Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Thin End of the Wedge?

Wanganui gains an 'h' - how long until Auckland is officially renamed Tamaki Makaurau?

The Background

In a compromise that seems to have been welcomed by leaders of both sides of the debate (although deplored by the increasingly liberal NZ Herald editor), the Wanganui / Whanganui debate has apparently been settled by a declaration by Land Transport Minister Maurice Williamson that people can spell the city name however they wish. although Crown entities will move over time to adopt the 'h' in their official spelling. This comes after a long and sometimes heated public debate which, on the surface, seemed rather silly really - why all the fuss about a lousy letter? Of course, the actual issue is much more than that.

The Situation

Just as we now have Aorangi/Mt Cook and Taranaki/Mt Egmont, we now also have Wanganui/Whanganui. This issue pitted a small group of local Maori, a larger group of local liberals, and an even larger group of people from all over the country against the majority of Wanganui's residents, their Mayor, and an equally large group of mainly conservative NZers elsewhere in the country.

At its heart is the problem with the word 'Wanganui', which doesn't actually mean anything at all but is a bastardisation of the word 'Whanganui' or 'big harbour' - a name already present in several other places around NZ. Local Maori began arguing against the incorrect spelling of the name in the 1970s and 80s, and were eventually successful in getting the Wanganui River's spelling changed to Whanganui in the early 1990s. To me, this was the perfect compromise - this was, of course, a natural feature with which local Maori had long historical links. The city, which was established in 1840 as one of Wakefield's NZ Company settlements and originally named Petre until 1854, could have maintained its bastardised spelling as a point of difference and interest, a historical novelty showing the difficulties of transcribing words from a non-literary culture into those recognisable by others who do not speak the language. For over 150 years the city's name has been spelt this way, establishing its own historical legacy.

The issue was brought to the people of Wanganui in two referenda, as such things should, and twice over 80% of residents chose to keep the incorrect spelling. The NZ Geographic Board, however, composed of 7 appointed members of whom two must be Maori, proposed that the 'h' be inserted despite the wishes of the city's inhabitants, and all of a sudden the dispute gained national prominence. The Board, founded in 1947, is guided by the Designation of Districts Act 1894 which specifies that any future naming or name alterations must give preference to the original Maori names, and is explicitly required to encourage the use of original Māori place names on official maps.

Why would it overrule the wishes of the majority?

My Opinion

As I see it, this is yet another example of the growing rift between Maori and non-Maori in contemporary NZ. In the past few months race relations have taken a major hit, with the animated discussion over Hone Harawira's 'white motherf@^*er' comments (interestingly enough he seems to have been slapped with a wet bus ticket and told to be a little more circumspect next time in his choice of words) and, just last week, the announcement that the Maori separatist movement's Tino Rangatiratanga flag would be flown alongside NZ's national flag from public buildings on Waitangi Day. Maori have been threatened for many years by the growing diversity of New Zealand's population. Similarly, many caucasian New Zealanders have been threatened by their diminising majority within the population. Both sides fear for the future, and Maori groups, since the 1980s, have been relentless in their attempts to secure protection and legal recognition for their tangata whenua status.

In this light, the Waitangi Tribunal process can be seen as important in seeking to rectify the illegal land confiscations of the 19th and 20th centuries, but it is rapidly approaching its use-by date. The current prevailing world view that colonialism was 'bad' has coloured historical thinking and teaching to such an extent where some Maori actually believe that ALL the social ills of their current society can be blamed on the European 'invaders'. Meanwhile, non-Maori are increasingly being put off studying NZ History because of the current historiography glorifying Maori and condemning everyone else. While there are many things which we as NZers should feel ashamed of in our past, there are many more things which we should be proud of and celebrating, but a lot of these have now been 'tainted' with the brush of 'colonialism' (as if it were a bad thing).

So the 'h' debate is more than JUST a letter, it is about who we are as a country, what we believe about our past and which direction we want our future to take. We have a shared history which is being threatened. I recall a history lecture I was attending at the University of Waikato (which was soon to be given to Tainui) in 1996 being interupted by several 'protesters' demanding that Hamilton be renamed Kirikiriroa and that Von Tempsky drive be renamed because it was an insult to Maori to have a road named after a 'murderous mercenary'. Over recent years the number of people referring to New Zealand by the modern Maori fabrication 'Aotearoa' has also increased, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this to be a future target.

I imagine this, too, will be resolved by adopting a combined name - in 2100 AD (sorry, CE - don't want to upset those non-Christians out there!) will we officially be Aotearoa-New Zealand? (The NZ Geographic Board is actually prohibited at the moment from changing the name of our country, but will this continue?) Will our largest city be Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau? Will our capital be Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington? And, some would ask, will it really matter?

I say it does. Te Whanganui-a-Tara is a local name for Wellington harbour, but not for the entire city, which did not exist as a metropolitan entity prior to the establishment of Port Nicholson. Tamaki Makaurau is a broad area encompassing even more than the Auckland supercity. Neither area had anywhere near the significance that they do now; a significance that contributes to the historical legacy of the names 'Auckland' and 'Wellington'. The significance of 'Dunedin' as a name is a significant historical recognition of the migration of the Scots to this part of the South Island (which may not be as imaginitive as Te Ika o Te Maui but at least it's more accurate). To lose these names is to lose the past 150 years of NZ history and heritage, and it is for this reason that the 'h' debate was so heated. The government's compromise on this has slightly dampened the discussion, but it will flare up elsewhere, soon, in a town, city or island near you. Of that, I have no doubt.

And that's my two cents to sense.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conspiracy in Copenhagen

I've been reading a lot about this since noticing an increase in the blanket coverage of climate change by the mainstream media in the build up to the conference, and the more I read, the more concerned I get.

This is not an article about climate change denial, despite the many thousands of scientists - 31,000 at last count, including 9,000+ PhD holders - who have signed a petition challenging the 'evidence' used by the UN IPCC scientists. This is an article about something far more sinister - the establishment of an unelected world government by stealth, deceit, and intrigue.

