Archive for June, 2008

kiwiblogblog is no moremore

June 30, 2008

Sadly, kiwiblogblog is dead.

It comes as no surprise, given the drop-off in posts and comments in recent months. The team found that they just didn’t have the time to commit to the enterprise. Many of us know the feeling.

We can but wish them well in their endeavours. And hope to see some or all of them blogging in some capacity again before too long. In the meantime we’ll miss their zany and slightly off-beat missives.

The rest of us progressive/left-wing bloggers will just have to work that much harder to cover the loss. Listen up righties — we shall!

Bye Mardypants, Cheezy, Zoster, Wat and Icky. Been nice knowing you.

Explaining the polls

June 30, 2008

Yesterday’s HoS piece by Keith Ng adds another possible reason for Labour’s slump in the polls. Ng cites VUW political scientist Jon Johansson:

“The real weakness of Clark is that there is no over-arching explanation as to what the purpose of her government is. We’ve seen this right through the three terms”

I just can’t agree with this. Most people I talk to — not a random sample of the entire population, I know, but including some moderately conservative types — speak warmly of Labour’s first & second terms.

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Welcome #4,000

June 30, 2008

I got the headline up just in time to catch #4,000. Hope s/he saw it.

Time for a progress report.

4,000 views isn’t a lot compared to some blogs — all in a (good) day’s work for DPF — but this blog’s only been going a couple of months, and most of the 4,000 views have come in the last few weeks. The week just ending (at midday today) is the third with more than 800 viewers, last week being the peak with 975.

Most importantly, it’s been a lot of fun, and the feedback and comments have been great to read. But it is too much for an otherwise busy person to sustain, so I am looking for a team to form or join, and guest bloggers in the meantime.

For now, enjoy!

What’s wrong with duping the voters with a totally false image?

June 29, 2008

Today’s SST report about Crosby/Textor’s role in the National camp is deeply disturbing, whatever spin the Tories try to put on it. The notorious Australian practitioners of the darkest political arts are still with us, doing their utmost to pervert the democratic process and sell us a false Bill of Goods, courtesy of John Key.

Despite attempts by Key and his team to keep their role secret, we find that C/T have been employed these last two years to shape Key’s image and advise on National’s messages and tactics.

The Nats’ will ask, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, true, it’s not illegal to employ spin doctors, and just about every political organisation that can afford to, does. The problem is with the tactics that are used and how far you go in spreading lies and deceipt, and hiding what you have on offer from the voters.

C/T are the ugliest, most ruthless, dirtiest-fighting political mongrels this side of Karl Rove. Of course it’s wrong. Otherwise, why would Key & co go to such lengths to hide their association with these people?

We’re not talking about air-brushing the leader’s picture here. It’s about appealing to basest prejudice, about constructing completely misleading images of opponents and clients… stuff like Textor’s push-polling. In 1995, for example, Canberra voters were asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for her knowing she had publicly stated she supported the right to abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Which she hadn’t.

Or spreading false rumours about London mayor Ken Livingstone having three “secret” children and the hiring an Islamic extremist to his staff.

This is the sort of thing that National would have you believe is “business as usual” and acceptable. It’s not. And that’s why this revelation has the potential to damage “Brand Key”.

In terms that C/T would use, it opens up the doubt in many ordinary voters’ minds that Key isn’t the decent, aw-shucks (albeit mega-wealthy) bloke they thought they knew. Rather, he’s devious and unprincipled, the sort of man who stoops to hire liars and racists when he should be telling them to fuck off.

[There’s a good debate on this on the Standard. Also, Russell Brown at Hard News on the “sulphurous presence”.]

White man’s anger, fact-light debate & Key’s secret

June 29, 2008

Some thoughts on today’s crop of newspaper columns…

In HoS, Matt McCarten gives us a potted history of New Zealand/Aotearoa, in the vein of The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare. He sums up the period known to Maori as Te Riri Pakeha — white man’s anger:

“The settlers set up provincial governments and passed laws to take the land without their consent. When Maori protested, the settlers sent in volunteer armies to kill them and steal their land anyway. Once they’d stolen enough land to share among the members of the militia they pinched some more to sell to cover the expenses of their excursions. Many descendants of these criminals begrudge today modest compensation to the Maori descendants of the former landholders.”

