play ruthless political opportunism and continue to be willing to spend and waste Australians' money on pork barrel politics. Neither Liberal nor Labor want to shrink the state. Even the tax cuts are at best slowing down the growth.
Truth be told, if Howard wins it will be historic - he will beat Menzies as the longest serving Australian PM. It will also decimate Labor, which until Kevin Rudd was despondent. However, if he loses he will be doing so while Australia has a growing economy, low unemployment and a general sense of contentment. He'll lose because he's seen as yesterday's man, and Rudd as a fresh change. In fact that's all that will happen. If Labor wins, it wont be because of policy, it will be personal. It will give the unions a little back, spend a bit more, cut taxes a bit less - but pretty much not a lot will change. If it's lucky, the Liberals might grow a backbone and be against state waste and growth in bureaucracy.
The latest poll puts Labor ahead 52/48 on a two party preferred basis. The trend looks like a Labor victory, but it is up to marginal seats (and Howard's is one of those now). If Labor does win, it wont be by much, and it may not control the Senate. However, assuming the economy ticks over - Rudd may be in for the long haul, assuming his government doesn't screw it all up!
However, for a libertarian - it is next to irrelevant.

Well I'm not judgmental....

but really, do the Police have nothing better to do than arrest this woman? Surely the hotel should simply have been let to assert its property rights if it was so offended, although it is a backpacker's
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With such a name ****************** one can imagine that her family are mortified that their princess is such a hedonist, and an exhibitionist one at that. I wonder whocollege produced such an angel? Assuming she wasn't a foreign backpacker, clearly tis time for her to have her OE in England where her name will open doors, as long as her accent is sufficiently refined to not betray her antipodean heritage - and such hedonistic antics are par for the course, although more discreetly undertaken, albeit sometimes in unsavoury places with the suitably titled name of dogging.
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I wont laugh at her bail condition of being banned from Latimer Square, but you do have to wonder how some of those involved in this case aren't simply jealous they weren't invited to join in (discreetly of course). Bob Jones in his book of around 30 years ago talked of a case whereby a judge and Crown prosecutor called naked photography of a young (legal age) lady obscene - and quite rightly remarked that many (male) judges and virtually all (male) lawyers would jump with both boots at the chance to be involved with such a thing, as long as others, especially wives/partners never found out. A female judge of course has looked after this case and should be suitably lenient. I mean we can't have public gangbangs on verandahs in Christchurch, it wouldn't suit those from FenDALton now would it?
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UPDATE: Bloody 'ell, this post is so incredibly popular, so many of you dirty buggers out there wanting news about a public teenage gangbang in Christchurch. Of course she should be left alone, as should the men involved - up to her if she wants to be a horny hedonist. However, if you're all looking for something prurient then go to (NSFW, R18) here. Sheesh.
Or indeed, that this may be her career...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tribalism of supporting the EFB

