27 February 2011

Vogue felches another dictator

The world of fashion presents itself as being about aesthetics.

This week Vogue magazine has shown itself to be so skindeep as to be sickening.

Assad is President because his father was.  He inherited it from his delightful father Hafez al-Assad.  Hafez al-Assad established a police state under rule of the Ba'ath Party combining Soviet style socialism with the brutality of an ethnic minority (he was Alawite) seeking to dominate a majority that might otherwise be less enthused about his rule.

The Syrian police state detains without trial and executes political opponents.  There is no independent media or political dissent permitted in Syria.   One of its techniques of extracting information from dissidents is the "Syrian chair" which carefully bends ones back backwards until vertebrae break one at a time.

Vogue didn't mention that though.

Neither did Vogue mention the at least 17,000 people massacred at Hama in 1982, as Assad senior sought to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood, but essentially shelled and bombed the city for days on end to clear the population.   

However it did mention how Bashar Assad won the 2000 election with 97% of the vote - no questioning of that at all.   Not a mention of how free and fair Syrian elections are not.

Yet the article is mostly about his wife.  A London born Syrian girl, daughter of a cardiologist who was working with JP Morgan when she started "dating a family friend" who was Bashar.  As if that was just like anyone dating the son of a dictator.  What a world!

The rest of it is gushing sycophancy.  All the good work she does, how "normal" their life really is, and how she is part of the effort to modernise Syria and build a civil society in a Middle East full of Islamists.


No difficult questions asked about torture, extrajudicial executions and political prisoners.  Nothing about the suppression of speech and political discourse.  Nothing about alliances with Iran, nothing about invading Lebanon.  Nothing about overthrowing its elected government.  Nothing about chemical and biological weapons. 

Foreign Policy says:

It's hard to imagine that a Vogue editor woke up this morning and decided it wouldn't be hugely embarrassing to publish a puff piece today, at the moment of the greatest upheaval in the Middle East in two generations, about Syria's ruling family. But that appears to be exactly what happened. 

The article does not once mention the protests currently under way in the Middle East, including scattered evidence of demonstrations in Syria. Instead, the article focuses on Syrian first lady Asma Assad -- the "freshest and most magnetic of first ladies," endowed with "[d]ark-brown eyes, wavy chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace." At a time when other Middle Eastern first ladies, notably Tunisia's Leila Trabelsi, have been the target of protesters' wrath, this may not be the wisest moment for Asma to flaunt her glamour.

Vogue.  Not just vapid and intellectual fodder with those with the depth of a teenage groupie, but instrumental in providing succour and good publicity to dictatorship.   Then again, Naomi Campbell's brainlessness in her dealings with dictator Charles Taylor was simply more evidence of an industry built on making money from being clueless.

Daily Telegraph's offence to New Zealand

I'm livid, beyond livid.

The Daily Telegraph being one of the serious UK newspapers, and one of the only two remaining true broadsheet format newspapers (the FT being the other) is one of the great newspapers of the world.  Yes, it tends to side with the Conservative Party,  but this political slant is well known and understood.  In the UK you know the politics of your papers, but they write for a broader church than that.  The Daily Telegraph exposed the ridiculous expenses claims of MPs from all parties before the last election, and did not hesitate to expose Conservative MPs as well.

One of its writers is Geoffrey Lean.  He is considered an "environmental correspondent" having previously been environmental editor for the more left leaning  Independent.  His Telegraph blog is here, but his insult is not located here.

It is this headline:

"New Zealand earthquake : the vengeance of Mother Nature".

Yes, the implication being that some anthropomorphised entity has inflicted vengeance on New Zealand.  For what? Why?

He goes on:

"as the people of Australia and New Zealand have been the latest to find out, she also has a nasty and highly destructive temper."

The female is "mother nature", so again he implies this is a cognitive being who is angry.  I am sure he doesn't really believe this but he goes on...

"And she's getting more irritable as the years go by. The devastating earthquake in Christchurch, and Queensland's cyclone and floods, which have so tumultuously ushered in 2011, follow the second worst year for disasters on record."

The end is nigh.  So what?  What have people done to reap this?

"Munich Re says that 90 per cent of last year's disasters were due to the weather, providing "further indications of advancing climate change". Sceptics disagree, and certainly no particular disaster can be attributed to global warming. But the increase is what most scientists have long predicted would happen as the world warms up."

So a reinsurance firm is making a link, but he naturally say no disaster can be attributed to global warming, but the increase is what would happen as the world warms up.

Sound like he is blaming the earthquake on global warming.  He goes on talking about droughts, floods, storms and hurricanes and then says:

"And, of course, earthquakes, like the disaster that has hit Christchurch, have nothing to do with it."

Whew, thank goodness for that, except hold on. What the hell is that headline about?  Why write about it now?  Why the fuck say "New Zealand earthquake: The Vengeance of Mother Nature" unless you are making some link?

"But whatever the cause of the increase in disasters, humanity has made their impact far worse."

He then says buildings make things worse, which of course implies we should live in caves or tents, a rather inane comment really.

He backs out of linking the earthquake to anything:

"Christchurch aside, maybe Mother Nature sometimes has reason to be annoyed."

Who?  Aren't you the annoyed one?

Not as annoyed as me.  You see he didn't mean anything, but he did try to get attention because of the earthquake.  He had a headline that is vile, as if Christchurch was the result of nature's "anger" at humanity, he did it while corpses are still being pulled out of the rubble.  Even ignoring his hatred of humanity in treating nature as if it is a living being that emotes, it was in appalling bad taste.

Even worse bad taste was that this article was one of the "Editor's choice" on the website.

For shame Daily Telegraph.  For shame!

Hitchens damns Obama's impotence

Writing in Slate, Christopher Hitchens shares my disappointment at Obama's complete failure to show any kind of leadership on Libya.

He writes:

it became the turn of Muammar Qaddafi—an all-round stinking nuisance and moreover a long-term enemy—and the dithering began all over again. Until Wednesday Feb. 23, when the president made a few anodyne remarks that condemned "violence" in general but failed to cite Qaddafi in particular—every important statesman and stateswoman in the world had been heard from, with the exception of Obama. And his silence was hardly worth breaking.

Meanwhile as I have already said, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have placed themselves with Gaddafi.  China and Russia's authoritarian leaders have naturally sat on the fence, hoping their own people don't get any bright ideas or that anyone looks in their own blood splattered back yards.  Obama acts similarly.

It is an outrageous withdrawal from world affairs, one that would put no pressure at all on Russia or China to relent on a resolution at the UN Security Council.  Yes, in Egypt it was difficult for the US to be at the forefront in a revolution that deposed an erstwhile ally, when it both feared the instability but welcomed the call for freedom and democracy. Yet, with Libya it should have been different.

Hitchens continues pointing out the bravery of those without the world's most potent military on their side.