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Swift boats ahoy!

June 28, 2008

It’s easy to laugh at the country-club Muslim Marxist fiction that the Republicans have been frantically retailing since Obama first looked a real prospect. Especially since he continues to lead in the polls, raise huge quantities of cash, and so on. Now the Republicans seem to be conceding that their would-be memes about elitism, the “funny name”, closet Islamism, and secret radicalism haven’t been effective enough.

They’ve started a completely new narrative about Obama’s character. It’s the brain-child, inevitably, of the evil genius Karl Rove. Rove’s latest slur is that Obama’s self-centred. “Many candidates have measured the Oval Office drapes prematurely. But Barack Obama is the first to redesign the presidential seal before the election.”

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Blooter-in-chief

June 27, 2008

If, like me, you share Al Franken’s view of Bill O’Reilly as a “Lying, Splotchy Bully”, the clip on this link is irresistable. I got the answer right — but then, I’ve been to the Alamo — and so did the guests, but the Big Blooter gets tripped up by his own trick question. Enjoy!

This post’s for AJ & Martha.

The wisdom of taxi drivers

June 27, 2008

In his DomPost column this morning, Chris Trotter poses the question, “Let’s just assume, for a moment, that the polls are right, and Labour is doomed. What does that say about the condition of the New Zealand electorate in 2008?”

He speculates that the current polling means that most of the electorate sees “the fifth Labour Government as being worse than the fourth” and Clark and Cullen as more destructive and incompetent than their predecessors.

Gloomy as. And quite wrong. (more…)

With enemies like these, who needs friends?

June 26, 2008

This speaks volumes about the way things are going in the US elections. Incumbent Oregon Senator Gordon Smith has been polling below 50% for four straight months. This is not considered a good thing in a country where incumbents traditionally enjoy a big advantage, and Smith’s senate seat is considered “in play”.

But the relatively moderate Republican has a secret weapon… Barack Obama. Yep, he’s airing a campaign ad stressing his bi-partisan approach and featuring none other than Obama. (See it here.)

Well, it’s better than swift-boating.

… Meanwhile, the supposedly “most liberal senator” — he’s not, it’s just Republican bullshit — has come out against the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the death penalty for child rapists. He says that states should be able to execute people for “heinous” crimes like child rape. So long as they’re fair about it.

Liberal? Not!

Five years of decriminalised prostitution

June 26, 2008

It’s been five years since the Prostitution Reform Act decriminalised prostitution in New Zealand. This would, we were told at the time, “issue in a season of open slather and open up a Pandora’s box.”

New Zealand doesn’t seem to have become the Sodom and Gomorrah of the South Pacific, so we’re probably safe from divine retribution for the time being. Once again, the social conservatives have been shown to be false prophets.

Overall, the Prostitution Law Review Committee recently reported that the reforms had little effect on the numbers in the industry, and “some improvement” in employment conditions. “But this is by no means universal”. Likewise, the Prostitutes’ Collective says that the industry has been working quite well, but has some concerns about brothel keepers’ compliance with the law. Some brothel owners need to adopt better health and safety practices, they say.

Before the reform, the illicit nature of the work saw sex workers exposed to expoitative and coercive behaviour by pimps and the like. The improvements in working conditions for these workers are to be applauded. But there is clearly more work to be done.

The Law Review Committee recommended in its report that, “the sex industry, with the help of the Department of Labour and others, moves towards written, best-practice employment contracts … becoming standard for sex workers working in brothels.” It also called for funding for regular Ministry of Health inspections of brothels and to support services by non-government organisations, including assistance with exiting for those who wanted to quit sex work.

On the whole, those who supported the reform should feel proud. Those who opposed it, claiming to be concerned for the well-being of the prostitutes, might like to reflect on the error of their ways.


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