28 August 2006

Away for two weeks

My parents are visiting and we are off to tour Scotland.

So I wont be saying very much till I am back.

23 August 2006

Joyless pricks of the week award

Let's wrap children in cotton wool - that's the philosophy of the safety nazis. The same safety nazis who were probably horrified last night when on a Channel 4 documentary about kids at school, there was a funny segment where 3 little kids were jokingly holding their arms way apart saying "my dad's willy is this big" competing like fishermen. No it wasn't notorious, it was just kids being silly - but we know what people would have taken them away from their families and arrested the parents by now - "to protect them". The teacher sensibly said "we know when it is just kids enjoying toilet humour and when a child shows some serious signs of abuse - they are quite different".

Nats/Greens rates review will do next to nothing

Stuff reports that the Nats and the Greens have agreed to a parliamentary inquiry into council rates. Well who knows what that will mean. Given the Greens voted for the Local Government Act 2002, which gave all local authorities wide ranging powers to engage in whatever activity they wished (following “community consultation” which usually means they ask and almost nobody but nutters with spare time respond), I don’t have much confidence that they are on the same wavelength.
The Greens believe local government should do more, should spend more, should regulate more, which is hardly conducive to rates being capped. Secondly, Metiria Turei has already stated the two key issues that matter to the Greens on local government funding:
1.Rates remission for Maori land (which is fair enough when values increase and rates increase without any commensurate increase in services, if you can collect rates at all. The multiple ownership of Maori land, poorly defined, means some local authorities find it virtually impossible to collect rates on some land. If rates are not paid, the land is unsaleable anyway and putting a charge on the land (which is what happens to other land) is meaningless to the council. The key should be paying for services, and Maori land should not be treated differently).
2.Extent of rates funding for public transport (The Greens think public transport should be subsidised by taxes from road users, which it is by 50% - supposedly to reflect the benefits from reduced congestion of increased public transport use. Shifting this from rate payers is not about funding public transport from users – the main beneficiaries – but motorists – who benefit only at peak times in major congested cities). Turei said in the Greens press release "As things stand, there are communities which have poor or non existent public transport services simply because local government either can't afford the cost, or is unwilling to raise rates to meet the costs involved". No Metiria - it is because there aren't enough people willing to pay the fares necessary to pay for the cost of operating it. If they wont pay for it, and if councillors aren't willing to force ratepayers to pay for it, there is no way in hell taxpayers throughout the country should pay for it.
If National is going to support preferential treatment for Maori land, and shifting public transport funding to road taxes even more (when local roads are 50% funded from rates), then you might wonder why you’d vote National! The Nat press release talks about costs loaded noto local government, but not about local government growing. The Greens will want rates replaced with some form of income based tax, so that those who consume the same council services as everyone else, pay more. They will also support higher rates for business because businesses are “bad”.
As I have said before, Rodney Hide’s Rate capping Bill is far from perfect, but it is a start. It puts limits on profligate councils and helps to put a barrier around their growth. It would be nice if the Greens supported it – but as a party committed to the growth of local government, they wont. NZ First apparently is wavering, after previously agreeing with Labour to oppose it. I suspect that Grey Power's condemnation of NZ First policy is focusing the minds of NZ First MPs on their constituency - or what is left of it!
I would be far more impressed if there was proper debate about the role of local government – National should be talking about reducing it – about at the very least, focusing on local government undertaking what are currently “public goods” (need not be in the longer term), rather than promotion, subsidies and operating businesses. It is the size of local government that is the problem, not how people pay for it.
Local Government NZ (which represents all councils) President Basil Morrison did not enlighten the debate by saying Rodney's Bill contravened the Local Government Act - forgetting that Parliament is sovereign and can change any legislation it wished. His view that "Rates are a matter to be agreed between communities and their councils, not central government bureaucrats" might be tempered by the fact that clearly communities, through the elected MPs of National, United Future, the Maori Party and ACT at least, are not happy with this process. Did your council get your consent for its rates increase? Did you "agree"? Or does "agree" in Morrison's parlance mean "we're going to do this, what do you think? No? Well we're doing it anyway - because you elected us, so we represent you, now fuckoff and pay your rates you ungrateful sod, you should have voted for someone else".
Next council elections makes sure you DO vote for someone else.

Gordon Brown might start worrying

The latest Guardian opinion poll (steady on, I didn't BUY it, it's online) in the UK puts the Tories 9% ahead of Labour on 40%, with Labour on 31%, the lowest since the 1987 election (which the Tory’s won). The Socialist Demagogues (Liberal Democrats) are up 5% to 22%. Full details here. It appears that the public is sick of Labour, and is going two ways – either supporting the new age everything to everyone Tory Party of David Cameron or the anti-war on terror, born again old Labour LibDems (which are always the refuge of traditional Labour or Tory voters whose stomachs churn at voting for the “other side”).
With current electoral boundaries, this would give the Tories a small majority, depending on whether the LibDems gain Labour seats or take away Labour votes in electorates where the Tories are second. Labour’s losses appear to be in the middle classes and the wealth creating south, while it is steadfast in the working class north. The Tories are now ahead for both women and men.
The likelihood is that if polls continue to track like this, Blair will be gone in months – as Brown will want to try and bolster Labour support. He’ll have a hard task – Cameron has moved the Tories to the centre, he is younger, more vigorous and he isn’t Scottish. People in England are less likely to want to elect a Scotsman as PM, when the people who vote him in wont be affected by many of his policies.
The times are changing in the UK – on a not too dissimilar parallel to NZ.