We, the public, have been sold the biggest bill of goods since Hitler convinced enough of the German electorate that the Jews were to blame for everything wrong in the world and that if you didn't vote for the Nazis the Commies were going to take over the place. The truth is, the people running the United Nations - by their nature most are internationalist socialists, as those are the only people who are actually attracted to the UN these days - are using the climate change panic to implement their long term goal of a global dictatorship.

Encouraged by the fact that European nations have surrendered their sovereignty without allowing the people to vote on the European constitution or to elect the European President (some pen-pusher from Belgium that few people outside the Hague have ever heard of), the UN is hoping to cash in on the global hysteria being perpetuated by an irresponsible media, slavishly served by an UN NGO (the IPCC) which has consistently fudged the figures on climate change, and mindlessly encouraged by well meaning, otherwise ordinary citizens of the world who have been brainwashed by the constant din of worst-case scenarios and are completely ignorant about how they are being manipulated and used. This scam - not climate change per se but the hijacking of the environmental movement - is truly masterful; if Macchiavelli were still alive, this is the kind of thing he'd have wet dreams about. The number of cunningly coordinated global activities that have taken place this year to illustrate 'solidarity' with action against climate change will make many of the democratic world's leaders scared of the consequences of not signing an agreement in Copenhagen.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, dated September 15, 2009, to be presented at this conference for world leaders to sign, essentially calls for a world government - this is the actual word used. The treaty is composed of three parts: government, wealth transfer, and enforcement. In 181 pages of legal-speak, how many times do you think words such as "election", "democracy", "ballot", or "vote" appear? No prizes for the correct guess - zero. Nada. Zilch. None. Never. They don't exist in this new framework for the planet's future.

As Lord Christopher Monckton said at Bethel University in St Paul, Minnesota, on October 14 this year, the Communists we thought we'd beaten in the Cold War are now about to win. Through the Greenpeace organisation - which they infiltrated so successfully in the late 1980s that they were able to completely take it over by the early 1990s - and through their cronies in the UN, they are now about to impose what will be, to all extents and purposes, a socialist world government.

This comes DIRECTLY from the UNFCCC:

"Such an Assembly [ie an enlarged UNESEC, the UN Sustainability Council] should be more than just another UN institution. It would become a building block of a new, democratically legitimate, world order"(

This is not pie in the sky stuff. Consider:

* In 2000 Jacques Chirac, then French President, described the UNFCCC's predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, as "the first component of an authentic global governance."

* The Democrat's Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, gave a speech in China in May 2009 which included this gem: "every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory [in order to combat global warming]".

* Al Gore, on 7 July 2009, gave an address where he said that: "awareness [of climate change] ...will drive the change, and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global government"

* UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, speaking on 27 October 2009, said "A deal must include an equitable global governance structure"

* The UNFCC 'draft' document (to be signed at the conference), discusses (p 18) a "scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention" containing the provision for a "global government" with the power to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all the nations that sign the Copenhagen treaty.

The pace at which the ball is rolling on this is amazing. Only a month ago Copenhagen looked dead in the water, no one important was going to attend and it would all be business as usual. Greenpeace and the international media pulled out all the stops on a relentless campaign to bully world leaders into going, and all of a sudden the leaders of two of the four biggest polluters, India and the USA, announced that they were going (China's and Russia's leaders were already planning to attend ... hmmm, something fishy there already...!), then the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in the West Indies is addressed by former French President Jacques Chirac (what the hell was HE doing there? He's French! Surely the Commonwealth has at least one half decent former leader to trot out for an after dinner speech?), who admonished those leaders who did not intend to attend, then our PM decides he should go, and all the while we are getting bombarded with "special reports" on melting ice on Mt Everest and big iceburgs in the Southern Ocean etc etc etc, while there is little mention of 'climategate' at all. Just because ice is melting on Mt Everest doesn't mean humans had anything to do with it!!!! But the emotional blackmail has continued.

For me, though, the big warning bells have just now started to go off. On Monday Janos Pasztor, the director of the UN Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team, told reporters in New York that with the U.S. Congress yet to pass a climate-change bill, a global climate-change treaty was now unlikely in Copenhagen. Then, as if on cue:

Here's a snippet:

[Obama's] administration formally declared that the gases "endanger the public health and welfare of the America people" empowering its Environment Protection Agency to regulate them across the country under the country's Clean Air Act, without having to get a hotly-contested climate bill through the US Congress

Yes, the USA really has become a fascist state - I thought Obama's federal buy-out of private corporations was basically good economic fascism in practice, but now he has the power to enact legislation WITHOUT Congressional approval!!!! Who the hell are the EPA and how exactly do they have the right to circumvene the democratic process? Of course, this is a great boost for the world government; the US would never enact a treaty which basically surrenders its economic sovereignty to an internationalist NGO. Besides which, any such treaty would require the consent of 67% of the Senate, which is not going to happen. Now, it looks like it doesn't need to.

I'm going to read more about this ... and I think that every citizen of the planet who loves individual freedom and does not want to have their life governed by a world government they will never have any say in should as well.

That's my two cents to sense.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Conference in Copenhagen

NB: I am not a climate change denier, I just hate Greenpeace. And hippies.

With the Kyoto Protocol due to expire, society-change enthusiasts are pushing the summit in Copenhagen as being THE LAST CHANCE to do something about climate change. Our Prime Minister, John Key, has changed his mind and will now be attending the conference; a reversal which was due not to the pressure by enviro-Mental activists like Xena Worrying Princess Lucy Lawlessness, but rather due to the fact that it originally seemed that most world leaders would not be attending. As momentum built and more leaders announced that they would intend, NZ risked being isolated as a country conspicuous by its absence, so of course Key changed his mind and decided to go. Of course, liberal commentators who were demanding that he do just that are now criticising him for his "flip-flop" (which in Australia is like a jandal, but in NZ means indecisiveness). Of course, if John Key ran into a burning building and saved a small child from certain death, these same commentators would no doubt blame him for not implementing proper fire safety measures...