By the time of Obama's empty speech, even the notoriously lenient Arab League had suspended Libya's participation, and several of Qaddafi's senior diplomatic envoys had bravely defected. One of them, based in New York, had warned of the use of warplanes against civilians and called for a "no-fly zone." Others have pointed out the planes that are bringing fresh mercenaries to Qaddafi's side. In the Mediterranean, the United States maintains its Sixth Fleet, which could ground Qaddafi's air force without breaking a sweat. But wait! We have not yet heard from the Swiss admiralty, without whose input it would surely be imprudent to proceed.

Quite, it is so feeble as to be embarrassing.  Americans should be embarrassed and mortified at how far their country has fallen in international affairs.   It could take relatively painless steps and gain enormous goodwill and support in the region, and do more to generate friendship and pro-Western feeling than anything else could.   Though this is the same President cutting broadcasts by the Voice of America to China.

It is rather straightforward Mr President:

- Libya has long had a history of being an arch-enemy of the US and your allies;
- Gaddafi's history has been one of unashamedly shedding blood of innocents and supporting those who do so;
- The USA is, despite your inept efforts, still by far the world's largest economy and military superpower.

I even think Hillary Clinton would do more.

Dubya certainly would have.

26 February 2011

Chavez and Castro side with Gaddafi

Pinup boy of so many in the left, from Ken Livingstone to Matt McCarten, Hugo Chavez, is siding with Gaddafi as is Fidel Castro (Spanish reports).

Who is surprised?

The international left has long been sympathetic to this thug, a thug who has chemical and biological weapons, admits it, who has engaged in terrorism against civilians whether by plane or by nightclub.  

They are all murdering thugs, all of whom happily use force against those who they disagree with, all part of the transnational community of tyrants.  The only difference with Chavez is that he is an elected one who has not been completely unhindered in his pursuit of power.

At what point will the lowlives in the West who have lauded the likes of Chavez and Castro admit they got it wrong?  That they, like the legions of useful idiots who denied the mass slaughter under Mao, who denied the mass slaughter under Stalin, some who even denied the Khmer Rouge's genocidal scale rivers of blood, who constantly apologised for regimes that are as bloodthirsty as the anti-Marxist military dictatorships and thugs who they targeted.

Those of us who actually do believe in individual freedom have been consistent, called a spade a spade.  Called Castro, Chavez, Pinochet, Gaddafi, Mubarak, Assad, Suharto, Kim Jong Il, Ahmadinejad, Bokassa, Mobutu, the lot, all dictators.  All vile, all despicable, all inexcusable.  Some are worse than others, but none deserve to be celebrated or supported.

So what's wrong with some people?

25 February 2011

Half mast in London

New Zealand High Commission, Haymarket, London

It's all terribly sad, and the TV news has stories from Christchurch every bulletin.

However, some may find some humour that just two blocks up from the High Commission was the loss of much beer...

It's a hill, and it's a sloping ramp, but some learn from doing

NZ friends of the Gaddafi regime - Part 1 - Helen Clark

In her role as UNDP Secretary General, Helen Clark has to be diplomatic with all sorts of regimes as she flies around the globe in first class staying in five-star hotels showing concern for global poverty by not experiencing anything remotely close to it.

However, does she have to provide succuour, support and titles to relatives of dictators?  Apparently so.

Muammar Gaddafi's daughter was, until yesterday, a Goodwill Ambassador to the UNDP.   She has been removed, and rightly so.  However, why was she appointed in the first place?  Why is UNDP having a positive relationship with the Gaddafi dictatorship at all.

However, UNDP's relationship with Libya goes back to 1972.  Gaddafi was well established in power even then.  UNDP even now has a dedicated website showcasing how taxpayer money from across the world has been funnelled into projects in this oil rich dictatorship.  To be fair Libya also throws in some money to the projects, not that this makes it better.

The direct Aisha Gaddafi relationship also started before Clark in 2006, with this document formalising a relationship between Gaddafi's charity (Watassemo Charity Society) and UNDP.  Now anyone with an eye for how dictatorships work knows there could never be any transparency behind charities run in such regimes, which would make any such relationship questionable even without it being run by the daughter of a mass murdering tyrant.

It even has multi-year plans AGREED with the regime to help develop the country.

Now Helen Clark is only the latest in a long line of UN bureaurats to suck from the UN tit and be a party to this, but a party she certainly is.

You see whilst UNDP has been in Libya for almost 40 years, the Gaddafi relationship has been solid throughout.  The most recent move was only in 2009 to appoint Aisha Gaddafi as the goodwill ambassador of Libya on July 24, 2009 to address the issues of HIV/AIDS and violence against women in Libya, according to the Times of India.   So Helen Clark must have endorsed the appointment of the dictator's daughter to such a role.

Furthermore, the UNDP has also provided a facade for the nonsense of quality governance in Libya.  Its three year report states:
"Democratic governance. A new initiative on the automation of national courts, with a view to increasing public access to justice, was started in 2008 with completion expected by 2010."

Excuse me?  "Increasing public access to justice" in a Police state, where secret police forces routinely arrest people without trial.  The Human Rights Watch report says:

Hundreds of prisoners are detained by the Internal Security Agency without any legal basis. Over the past few years, an unprecedented confrontation between the General People’s Committee for Justice and the General People’s Committee for Public Security has developed over the failure of Internal Security to implement the decisions of Libyan courts.  The Internal Security Agency continues to refuse to release from Abu Salim and Ain Zara prisons, prisoners who either have been acquitted by courts or who have already served their court- imposed sentences.

Yet Helen Clark's UNDP talks of "democratic governance" and "access to justice" without ever mentioning any of this.  

Or this:

"The practice of enforced disappearance by Internal Security continues in Libya. Over the past decades, Internal Security agents have regularly detained individuals incommunicado in prisons or in Internal Security offices.  Libyan groups estimate that Libyan security officials have disappeared thousands of individuals over the past three decades"

Libya has no independent nongovernmental organizations. The only organizations that can do human rights work, the most sensitive area of all in Libya, derive their political standing from their personal affiliation with the regime.  The main organization that can publicly criticize human rights violations is the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (Gaddafi Foundation), chaired by Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi.  A second organization, Waatasemu, is run by Dr. Aisha al-Gaddafi, Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s daughter, and has intervened in death penalty cases and women’s rights issues.

In other words, unless you can plead to the Gaddafi family, you have little chance at justice.

What does the UNDP focus on?

The overarching goal sounds innocuous, if Libya was not an authoritarian police state:
"National institutions strengthened towards improved public service delivery and strengthened national data management systems"

Nothing like having a police state better manage its data!

Then within justice, the goals are more asinine.  It is nothing about real justice, more about making a police state operate more effectively!

"Within the justice sector, UNDP will support the ongoing automation process of courts, conducting capacity assessments, and implementing specific capacity development activities. A specific focus will be on ensuring greater access to justice for women."

So Helen Clark's UNDP is focusing on ensuring greater access for women, which appears to mean automating the courts and developing the capacity of the justice sector - in a police state.  The programme includes in its goals "Civil society organizations actively engage in development efforts, notably related to gender issues, and provision of services" yet Human Rights Watch notes:

There is no freedom of association in Libya because the concept of an independent civil society goes directly against Gaddafi’s theory of governance by the masses. Law 71 still criminalizes political parties, and the penal code criminalizes the establishment of organizations that are “against the principles of the Libyan Jamahireya system.” Law 19, "On Associations," requires a political body to approve all nongovernmental organizations, does not allow appeals against negative decisions and provides for continuous governmental interference in the running of the organization.

