25 Nov 2008

Cabinet Appointees -stable or not ? a Key question.

The National cabinet has been appointed in the manner befitting an autocrat. Key has appointed a group of courtiers who, in the manner of the Fairy Tale Emporer, will, on seeing his new clothes, inform him that they are a perfect fit even though all other observers can recognise the imperfections, the fakery and appeal to vanity that is the reality of those clothes. The new cabinet will soon find that their appeal, as acolytes, will soon fade both for Key and the real politic in the electorates as , very soon, the repeated blanishments of empty praise pall for both the appointer and the wider audience.
In an earlier blog I pointed out that Key had been, folowing the advice of Crosby-Textor, dressing himself in clothing borrowed from greater men in preparation for the election campaign and that the imagery behind these borrowed vestments would be exploited for the duration of the campaign and the first symbolic 100 days of power.
After this Key would initially keep wearing the clothes but, like the Anderson's emporer, slowly cast them aside until someone (Maurice Williamson perhaps?) cries ot that "There are no real clothes being worn" and the demands for Key and the party he represents dress in the manner to which they are accustomed.
At present Key has surrounded himself with those, like him, who wear the election campaign image. Their tenure and security will remain until the demand from the Party's traditional constituency to return to their philosophic basics reveals his fundamental insincerity and philosophic shallowness.
Cracks in te artifical gloss on this cabinet are already apparent for those, unlike the Herald reporters, look in depth at the blogs and research sources.
Here, for instance is Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Welfare, on the National Party during her student days:

"Newly elected National Party MP of Waitakere has been found out about her past days as a National Party bagger. Using her pseudonym Paula Poo she lambasted the National Party for cutting Education and increasing student fees , these comments made when Paula was President of the Massey University Student Association;

"Fees suck and fee increases just piss me off. Damn the Nat's who bring cuts to our education system, make us pay for them out of student loans that will take many people decades to pay off. In my own case, I will probably still be paying off my student loan when my daughter gets to university age; her future looks promising!"
When urging her fellow university students to make their vote count she said ... "don't vote for f**k wits."
Reconciling these views of her favoured political party with her present reality will take a lot of doing ... unless, of course, she is locked into the groove of praising new clothes.

Another crack in Key's reality comes from Pansy Wong who informed the Principal of Howick College, after he had made a speech to the school prize giving ceremony calling for the policy to be abandoned, that the much trumpeted testing against "national" standards had been swept from the table even before the lunchtime bell had been rung despite her local colleague and cabinet minister (outside the room) Maurice Williamson telling the Eastern Courier that the policy still stood.

There has been a glimmer of analysis of the wisdom of Key's appointments appearing in the media, especially over the relationship with Rodney "Rheinfeld" Hide and his role as "Minister" of Local Government for it is in this area that the real agenda that lies beneath the "emporer's"new clothes will be revealed.

Once "Rheinfeld" Hide begins to cry "Master! Master! Help me!" to Nosferatu Douglas and John Key begins the return to the National Party's roots the electorate will see the dismantling of the image... watch out for slash & burn attacks on Kiwisaver, on welfare, the Cullen Fund and other areas of social expenditure with the excuse of " dire economic times" and the "international credit crisis" have forced the Government to back down on so many of the implied policies offered during the election campaign ... we will see how apposite Paula Bennett's earlier advice to the readers of her blog were.

24 Nov 2008

Journalism & Blogosphere.. laziness or investigation?

Over recent months I've been intrigued, wondering where the journalists employed by our national media find their stories. The tertiary courses and the journalism textbooks discuss the process of building contacts, talking with and to community leaders and interest groups so that, armed with a "black book" of contacts the journalist can establish the backgrounds and the bases for the stories that are passed on to him or her or, by dint of individual enquiry, can be substantiated and probed with some degree of depth.
However, that text book and journalism course idea is a myth, an ideal from the past, for the reality of our present is, according to a young journalist informant, that the news room journalist is a passive actor in the news gathering process. Today the young journalist is told to, and instructed in the process of, explore the chat rooms of Trade Me and the snippets from a small, quite limited, recommended list of blogs.
The limited range of blogs recommended to my informant did not inspire confidence in the investigative powers of the journalists or the policies of the papers concerned for the sites were all heavily slanted towards the right-wing blogs and the "celebrity sex life speculation" snippet blogs.
One would assume that the editorial policy of the media is to concentrate on the celebrity scandal, the weird and idle gossip then such "news" gathering is acceptable but if one wants more from the media then a diet of Trade Me chat and the salacious "snidery" of the Farrar-Slater blogs one would expect our journalists and media to be far more proactive and responsible.