Climate Change seems to be one of those red button topics that splits down ideological lines. Many (though not all) people who identify themselves as left wing also seem to accept the theory of anthropogenic climate change, while many (though not all) right wingers are more skeptical and either doubt the extent of humanity's impact or question climate change altogether. I think part of this is due to the ongoing battle between the less moderate right and science in general. Many Creationists tend to fall into the hard right category, and they have being waging war on the scientific establishment for years regarding evolution. It seems that people are more willing to openly doubt scientists and their evidence simply because such ideas don't fit into their own mind set, rather than because they have their own evidence.

So in light of this, it was interesting to read last week about the emails which climate change proponents had obscured or even suppressed from scientific reports ( I'm not sure if it is a coincidence or not, but this has to be one of the most under reported stories of the year. At the same time, the mainstream media has stepped up its campaign on pushing the worse-case scenarios of climate change, and, as I've stated already, there has been a huge shift in leaders indicating that they will now go to Copenhagen. Conspiracy theorists see this as proof that the Establishment is pulling out all the stops and deploying their big guns to prevent the email leak from destroying their attempts at introducing further measures to bleed the world's taxpayers dry.

I do not deny climate change. I am no scientist, but I have observed in my own lifetime a shift in weather patterns and seasonal variation. I do, however, have some doubts about the extent of human involvement in this change. While I find it difficult to believe that we can pump that much CO2 into the atmosphere over 200 years and NOT make some difference, I also find it difficult to believe that we're not going through some natural change as well. To me, human activity has probably intensified this change, although by how much I cannot say. Regardless, the way out is not as simple as many activists would like us to think.

Carbon taxes will not do a lot. I like James Hansen's view on this, as quoted in a recent Guardian article, when he talks about his opposition to the cap-and-trade scheme. (
"This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what's happening," he said. "We've got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets]."
We live in a consumer society, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but have you ever looked around your house and asked yourself just how useful some of that junk you've bought really is? Consumerism does need to be contained, and the easiest way to do this is to add an environmental surchage to the cost of everything we buy. "Cap and trade" does nothing to prevent further environmental damage, but ethical and responsible consumerism will.

Also, if the world is to work together on trying to alleviate the impact of climate change (however bad that may be), then we've all got to sing from the same hymn book. Developing countries must use up to date methods for their industry; they cannot be given a carte blanche to continue on their merry way. They point to the West and say "well, you guys did it, so why can't we?" - essentially this translates to "they started it!" Of course, that argument never worked when I was a kid explaining why I hit my brother, and it doesn't hold any water now. In the 19th century industrialisation went forward unchecked, but hardly anyone had any idea about the future impact this would have. The developing world does not have the luxury. The Western World has modified its technology to make it cleaner and less environmentally damaging now that we all know what the repercussions are, and the developing nations cannot stick their heads in the sand and refuse to play their part.

What I'd love to see at Copenhagen (and what I can guarantee will not come out of there) is an acknowledgement that the Third World needs to improve women's access to education and contraception. These two simple tools are the most effective devices we have in reducing population growth, and are much more humane (though much more expensive) than bullets. By 2050 the world population by a third, to over 9 billion. (Check out for the population clock.) This is NOT sustainable, especially in terms of water access (Yemen is about to become the first country in the world to run completely dry, and more will follow). Given that the Western World's population is actually shrinking, it is clear where this growth is occuring. Copenhagen's programme should contain a directive that all nations introduce a "Stop at Two" campaign immediately - ie, that every family limit itself to two children. This is a highly emotive subject. I have a large extended family and I love them all. I have two siblings, both of whom I love and could not contemplate having lived without, and under this scheme I would never have had a sister. But if we care for our future, we need to make some tough decisions, and this is something that we ourselves can do, rather than corporations.

Care needs to be taken at Copenhagen not to act too rashly. Imposing crippling penalties on companies will only see more people out of work and further undesirable effects on society. Whatever changes are inroduced must take into account the impact that any sudden, forced, and unpopular change will have on human societies around the world. What will come out of Copenhagen, though, will be a document so watered down that it will be almost transparent. This is a photo opportunity of epic proportions, and nothing else; and I'd love to see the carbon footprint left by the conference. I don't know what the right course of action is; all I know is that it won't come from Copenhagen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Go the All Whites!!!

1982 was a great year.

It was the year I started my formal education, starting in Mrs Slattery's J1 class at Selwyn Primary School.

It was the year the British Empire emerged from its catharsis, smashing the Argies when they tried taking the Falklands Islands away from Her Majesty.

It was the year that Chariots of Fire won the Academy Award for best picture (even though Raiders of the Lost Ark should have won), Israel invaded Lebanon to deal to the PLO, the Commodore 64 was first released and Michael Jackson's Thriller hit the shelves.

It was also the year of the 12th FIFA World Cup, the first - and, so far, only - time that NZ has played at the highest level of football, on the most global of all global stages.

How did the All Whites go back then? Well, they lost. 2-2 against Scotland after 64 minutes became a 5-2 drubbing by full time; the USSR were not seriously challenged in their 3-0 victory over our lads; and Brazil took it easy, scoring 'only' 4 unanswered goals against us. NZ finished 23rd out of the 24 nations, our goal differential being slightly higher than El Salvador's and enabling us to at least earn bragging rights over someone.

Since 1982, a lot of things have changed - or have they? I'm STILL in formal education. Israel hasn't attacked Lebanon to deal with terrorists for two years now - or at least not in any size that would make the news. Another sentimental favourite, Slumdog Millionaire, beat out the real best film of the year, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for the Academy Award (even the Reader was a better film that Slumdog!). The release of Windows 7 resulted in almost as much hype as the C64 did. Michael Jackson may not have released a new album, but Thriller was back in the number one selling slot for a time after his death. And once more the All Whites are the focus of the NZ sporting public's attention.