22 August 2006

Greens' answer to Overlander - petition and subsidy

NZ Herald reports The Greens are running a petition to encourage the government to spend your money subsidising the Overlander – a train you’ve probably never caught and hardly likely to catch – for two years. Their press release says they got hundreds of signatures at Wellington railway station from people who probably will never catch the Overlander – when it would be far more useful to hand out leaflets promoting the train, or engage in a promotional campaign more generally. However it is typical for a party that has little understanding of economics to make other people pay for a train they don’t use, instead of marketing it to people to choose to use. I’m sure Tranz Scenic could supply the Greens with publicity material to send to their members to encourage them to ride it for starters. It is also typical that they don't use it when it is not threatened, but jump up and down and take publicity stunt rides when it is - like Sue Kedgley being driven to Palmerston North to ride the train to Wellington, a few weeks before the Bay Express was cancelled.
You see the Overlander is unprofitable because most people travelling between Wellington and Auckland, or points in between, would rather save time flying, save money catching the bus or enjoy the convenience of driving. Only some tourists and others who prefer the train catch it – and it isn’t enough to make money. Like I said before, it is doomed because it simply isn't economic and the environmental arguments don't stack up.
However, the Greens have a fetish for trains. Odd when you consider that a train pollutes (it doesn’t become more fuel efficient or environmentally friendly than a bus until it is carrying more than 3 full bus loads, whereas the Overlander is carrying at best just over 1). Jeanette Fitzsimons says “It is easy to forget how essential the Overlander is to the communities along the route.” Well that’s because it is not. I doubt Jeanette ever took the Overlander when she was going from Wellington to Palmerston North, Auckland to Hamilton or Auckland to Wellington, with good reason – it is a one off scenic trip, kind of convenient if you ever go to Otorohanga from Wellington, but hardly enough to sustain a train service.
You see lots of communities survive and thrive without passenger train service. Here are some of the largest ones:
Rodney District
North Shore City
Thames- Coromandel
New Plymouth
How have THEY survived? The answer is that most people have a car or access to a car. In a small community, you can get around on foot or bike. If you want to leave and you’re on a major highway (in other words every stop of the Overlander) there is a bus service.
Jeanette’s suggestion that it will be more successful when the track is “fixed up” is hardly on the ball. At best, the service can run no faster than 10.5 hours Wellington-Auckland, hardly a difference compared with flying or driving. You can give up ideas of French or Japanese style high speed trains unless you have a good $10 billion to throw away (cheaper to buy everyone a car or free plane tickets for life). The idea that marketing it would help assumes this hasn’t happened before. The service as a scenic trip has been promoted, in one form or another for decades. It is NOT the most scenic trip in the country, the profitable TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth through Arthurs Pass is. It bypasses the tourist spots of Rotorua and Taupo, and for at least half the trip passes through rather unimaginative countryside between Auckland and Te Kuiti, and Hunterville and Paraparaumu. That’s all dead boring.
The Greens' proposal is full of mistakes. The Overlander is not a "kiwi icon". It has not been running for 97 years, passenger trains between Wellington and Auckland have, but daylight ones only started running in the 1940s during summertime, because the trip was so long it needed to be overnight. Typically trains left early evening to arrive mid morning the next day. The Northerner was the last version of this, but it disappeared with nary a mention from the Greens. The "Overlander" itself has been running since 1991. Besides, why should anyone be forced to pay for an icon - the Greens don't like mentioning that almost everything they advocate is about forcing people to pay for what they like - not exactly the action of a peaceloving group. It needs a subsidy of over $1 million a year and apparently the Greens want a viability study - paid for by you - much like the Southerner viability study of 2002, which proved it was not viable. Apparently, the private sector doesn't understand viability as much as a bunch of socialist MPs who never use the train. The nonsense that rail isn't subsidised but roads are doesn't bear close examination. Most of the extra money Dr Cullen is putting into roading came from road users through petrol tax, in fact now for the first time in decades, all of road user taxes are being spent on roads (with a couple of hundred million extra for the next few years). Rail is getting $200 million in subsidies over five years from the taxpayer - not rail users, and that doesn't include the millions spent subsidising Auckland and Wellington passenger rail which comes from road user taxes and ratepayers. Rail doesn't get a raw deal because New Zealand doesn't subsidise like other countries - we may as well justify going back to massive agricultural subsidies because "every one else does it". This is the childlike train fetish mentality of the Greens. "Steel wheel on steel rail good, rubber tyre on asphalt baaaaad, aluminium and jet engine on air worse" could be the mantra.
There should be no subsidisation of the Overlander – as I said before, if you want to support this service – use it NOW! Ride on it several times before it ends, and make demand for it so significant that Tranz Scenic will want to keep running it. If it matters so much to you, forget the car, bus or plane next time you travel on the route – catch the Overlander, and if it isn’t convenient or cheap enough, then you’ll know why others don’t do it.

