28 Sep 2008

Short Term Memory Loss & Rumour Mills

National's claim that it is not engaging in a dirty campaign this election rang hollow over the weekend when, while on the campaign trail, a canvasser was informed by a died-in-the wool National supporter that the only way Labour won the 2005 election was because in Ross Robertson's Manukau East Electorate a secret cabal from the local Labour organisation, aided by the then Mayor who provided a secret list of Manukau residents who were on work schemes or benefits, visited all these people and threatened them with loss of benefits or places on work schemes unless they went to the booths and voted Labour.
When pressed by the canvasser to name the members of the inner cabinet of the Manukau Labour Party the National Party supporter at first claimed the names were common knowledge among the business community and the National Party but he wouldn't name the people himself but it was enough to prove that Labour used dirty campaigning techniques to win elections.
To this observer such rumour milling is proof enough of a demonstration campaign hypocrisy being practised by the National Party as the rumour has as much credibility as the claim that the National Party has insisted that John Key undergo an urgent medical for Alzhiemers as his requent demonstrations of short term memory loss when pressed to recall either ownership of TransRail shares, National Party policies, or meetings with visiting millionaires was of concern to their spinmeisters - Crosby-Textor.
One would argue that if a political party was to run a clean campaign it would not be a party to the spreading of such rumours but perhaps it is because the National Party has no appreciation of satire that their response to its use is to promote the dubious and obviously dirty campaign rumour the canvasser was regaled with as he door knocked last weekend.

National endorses Labour Candidate.

Today's Herald carries an interesting story about the new Botany Electorate where the marriage of the natural bedfellows Act and National is being heralded on billboards around the electorate.
Apparently National's candidate has threatened to throw the weight of the EFA, legislation they opposed on the grounds it would stop "free" speech, on the Act candidate because he has endorsed their candidate without consent.
This must be very pleasing for the Labour candidate especially as, in censuring the Act candidate, the National candidate appeared to endorse, in fact encourage Botany voters to vote for him when she is reported to have said: "Botany doesn't want more Chinese MPs as the electorate is multi-ethnic and voters will vote on the strength and commitment of candidates...." Obviously National would rather have their Botany candidate returned from the list and Botany return an indigenous MP to represent the seat more equitably across all the ethnicities within the electorate.

22 Sep 2008

Ethical MisBehaviour a key issue.



HOW MANY SHARES DO YOU REALLY OWN?

Answer: I can't remember. It could be 20-25000. It might be 50000. Oh gosh I remember now it was 100,000. Mind you I had to be pushed to admit it though. - John Key being slippery yet again.

This press release deserves a lot more publicity than the Herald will give it.

It would appear that there is one rule for Winston and another less rigid one for John Key and his money trader colleagues.

Labour has accused John Key of lying over his ownership of Tranz Rail shares amid revelations the National Party leader failed to fully disclose his interests.

Mr Key's interests became an issue earlier this year when Labour claimed a conflict of interest because he had asked parliamentary questions about the Government's planned buyback of the country's rail tracks while he still had a shareholding in the rail operator.

Despite his role at the time as National's associate transport spokesman, he did not disclose his shareholding.

When Mr Key was questioned on the issue this year he said his family trust had held 30,000 shares in the company, but had sold them on June 9 and June 12, 2003.

He said his questions and comments never led to any gains from the company's share value.

But Finance Minister Michael Cullen today released correspondence and share register information contradicting several of Mr Key's claims.

The information showed Mr Key, through his trust and under his own name, had owned 100,000 rather than 30,000 Tranz Rail shares.

Questioned on the issue before he was aware the information had been released, Mr Key told One News his shareholding ranged between 25,000 and 50,000 shares up until June 2003.

But when pressed on the issue he admitted there were more shares.

"Actually maybe 100,000 from memory, sometimes 50,000, sometimes 100,000, yep," he said.

"Yeah, sorry, there was 100,000 in total."

Mr Key said no one had questioned him previously on exactly how many shares he had owned.

The papers released by Dr Cullen show Mr Key personally bought 50,000 shares in Tranz Rail in May 2003 after he had actively pursued information from the Government on the company.

He sold those shares five weeks later for $51,000 -- more than double their $22,500 purchase price.

However, 50,000 shares bought by his family trust in February 2002, were sold in June 2003 at a loss of $132,000.

Dr Cullen said Mr Key should have declared his shareholding to Parliament and his failure to do so was unethical.

"John Key lied because he knew he had something to hide," he said.

"Mr Key was in fact commenting publicly on Tranz Rail, meeting with bidders for the rail track and vigorously pursuing the release of commercially relevant information all while being an undisclosed shareholder in the firm."

One News has just run the revelation that John Key lied to the public and to Parliament about the extent of his shareholding in Tranzrail while using his position to ask questions about the Government’s intentions for rail.