18 Nov 2008

Fruitcake, John Key and his flip-flops - welcome to the N.Z. summer

In an earlier blog I argued that Key and Rodney (Rheinfeld) Hide would engage in trade offs that would give ACT the impression it had power in this national led government of self interested selfish parties but that son splits would occur and Rodney would do a Winston and throw the baubles of office out of the cot.
It was, therefore,no surprise when the National Party advertising pamphlet, The Herald, published Brian Rudman's critique of the marriage of ACT & National and the flip-flops on climate change it required.
Perhaps the baubles will be tossed earlier than the 18 months I argued would be the length of time this government would take before disintegration begins.

12 Nov 2008

Where are our cartoonists?

The paucity of biting comment in NZ cartooning may be attributed to the editorial policy of the NZ Herald and its craven support of the National Party.
Here is the Guardian's cartoonist's commentary about tax cuts policy wars. Biting isn't it? I don't recall anything as powerful as this in the NZ press pages.
We might have had a different reaction to the great tax cut bribe wars in NZ.

10 Nov 2008

Can John handle the Jandal?

Now that the election is over and the decision to move N.Z. to the right of the political spectrum has been made the NZ Herald will pull back from its hysterical panicking about Left wing conspiracies and fall into its usual position of campaigning against Trade Unions, State servants and environmentalists of any colour while claiming that it has no bias in any of its editorial directions. Garth George will descend into his monk's cell to contemplate a bluer heaven and worship the apotheosis of John Key and to congratulate himself in self justification for his righteous belief that women are on earth to tempt men from the path to salvation and that with Helen Clark stepping out of the political sphere another temptress has been taken from his dream of paradise here in the Pacific.
However, while the transition proceeds one can offer some comment about the possible stability of the new government.
With a record of policy and position shifting throughout the period since becoming leader of the National Party and in the build up to the election John Key may find that he will be in administrative difficulty once his colleagues get their feet under the Cabinet Table. The difficulties will be compounded with the presence of ACT's Rheinfield - Rodney Hide within the coalition. One recognises that there is no way ACT will want to be sidelined away from its traditional hardline free marketeering, retributive policies beloved of its Nosferatu founder, Roger Douglas and that there will be determined efforts from this quarter to drive National into more radical conservative policy directions.
As well, Hide is very similar in nature to his nemisis- Winston Peters. Both men are driven by ego, both are driven by a single minded belief in their own rightness, both have the natural instinct to hone in on a person or policy with one inclination - to destroy it or come crashing down in their own self destructive nature. One cannot but believe that within 18 months Hide, Rheinfield like, will, with his master, Douglas hive off into the extremities of Friedmanite economics and force a division in the hydra that is the National-ACT-United Futures coalition.
For Key this will mean that he will resort to his usual escape mechanism of making the unacceptable palatable in order to bring Roger and Rodney back into the crypt by flip-flopping on policy, pleading as he does so "political expediency and economic necessity because of the crisis created by the money traders and other free-marketeers."
One predicts that the fallout and consequent retribution on the electors will occur over the following policy areas: Employment Law - as workers rights are scaled back in a return to the elements of the ECA ACT will claim that the process isn't fast and hard enough and agitate for more punative legislation to bring the workers to heel.
Finance - the attacks and raids on both Kiwisaver and the Cullen Superannuation fund will continue with the extreme right of National siding with ACT to reduce both funds to mere shadow of their intended purpose. This will be done with the catch cry of "teaching the worker self sufficiency" and "to reduce reliance on nanny state."
The international credit collapse will be an excuse for the more extreme of the National-ACT coalition to allow Rheinfield Hide open Nosferatu's coffin and allow Roger Douglas to emerge and demand asset stripping, further reductions of workers' rights and conditions, slash and burning of Social Welfare programmes, privatisation of Health, Education, Prisons, Roading and Water reticulation ... so that the "books can be balanced" and "sanity restored to the free market."
The privatisation of ACC - the confusion and fallout as this occurs will see the entire scheme collapse into a miasma of conflicting and reductive insurance policies that extract a lot but provide little while taking the profits overseas.
Education - here the introduction of a failed Bush scheme of National Testing and Reporting (the No Child Left Behind policies) will create tensions in the teaching profession, confusion and resentment among parents and a media frenzy of "let's bash the teachers" which will again lead Key to drop the leader's jandal.
Crime and Civil Liberties - in this area the public will soon come to realise that National - Act cannot deliver on its promise to reduce crime in the community. They will also come to appreciate that the State will intrude even more into their lives as civil liberties are reduced and surveillance becomes a norm.
For Key these tensions will prove difficult to manage as so many of his bench and MPs like, Ryall, McCully, Williamson, Wong, Smith N & L, Brownlee and English, have deep seated and firmly held political beliefs that can be evidenced by their past involvement in retributive legislation that will not be able to be controlled under his natural instinct to gamble for a gain by short term expediency thus opening the possibility of a push by Key's controller, English, to make a push for more overt control of power and a consequent hardening of policy initiatives and true nanny state legislation.
So while the polls may have spoken they spoke for an image not for what lay behind it so that as the next three years unfold and Key's instinctive flip floppery management style fail to control his coalition it should not come as surprise to the more astute observers to see what appeared to be a comfortable majority faction into self destructive quarrelling while Hide and Douglas, like the ghost of Adam, gibber at the table.