Tonight, in Wellington, it is do-or-die stuff. One shot for glory. NZ must beat Bahrain - and if Bahrain score a goal, NZ must score twice as many - in order to qualify for next year's World Cup in South Africa, our first appearance since those days of yore.

Tonight I, like many other NZers, will be huddled around a TV watching, hoping, wishing, praying for the dream to come true: for our lads to be make it into the world's premier sporting event. They probably won't stand much of a chance once they get there, let's be honest. But simply to make it will be enough.

Tonight, the dreams of one country will be granted, and those of another shattered.

Tonight, I'm praying for sub-ten degree temperatures, driving wind, possibly a bit of sleet as well - anything to make the Bahraini footballers as uncomfortable as possible!

Come on, All Whites!!!

The Hone Show

Further developments this week in the debacle that is the Hone Harawira show. It appears that he has finally outlived his welcome within the Maori Party, and neither of the co-leaders, Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, would be too upset if he were to leave. Remember back in 2005, when he referred to them both as "square buggers" and "dull and lifeless"? I'm sure they still do!

I think this is a promising move by the Maori Party, and an encouraging step in their evolution from a reactionary grouping of disaffected radicals to a fully fledged mainstream political party. If they wish to be taken seriously, and if they wish to attract the vital non-Maori vote, they cannot afford to be linked to this racist firebrand.

It has been a difficult two weeks for Turia and Sharples, but this could well be the best thing that has happened to their party since ... well, since the seabed and foreshore legislation which created it, I guess. The sooner they shed the non-compromising separatists from their party, the better it will be for all of us. Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine, who happens to be part Maori, about how well the Maori Party seems to have done since signing the confidence and supply agreement with National. The Maori TV World Cup bid fiasco aside, having Sharples and Turia as ministers has been a positive move by the National government and has wrong-footed the Labour Party, which can no longer resort to its classic claim that National is racist and only Labour truly represents Maori.

The most upsetting thing about the fiasco is the latent and unrepressed racism that it has evoked, from both Maori and non-Maori. I was so ashamed and embarrassed to hear Turia speak of the abusive emails she had received that I immediately wrote her an email myself, expressing my admiration for the way in which she and Sharples have divorced themselves from Harawira's rhetoric. I would encourage all other fair minded NZers to do the same; let it not be said that racism rules the roost in this country!

At the same time, this whole incident has proved to me that the time has come for a real debate in this country - free, fair, brutally honest, and no holds barred, but without the animosity, labels, race-bashing and seething resentment which seem to dominate the extreme radicals. True enough, the 1940s version of NZ history is somewhat different from today's, but I think most people will acknowledge that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction now. The colonists who arrived with and after the Treaty should be seen as nation builders, not rapacious land thieves. Wrongs were committed, yes, but Maori were not completely innocent - many chiefs and tribes played the game and 'sold' the same land (to which, in some cases, they did not even have a claim) to more than one agent. Likewise, greedy land purchasers and speculators sought to take everything they could get their hands on, and the land confiscations following the Northern, Waikato, and Taranaki Wars seem to have targetted the wrong tribes in many cases. But we, as a nation, need to be able to draw a line in the sand; to acknowledge that our foundation may not have been glorious, but that our future can be. What that future will be must be discussed; we must forge ahead as one people, e pluribus unum, he iwi tahi tatou, if we are to have the kind of future which we all deserve.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Racism is alive and well in NZ

Imagine this for a moment.

An MP of Caucasian origin - let's call him John - is sent off to go to a conference in the Solomon Islands about postcolonial government issues. A lot of the discussion takes place at a dinner the day before the conference is held, after which John goes up to the conference host and says "look, mate, I'm not particularly interested in all this, do you mind if I take the day off and charter a flight with the Mrs over to Papua New Guinea so we can walk the Kokoda Trail - she's Australian and it's quite an important landmark in their history." The host says "sure, fine, go ahead", so off he and his wife go.

Arriving back in NZ there are some hard questions to answer - why did John go off on a tourist jaunt at government expense - with his wife! - when he was supposed to be attending a meeting?

"Well," John says, "there were two other MPs there to represent NZ and I thought - hey, when am I ever going to have an opportunity to see the Kokoda Trail again?" The public is annoyed by what he has done, but for the most part many seem to accept his reasoning and don't begrudge him of it too much, especially when it is revealed that he paid for the side trip himself.

However, John then receives an email from a colleague, also of European descent, asking how he could justify this side trip when he was supposed to be on business - after all, this is exactly the kind of conduct he's been attacking some of the Maori MPs for. John, irritated by the constant barrage of complaints, hits back, and replies:

"Mate, what the hell are you doing bringing up all this brown man bullshit? Those brown motherfuckers have been sitting on their arses and ripping off our tax dollars for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their equality bullshit? Quite frankly I don't give a shit what you or anyone else thinks about it. OK? Oh, and go ahead, send this to the media if you want. I answer to my people, not to those brownies or to anybody else."

The email is duly sent out to the press.

Now ask yourself - how does the nation react? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, as a nation, we'd be pretty disgusted and there would be calls for John's immediate dismissal as a member of Parliament - how can he do his job and represent the people of a multicultural NZ with that kind of attitude?

I would also imagine that the Race Relations Commissioner, Jorus de Bres, would get involved. I wonder what he would say ... would he fob this off as freedom of expression? Would he give a certificate to the letter's recipient for standing up to 'this kind of nonsense'? Would he organise a meeting with a History professor who specialises in the impact of colonisation on indigenous peoples? Would he go completely bananas like the rest of the country and demand the MP's head?

It's an interesting question, because this exact situation has happened, ladies and gents. It happened just the other day!

The only difference between my account and true life is that the MP was Maori, a prominent member of the Maori Party, and his comments were about "white" people, so according to the Race Relations Commissioner this is not racist, RACIST is, as has been seen recently, when some (white) students wear Nazi uniforms to a party, or pose for a photo saluting a swastika. But this isn't that kind of abhorrent racism; no, it is just "freedom of expression".