It is a farce, but worse of all it is actively complicit in pretending that it NOT a farce.  In creating civil society organisations, that are actually tools of the regime to present an image of civil society.  It is no surprise that two bodies, run by Gaddafi's offspring, are the only ones that can discuss human rights.  It is beyond absurd, and any credible Secretary General of the UNDP would not tolerate this.  

I would be surprised if Clark knew the details, but therein lies the UN problem.  A behemoth under which the UN does not simply remain quiet about evil, but actively works with it and becomes part of its propaganda to sustain itself.  

Yet, this Libyan UNDP office has an explicit goal of "democratic governance" in a country that has absolutely none of it, led by a philosophy that is actively opposed to it.  

The UNDP Libya website says the following, which is about as cynical as one can be.   Talking of democracy, then about Libya "strengthening institutions" in a police state.  That would actively do the opposite:

"The critical importance of democratic governance in the developing world was highlighted at the Millennium Summit of 2000, where the world's leaders resolved to "spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development. A consensus was reached which recognized that improving the quality of democratic institutions and processes, and managing the changing roles of the state and civil society in an increasingly globalised world must underpin national efforts to reduce poverty, sustain the environment, and promote human development.
In Libya, UNDP is working with the national government to enhance the capacities of state institutions and staff, particularly in regards to the access to justice.   It is also working towards providing General People’s Committees with policy advice and technical support in different fields, utilising its network of over 166 offices, and its global partnerships with democratic governance institutions."

It would be hilarious, if the UNDP wasn't using your taxes, and is led by a former New Zealand Prime Minister to basically grant a degree of respectability and a facade of progress upon a dictatorship and his family.  Strengthening the Libyan dictatorship does not enhance democratic governance, it undermines it.

Effectively, Helen Clark is just leading a body that does little about Libya, which in that position one may forgive, but rather leads a body colluding with the Gaddafi regime.  Furthermore, I would be surprised if Clark did not endorse making Aisha Gaddafi a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP.   A position she earned because daddy has been running Libya as his personal fiefdom for forty years.  Should Bashar Assad have got one for being son of his dictator dad, or Kim Jong Il (and now Kim Jong Eun)?  

So Helen Clark is the first New Zealander I claim as a friend of the Gaddafi regime, through her actions as leader of the UNDP.  The removal of Aisha Gaddafi's status is a bit after the fact, and a bit "oh we better do that given the population are being slaughtered".
Although maybe Helen Clark simply has the UN disease, the same disease that allows Libya to sit on the UN Human Rights Council, with China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

UPDATE:  Credit to Fairfacts Media for picking this up before I did, making the same point.  I wait to read the condemnation of Clark's actions from the leftwing blogosphere, as much as Tony Blair will be criticised rightly for his appeasement.

24 February 2011

Obama opts out of the world (UPDATED)

Isn't it rather odd, than when Libya's dictatorship has used fighter aircraft to attack its own citizens, when it is difficult to engage evacuations deep into Libya (only Tripoli airport and Benghazi appear accessible), that the USA has such a low profile?

The appropriate response is clear:

- Declare a "no-fly zone" over Libya, that NATO will take control of Libyan airspace for the purposes of preventing use of military aircraft against civilians, and to allow for evacuation and aid missions to fly in unhindered.
- That means being willing to warn and shoot down Libyan air force aircraft if necessary, or escort them if they wish to defect.

However Obama has given up, he has withdrawn from the world.  The US as superpower is absent, if you see the White House website there is nothing at all about Libya.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she is "watching" with concern.

It's a fairly clear lesson, Gaddafi was scared of Bush sufficiently that he stopped sabre rattling and his WMD programme.   He isn't scared of Obama.

So that's it people.  The Obama Administration was more vocal about Egypt, because of Israel and because it was so obviously a key ally of the US.  Libya, an arch enemy, is almost irrelevant now.

Have a guess at what governments are quietly taking comfort from that, they have capital cities beginning with T, D and P. 

UPDATE:  Even the New York Times agrees.

"It took President Obama four days to condemn the violence. Even then, he spoke only vaguely about holding Libyan officials accountable for their crimes. Colonel Qaddafi was never mentioned by name....There is not a lot of time. Colonel Qaddafi and his henchmen have to be told in credible and very specific terms the price they will pay for any more killing. They need to start paying right now."

23 February 2011

A country united except for... (UPDATED)

two things that I have seen.

First are the looters.  "Inevitable" one may say, scum most would say.  Rats who demonstrate how damned useful it would be for people to have adequate means of self defence to deter and deal to those low lives who want to pillage those who have lost.   May the justice system do what it must and may your find your fellow inmates treat you as they tend to treat child abusers, for those are the few who wallow in the sewer beneath you.

Second is The Standard blog.  At a time when politics should be a distant second to compassion, concern, assistance and the ongoing spontaneous expression of human benevolence at times like this, it hosts a thread that is a barely concealed political statement called "In Praise of the Bureaucracy" claiming that people say emergency services staff are "often described collectively as a block to progress".   The earthquake is a chance for the Standard to celebrate bureaucracy, celebrate an idea, not the people who together have made this tragedy far less traumatic than it would have been.  It would be too easy to note that the people who have helped are from many backgrounds, and the Standard could simply have noted the bravery and hard work of all people who have helped from the police to ambulance, fire, civil defence, military and health professionals.  Who thinks this is a chance to score points?

"Hey hobbit, if you’re reading – this is what you pay your taxes for. And if you and your family are incredibly lucky in your lives, you may never meet nor need any of these selfless people and the limit of your involvement will be to occasionally stick your hand in your pocket."

A boot laid into the private sector, claiming they are mean spirited and helpless (those whose mobile phone networks are being used?):
"The champions of industry are helpless in these situations and they are eternally grateful for the skills of the emergency services and systems that are in place. However, they have an inordinate amount of influence when it comes to the negotiating remuneration for todays public service heroes and you can bet they will not be backward in suggesting a tight rein on any rewards."

A semi-illiterate beat up of Rodney Hide with a lie,  whilst glorifying the student union:

"i see the Canterbury Uni students assoc are lining up to move in and assist again.
Good thing they are still around before scum Hyde has shut them down

"a good solid and effective public service was always the backbone of New Zealands society and employment scene – that is until the neo-liberal dark lords of the sith fucked it over and reduced it to a shadow of its former self... Johnny, Maxie, floosie and Bronagh can bugger off to Hawaii and then wait to go to the UK for the wedding … i mean shit happens – but hey i’ve got shitloads of money and the polls say people love me"

Of course if John Key didn't go there, he'd be accused of not caring, if he goes he is politicking.  Not that Helen Clark would have faced such damnation.

I can only agree with Sonny Blount's comment:

"This thread is the lowest class thing I have seen in NZ in the last 24 hours.
Short of the looters."