4 Nov 2008


One cannot help but wonder at the political naivety of the National Party leader when he announces to the world that he would prefer to work with a Republican President rather than a Democrat as he believes that McCain's policies would indicate he would be a friend to NZ whereas Obama would not be such an assured "friend to New Zealand."
John Key should realise that the US President is not Winston Peters or whoever else in NZ politics he doen't like.
At this time in an election cycle and as a pretender to the premiership of NZ one would think that Key would exercise sound political judgment and refrain from making such a pronouncement especially as it has taken the Labour led Government till recently to persuade, cajole and negotiate with the American administration to recognise the reality of international politics that New Zealand has a very principled and clear position on international affairs that, while being different to those espoused by the USA, are recognised by other Nations and do not interfere with NZ's willingness to be constructively involved on the world stage.
To announce that Key favours the Republican positions is to give credibility to the English position that" the world needs a US president who will pull the trigger." - that is who will take war were ever he thinks deserves one. Mind you, judging by the ACT pamphlets I've received it would appear that Mr. Key is merely echoing the paranoia of the canary one - Rodney Hide.
No thanks Mr. Key - if one needed an excuse not to vote National you have just given us one.

2 Nov 2008


These comments from THE STANDARD sum up the points voters should consider in making their choice on Saturday.

Closing arguments

Six days to go. Here are the five big issues that I am finding can turn swing to the Left. There are others as well (see our Standard line series) but these have been effective points in my experience. Over the next few days, you’re bound to find yourself talking to people who are planning to vote National or ACT. Try out these arguments on them

ACC. The fact that ACC is so widely used, there are a million claims a year, makes it an important issue. Despite its faults, ACC is a world-leading system and people depend on it. Private insurers can collapse and have every incentive to avoid payouts. National wants to privatise it, Labour wants to cut its cost, reducing car registration by $80 and employer levies by 20%. Nobody wants ACC privatised, not business, not the medical profession, not legal experts, and, most importantly, not ordinary people. Nowadays, when I hear someone is going to vote National or ACT, I just mention they want to privatise ACC and it’s usually enough to switch them to the Left. Why Labour hasn’t made more of this, I don’t know.

Kiwisaver. 850,000 people have joined Kiwisaver so far, and that number will soon reach one million. Chances are good a swinger voter you talk to is either in Kiwisaver, close to someone who is, or planning to join. If National gets into government, every Kiwisaver would be worse-off, even after you count National’s tax-cuts, because they’re going to cut Kiwisaver in half. Rather than your employer putting in the equivalent of an extra 4% of your income into your Kiwisaver, National would reduce that to 2%. That will cost every Kiwisaver hundreds of thousands of dollars over their career. By cutting Kiwisaver, National would also cut domestic saving, meaning we have to borrow more from overseas.

Tax. National’s tax cuts are less than $10 a week more than Labour’s for most people. Many people actually get smaller cuts from National - if your income is less than $24,000 or $44,000 if you get Working for Families, you get larger cuts from Labour. The only people who get big cuts from National are people like John Key on really large incomes.

Trust. After all these years, the only ‘trust’ issues they have on Clark is that she once signed a picture for charity that she hadn’t painted, her drivers drove really fast one time, and her billboard picture is ‘too nice’. These are not substantive issues, they have no bearing on whether someone can be trusted to govern. National tries to hide its policies and its senior MPs have broken Parliaments rules. They have a track record in government of low growth, high unemployment, lower wages, higher crime, and running down public services like health and education. National always has been and remains the party of the wealthy; they cannot be trusted to act in the interests of ordinary Kiwis.

Experience. Key’s business experience is not an asset in the current economic conditions. He has no experience running an economy. In fact, his economic experience is making money doing exactly the kind of deals that have led to this financial meltdown in the first place. One of the guys who got us into this mess is not the kind of person to lead us out of it. In Clark, Cullen, and the other senior ministers, we have a very experienced team with a record of low unemployment, high wages, high growth, and stable government.