21 August 2006

Jeremy Clarkson for Mayor of London

Jeremy Clarkson, the world's funniest car journalist has written in The Times about what he would do if he were elected Mayor of London. He wouldn't be perfect, but since he has, half jokingly, declared what his manifesto would be, I am not in disagreement with the fundamental end objective- abolishing the Greater London Authority.
The functions of that entity either do not need to be performed (planning or the Greater London Development Agency) or can be performed by others (Metropolitan Police Authority could be administered by the boroughs, Fire Brigade could be privatised, London's arterial road network can be corporatised and then privatised).
Abolishing the GLA would save over £60 million a year at least, and its transport functions can be transferred elsewhere (the tube and buses could all be commercially viable if stupid policies like free buses for under 16yos were abolished).
Clarkson would get rid of the personality cult mayoralty of Livingstone, not welcome dictators like Hugo Chavez at our expense and stop nannying about with nonsense ideas like registering all bicycles. He'd get rid of bus lanes, whereas I'd just keep them if the bus companies were willing to pay for them, or make them toll lanes anyone could use, at a price.
However, it's a start - a Mayor that would abolish the office of Mayor. What more could one ask for?

You know you’re culture is at a low point when…

Half of all TV viewers in Britain Saturday night watched Big Brother – to see Pete Bennett, a 24yo man with tourette’s syndrome – win £100,000. I don’t know how proud people can be making a spectacle of a man uncontrollably throwing about furniture, and then winning while he says “wankers” under his breath. To his credit he seems a very nice guy, but there is nothing inspiring about watching this bunch of rather ordinary people playing up on TV every night. With Pete Bennett, there is the relationship with Nikki Grahame, who was once anorexic, who was regularly voted back in because of her manic emotiveness about anything and everything, crying, having tantrums and no doubt because she wore tiny shorts all the time.
To Pete’s credit, he has raised awareness and tolerance of Tourette’s Syndrome, though how much of it will be seen still as a joke is unclear, he is also giving the money to his Mum (bless!). However, it is clear that the new form of entertainment on television is no longer talented people producing drama, thrillers or comedy – but untalented people doing nothing. LoveIsland has been ITV’s effort at competing with it, and has failed miserably.
Today, everyone regardless of talent or abilities, can think they can be rich and famous for doing absolutely nothing - that is height of culture in the UK today.
The single highlight of Big Brothers recently has been Russell Brand - the funniest and possibly the most shaggable man in the UK - more on him later!

19 August 2006

Iran's fruitloop of a President starts blogging and the FAQs of Islam

Yes, it's true - the holocaust denying, genocide supporting, non-transparent nuclearphile President of the Islamic Republic of Iran is now blogging - and using technology from the great Satan to do so. He even has a poll on whether the US and Israel are trying to start another word (sic) war, which is running 56% AGAINST the notion (probably helped by the Daily Telegraph publishing the blog details).
So go on, comment on his blog if you can, and show him how unwelcome he is on cyberspace. Remember he advocates wiping out another state - wiping out its people, and he hates Jews just as Hitler did. He also advocates Islamist fundamentalism applied as law... you will find this with a couple of clicks from his blog in the FAQs on Islam posted on the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's site. That gives you some interesting reading.
This includes the beautiful statements like:
"Q: What is Allah’s ordinance regarding the deviant Bahā’ī sect in cases of car, furniture, flower and the like which have nothing to do with purity or najāsah?
A: Any sort of social intercourse with the deviant and misleading Bahā’ī sect should be avoided."
Nice people.
"Q: Is it prohibited to use American products in general?
A: Any transaction with a company whose profit is used in helping the enemies of Islam and Muslims or for supporting the Zionist regime is not permissible. "
Well damn well enforce it then, be strict about it, don't buy anything from the western world, it will keep you in your place.
"Q: I would like to know if wearing a tie is ḥarām?
A: It is prohibited to wear a necktie that contributes to the spreading of western culture. "
A prominent Green party member once said that ties separate the heart from the head hmm.
"Q: What is the ruling of listening to women’s singing whose words and tune are neither lahwī nor rubbish?
A: If women’s singing is of the type which is sexually exciting or listening to it brings corruptive consequences, one is not allowed to listen to it."
Poor Shakira. Although it seems singing isn't allowed at all given the following answers.
"Q: What is your opinion about listening to children’s songs? Are the children allowed to sing for their homeland, parents, etc. while using singing equipments?A: Listening to ghinā’ is impermissible no matter whether it is sung by children. Also, the parents should not provide their children with musical instruments to be used in songs even though children are not bound to religious duties. "
Ghina means songs. So you cannot listen to songs, even those sung by children, and children shouldn't be exposed to musical instruments. Don't try to sing or hum to yourself too, you heretic!
Q: A not very religious Muslim recently became faithful. Is he allowed to sing/hum — to himself or in front of his friends — the songs he learnt by heart?
A: He is not allowed to sing the ḥarām ghinā’ even to himself, let alone in front of his previous friends.
Don't be wearing dark blue clothes girls, unless you get attention - from dark blue fetishists!:
"Q1355: Is it permissible for a young woman to wear clothes that are dark blue in color?
A: There is no objection to it in itself unless it attracts the attention of other people and leads to bad consequences."
you can figure the theme here - women make sure you are wallpaper and not seen:
"Q1357: Is it permissible for a devout woman to wear glittering black shoes?
A: There is no harm in wearing any type/color of shoes unless the color or the design attracts the attention of other people, or makes her conspicuous."
If you had any doubts about its sexism, check this out:
Q1251: Is it permissible for the woman to use contraceptives without the permission of her husband?
A: It is problematic.
Q1252: A man with four children underwent an operation of vasectomy, without the consent of his wife. Is he guilty for not obtaining his wife’s approval?
A: Its permissibility does not depend on the consent of the wife and he is not liable.
So a wife can't do what her husband can do. Her body is owned by her husband, and before that her father or grandfather. Shame we see so few feminist activists burning Iranian flags or getting angry about this. Lucky female circumcision isn't compulsory:
"Q1299: Is girls’ circumcision obligatory?
A: It is not obligatory. "
However, Islamic Iran seems to believe in intellectual property, more than some in the West:
Q: Some of the computer soft-wares work for 15 days only and are made by foreign companies. What is the ruling of breaking the protecting system of these soft-wares to make them free and work forever or taking the ready-made broken file? Knowing that these soft-wares are useful and are so expensive in the market and one can download them from the company’s site to be tested on the computer. Moreover, when breaking the protecting system, nothing is stolen from the company or the market and by this act I will benefit many people who cannot afford the soft-wares’ price. Also, what can I do with the cracks I used? Can I just use them instead of making them?
A: As long as the soft-ware companies – be it foreign or local – have the right that nobody can use these programs by breaking their protection without their permission; it is impermissible to break the protection and use these programs without the consent of the producing company. The mere intending to benefit people by breaking or high prices and inability of most people to take advantage of these programs due to their price does not justify, according to shar‘, violating others’ legal rights. As per the crack you have used until now, you should acquire the agreement of the original company in this regard; otherwise, you are not allowed to continue with using them.
So, that is the redeeming feature of the regime, it enslaves the population, hangs teenage girls for sex, bans singing, but hey Microsoft can relax, it doesn't support piracy (although you can't buy their software as Microsoft no doubt supports anti-Muslim activities somehow, probably by paying enormous amounts of tax to the Federal government).
Apparently 9 is the age of puberty for girls and 15 for boys, which also represents when they can be tried and sentenced like adults.
Some people damned Bush for calling these people Islamofascists - look at all of the rules of fundamentalist Islam and tell me that this allows room for people to live their own lives - it is a form of slavery, because some men believe their ghost is a reason to kill. This is a political system and culture that says that children shouldn't be allowed musical instruments - by the end of the 21st century NO regime should be ruled by people who are such stoneage sexist joyless murderous control freaks.
How deranged does one have to be, to believe that one's life should be micromanaged by rulings from old men who still think women are inferior?