Especially when so many wait to hear of who are those crushed to death.

UPDATE:  The Greens have joined in.  What do they see it as?  A chance for a new tax on who they think are "rich" to "pay for the damage".   Nice.  An earthquake means all earning over NZ$41,000 should pay a levy.  The appropriate response to that is "fuck off you state obsessed bastards, people are mourning, put politics and your new taxes away". 

Intervention justified

Given Gaddafi's rants, proclamations and tortuous speech on TV a few hours ago, it is clear he is ready to spill as much blood as it takes to stay in power.

As such, it would be legitimate for others to come from outside, and shoot down any Libyan Air Force aircraft or helicopters that are firing at civilians, or to use force against his mercenaries to protect Libyans from the government they have.

The US wont of course, because Obama doesn't want to upset anyone and doesn't want to be thought of as George W.  Bush.  The rest of NATO wont either.  The regimes elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa are full of thugs and bullies who wouldn't dare.

So it should be possible for private citizens to step in and help support a revolution in Libya.  Of course, in New Zealand this isn't allowed because the last Labour Government, with full support of the Greens and United Future banned New Zealanders being paid mercenaries.  National opposed it, noting that Australia, UK and US are not signatories to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.

Gaddafi says there will be house to house searches to find and kill all protestors, and he would rather die a martyr than surrender power.

Hopefully this can be arranged. Gaddafi came out from the cold only because the war on Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein scared him.   An ultimatum from a US President might just do the very same.

The Libyan Jamahiriya News Agency is his official mouthpiece, and the website has deleted all news reports.  Let's hope that means that more of his vile police state is falling around him.   For the sake of Libyans this needs to end quickly, and if Gaddafi's head is disconnected from his body, then it may be for the best - as long as his family's bank accounts and foreign assets can be frozen.

22 February 2011

Thoughts to Christchurch

I was awoken to the news at around 2am GMT, with reports coming through my wifi radio on ABC News Radio, as very little was on the international TV news channels I can get.   The events do not need me to express the sadness and horror about the destruction, the death, the injuries and the devastation of Christchurch.

Like all, I can only hope that the death toll does not grow, that people are all accounted for, as all those who I know in Christchurch are.  With both air and rail links into Christchurch temporarily severed, the difficulties of getting in and out are exacerbated.  

The effects are immediate for those who have lost family and friends, and those badly injured, and have lost precious possessions.   Think also for the tens of thousands who are now wondering if they should rebuild and remain in this city.   It is easy to say hasty decisions shouldn't be made, but the effects of this will be deep for the entire country.   Those who think that reconstruction after this is beneficial for the economy are of course fools.

I note Air New Zealand is putting on special NZ$50 one way fares for all domestic flights to and from Christchurch from tomorrow through till Friday, with a special Boeing 747 flight to and from Auckland to operate to get large numbers in and out efficiently.   I hope those who need to return, and those who are visiting and need to return quickly can get to do so with as little pain as possible.   I hope also Air NZ ensures the 747 isn't filled with planespotters seeking to fly in flat beds in business class in the nose or upstairs for cheap - by blocking such seats from pre-selection by non-status frequent flyers.

So I have put a photo of the cathedral up, because this is the symbol of the city- but the city itself is its people, and may the coming days, weeks and months they find their hearts and minds able to rebuilt and live, whilst for now the battle is to find those missing, and to keep safe and secure those who remain.  Hopefully also the Police and public can have sufficient presence to avoid the scum of looters seeking to profit from the misery of others.

My best wishes and thoughts to them all.

PS:  Winner of the most inappropriate comment from a New Zealand politician goes to Catherine Delahunty with this tweet: 

Catherine Delahunty
"A grim day with the horror earthquake and welfare report came out worse than I ever imagined"

Yes, the government's welfare report is equivalent to an earthquake that has killed dozens of people.  I may disagree with your colleagues, but they are mostly capable of some thought before saying such things.

At least it is better than blaming the victims for their disaster.

Too little too late Saif

I watched the footage on Libyan state TV last night of Muammar Gaddafi's favourite son - his "Kim Jong Il" - Saif al-Islam Gaddafi - calling for an end to protests, blaming them on drug addicts, criminals and foreign troublemakers.

He threatened to fight to the last man and the last bullet.  He said that Libya risked civil war, and without the sharing of its oil wealth, Libyans would starve and be homeless.  Easy to say when you're the groomed son of a dictator who has access to billions in funds taken from the "Libyan Arab Socialist Jamahariya".  He parties while his people have a per capita GDP closer to Mexico, whilst having an economy 95% reliant on oil.

He offered reform, a "national dialogue" and some opening up.  Had he done this a year ago, and there had been substantive progress, then maybe the pressure might have been released.  Maybe.  However, Libya has had one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab world.  No private bodies or entities are permitted in Libya, without state authority.  Civil society, political parties, alternative media are all banned.  Even Egypt had a private sphere.

However, it is far too late now, and moreover his promise of reform was not done in any sense of seeking forgiveness, but with a bloody threat of death till the bitter end.

His father has long been proven to be a bloody vicious and unremittingly death worshipping thug, and the actions of some of the Libyan military and police have proven that, with reports of the air force gunning down civilians and two air force pilots defecting to Malta because they were ordered to shoot civilians. 

It is over, it is just a matter of time, but sadly a matter of bloodshed.  Actions there will continue to spooks the bullies in Bahrain, and across the Arab world.  I'm hoping Bashar Assad is next.

Botany by-election shows all that is wrong with NACT

The resignation of Pansy Wong for her corrupt misuse of taxpayers' money to pay for her husband to embark on a trip for his own business purposes was always right, but to hold a by-election a matter of months out from a General Election is quite absurd.  It was inappropriate for her to remain in Parliament, but remarkably wasteful to hold a by-election for such a short period.  A bit like Chris Laidlaw's hilarious winning of the 1992 Wellington Central by-election following Fran Wilde being elected Mayor of Wellington City, only to be turfed out in 1993 when Labour nearly won the General Election (but Pauline Gardiner won for the Nats in Wellington Central).

So a by-election it is, in a seat where Wong won around 56% of the vote in 2008, and National 61% of the party vote, it would appear that it is a sure thing for the National candidate Jami-Lee Ross (no, not a Vegas porn star).

This young man just about embodies the National Party in 2011.  Young, looks presentable (as a real estate agent), obsessed with running other people's lives and without a principle worth taping to a twig.   To him, contributing to his community means being a politician.  He has no background in business, either starting one or even working in one.  His whole adult life has spent deciding how to spend other people's money and how to regulate their lives.  

In the Press it was reported that his great achievement was this:

"The local athletics club really wanted a new athletics track and that was a big deal for them because they have got one of the best clubs in Auckland. So, together with my council colleagues, we built them an all weather athletics track."

What he should say is "together with my council colleagues, we co-opted some money forcibly taken from ratepayers to spend on the group that got my attention, and paid some people to build it for us".   Now he didn't build anything, didn't put his own money into it, but takes the credit for it.  How grateful people should be that he was there to choose the lobby group to benefit from money taken by force!