So apparently the comments made in this email, the actual one which I amended for satirical purposes above, are NOT racist:

"Gee Buddy, do you believe that white man bullshit too do you? White motherfuckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit... And quite frankly I don't give a shit what you or anyone else thinks about it. OK? Go ahead, send this to the media if you want. I answer to my people, not to them or to anybody else."

No, of course it's not racist.

[SIGH!] Indeed, racism is alive and well in NZ... and we can't do a thing about it.

The worst thing about this is that, until the emails leaked, this was just another offence in the long list of recently published jaunts by Parliamentarians. We've had Bill English under the spotlight for housing allowances, and Chris Carter and Rodney Hide lambasted for extensive, expensive travelling with their spouses using the MP discount. Hone Harawira was one of this group. But NONE of those other men would ever have dreamed about sending an email like the one I wrote above.

One law for all, and another for some?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fundamentalist Islam must not be tolerated

Several days ago, in Arizona, a young woman named Noor Almaleki died in hospital from injuries sustained by a motor vehicle. She and and another woman had been hit and run over by 48 year old Faleh Hassan Almaleki - her father. The reason? By the man's own admission, it was a deliberate act: an 'honour killing' to expunge the 'shame' which Noor had brought on her father and family. What had Noor done to justify this execution? According to her father, she was becoming “too Westernized”.

Also several days ago was the fifth anniversary of the murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim fanatic. His assassin, born in the Netherlands but of Muslim descent, shot and stabbed the film maker on an Amsterdam street because Van Gogh had apparently insulted Islam in his films.

What is the link between these two otherwise disparate events?

It is five letters long, starts with an "I", and ends with "Slam" - which must describe the thought's of Noor's father as he hit her with his car - "I slam my car into my daughter!".

Yesterday, the European Court of Islamic - sorry, Human - Rights (ECHR) ruled that crucifixes must be removed from Italian classrooms, after a parent complained that having these on display violated her child's right to freedom from religion. This has caused a wave of anger throughout Italy, a country profoundly linked with Catholicism, where the cross is just as much a cultural symbol as a religious icon.

Meanwhile, I await with interest what the ECHR has to say about Cambridge University's recent decision to allow female Muslim students to graudate in a burkha. To me it is one thing or another - either you can have religious or cultural symbols on display, or you cannot. If we end up having one rule for Muslims and another for non-Muslims, we might as well just adopt sharia law and be done with it.

What many of the liberal woolly headed brigade do not realise is that the majority of Muslim immigrants to the West, until the 1960s or so at any rate, were coming to escape the persecution and tyranny of their theocratic governments at home. They were, for the most part, moderates who sought the liberty and freedom of Western civilisation and democracy.

In recent decades, the loose immigration and asylum qualifications, along with 'family reunification' policies and 'fetching marriages' has led to an explosion of more hardline Islamists ending up in the West. Throughout Europe, the state has essentially paid these migrants to remain seperate - they have subsidised housing in 'estates', their own schools, their own mosques, and their own community centres, all paid for by European taxes. Many are also receiving state benefits; in Germany, for example, the number of foreign residents (primarily of Muslim origin but also from Eastern Europe) increased from 3 million in 1970 to 7.5 million in 2000, yet the number of foreign residents in work did not change over this period.

In 1950, the number of Muslims living in Europe was negligible. Today, it is somewhere between 15-17 million. By 2050, it is estimated, many European nations will have Muslim majorities - France is expected by some people to be in this position within the next decade! This change is exacerbated by several factors - the continuing tide of immigration, the high birth rates amongst the immigrant Muslim population, and the declining birthrate of the native population; already almost 25% of Europeans are over the age of 60, and this will continue to rise in years to come.

The problem is, of course, that the West, with its declining birth rates and aging population, needs immigration. To simply shut the gates and through non-nationals over the fence is short sighted and misguided. But, in Europe in particular, very little has been done to integrate immigrants into society. Mad mullahs and insane imams have been given carte blanche to peddle their litany of lies and hatred, and because various 'social-democratic' governments have bent over backwards to allow immigrants, especially those of an Islamic background, to keep to themselves, this outpouring of quasi-religious drivel has been lapped up by people with no access to any other perspective, and no education in the liberal-democratic values of our civilisation.

It may already be too late for Europe. I see a future of European "Christian" enclaves scattered throughout the continent, confined to the countryside, as Muslim majorities establish sharia law in the cities and then spread out into the rural localities. I see Beirut and Lebanon on a Continental scale, and the destruction of some of Europe's most historic sites for the simple reason that the radical theocratic leaders dominatiing Islamic society say that they are offensive to Allah.

Where is the moderate Muslim majority? Where are the ones who have successfully integrated, who have adapted, who have learned to fit their faith into the values of the society in which they now live? Sadly, they are silent. They, their parents or grandparents may have fled this madness, but it has followed them to their new homes.

We, those of us in transplanted Europe - in Canada, the USA, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and New Zealand - must learn from the mistakes of our mother countries. We must impose strict conditions on immigration and assimilation. We must ensure that those people who come to our country accept, and live by, the ideals and values which we hold most sacred and important. After all, they have plenty of other places to go. Those who believe in liberal democracy have few havens left...

Monday, November 2, 2009

To MMP, or not to MMP, that is the question...

Nearly half say they will vote to ditch MMP
4:00AM Monday Nov 02, 2009
By Patrick Gower

The Background:
The campaign to ditch the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system from use in NZ began almost as soon as it was voted in by a referendum in 1993. Proponents of strong government tend to mistrust MMP, while advocates of a weak government tend to support it.

In 1992, when the initial referendum was held, there was a great deal of public dissatisfaction with the governments of the past 10-15 years. New Zealand had changed considerably under the Labour governments' Rogernomics reforms, the impact of the 1987 stock market 'crash', and National Finance Minster Ruth Richardson's "Mother of All Budgets", and people wanted to find something to blame. The electoral system, which had been the subject of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in the 1980s, bore the brunt of the backlash, and people decided to get rid of First Past the Post (FPP) in favour of something else.