Syria on the warpath

According to the Daily Telegraph The President of Syria appears to be wanting to fill his father's boots as a warmongering murderer.
"Peace loving" Syria is talking about military action to recapture the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights are land occupied by Israel following the Six Day War, because ever since Israel was founded in 1948, Syria used the land (which comprises a hillside and plateau) as a base to shell Israeli villages and shoot at farmers. Israel has kept the land for self defence purposes, and although many of the Arab residents departed during the war, it now has a stable population of around 30,000.
If Syria attacks Israel to recapture the Golan Heights, expect the peace movement to be muted - the leftist anti-Americans will say it is "legitimate", showing all of their pretenses about how war is always bad to be vapid ravings of hypocrites.
Syria's regime, of course, should be subject to villification, flag burning and effigies of its President Bashar el-Assad being burnt. It wont happen though.
You see Syria's record of being a totalitarian one-party state, which tightly controls all media, all protests and arrests without trial opponents, tortures them and imprisons them. Journalists writing anything critical of the regime face jail terms.
Syria maintains a permanent "state of emergency" justifying Muharabat (secret police) action with impunity.
It is led by the second eldest son of Hafez el-Assad, its President from 1970 to 2000. Assad applied hereditary succession, to this one-party state (not unlike North Korea), and Assad ("our leader forever" in propaganda) cultivated a personality cult surrounding him and his family's achievements. The eldest son, Basil, was meant to succeed his father, but died in a car accident - thankfully - as he had a reputation for being ruthless, getting family members to kidnap girls for him. Bashar is a trained opthalmologist, and not a military man. He is likely facing much pressure internally to be "tough" as the likelihood of a coup is significant - after all, the Assad clan have many enemies and are members of the minority Alawite ethnic group - they are not Arabs. Alawis have done well from the regime, much to the chagrin of some Arabs.
Bashar had to have the rubber-stamp "Parliament" change the constitution within hours following his father's death to allow him to succeed - given he was 34 and the old constitution required the President to be at least 40. He was elected with 97.29% of the vote with no other candidates - wonderful stuff!
So Bashar is being the tough dude. He presumably will waltz over the UN Peacekeeping troops on the sliver of the Golan Heights between Syrian and Israeli control and start a war. He could have got back most of the Golan Heights peacefully, as Israel offered it to Syria in 1999 peace talks. Syria demanded all of the land, Israel refused so they parted.
Israel conquered the Golan Heights fair and square, as Syria used the land to attack Israel. If Syria wants it back it should simply meet Israel's demands - cease supported Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, cease interference in Lebanon and recognise Israel's right to exist. If Syria attacks Israel, Israel should respond with as much force as is necessary to clip Damascus's wings. Of course, if Syria uses its chemical weapon arsenal - then there will bloody regime change in Damascus, I suspect Israel will bomb the daylights out of as many strategic targets as possible in southern Syria.
Bashar should abandon this policy of confrontation and follow Gaddafi - he should liberalise his country, negotiate a peace treaty with Israel, leave Lebanon alone and give up supporting terrorists. He is only 41, he has just enough time to be thought of by Syrians and the world as the hero who changed his country from a totalitarian nightmare to a more open society. His father was feared and hated, if he wants to avoid a military coup, he might try to burn his father's boots and make some more comfortable shoes of his own - and stop stepping on Syrian citizens in the process.