He thinks election is about the economy, crime and infrastructure, not that he expressed any ideas on any of it.  In fact his campaign website is bereft of anything of substance beyond a basic profile.   He is keen on there being a budget surplus, to be spent on the "services Kiwis expect and deserve", not to cut debt or taxes.

Of course he is following the script of National, say nothing, do little more and show no ambition for serious reform or change.  Maybe he has something more to offer, but a lifestyle politician is not someone who has learnt anything useful about the world - except a desire to tell people what to do.

You'd think ACT might take a chance by putting forward a candidate who embraces the old ACT policies of abolishing income tax, allowing people to buy private education and healthcare, set up their own superannuation accounts, and radical reform.  No, it chose Lyn Murphy, possibly its wettest candidate yet who puts herself to the left of Jami-Lee Ross.   She has championed a few environmental causes and to get some cables buried, achievements that rival those of Ross!  She is a senior lecturer in management, and a member of the Counties-Manukau DHB, an entity that ought to be abolished.  She is campaigning on cutting government waste, zero tolerance on burglaries and ending Maori separatism.  Lots new going on there then.

Such a complete waste.  ACT knows it has no chance of winning this seat, it could have stamped free market and small government principles and policies all over this by-election.   Given Kenneth Wang got a credible 15% of the electorate vote in 2008, you might have thought it could have chosen someone who believed in something.

No.  National showed itself to be the conservative party of do nothing that selects career politicians with no experience of business (or even private sector employment).  ACT showed itself to be devoid of principle and devoid of anything left in a brand that can't even stand up for Sir Roger Douglas when the Prime Minister criticises him.

Labour naturally is standing someone to soak up the "give me something for nothing vote", although it has fierce competition from National and ACT candidates with similar views.    Then the wacky dimension is rounded off with the pro-Intellectual Property theft Pirate Party, the Asian immigrant New Citizen Party, the Join Australia Party and the foaming at the mouth rabid leftwing nutcase conspiracy theorist Penny Bright (I know this from a single phone conversation I had with her).   Other independents are just having some fun I suspect.

The only candidate a libertarian or even a small government classical liberal (or anyone who actually believes in the principles of National or ACT) could endorse is Leo Biggs from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.   Why?  He's the only candidate standing on a platform that actually explicitly endorses less government, in one area (although I suspect he personally has little else going for him, if all he does is vote on this issue, then it is something).

Standing back from this you can see the stark options for those who want less government in this year's general election.  In 2008, thousands voted National to oust Clark and bring an end to Helengrad, but Keynesia is Helengrad-lite, with more smiles and less principles.   Thousands voted ACT to give some backbone to a Key led government, and got a Minister for Local Government who adopted  and implemented most of Labour's local government policy, creating Australasia's largest local bureaucracy.  ACT voters elected Sir Roger Douglas, the man who did more than any politician in the last 30 years to stop the rot of New Zealand being the most socialist free-world economy, only to find ACT's leader wouldn't back him when he was telling the truth.   Now ACT is the party that brought you nothing.

Libertarianz on the other hand may not get anyone elected, but if 1-2% of voters who would have voted ACT or National tick Libertarianz, it will be a right shock to both parties.  Why?  Because it will deny them seats, show that there are quite a few New Zealanders who want less government, and may shock ACT in particular into actually reforming and becoming a proper party that advocates less government.   Given current polling nobody who would prefer to keep Labour out is likely to fear a change of government, but it would change politics and the political discourse in ACT and National.   It would show that there are enough people, who are not purist libertarians, who want governments committed to less tax, less government, one law for all and private property rights.   

If not, are you that enamoured by John Key after nine years of Helen Clark that you can't wait for another three years of it?

21 February 2011

What Gaddafi thinks

Colonel Gaddafi is not a man who can readily be said to be a conventional dictator, except that many dictators expose themselves as being rambling ranters of peculiar philosophies.  His views are in what is his own rambling rant of incoherence, the Green Book (full text here).

What you see below are excerpts from it, most are good enough reason to relieve Libya from his rule!

He says of freedom of speech:

Democratically, private individuals should not be permitted to own any public means of publication or information. However, they have the right to express themselves by any means, even irrationally, to prove their insanity. Any journal issued by a professional sector, for example, is only a means of expression of that particular social group. It presents their own points of view and not that of the general public. This applies to all other corporate and private individuals in society.  The democratic press is that which is issued by a People's Committee, comprising all the groups of society. Only in this case, and not otherwise, will the press or any other information medium be democratic, expressing the viewpoints of the whole society, and representing all its groups.

It is basically a justification of a state monopoly media.  It justifies banning privately owned newspapers or other "means of information". Libya has shut down internet and mobile phone networks as it now proceeds to murder its citizens.

It gets more insane when he talks about economic matters:

"Wage-earners are but slaves to the masters who hire them. They are temporary slaves, and their slavery lasts as long as they work for wages from employers, be they individuals or the state. The workers' relationship to the owner or the productive establishment, and to their own interests, is similar under all prevailing conditions in the world today, regardless of whether ownership is right or left."

Nothing like totalitarians telling people they are slaves under alternative systems.

He doesn't think that people should own taxis or that anyone other than the state should own any transport operations:

In a socialist society, no person or authority has the right to own a means of transportation for the purpose of renting it, for this also means controlling the needs of others.

Don't think of living without a family because Gaddafi thinks you are worthless without one:

the individual without a family has no value or social life

On democracy and individual rights it is pretty clear as well:

Therefore, the only solution to the persistent problem of democracy is through The Third Universal Theory.

According to this theory, the democratic system is a cohesive structure whose foundations are firmly laid on Basic Popular Conferences and People's Committees which convene in a General People's Congress. This is absolutely the only form of genuine democratic society.

In summary, the era of the masses, which follows the age of the republics, excites the feelings and dazzles the eyes. But even though the vision of this era denotes genuine freedom of the masses and their happy emancipation from the bonds of external authoritarian structures, it warns also of the dangers of a period of chaos and demagoguery, and the threat of a return to the authority of the individual, the sect and party, instead of the authority of the people.

In other words there cannot be political parties, and "the authority of the individual" is a threat.  

 When he writes about women, his mental stability must be in question since he decides to embark on a lesson in biology:
According to gynaecologists, women menstruate every month or so, while men, being male, do not menstruate or suffer during the monthly period. A woman, being a female, is naturally subject to monthly bleeding. When a woman does not menstruate, she is pregnant. If she is pregnant, she becomes, due to pregnancy, less active for about a year, which means that all her natural activities are seriously reduced until she delivers her baby. When she delivers her baby or has a miscarriage, she suffers puerperium, a condition attendant on delivery or miscarriage. As man does not get pregnant, he is not liable to the conditions which women, being female, suffer. Afterwards a woman may breast-feed the baby she bore. Breast-feeding continues for about two years. Breastfeeding means that a woman is so inseparable from her baby that her activity is seriously reduced. She becomes directly responsible for another person whom she assists in his or her biological functions; without this assistance that person would die. The man, on the other hand, neither conceives nor breast-feeds. End of gynaecological statement!