As a consequence, a referendum was held in 1992 to ask the voters two questions. The first was whether or not FPP should be replaced by another system, and the second asked which system voters would prefer if FPP was replaced - the choices being MMP, STV (Single Transferable Vote), SM (Supplementary Member system), or PV (Preferntial Voting system). Both STV and PV involve voters ranking the candidates in order of preference, while SM (otherwise known as the Mixed Member Majoritarian system or MMM) reserves a certain number of seats in Parliament for an FPP style electorate vote, and the rest to be determined along MMP lines.

The result of the vote was clear. 84.5% of voters voted to replace FPP, and 70.3% voted for MMP to be the replacement.

As planned, this led to a final and binding referendum in 1993, held in conjunction with the national election to encourage as many people as possible to participate. This was a pure run-off between the existing system, FPP, and the most popular challenger, MMP. Because of concerns about minority governments and increasing the number of MPs from 99 to 120, MMP lost a lot of support, but still won 53.44% of the vote and thus replaced FPP in the 1996 poll and all subsequent elections. NZ has now conducted 5 MMP elections - 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, and 2008. National has been elected as the majority party in government in the first and last of those elections, while Labour was successful in the three middle ones.

The Situation:

The Herald-DigiPoll survey referred to by the article reveals that some 49% those polled would vote to get rid of MMP in the upcoming 2011 referendum, announced by the Prime Minister last month, while only 35.8% indicated that they would vote to keep it.

If the referendum, to be held at the same time as the next election, indicates that voters want to get rid of MMP, there will be a second referendum - in 2014 - where voters will be given the choice of MMP or another alternative. How that alternative is to be chosen has not been made clear.

Anti-MMP campaigner Peter Shirtcliffe expressed dissatisfaction with the timing of the referendum, arguing that it made any change would take 8 years to implement. However, MMP supporter Metiria Turei, who is also a co-leader of the party that can be said to have prospered most under MMP, believed that the poll simply indicated that more people needed to be educated about MMP, claiming that many people's dissatisfaction may only be with aspects of the system rather than MMP as a whole.

A public education campaign on the referendum will be conducted in the lead-up to the 2011 referendum, with a budget of $6 million.

My opinion
I am not a fan of MMP, but I fear that the public has a short memory. The problem with rule by the masses (aka democracy) is that most people are politically illiterate, and wilfully so. Many people do not take their part in government seriously; they refuse to educate themselves on the matters of importance to them, and often vote blindly or emotively.

FPP was deeply unpopular in the early 1990s. Several governments had been elected, with considerable majorities, despite actually getting less votes overall than the main opposition party. This had allowed governments to force through programmes of considerable change, safe in the knowledge that they had the numbers to vote the changes into law.

If MMP has done anything, it has made governments more responsible.

This does not in any way disguise the flaws of MMP, and there are many. The most notable flaw is that some minor parties have been able to punch well above their weight; the tail wagging the dog, as many critics argue. The status of List MPs has caused some disgust, with many leaving the parties which had got them into Parliament and then retaining their seats as unelected parasites. The problem of MPs getting into Parliament via the Party List after losing popular election for an electorate seat has also riled many. Sue Bradford was a key example of this problem - her unpopular 'Anti-Smacking' legislation has been seized upon as a major shortfall of having unelected MPs driving legislation.

In my opinion, we need some changes, but we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Here are my suggestions to creating a workable political system which will deliver strong government and an effective opposition in a fair manner:

1) Keep the 120 seats. NZers are still under-represented at national level when compared to other countries of our size.

2) Create a cap of 80 electorate seats - 26 for the South Island, 44 for the North Island, and 8 Maori seats. While electoral boundaries may change and shift, the number of seats must remain the same - and the South Island must be guaranteed a minimum of 20 seats no matter what population shifts occur. Including the Maori seats eliminates the chance of an overhang.

3) Create 40 List seats. These seats are voted for by the Party vote, which affects ONLY this category. Thus, if Labour wins 40% of the vote, they win 40% of the List seats in addition to however many electoral seats they win.

4) Retain the 5% threshold (or even increase it to 6%) but eliminate the 'bring-a-mate' policy. If a party wins an electorate seat, so be it - but unless they win 5% of the vote, they cannot bring any other party members in with them. This would eliminate the disproportionate power held by NZ First, the Alliance, ACT, United Future, and the Greens at various times over the past 13 years.

5) List MPs should be entitled to vote on legislation but not permitted to introduce it. Also, prohibit any List MP from being eligible to be Prime Minister - if the leader of the political party which wins the most seats loses theirs, they must step down as PM. Any List MP who defects or is expelled from the party they have been chosen to represent immediately loses their position and status as an MP and is to be replaced by the next person on their party's list.

These changes, to my mind, would make our system fairer and more workable.

And that's my two cents to sense.

Food for thought

Israel arrests Jewish-American for hate crimes
10:19AM Monday Nov 02, 2009

Just a short observation about this. Apparently a man named Jack Teitel, described as an 'ultra-Orthodox Jewish West Bank settler', was arrested by Israeli police and Shin Bet for "the killing of two Arabs, the targeting of a peace activist and an attack on a breakaway Jewish sect over a period of 12 years."

Teitel, who does not speak Hebre, had immigrated to Israel from Florida about a decade ago. Interestingly, the polics spokesperson, Micky Rosenfeld, descibed the man as "a Jewish terrorist".

Critics will point out that Teitel's most conspicious attacks were against a family of Messianic Jews (Jews who accept Christ as the Messiah but have remained Jewish), and an Israeli peace activist, but he has also been accused of killing two Palestinians in 1997 and wounding another Arab.

To me, this begs an obvious question - what do Palestinians do with their terrorists? My impression is that, while Israeli authorities are arresting Jews who have killed Palestinians, the Palestinans seem to hold parades for Arabs who have killed Jews.