Stories about life in Syria

18 August 2006

Buy New Zealand campaign - racism by another name

Is there anything more stupid than a Buy New Zealand Made campaign?
It is about as clever as the Invercargill City Council advertising “shag a Southlander”, or Manukau City advertising “Buy Manukau Made”. It is saying “it is good because it is made in New Zealand”, not because of quality of the product, after sales service or price.
So is something is more expensive but NZ made, then you should buy it because it is better to do that than buy something else with the money you wasted on nationalism. It is better to buy something inferior because of nationalism.
It is racist because it is saying that products made by NZers are better than those made by foreigners in one respect – their origin.
No, it is not about economics. The childish theory of keeping money in the country is sheer nonsense. It is better to maximise utility – better to buy 3 pairs of socks for $3 than buy 1 pair, or better to buy one pair for $1 and spend $2 on something else you want. That is how we are better off. It is a concept the Greens and NZ First don’t understand because they are both xenophobic at heart – both hating “foreign investment” and suspicious of “foreign made” goods. The Greens because they see blind children stitching shoes, and NZ First because they see hard working Asians staying up late in the sweatshop looking determinedly like they want to fight another war by working harder and destroying “our jobs”.
Imagine if there was a “hire a New Zealander” campaign, “donate to New Zealand charities” campaign or a “make phone calls to New Zealanders” campaign – all could be justified on the basis of “keeping money at ‘ome”.
You might like supporting a local business because the owner is friendly, the product is good and you can guarantee quality, or maybe you are always able to find someone who can help you. However, if you take this to its logical conclusion, you'll go to the most local shop to buy your groceries, because it is a "local person" living in "your community", and you should "support" them.
My advice is simple. Buy what you want from whoever sells you it for the best deal, wherever in the world that seller is. Judge products on overall quality and price - remember, odds are that the New Zealand business owner is as likely as you are to want to spend profits on buying an ipod, a holiday to Europe, a new car or new clothes. You don't benefit from shortchanging your choice by applying anti-foreign bigotry to it.

State funding of political parties?

Michael Cullen, Jordan Carter and the NZ leftwing political world is now promoting state funding of political parties. This already happens for TV and radio advertising and is immoral. Libertarianz only takes the funding because it is not allowed to buy its own.
Now the motivation for promoting state funding is as follows:
1. Distract the media and public from the scandal around funding pledge cards.
2 It means parties can give up that tedious task of asking for funding from people who may otherwise choose to buy a beer, a pair of shoes or a movie ticket. That takes a lot of effort that people in parties would rather spend socialising moaning about the state of the government. It enables parties to be lazy, to be out of touch with grassroots supporters, and simply be corporate political bodies that exist because the public is forced to pay for them.
3. It means that parties that are supported by the most productive and successful (typically wanting less government), don't do better than those supported by the least productive, parasitical and statist. In other words, the left's supporters are poorer because they vote for governments to take from the more successful to give to the less.
4.. To remove allegations of corruption and pork-barrel politics with funders wanting "payback" from the party they help elect (Labour never did that for its supporters now did it?).
5. To save the trade union movement buckets of money it would rather spend on beer, shoes and movie tickets. Far better to get the government to collect it from members and non-members by force.
Jordan Carter's approach to state funding of political parties suggests it would see funding allocated according to the votes cast at the previous election. Given it would mean parties couldn't receive large donations, this means:
1. The incumbent has an advantage. Even if it is deeply unpopular, it will get the greatest amount of funding. So funding will be biased towards NOT changing government, or Parliament.
2. New parties are fucked. Even if they are dripfed some crumbs, the likes of the New Zealand Party, New Labour Party/Alliance/Greens, NZ First, United, ACT, Maori Party and Libertarianz will get little. Just what Labour (and I suspect National) would simply love. It is destroying MMP through the back door.
3. Personal freedom of citizens to donate to causes they support is destroyed. What if I wanted to give a party thousands of dollars? Why the fuck is it the business of any other party, the public or the government if I willingly support the campaign? The only answer is...
Sanctimonious pricks who support state funding of political parties are envious that other parties do better than theirs. They are envious that people with more money (they probably made it by oiling factories with the blood of working class children) HAVE more money and DON'T give it to them, they sometimes give it to National or ACT, or even NZ First or the Maori Party. They give to Labour too of course, but less often.
Just check out this quote:
"The right stands for the interests of those with money and power. The left stands for redistributing money and power more fairly."
That's right Jordan, the "right" were born with it. Full of hand wringing Montgomery Burns and Uncle Scrooges, money they must have not earnt "rightfully". Whereas the left are so honourable - they call theft, "redistribution" (Robert Mugabe calls it that too), and power redistribution means removing individual freedom and making it political control - fairer power means power to bureaucrats and politicians.
State funding of political parties is wrong because it is fundamentally immoral to force citizens to pay for organisations whose goals and objectives they do not believe in. Would it have been good to force people on the left to pay for Labour and National in 1990, when both parties were pushing economic liberalism? Is it right that the last election result should decide funding to campaign for the next one?
How about this one? Would you have been happy being forced to fund Graham Capill's campaign for election in 1996, 1999 and 2002, how about Destiny NZ in 2005, how about the National Front?
and shouldn't political parties who can't rustle together funds outside the state, simply be allowed to wither?
Those who support state funding of political parties need to be transparent - they are envy ridden Marxists. They oppose parties they disagree with receiving more voluntary donations, and oppose it because they don't believe the people who GAVE the money truly earnt it or deserved to choose what to do with it. Accusations of corruption from money donated by business are equally laid at those who get money from unions, or tribes.
Democracy is about individual votes counting -and about people who are like minded supporting political parties through either donations of money or time and effort. The state should remain separate from that - and parties survive, grow or die because of voluntary effort only.
Those who oppose that - oppose liberal democracy - they support statist democracy, where the state protects and supports the dominant incumbent political views.