More importantly, it seems he met with Rail America in his capacity as National’s transport spokesperson to encourage the company to go ahead with its intention to purchase Tranzrail. He said in a newsletter that he hoped:

the interest shown by Rail America will be picked up by others.

Having pumped the sale without declaring his interest, he then divested of 50,000 Tranzrail shares, doubling his money within five weeks.

The public needs to know what went on during that meeting with Rail America. We also need to know the full details of all Key’s holdings and an investigation needs to be held into whether he has misused his position for financial gain anywhere else.

Given one of National’s favourite taunts over the last three years has been ‘corruption’, one can only hope the media will see real corruption for what it is.

Dr Cullen said Mr Key had spent a lot of time attacking Prime Minister Helen Clark's credibility over the New Zealand First donations scandal, but had covered up his own actions.

"For him to have in effect grossly misled both the media and the public on this I think raises that issue of trust yet again," he told reporters.

"Clearly Mr Key was not simply not forthcoming, he actually lied."

18 Sep 2008

Riverboat gamblers, money traders and other key speculative behaviours

What are the similarities between riverboat gamblers, money traders and other speculators? There aren't any - just degrees of "acceptability" based on who employs you. Essentially all these men do is gamble on the possibility of making a profit from the turn of a card, the roll of a die or the chance that the other guy will blink first. Each of them is concentrating on making a profit from an illusion of skill.

Michael Cullen is drawing no long bow when he points out that it was the actions of men, in the same profession as John Key once was, whose gambling caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

For anyone who understands the use of analogy and of examples when arguing a case Cullen's comments make perfect sense and provide a solid logical progression to an inevitable conclusion. For the benefit of the media and other commentators it runs like so:

1) Merrill Lynch was a financial institution that had made its reputation from speculation on the futures markets and currency trading which are simply sophisticated forms of riverboat gambling.
2) The money traders employed by Merrill Lynch are highly paid gamblers who use other people's money to take bets on the possible value of commodities and currencies that might eventuate as a result of a rumour, a possibility of a storm, flood, pestilence or the failure of a sports team to win a crucial test match.
3) John Key's reputation is not based on his political acumen but on his gambling ability and instincts developed while employed as a currency gambler by Merrill Lynch.
4) As a high stakes currency gambler Mr Key was successful - but only while the house of cards built up on successive levels of speculation remained standing.
5) Once the house of speculation collapsed the reputation of the currency and commodity gamblers must be called to question just as the security of the finance houses like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch must be called to question and account.
Therefore: Given that John Key is still, at heart and reputation, a money trader (gambler / speculator) and has had well publicised ties to the firm of Merrill Lynch which collapsed because of the poor judgment of the currency and commodity gamblers employed there then it must follow that questions about Mr Key's ability to take control of a country's economy must be called into question.
However, the spin doctors, the Herald agenda driven reporters who appear to lack an understanding of the nuances and subtleties of language and logic have all leapt to the illogical conclusion that John Key was the cause of the collapse of Merrill Lynch. ( Would that were true - it would really make some earlier gambling trades that went sour on individual traders look like small bikkies.)
What people should recognise is that no one is saying that Key caused the collapse of Merrill Lynch but one does begin to doubt the ability of a currency gambler to make sound economic judgments.
This is not negative campaigning. This is not personality attack. This is not dirty politics as the Crosby Textor script would have it. This is legitimate questioning of the perception that Mr Key has the ability to make sound judgements based on the evidence that other currency gamblers obviously have none as they caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.
The conclusion then becomes obvious.

16 Sep 2008

Of Cabbages & Kings & other matters of import.

While one does not normally support Winston Peters the events of the past few weeks reveal one thing - Winston has a problem - a very 21st century problem - that judgements are now made on perceptions rather than hard, substantive evidence.

While, for sometime, Winston has managed to bluff and bluster to position himself as the "people's champion" for didn't he stand up to Muldoon and, on a matter of principle, resign the National Party to stand for Tauranga to demonstrate the electorate's support for that principle he is now being tried by a jury of his"peers" and the media on an issue of principle.
Would you trust the country to these men?
The National Party shadow cabinet discussing what to do with Winston.


Unfortunately for Winston the substantive issue - Did he or did he not have to declare the donation of $100,000 that went into his legal fighting fund - has become "Did he or did he not know about the donation being solicited and paid into his lawyer's trust account?"

For his peers and the media it is easier to pillory Winston on the latter issue because he chose to grandstand a series of denials of knowledge of such largesse being extended to him. In such a manner the substantive issue isobscured and lost.

One is lead to conclude that the issue of should the $100,000 be declared will not be decided by the media or by the jury of Winston's peers because, in the public perception, the outcome has already been decided - guilt by association and a decision by John Key not to deal with Winston in the event of a close call in November.

For John Key is attempting to build up aperception of being a decisive, principled and strong individual as opposed to a person who takes a more measured, calmer, more rational approach to decision making.