Who knew??!!

However, in case you wondered whether he was just a rather odd tyrant, then consider he would ban adoption or fostering, so that such children can be reared by the state:

As for children who have neither family nor shelter, society is their guardian, and only for them, should society establish nurseries and related institutions. It is better for them to be taken care of by society rather than by individuals who are not their parents. 

Society indeed!

Master of tautology he is, with gems like:  "The living creature is a being who inevitably lives until it is dead." 

He wouldn't have liked Helen Clark:

The woman who rejects pregnancy, marriage, beautification and femininity for reasons of health abandons her natural role in life under these coercive conditions of ill health. The woman who rejects marriage, pregnancy or motherhood because of work abandons her natural role under similar coercive conditions. The woman who rejects marriage, pregnancy or maternity without any concrete cause abandons her natural role as a result of a coercive and morally deviant circumstances.  

He goes on about women being equal, although then says:   It is equally unjust and dictatorial for women to find themselves under the working conditions of men. 

Apparently, he thinks they should get easier conditions.

His view on race leave me speechless with its random nonsense:  

 In addition, the inevitable cycle of social history, which includes the Yellow people's domination of the world when it marched from Asia, and the White people's carrying out a wide-ranging colonialist movement covering all the continents of the world, is now giving way to the re-emergence of Black people.  Black people are now in a very backward social situation, but such backwardness works to bring about their numerical superiority because their low standard of living has shielded them from methods of birth control and family planning. Also, their old social traditions place no limit on marriages, leading to their accelerated growth. The population of other races has decreased because of birth control, restrictions on marriage, and constant occupation in work, unlike the Blacks, who tend to be less obsessive about work in a climate which is continuously hot.
Education seems peculiarly libertarian, unlike reality in Libya:

State-controlled and standardized education is, in fact, a forced stultification of the masses. All governments which set courses of education in terms of formal curricula and force people to learn those courses coerce their citizens. All methods of education prevailing in the world should be destroyed through a universal cultural revolution that frees the human mind from curricula of fanaticism which dictate a process of deliberate distortion of man's tastes, conceptual ability and mentality.  

He argues for free schools with the widest choice of learning.  Something Libya doesn't exactly have by any stretch of the imagination.
Funny for a police state to be based on:

"Ignorance will come to an end when everything is presented as it actually is and when knowledge about everything is available to each person in the manner that suits him or her."

Shutting down the internet and mobile phone networks is consistent with that apparently.

He thinks sport shouldn't have spectators only participants:

When the masses march and play sport in the centre of playing fields and open spaces, stadiums will be vacant and become redundant. This will take place when the masses become aware of the fact; that sport is a public activity which must be practised rather than watched. This is more reasonable as an alternative than the present costum of a helpless apathetic majority that merely watches.
Grandstands will disappear because no one will be there to occupy them. Those who are unable to perform the roles of heroism in life, who are ignorant of the events of history; who fall short of envisaging the future, and who are not serious enough in their own lives, are the trivial people who fill the seats of the theatres and cinemas to watch the events of life in order to learn their course. They are like pupils who occupy school desks because they are uneducated and also initially illiterate.

Nurse!! Nurse?? Get his pills!

Libya has no official opposition of any kind, Gaddafi is murdering protestors again and again.  Protestors have appeared, bravely, outside the Libyan Embassy in London (brave given how Libya once started shooting from its embassy some years ago, murdering a policewoman).  

Good luck to them, Gaddafi is the Arab ruler who has most exported murder and death of any of those currently in power.  He deserves at the very least, a bullet.

20 February 2011

Libya is different

Following on from Egypt, the protests in multiple other Middle Eastern countries demonstrate one simple point - politicians with absolute power corrupt absolutely.  Algeria and Yemen have long been wracked by insurgency and civil conflict, with dictatorial regimes challenged primarily by Islamists in both cases.  Algeria had a brutal bloody civil war following the election of Islamists in the early 1990s, but today, especially for a country with ample oil and gas reserves, life is fairly bleak there.   Yemen has not got the same resources, but it has become a base for a branch of Al Qaeda and has gotten progressively more dangerous in recent years.

In both cases there is a real risk that organised Islamists will take over.  Algeria is too close to Europe for comfort, whereas Yemen's location adjacent to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden could hamper shipping in a strategic location.   However, both have been somewhat failed states since independence, run by either militarist or Marxist strongmen again and again, swinging back and forth between Western and non-Western supporters.

Bahrain is different, as an oil rich absolute monarchy with sectarian issues, it is a surprise that would send shocks through its autocratic neighbours.  Simply being a benevolent dictator dishing out the proceeds of being part of an oil cartel may not be enough anymore. 

Yet Libya is another story altogether.  Gaddafi has been a totalitarian dictator for over 41 years.  He runs a personality cult that has parallels with those in North Korea.  There is no semblance of freedom of speech, open political discourse or democracy in Libya.  He had published his own special political thoughts in the "Green Book" equivalent to Mao's "Little Red Book", in which he rejects liberal democracy and embraces socialism and "people's committees".

Gaddafi is an accomplished murderer and oppressor, he expelled the small Italian community shortly after gaining power.  He imposed an Islamic legal framework, banning alcohol and putting himself up as an authentic Muslim.  His police state includes thousands of informers, his family share in the abundant wealth he has taken for them, and live essentially outside the law.  Not quite Saddam Hussein's sons, but not that far removed.

Some of his achievements:
- Sending hit-squads to assassinate political opponents residing in other countries, nine were killed;
- Sent troops to protect Idi Amin's dictatorship from Tanzanian troops that were fighting Amin's attempt to annex part of Tanzania.  Gaddafi gave Idi Amin safe haven after he fled Uganda;
- In 1984, a gunman at the Libyan Embassy in London shot and killed policewoman Yvonne Fletcher as he shot at protestors outside the Embassy.  Ten other people were hit;
- The Chad-Libyan conflict as Gaddafi sought to annex the Aozou Strip.  He failed, but around 8,500 were killed in the war;
- Bombing of UTA Flight 772 in 1989, killing 170 people;
- Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 (Lockerbie), killing 270 people;
- Bombing of a West Berlin discotheque in 1986, killing 3 and injuring 230;
- Supplies of weapons, ammunition and bombs to the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s;
- Weapons and arms training to ETA in the 1970s;
- Weapons and funding for the Moro National Liberation Front (Islamist rebels) in the Philippines in the 1970s;
- Financing for the Black September Movement that murdered 12 at the Munich Olympics in 1972;
- Weapons to Iran after the 1979 revolution saw ties severed with the US and USSR;
- Support for the PLO during its terrorist phase, and subsequent expulsion of 50,000 Palestinians when the PLO started negotiating with Israel;
- 1200 prisoners killed in Abu Salim prison in 1996.

He thinks a lot of himself saying "I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam (leader) of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level." at an Arab League summit in 2009

So he is quite a piece of work.  Whilst Libya has liberalised moderately in recent years, largely due to access to the internet being allowed, it is still one of the most oppressive states in the Arab world.   No organisations are permitted that are not state authorised.  Political parties are banned.  The media is severely restricted, with journalists prosecuted for criticising the regime.   