17 August 2006

Stroessner dies at last

It would be nice to collect a set - Castro would be good to follow, but at least for now, there is cause to celebrate - Alfredo Stroessner is dead. Who? you say?
Most of you wouldn’t have heard of Alfredo Stroessner. He was the military dictator that told Paraguayuan what to do for decades, from 1954 to 1989. He was living in exile in Brazil since he was deposed, and finally at 93 the evil bastard is dead. He was the second longest lasting dictator in Latin America, after Castro – and fortunately Paraguay has been spared his brutal rule for 17 years now. (Where is Paraguay you might ask? Look it up!)
He was no Marxist, he was an old-fashioned militaristic fascist dictator – the type the left loathes, quite rightly. He hated communism, and Paraguay maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan because of it, with no relations with the USSR or any other Marxist state. The US was friendly towards Stroessner’s regime until the 1970s. Although he was fiscally prudent, his attitude to individual rights was increasingly abhorrent, with both the Carter and Reagan administrations having little time for him. His sheltering of former Nazis, like Josef Mengele contributed to this (he was of German descent which explains this mostly German language anti-Stroessner site). Despite what this website says, he was no US puppet - the closest he got was being warm to Lyndon Johnson.
He deposed the centre-right democratically elected government of Federico Chavez, because Chavez wanted to arm the Police! From then on, Paraguay lived under military dictatorship. There were “elections” which were either fraudulent or with only one candidate. His Colorado Party would dominate politics for decades to come.
Stroessner killed and tortured his political opponents, practiced corruption and suppressed freedom of speech. Several thousand are estimated to have been murdered, and many more detained without trial and tortured. He forcibly assimilated the
The only good thing that can be said is that he wasn’t economically insane, like Julius Nyerere or Castro. He commissioned the Itaipu dam, currently the world’s largest operational hydro electric dam by generating capacity. This has enabled Paraguay to export electricity, a rare commodity for international trading. However, the ends do not justify the means - he believed he knew what was best for Paraguayuans and anyone who got in his way got hurt!
The Aché people of Paraguay, an indigenous tribe, were subject to raids, kidnappings and enslavement by the army and a supportive weird Christian fundamentalist group - the New Tribes Mission, which sought to convert the Aché to Christianity. They were hunted down, enslaved and used for domestic chores and sexual purposes for years. It was somewhat genocidal, in that the regime and the New Tribes Mission essentially saw the Aché as inferior and able to be used for sport or slavery. The New Tribes Mission still exists, although the genocidal behaviour has ceased with the fall of the regime, and extensive publicity - the evil bastards continue to propagate their filthy philosophy to people who need something other than religion.
Stroessner WAS the last South American dictator, but Hugo Chavez has that mantle now. However, the left love him, ignoring his treatment of political opponents, control of the media and confiscation of private property. HE is anti-American and that is the religion of much of the intelligentsia of the western world.

15 August 2006

Justice without trial

The Guardian reports that the Police in the UK are seeking various powers to deal with "yobs". These include:
- Immediate bans of yobs from "town centres" at night for an "appropriate period", when issued with an informal warning or fixed penalty fine (define a yob);
- Local constables having the right to impose a three-month ban on association by gang members in public or frequenting a particular location. This ban could include "cleaning up local damage". Breaching this would result in a fine, ASBO or a parenting order (woooooooo!);
- Those repeatedly stopped with a car without driver licence, MOT or insurance seeing car immediately seized and crushed (!);
- Ability to stop and search those under reasonable suspicion because of past convictions.
I can understand the concern, but having the Police impose sentences is simply wrong and the ability of the Police to abuse these powers by simply banning people, and ordering them to undertake a punishment is quite real.
There is a disturbing glorification of drunken yobbish behaviour, particularly in some parts of Britain, but there are solutions - these don't need to get rid of the right to a fair trial:
1. Abolish "human rights legislation" that means people can claim discrimination if any property owner seeks to ban someone from his premises. Remind all bar, club, mall and shopowners that they have a fundamental right to prohibit anyone from their premises, for as long as they wish and use reasonable force to remove anyone who breaks this, or prosecute for trespassing.
2. Introduce a points system for offenders which sees people who reach 100 points from past convictions to extended periods in prison (minimum 20 years). Homicide would get you 100 points, vandalism might get you 10 points, aggravated assault or rape would get you 70 points, burglary 20 points (or whatever). You serve your sentence and gain points, at 100 you're OUT (like 3 strikes and you're out, but weighted to the crime - it shouldn't be 3 murders, but also not 3 window smashings).
3. After two convictions, treat all young offenders as adults. You get two chances to fix your life (and this is where rehabilitation needs to jump in, boots and all - and not by throwing teens together in institutions where they feed off each other) if you commit a non-violent offence before you are 18. Violent offences see you given ONE chance. You get points both times though.
4. Forget "wiping the slate clean". An offence sticks with you for life, unless the victim is prepared to agree. Presumably the victim needs to be compensated, or feel like the offender has changed his or her life.
5. Give up on victimless crimes. Shift the policing effort to violent and property offences.
6. Deport non-citizens following the serving of a sentence (or to serve it if you can trust the other country). Migrants who have not got citizenship are guests, and outlive their welcome when they offend against anyone else.
7. Allow retail premises owners to have property rights over common public spaces, like pedestrian spaces, so they can apply bans, employ security and implement any rules on drinking or whatever in that space. They would have obligations to pay for maintenance, which would be deducted from council rates/taxes, but it would give them a vested interest in public space that affects their business and customers.
8. Shoot on sight any male with a shaved head, wearing nothing but a tracksuit, who is not demonstrably going to or from a gym or jogging for exercise. Given that 99% of males in the UK who dress like this are not engaging in fitness activities, this should be easy. By the way this isn't so much about crime prevention, but aesthetics.
9. Deduct welfare payments from parents whose children who live with them commit more than one offence. Either they are your responsibility, and you control them, or kick them out. Every offence loses you the same proportion of your benefit as the points accumulated. So vandalism costs you 5%, rape costs you 70%. Oh and you lose the lot by interfering with the Police's enquiries.