Jordan Carter's vituperative response to Garth George (who yes is largely someone I don't agree with) speaks volumes about the lack of thought when supporting your political tribe - after all, those you respect and like politically can't get it wrong. Can they?
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Jordan said "The people who are trying to subvert New Zealand's democracy are the various right-wing extremists out there who are portraying perfectly reasonable changes to clean up the financing of elections as some kind of totalitarian suppression of free speech".
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That includes Not PC and myself you see, both members of Libertarianz - a party that manages to campaign and stand candidates without huge amounts of money, and arguably may even benefit perversely from the EFB - why? Because if the Nats and ACT find it harder to campaign, it probably reduces SOME of the competition for votes from those who believe in less government. So we're not motivated by any self interest politically, it is a point of principle - the EFB is an abomination if you believe that peaceful people have the right to free speech.
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Jordan thinks election financing needs cleaning up - but then one who stood by Labour as it used taxpayer's money to finance the pledge card, and couldn't actually blink when Labour insisted it was NOT about helping Labour get elected - has an association with the truth that is perhaps only similar to that of ardent supporters of Marxist Leninist governments. If Labour said 1 + 1 = 3, then you may wonder if he simply would believe it. If National had used government money to pay for pledge cards, you can be certain without doubt you'd never hear the end of it from the likes of him. He would, of course be right in that case too - but it is political tribalism.
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He goes on "For them, freedom is the right to buy elections. Democracy is rule by the moneyed. Fairness is screwing the scrum for your own team. A level playing field is tilted at 89° with National and the forces of the right at the uphill end. Justice is making sure that there is no chance of a fair fight at the next general election."
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Arrant nonsense. Buying elections is about bribery, and as has been said on more than one occasion, an election is itself an advance auction of stolen goods. Labour is very supportive of using taxpayer's money through policy to prop up businesses, and groups of individuals knowing they are more likely to vote for them. Working for Families could have been about trying to reduce poverty - but that wasn't the target, as beneficiaries pretty much sleepwalk their votes to Labour anyway. The target was swing voting families that would also be interested in a tax cut - but a tax cut was offered by National (giving people back their own money). Labour preferred to tie them in longer term by saying Labour has given you something - for being a working family, so isn't that nice? What's giving Tauranga money to fully pay for its second Harbour Bridge instead of it being a perfectly viable toll road if it ISN'T about buying the election - or rather buying the support of NZ First after the election - with taxpayers' money. Who authorised that? Doesn't matter - it's Labour (oh and National would do it too if it had to).
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He claims we want rule by the moneyed (sic). So why has ACT never been in government? Why does National not win election after election, it has lost three in a row now - did Labour claim the 1999 and 2002 elections were unfair? No, just the last one when it nearly lost - as much because people liked tax cuts and straight talking about the state being colour blind, than National's electoral ads (though you have to admit, the billboards spoke volumes).
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Remember also every incumbent government has an enormous advantage by using, carefully, departmental advertising budgets to promote existing policies and market how to take advantage of them - but to Jordan that isn't campaigning. Money spent advertising Working for Families in election year couldn't be, could it now?
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He claims that his political tribe is so good and honest and would never ever want to tilt the playing field in their favour. However, he sees those opposing the EFB being so motivated. In short, Labour is the party of angels, and National is the party of satan. Yes, there are Nats who think the exact opposite. The truth is they are both - but tend to be dominated by one motive - getting and staying in power. Jordan is part of that, and it would be sad if it didn't affect so many people. At best it is the height of political immaturity to support your own tribe without exception, and regard the others as fundamentally evil - at worst it IS evil.
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He continues "try and claim the moral mantle of those good people who were fighting for the very democracy, the very freedoms that the legislation is designed to uphold, and which were threatened by deceitful and outrageous abuses at the 2005 General Election by National and their Brethren mates? How dare they?"
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How laughable, almost hilarious. The "good people" who spent taxpayers' money on a pledge card, denied it, changed the law to legalise it because "they made a mistake", which JUST happened to help them get elected. Imagine if the party I belong to made such a mistake on such a scale, could we change the law because "sorry judge, we made a mistake in interpreting it". My arse we could. Jordan doesn't like National getting more donations than Labour, pure and simple envy - because people with money are evil and just want to hurt others. The sad sad bigoted world view of the avowed Marxist, so much blood spilt in the name of that envy. Or does Jordan simply think voters are stupid and get swayed by the amount of advertising, not the content of it? The "deceit and outrageous abuses" at the very least can be thrown back at Labour too - and funnily enough even the polls seem to indicate the public don't think there has been deceit and outrageous abuses - the Nats outpoll Labour consistently, or is that the stupid voters who don't vote Labour again?
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If Jordan really supports fair elections then maybe he might support the following small list of potential changes (setting aside NOT passing the EFB):
- Prohibiting ANY government department spending money on advertising or promotion in election year, given the risk it can be seen to be advocating the incumbent government;
- Privatising TVNZ, Radio NZ and Maori TV, so that the state does not have any media outlets;
- Ending state funding for broadcasting advertising, so that the two major parties don't get state sanctioned domination of political advertising on the most influential media.
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Of course this wouldn't give Labour any advantage, so why support it?
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Finally he says "If the Electoral Finance BIll was truly as these people describe, everyone under the sun myself included would be ripping it to shreds. But it is not! "
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Well it's not totalitarianism no, but the bill does NOT ensure each of us has an equal voice. It protects the incumbent government, and continues to advantage the two major parties, and suppresses the freedom of peaceful people to campaign how they wish, and with their own money. If you want an equal voice, then use your own money, and attract it from others. If you can't get people to choose to pay for your political party and point of view in campaigning, then why suppress the right of others to do so?
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Unless, of course, you're a Marxist who thinks that those who have more money than you have it unfairly or unjustly - in which case, you don't believe in freedom, and don't really believe in democracy, you think voters vote for whoever has the flashest ads, and those who spend the most at elections must be suspicious, and have bad motives. That's the bottom line philosophical difference:
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- Some people believe elections are about voters making their own decision, after being bombarded with propaganda from umpteen parties. They believe voters are smart enough to know when they are getting tricked, and that a vigorous campaign means accusations from left and right against each other are out in the open. They also believe that people can choose to support and fund parties or not, and that people should neither be forced to support parties, nor suppressed from doing so. Parties may be born or die according to support. It's called freedom, and trusts that people supporting parties and voters can make their own minds up.
- Some people believe elections are dominated by big parties who have to sway a lot of rather stupid, kneejerk reacting ordinary people to give them their vote. They think the average voter is pretty dumb, largely votes according to the loudest message and biggest spin seen in propaganda, not voting on self interest or belief in policies or the integrity or likeability about candidates. They don't think voters can be trusted to sift through all that parties might say. They also believe parties are good in their own right, so essential to government that everyone should be forced to pay for political parties, and their propaganda - especially the bigger ones. They think election should be about different playing fields for different parties - they talk about fairness, but think Labour and Libertarianz must be treated differently. After all, Labour's in government - it's only fair isn't it? National can't be allowed to get more donations than Labour, that would be unfair that more people want to donate more money to National than Labour - the fools, the evil ones, they can't be allowed - it undermines democracy because, remember, voters are stupid, they don't know what's good for them. That's called the arrogance of statism.
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Statism vs. freedom. That's it.