If Libyans can overthrow this murdering thug then good luck to them, it can only be a good thing, but it will be especially hard.  It is perhaps only more difficult to overthrow the Saudi autocracy or Syria's one party police state.

Though I have noticed a distinct lack of leftwing commentary cheering on those seeking to overthrow Gaddafi, who makes Mubarak look like an angel.  Maybe because too many of them miss the days when this mad anti-American thug would fund and arm them?   Bearing in mind that a handful of Maori nationalist thugs once visited Tripoli to learn about revolution - not that the New Zealand media at all holds people to account for having sympathies with murdering leftwing dictatorships.

Gaddafi is now using snipers to take down protestors and has thugs storming homes of suspected dissidents according to the Daily Telegraph.  One report goes:

"The soldiers are vicious killers. People are so terrified of them that they've been doing everything possible to get away.  Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned.
Fatih, 26, another Benghazi resident, said: "A lot of the thugs he's employing are not Arabic speakers. They're armed to the teeth and only use live ammunition. They don't ask questions – they just shoot. Buildings and cars have been set on fire here, and the situation is getting worse. The dead and injured are everywhere."

Nice.  However, am I wrong in thinking how remarkably quiet the left in the West is about Libya, simply because Gaddafi can't by any sane stretch of the imagination be seen as the result of Western interference?

19 February 2011

I blame Roger Douglas

The retirement of Sir Roger Douglas is not surprising given he could be described as the venerable man of New Zealand politics, particularly since none of his generation remain in Parliament.   He has outlived his first finance nemesis, Rob Muldoon, for some years.  Outlived the man who led him into power (David Lange) by some as well, and all subsequent Prime Ministers bar Helen Clark have long left direct involvement in politics (as did his successors, David Caygill and Ruth Richardson).

Yet he had a profound effect that I blame him for.  He got me passionately interested in politics of principle not pragmatism.

See I was in my teens when Labour was elected in 1984, having remembered nothing other than Muldoon grumpily always being in charge, in an almost personality cult like perpetual presence on the news.  I remember, barring the exceptions outlined by Peter Cresswell (and voluntary unionism), Muldoon banning inflation, banning interest rate increases and directing the economy like someone who was always in control.

Yet all he did was fiddle and create unintended (but predictable) consequences.  Muldoon was known to get government departments like the Railways Department to hire people en masse in the year before the election, to soak up unemployment numbers, almost Maoist like to control politics.   Roger Douglas was something else.

David Lange's rhetoric about "consensus" and the banal anti-nuclear policy were the touchstones of the 1984 campaign, which was only made more exciting by Bob Jones and the New Zealand Party putting the boot into the insipidly spineless National Party.   However, behind the scenes Roger Douglas was ready to dish out the medicine New Zealand needed, to correct the gross distortions of many years of intervention, regulation, sclerotic state sector and stifling levels of taxation.

There is far far too much to recall about what life was like before the reforms started by Douglas, stifled by Lange, extended by Richardson and only slightly rolled back.   The left in New Zealand would rather forget about that era, because most were too blinded by the carrots of the anti-American anti-nuclear policy, the creation of the Treaty of Waitangi grievance industry, a bevy of new government departments (Women's Affairs, Pacific Island Affairs, Environment, Conservation), return to compulsory unionism and the hijacking of the education agenda.  You see whilst all of the things they liked were happening, Roger Douglas took a multi pronged approach, one which the economically illiterate left didn't understand, and which made the reforms of Reagan, Hawke and even to an extent Thatcher seem a bit wet.

Let's just briefly recall some of his biggest steps:

- Ending the wage, price and interest rate freezes, that had choked off credit and choked off any chance of prices and wages reflect demand and supply.  After a few years of intense pain, it all settled down;

- Floated the exchange rate, so the Reserve Bank wouldn't be pouring taxpayers money into propping up the NZ$, the immediate result was dramatic devaluation which eventually returned to somewhat higher levels;

- Tearing down the walls of import licensing, that gave a handful of businesses profitable monopolies to extract rents from consumers, whilst shutting out innovation, and dramatically reducing import tariffs so New Zealand would stop assembling TVs, telephones (and eventually cars) at prices several times that of other countries, and along with the acceleration of CER saw a wider range of food, clothing, shoes and other consumer goods at cheaper prices;

- Abolish umpteen statutory monopolies on market entry, and foreign investment restrictions which was visibly seen in new banks, domestic airline competition, new rental car firms, competing telephone companies for long distance and international calls (initially), new radio and TV stations, new service stations;

- Abolished subsidies for agriculture and most businesses, which saw many farms foreclose, but also the rise of diversification in agriculture.  The viticulture sector was able to take off, along with horticulture and the rise of more specialist producers.  The start of the phasing out of producer board saw exporters become more competitive, as they searched for new markets in Asia, South America and the Middle East, whilst Europe proved less and less accessible for agriculture;

- Reformed tax by abolishing the 66% top rate, flattening income tax rates, abolishing sales taxes that peculiarly penalised cameras and records at rates of up to 40%, replacing them all with a flat 10% on everything.  This simplification of the tax system killed all but the very high end tax advisory industry (H&R Block disappeared from NZ) and increased revenue;

- Drastically reformed and then privatised ailing state industries. From electricity generators to petroleum exploration, postal services, three banks, a steel company, television, state radio, land holdings, forestry holdings, coal mining company, the telecommunications company, two insurance companies, an airline, the weather forecaster, the air traffic control service, an international shipping company, a film company, a print works, a hotel company and a civil engineering company, were all either just restructured into commercial structures or sold.  Several subsequently went bankrupt, others had success (Peter Jackson bought the National Film Unit), but all dramatically improved performance.

Most of all he brought to politics a new honesty of principle and purpose.  In essence, New Zealand was going bankrupt and was so tied up in regulations and monopolies it was stagnating its way to developing country status.  New Zealand had dropped from being one of the three countries with the highest GDP per capita in the world in the 1950s to being ranked below Spain by the 1980.   He stopped the rot, and set the stage for a more service, export and dynamically oriented economy to emerge.

The magic of his approach was speed, he liked to say that he would aim at multiple targets at once, so at any one time those who might oppose would be split between multiple causes - causes of course based on spending other people's money, protecting monopolies or protecting failure.   However, it was the slowing down that started the failure to complete his "unfinished business".

What hamstrung him was the growth of the "new-left" public service that came with Labour, the reintroduction of compulsory unionism and the unwillingness to go further and faster with spending cuts, and cutting taxes (to a flat rate of income tax).  With the heavily unionised health and education sectors subject only to base level reform, it proved difficult to seriously address the underlying issues of those monopolies - and so it remains.