I've been robbed!

Some prick cloned my ATM card and has been withdrawing money willy nilly from my account - so that has been stopped. No the ATMs I use weren't "funny" and I always hide my PIN (and it is far from an obvious number).
So the hunt is on - the prick used it up in my part of town too.
When he is caught (it's bound to be a man!) he will be a useful shield for Hizbullah rockets or Islamic militia in Baghdad.
Three strikes and you're out - that means in prison for life. I don't give a shit whether or not mummy didn't love you - you're worthless scum (same goes for the short Maori kid who nicked my car 17 years ago as I watched from four floors up, I only hope he ran off the road).
So what's coming next??!!

11 August 2006

Terrorist threat thwarted

In the past few hours, the following has happened:
- All UK domestic and European flights to and from London Heathrow have been cancelled for today and tomorrow, for all airlines. Some flights also cancelled to and from London Gatwick.
- All flights leaving the UK are subject to a hand luggage ban until further notice. The only items passengers are permitted to carry on board are travel documents, prescribed medication, keys (without electronic fobs!), wallets/purses, glasses/contact lens holders, babyfood, female sanitary items and tissues (so your long flight to NZ wont include a change of underwear or a book!);
- Duty free or any shopping departing from UK airports largely useless unless for pick up on return (can't take it with you);
- Milk for babies must be tested by an "accompanying passenger" (good luck if you have one, presumably your baby!);
- Shoes are all being x-rayed;
- 21 people have been arrested in the UK for plotting a terrorist attack, which apparently included letting off explosives in hand luggage on ten flights on three US airlines (American, United and Continental) flying between the UK and the USA;
- The UK terror threat rating is now at the highest "critical";
- Flights from the US to the UK facing similar measures (presumably includes Air NZ's daily flight from LA to London Heathrow).
So people flying wont have toothpaste, makeup, books, ipods, magazines, laptop, work papers, umbrellas and changes of clothes on flights. Bad luck if you're in the back of the plane flying to NZ today or tomorrow, especially in the latter parts sitting next to bored, smelly people! Great news if you are fed up with people flying with babies of course.
No doubt the mystical or atheist socialist avowedly egalitarian anti-sexist, anti-racist, peace loving, pro "human rights" apologists for sexist, stone-age, execution advocating, sexist, racist and jihad promoting Islamist terrorists will say it is "our" fault. That the dispossessed middle class of Islamist England, living in relative comfort and peace, want to commit suicide and murder men, women and children from different countries, faiths (or no faiths), backgrounds, ages, races, all because of the oppose the policies of the democratically elected governments of the UK, US, Israel and others, and because they believe their ghost says it is ok.
I await the "it's horrible, so glad the plot was thwarted BUT..." phrases, with the but saying "if only the "coalition of the willing" hadn't invaded Iraq, if only Israel had let Nasser destroy it, if only Israel tolerated the lobbing of rockets from Hamas and Hizbullah and given up land to them, if only Al Gore had won the 2000 election, if only people caught the train instead of driving (because it's all about oil and the Bush-Cheney-Blair Jewish conspiracy to take over the world and nuke the bejesus out of all the heretics).
My main comment is to be grateful that the police and Scotland Yard are working, glad that there have been no attacks since 9/11, but angry that there continues to be people in the UK organising to commit mass murder. Nothing justifies this, nothing, no "but you have to understand", or "but if only we hadn't"... you wouldn't excuse a man murdering his wife because she annoyed him, or ran up a large credit card bill, or changed churches or didn't like that her brother was fighting in Iraq... don't start to excuse this initiation of force.
Reports on this are extensive:

Daily Telegraph quotes UK Home Secretary John Reid "We are involved in a long, wide and deep struggle against very evil people." Reid was a member of the Communist Party once, but has been quoted saying ""I used to be a Communist. I used to believe in Santa Claus". He's moved a bit!

Daily Telegraph report on delays at UK airports.

The Times on how Pakistani intelligence helped foil the plot! (Imagine if Islamists took over Pakistan - nuclear weapons in their kit!)

The Independent reports on the terrorists' moral if not financial backers, the Taliban shooting a 13yo boy and his grandmother in Afghanistan for being alleged government spies. Yes, some people think this is the same as bombing terrorists.

08 August 2006

Death of one of Castro's minions

The death of Eduardo Bernabé Ordáz Ducungé should please all those who give a damn about individual rights, freedom and common decency.