To do this he and hisadvisers have adopted the "chicken licken" approach to political debate... to shout that the sky has fallen despite all evidence to the contrary on the basisthat given a loud enough shout the echo will become the evidence.

Of course John Key is familiar with such a strategy as that is precisely how the money speculators in organisations like Merrill Lynch operate in order to drive the speculation on the money or commodities they're gambling on up or down in speculative value and thusgain profit for themselves or companies they work for.

These decisions are not based on sound judgement from substantive evidence. It isjudgement based on perception, on image, on the loudest shout, on a chimera which, once accepted by others in the market, can cause a collapse of the whole artifical construct the money speculator (gambler) has built up. One only has to lok at the collapse of companies like Merrill Lynch ( a past employer of John Key ) to witness the fallacy of speculation on perception.

All of which leaves the N.Z. voter with two important questions " shouldn't we expect more from the N.Z. media when reporting and recording events than we are presently getting?" and "can we, as a nation, afford to allow ourselves to be governed by one whose judgements and reputation are made on perception and image rather than hard, substantive evidence?"

Positive spin or stasi action?

Tony Ryall, National Party MP, has demonstrated the stasi mentality that is the foundation of his political philosophy in his recent letter to the Auckland DHB demanding that they not publicise any of their achievements in improving the provision of and delivery of health services in the region because such a message would run counter to the advertising messages that Mr Ryall wants to run as part of his Party's advertising campaign during the election period.
Of course Mr Ryall is not trying to censor the Health Board. He is not trying to control the news. He is not trying to manipulate the Board members. He is not trying to dictate anything to the Health Board. He is merely carrying out his duty as a National Party apparatchik - a member of the tory stasi and attempting to ensure "fairness" and a "level playing field" during the election campaign!
One must ask why the N.Z.Herald, in reporting the story, didn't pounce on Mr Ryall's attempt to stifle free speech and expose his activities to fair and open criticism ... or.. is this too much to ask in this "open" society?

9 Sep 2008

Rodney, Winston & the Bull Pen

Over the past few months we have been treated to the sight of two bulls competing for dominance in the bull pen - Rodney the upstart and Winston the twice anointed king-maker.
At stake is the right to decide which of the two big parties will form the government at the end of this year. Hide sees himself in that role as witnessed by the ACT party pamphlets distributed around the country in recent months.

This means that the donation saga is not about faulty book-keeping, not about poor management and inadequate systems within the N.Z.First machine. It is not about Owen Glenn's generousity to either N.Z.First or the Labour Party. It is about Winston Peters and his political survival. It is about the manipulation of the political landscape in an MMP environment.

Hide, whose motivations on the political field can be questioned, has set out to destroy Peters in the interests, he says, of ensuring stable government in New Zealand. (Morning Report interview. august 2008). For stable government read one supported by ACT and none other.
Hence the constant barrage of innuendo, of demands for Privileges Committee interrogations, of Police investigations and SFO inquiries coupled with theatrical presentations of files to various authorities in front of cameras and supporters. Hide's campaign strategy is to throw allegation after allegation at Peters in the knowledge that eventually a crack will appear or a daub of mud will stick so that guilt by implication can be established and the "crime" elevated to credibility.

For Peters, the problem has been one of his own character fault, a propensity to bluff and bluster when confronted with a barrage of questions. It is this character fault that cracked. It was this fault that allowed the daub of mudto stick. It was this fault that Hide has manipulated to his advantage over the past few months as he campaigns to exert his right to be seen as the new stud in the Bull-pen of Parliament.

If Peters had paused, reflected and analysed his position on the issue he was challenged on he may have responded in a more considered and strategically advantageous manner. But that isn't his nature and Hide knows it.

If Peters had admitted and provided evidence that monies had been sought and paid to N.Z. First through whatever vehicle and that the monies had been fully accounted for he would have not found himself in the ignominious position he is presently in. For now his position as an "honorable member" whose word must be, by statute, taken as true is called to question.

In the face of the evidence presented by Glenn to the Privileges committee Peters will now have to prove that his position is and always has been that of a truthful and honorable member. If he cannot prove that, if he resorts to the bluff and bluster, he will be found wanting and his political demise, so long predicted, will be assured. However, he won't he destroyed by an accounting failure. He won't be destroyed by faulty management processes. He won't be destroyed by his strange relationship with his lawyer. He will be destroyed by his own character faults for that is Peter's hubris and that is what Hide has exploited throughout this whole sorry saga.

2 Sep 2008

Leaks from the Ad Agency











Rumour has it that the National Party is demanding a commission of enquiry into their Advertising Agency following the leaking of their billboard designs and slogans after the launch of their only policy statement board (coincidentally, it reads almost identically to an ACT Party pamphlet circulated last month - I wonder if that means anything?)

Anyway here are the leaked billboards and associated slogans from the Tory Ad agency. One can see why John, call me Obama, Key is so upset... they actually reveal their manifesto promises.