Food for thought...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sterilise the poor?

Laws denies 'sterilise beneficaries' claim
12:53PM Friday Oct 30, 2009

Initial reporting on Laws' comments:

Michael Laws, formerly an MP for NZ First and now Mayor of Wanganui as well as a radio talk-back host, is the conservative man that liberals love to hate. If liberals bought dart boards with people's faces on them, his would be a best seller. Laws has been at the forefront of the anti-PC crusade for a number of years, and has recently been villified and pilloried by the media for successfully banning the wearing of gang regalia in Wanganui and for his comments over the 'H' debacle (a blog dedicated to this will be written soon; I am currently awaiting the government's decision on whether to accept or reject the NZ Geographic Board's decision to insert the letter 'h' between the 'W' and the 'a' in 'Wanganui').

The situation:
The Dominion Post approached Michael Laws for his view on the recent death of two year old Wanganui lad Karl Perigo-Check, whose father is a member of the Mongrel Mob and currently serving a stint in Her Majesty's Correctional Facilities for his role in the murder of Black Power daughter Jhia Te Tua in a drive-by shooting several years ago. (The obvious suggestion that this is karma or divine justice would probably be unfair both to the child and his mother.) Mr Laws, who had not sought out the press but responded to the DomPost's request for an interview, said that "the children of beneficiaries, drug addicts and criminals had little chance in life". Fair enough - I personally have seen first hand from my experience of working in the state schooling system enough evidence to support this view. Laws went on to say:

"If we gave $10,000 to certain people and said 'we'll voluntarily sterilise you' then all of society would be better off. There'd be less dead children and less social problems. Do we really expect these children to become doctors or brain surgeons?"

Well! Anyone would think he'd come out and said "I think we should abuse and kill children" judging by the backlash from civil libetarians and general professional liberal "do-gooders". (I call into question what "good" these people actually "do" but that is beside the point here.)

Janfrie Wakim from the Child Poverty Action Group called the suggestions 'reprehensible' - obviously she would far rather that children live in poverty than allow any intervention which would actually successfully prevent the growth of numbers in this area. Murray Edridge of
Barnardos New Zealand believed the comments were intentionally provocative and went on to indirectly blame a lack of community support for why such children may not be able to become doctors or brain surgeons. The Child Commissioner, John Angus, described the comments as being unrealistic and unhelpful, saying that

"many children who grew up on benefits became good citizens. Wider family members often ensured children were well cared for if their parents suffered from substance abuse or mental illness".

Even (now former) MP Sue Bradford called the 'Laws solution' draconian and totalitarian and one which would never be considered by Parliament, suggesting that instead more money needs to be poured into solving the problem of dysfunctional families and abused kids.

My opinion:
Once again we see the blatant attempts of a liberal media to villify conservatives by putting words in their mouths. Laws suggests that there is an underclass in NZ society (which there is) and that perhaps some could be paid to undergo voluntary sterilisation - all at once the liberals pounce and claim that Laws wants to sterilise all beneficiaries! Where do they get this from? Like Laws, I take issue with the liberal association of 'beneficiary' with 'underclass'. Many beneficiaries are there out of compulsion rather than choice, and doing everything they can to make their dependence on the state as short lived as possible. Their children, by and large, are raised with love and values and will grow up to be honest and productive members of society.
BUT here is the point that these blindly liberal commentators just cannot see. We DO have an underclass in NZ, one which is composed of people who have performed little or any legitimate work in their lives. Their parents have been dependent on the state, as have, in some cases, their grandparents, and as will be their children. For this underclass, welfare is a right, not a privilege, and accepting welfare is an acceptable long term alternative to working. Their children grow up in households where no adult has a work history - and there are often a large number of adults in these households, pooling their welfare payments so as to be able to afford Sky TV, flash new mobile phones, i-pods, and stereo systems etc. They learn that if they get pregnant at 15 they can get the DPB; if they drop out of school at 16 they can get a youth allowance and, later, the dole. Essentially, they learn how to function as a parasite, the perennial calf sucking on nanny-state's tit. As a tax payer, that's my tit they're sucking on too - and yours!
Our society has been in a rapid state of flux for some years. Many things deemed irresponsible, sinful, or just plain unthinkable even 50 years ago are now commonplace - divorce, abortion, homosexuality, prostitution, drug use, to name just a few. It is not my place (and certainly not in this article) to pass judgement on this state of change; certainly, society 50 years ago was a lot more conservative and less tolerant of difference, some flexibilty is required if we are to function as a tolerant and respecting society. But for some reason the 'right' to bear children is still sacrosanct. Civil libertarians are all too eager to support the right to terminate a pregnancy (although interestingly most are more eager to kill an unborn child than to kill a convicted mass murderer or serial rapist...), and yet they also support the right of Mrs Smith having 25 children to 14 different fathers and claiming child support for all of them. In a world which is overpopulated as it is, where the people more likely to be breeding more often are also the ones least likely to be able to support their children, this is something that MUST change. Having a child is a responsibility, not a right. If you cannot support one, you should not have one. And if giving people $10,000 to have their tubes tied or cut or whatever helps alleviate social problems 15 or 20 years down the track, then I say it is a much more effective use of tax-payers money than having to pay for more benefits to pay the bludgers and more prisons to house the delinquents.

And that's my two cents to sense.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Lamentation on Modern Living

Here's the truth - life sucks, and then you die.

Positive self-affirmations are a waste of time. Feng Shui is bollocks. Karma is crap. Your star sign predictions in the daily paper are always wrong. Neither the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud nor the collected sayings and wise words of Confucius will ever be of any help to you. Psychologists and psychiatrists and therapists and counsellors and life coaches and motivational speakers and even Tony bloody Robbins are all speaking through a tiny hole in their massive butts. You are not significant. You are not important. You are not a valued member of our society. You can‘t make changes to improve your life; there is no twenty step programme to turn you into someone that matters.