Ordáz was a deputy of the Cuban National Assembly and director of the Havana psychiatric hospital (Mazorra). One of the functions of the hospital is (this has not changed) to hold political dissidents, to treat them and administer electric shocks. Ordáz admitted it, exiles of the regime described it. Ordáz’s main crime was to let the security forces use the psychiatric hospital for torture and detention, and we shouldn’t forget the Marxist-Leninist view that opposition to communist is, in itself, a psychiatric disorder.

I don’t expect many of the mindless pricks who wear Castro’s image on the chests or cheer on the Cuban regime know this, after all, the regime doesn’t like showing its darker side.

He remarkably got a Pan American Health Organisation award for his treatment of psychiatric patients. Tours by foreign psychiatrists of the Mazorra were the typical Potemkin tours of clean, functioning parts of the hospital – they weren’t shown the dark side. North Korea is more cautious, it never lets anyone see their psychiatric hospitals, though I doubt people with mental illnesses have much chance there.

This is a description of what would happen at Mazorra:
“Every morning at 5 a.m., Heriberto Mederos, and his sadistic assistants, one of whom was nicknamed El Capitan, would select the unfortunate ones who would undergo ECT after being doused with cold water (for better electrical conduction!) and thrown on the hard cement floor where they would undergo the procedure. El Capitan would later sodomize young prisoners. Others would be brutally beaten. One of them was found hung and incinerated with gasoline. Everyday 80 to 90 of the inmates would have to stand like animals en La Perrera, "the dog kennel," the small enclosure measuring approximately 10 by 30 meters on a slab of cement which was in the courtyard behind the Sala Carbó-Serviá. They would stand on the crowded floor, under the sun, pitted against each other surrounded by other strangers and madmen, excrement and urine stench everywhere.”

By the way Mederos moved to the United States, lied to immigration officials about his past and had a low profile until he was convicted of the lying. He died before serving out the five year sentence he was given.

It is true that Ordáz apparently did some good. The hospital was in a dire state after the fall of the Batista regime, with many patients naked and manacled without running water. The hospital is in a somewhat better state, perhaps for some – but he ran a hospital that allowed the likes of Mederos to torture patients, for the facility to be used to torture and incarcerate political prisoners.

The Cuban regime of Castro is nothing to be proud of – for the likes of Matt Robson and other felchers of such regimes to cheer them on, is exactly the same as Margaret Thatcher being an apologist for Augusto Pinochet. The system that happens to deliver improvements in standards of living (and let’s face it Cuba isn’t exactly wealthy) are not justified when those who question the regime are tortured and killed.

Hopefully Castro will die swiftly and his brother will also be overthrown (what is it with this monarchist like inherited leftwing dictatorship fetish? Kim Il Sung did it, Hafez Asad did it, now Castro?), and Cuba will become free.
However, when Castro dies I expect to see the local worshippers of authoritarianism come out and glorify him. The sort that pilloried (rightly) military dictatorships that once had US support, the sort that criticise Israel and the USA, the sort that only care about freedom of speech when it gives only them the freedom to speak.
UPDATE 1: A group called Appropriate Technology for Living Association Inc (ATLA) is sponsoring a film to be shown in Wellington about how Cuba "coped" with peak oil, which of course was not "peak oil", it was the end of "sugar daddy" the USSR giving it oil for nothing. Being dependent on something you get for free isn't exactly clever. However I am sure Cuba copes wonderfully without oil, after all since car ownership is exhorbitantly expensive (private car ownership threatens authoritarian regimes) and the government is totalitarian, not only can the Cuban government "make things happen", but it also writes the statistics and the outcomes, and if you dare criticise, woe betide you. The film of course was made with the consent of the authorities in Havana, ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. The fact that anyone critical of the Cuban approach will face prison will be ignored - just like producing a film in the 1930s about the great German success in building autobahns ("but that's not environmentally sustainable" I hear some 14yo Greenie bleat). You see, you could go to Pyongyang, North Korea and make a film about how successful it is in keeping street crime low.

Back in the Blogosphere

Well having a diagnosis and keeping on top of things, I have time with my ill relative. Duke’s C stage colon cancer is serious and well progressed, but not incurable (33% chance of lasting five years apparently). So I will see her in a few months and keep in touch in the meantime and just be there.

I am now more willing to write as I did before. Though less frequently and more focused.

01 August 2006

Carpe Diem

You all probably have someone you love very dearly, whether it be a partner, relative or friend.

I just have one piece of advice, cliché’d though it may be, but it is carpe diem.

Life is finite – enjoy it with the people you love. Seize each day with them as if it is your last.

While often every day may seem like the one before – it wont always be that way. Although often it is easy to get into a routine of expecting things to remain the same, to expect people to always be there, even though you know that it is probably not true. It is always better to live as if you are alive, than to live as if death is upon you.

Some of the people you love the most will be gone one day. The point of your time with them is to savour each moment of being with them, to enjoy what you like, to share that, to smile and to know that this is living.

Sometimes you wake up and find that person is gone, sometimes you get a warning about how terminal life is – you should take that warning.

I can’t blog about politics or philosophy right now. I was going to mention the last Top of the Pops on BBC2, Jeremy Clarkson being considered as Tory candidate for Mayor of London and to expand on Not PC’s great column about collective responsibility for child murders as “we” are responsibe. I had written shreds about these things yesterday. For the moment, I can’t write about such things as they are not important to me right now.