He didn't do what was popular, he thought of the long term, and I appreciated that.  I saw through the calls from those wanting their businesses protected, businesses that ripped off consumers and taxpayers by charging more than the excluded competition, and taxpayers by demanding subsidies.  I saw through the bleets of the worshippers of state owned trading departments, having experienced the ineptness of the Post Office, the extortion of its national phone service (the days when making a "toll" call required careful planning and was for birthdays or emergencies only), the infamous railways that lost freight, manufactured its own rivets, bought cheap and nasty underpowered buses and couldn't make a profit even while it had a statutory monopoly on most of its business!   

Roger Douglas rescued New Zealand's autarchic import substitution economy, that enriched a select few monopoly holders, kept tens of thousands in easy low productivity employment, inflated prices of everything from appliances to cars to shoes to records.   Only a tiny handful of Alliance retards would turn the clock back, prop up farmers with subsidies, have the Post Office run all of the phones and have a monopoly on delivery services, have Air NZ protected from "too much" foreign competition, and expensive locally produced clothes.

I supported Labour in 1990 because of Roger Douglas and the ongoing courage that government showed in doing what was unpopular in the face of a media that was consistently in favour of more state.  It sold Telecom months out from the election, whilst National gutlessly got elected on the back of a moaning public.  Of course after that Ruth Richardson carried the banner and did more of the good work for three years, till National's conservative gutless instincts took over, and reforms were stopped, reversed or slowed down.  Douglas wrote Unfinished Business, and it had a grand plan to move health, education and superannuation into personalised private accounts, with choice, and despite the mean spirited lies of the left - he wanted universal coverage.

You see Roger Douglas still believed in an element of socialism.  He wanted to retain the welfare state, funded from GST, with no income tax.  He wanted universal pensions, just provided with private accounts, topped up from GST for those who didn't save enough.  He wanted compulsory health insurance and education accounts for children, which would be topped up for those who didn't earn enough.  He believed in universalism, he believed in taxation, he even believed in ACC (just full competition between private providers that were compulsory to buy insurance from).  He simply believed that state providers are rather inept and monopolies deliver poor service inefficiently.

So while he is no libertarian, I am glad he got me fired up.  There is no compare between him and Bill English.  He is a giant compared to other MPs and it is a travesty of politics and New Zealand that he couldn't be a Cabinet Minister in the current government.

You see the revolution he started was, as Lindsay Perigo once said, not a revolution in the hearts and minds (although quietly most MPs wouldn't reverse what he did).  

For John Key to appoint him a Finance Minister would have required testicular fortitude that is scarce in the National Party, after all it was Jim Bolger who opposed Douglas in Opposition, and did nothing to reverse any of his policies as PM.   However, National just reflects the appalling inability of so many New Zealanders to understand their own history, in part because the minority who would turn the clock back have bulwarks in the media and education sectors.   National doesn't have it in them to defend Douglas - but he doesn't need defending.

With the exception of the economically illiterate socialist Greens, Jim Anderton, remaining Alliance retards (and the Alliance retard wing of Labour) and Winston Peters, Douglas's legacy is quietly acknowledged. 

His faults were real, for he was no libertarian, but I'm not going to dwell on those today.  For quite simply I blame Roger Douglas, for showing me that politics can include politicians brave enough to take on the braying mob, to not be a smarmy populist like Winston Peters, or a shrieking harpie like Pam Corkery, or a hand-wringing compromiser like Jim Bolger.  

I didn't always agree with Roger Douglas's principles, but I often agreed with his policies and he did far more good than harm in New Zealand.  Had his business not been unfinished, it wouldn't be quite what I would agree with, but I don't doubt New Zealanders as a whole would be a lot wealthier,  happier, healthier, better educated and have a far more vibrant and diverse economy.

The fact that we don't can be laid at the memories of David Lange, Margaret Pope, Jim Bolger, Jim Anderton, Winston Peters, Helen Clark, and the million or so New Zealanders who consistently vote for dependency, mediocrity and mundane fear driven politics of envy.

So farewell Roger, this government never deserved you and in some ways neither did New Zealand.   However, I'm glad I lived and grew through you being courageous and steadfast - and I know you don't need the endorsement, recognition and gratitude of others to know you were largely right.

Oh and Rodney? You are not even half the man he is, and you know it.

16 February 2011

Laugh at Kim Jong Il day? (UPDATED)

Be glad you can, for around 24 million people who live north of the Korean DMZ, they can't because they are forced to celebrate his 69th (actually 70th) birthday on February 16.  They are forced to buy "gifts" to give to senior party cadres, in order to avoid being singled out, ostracised, criticised, punished and taken to a gulag to celebrate the birthday of the Great Leader and the boundless feats he has performed for the country.   Usually birthday includes extra rations, this year it appear they are not going to happen.

Kim Jong Il is short, apparently has a speech impediment that would have made King George VI seem confident, losing his memory, is ill from various chronic illnesses due to a life of alcohol, rich food and lazy living, and absolute hates the Team America movie.   Because it makes him look ridiculous.

So does this blog, which is simply called "Kim Jong Il looking at things", and is exactly what is says, and if it came from North Korea the person producing it would get executed.

So spare a thought for the folk who have to endure a public holiday, being forced to celebrate a man who they cannot hope to express their views about, who lives a rarified existence of sumptuous luxury paid for by the virtual slave labour of the prison state inherited from his murderous, megalomaniacal, mendacious, mediocrity of a father.

You see, the main trend of the international media is to ridicule and think absurd this prison state, with far too little attention given to the atrocious way of living they endure. 

Outside this place, you might like to ask a couple of questions.

First, consider this phrase from a North Korean broadcast and think how alike it seems from its unwitting intellectual companions in the West who share a hatred for capitalism:

"The youth of Eastern Europe, who were at the forefront of the destruction of socialism, were soaked in the rotten, sick culture of capitalism, and this resulted in the destruction of the fruits of the revolutionary war previous generations had accomplished...When the young became soaked in the ideology of a capitalism that knows nothing beyond money, they came to fall into a materialism that thought not of the Party and state’s benefits, not even the people’s benefits"

It takes little to see what an absolute absence of capitalism results in - mass starvation, totalitarian brutality, mass regimentation and an almost complete culture of reality evasion, suppression, denial and manufacturing.  Bear in mind this place provided inspiration for Nicolae Ceausescu and Mobutu Sese Seko.  What happens when you suppress capitalism?  It is fairly obvious.

Secondly, what gift were New Zealand taxpayers forced to give to Kim Jong Il, via Winston Peters, when the last government was the first Western country to improve relations with North Korea after the nuclear test? I'd like to know without having to visit the Kim Jong Il International Friendship Exhibition.

UPDATE: Funny how today the NZ Parliament has been debating whether students should be allowed to choose whether they belong to student unions.  No issue in New Zealand today quite so starkly exposes the hypocritical empty hatred of individual freedom, the craven self-interested desire for power and control and the mealy mouthed "wider interests, greater good" excuses the left can roll out.   It boils down to whether individuals have freedom of association.  If you can't get that, then you can't talk about human rights or anything of the like, when you think it is ok to make people belong to and pay for an organisation that they do not agree with, and for that organisation to persistently claim it somehow is representative.  It is immoral, it is fraudulent, and Kim Jong Il would approve.