You're not going to change the world. You have nothing to offer but a meaningless life, a parasitic existence on the planet which nurtures you even as you help to destroy it. You will never amount to anything. You pass through people’s lives like a breath of air, instantly forgotten and replaced by the next breath. The world owes you nothing and God isn’t listening.

Complete strangers win the lottery while you can’t even get three numbers on the same line.

Over the course of your entire life to date you have achieved absolutely nothing - the world would not notice your absence. Your life is completely, totally and utterly void of purpose, direction, or meaning.

You are not a sports star, a movie star, a rock star or a shooting star. You will not be famous, wealthy, a celebrity, an important personality, a millionaire, a media magnate, King of England, President of the USA, a corrupt megalomaniac Armageddon cult leader or a talk-show host. You will never marry royalty. You will never have a yacht, a private jet, a mansion, your own private movie theatre, a cereal box with your picture on it, a Playboy bunny or an island in the South Pacific. You can’t write a best-selling novel, nor think up a box-office smash-hit award-winning screenplay. You can‘t write next year‘s most popular song, and you wouldn‘t be able to sing or play it anyway.

No matter how hard you hit a golf ball, a tennis ball, or a football, you will never make any money from it. You will never be asked to endorse a clothing label, a make-up range, or a sports shoe. The closest you will ever get to a five star hotel room is seeing one on TV, and you will never even travel business class, let alone first class.

No matter how much you exercise and diet, you will never look good enough. You’ll fail the Jenny Craig diet, the Atkins diet, and the Subway diet. You're afraid that if you attain your ideal weight there will be something else wrong with you which will be even harder to fix, and if there isn’t then you will no longer have anything on which to blame your failures: you’ll be forced to accept that you really are a complete waste of a human life. All these years on the planet and THIS is all you are?

You will never meet anyone who really loves you. There is only one person on the entire planet that we are each destined to be with; you were five minutes late on the day you were supposed to meet yours, and missed her forever. Your soul mate died in a car accident, or a plane crash, or a medical mishap before you even knew she existed. Every time you think you are getting somewhere, the rug is pulled out from under your feet, again and again, and you seem to end up even further back than when you started. You will continue to mistake female friendship for adult affection, until you manage to alienate all your women friends and end up with no friends left at all. You will never again have a long term relationship, a short term relationship, a summer fling or a one night stand. You will never marry, but on the bright side you will never divorce.

You will never have children or your own house or a stock portfolio.

You will never do what you want to do, but at least you don’t know what that is, so you will never know what you're missing. You will never have a job that pays you what you are worth. You will work in one dead-end job after another until the day you retire (which you won't be able to do until you are 80 because of all the money being spent on deadbeats and layabouts who refuse to get off their butts and find a job), and you will die a week later. You will have been forgotten even before you die. Your obituary will be less than two lines on the back page of the classified section that no one will ever read. Your tombstone will not say “beloved father” or “sorely missed” or even “rest in peace”. Your entire life will be summed up by your birth and death dates. If you're lucky they might spell your name correctly on the plaque which marks your burial spot. There will be no flowers over your grave, and in fifty years time it will be ploughed under to make way for another block of low rent housing. Hordes of welfare kids and immigrants will pee on the lawn under which you will be buried, and you probably won’t even be able to haunt them.

You're nobody special, and you're pissed off about it. The worst thing is that you can only swear in one language, and all the best swear words are foreign. They never teach you the words you really want to know when you study a language at high school.

You can’t save the Earth. The only planet we have will continue to disintegrate one piece at a time as you sit in your living room, eating dinner and watching it happen on TV. Global warming, coastal flooding; El Nino, La Nina; urbanisation and traffic congestion; expanding deserts and diminishing rainforests, mass extinctions, whale hunting for ‘scientific research‘, oil drilling in ‘nature reserves‘; globalisation, global recession, unemployment, Third World debt, Hollyweird, McWorld, and Paris god-damned Hilton; declining democratic participation in the West, rising totalitarianism in the East, tyrannical theocracies and military juntas everywhere else; plagues and pestilence, the Sars virus, the Aids virus, Ebola, the Influenza epidemic, Hong Kong Chicken Flu, Mexican Swine Flu, Tamiflu; mad cows with CJD and mad scientists with DNA; wars, insurrections, famines, droughts, bush fires, deluges, swarms of locusts and rivers of blood, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, cyclones, huricanes, tsunamis and typhoons; lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Terrorists, Al Qaeda, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the Taleban, Hamas, Hezbollah, the PFLP, the ETA, GRAPO, KWP, Tamil Tigers, FARC, the Shining Path, the UDF, the IRA - Real, Orginal, Official, Provisional, Continuity, and any other splinter group that exists; the Red Brigades, the Red Army, the Republican Guard, the US Marines; Iranian nuclear acquisition, French nuclear testing, North Korean chemical programmes; holy atomic Jihad; religious persecution, increasing intolerance and extreme evangelical movements, the Christian Creationist Right, the Socialist-Anarchist Left, Islamo-fascism, eco-fascism; declining moral standards, legalised prostitution, grow your own dope, do-it-yourself abortions and euthanasia but don't you dare smack your kids; over-population, declining sperm counts, increased bacterial infections, genetic modification and genetic engineering; melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, climate change or climate hoax? Obesity in the Developed World and starvation everywhere else; civil libertarians protecting skinheads’ freedom of speech, liberals protesting to stop anyone who disagrees with them from speaking, violent demonstrations hijacked by terrorists, riots, revolutions...

The Decline and Fall of Western Civilisation, brought to you 24 hours a day by CNN, the BBC, and the lovely people at Fox.

500 million Indians want their own cars - there goes the last of the oil reserves, and what did we do with that water powered engine ...?

600 million Chinese households want refrigerators - what ozone layer was that, now?

It’s not your fault that Europeans conquered and exploited the rest of the world before anyone else could do it - but you get to live with the fall out.

It’s not your fault that African nations can’t govern themselves, South American nations love military coups, Central American governments are owned by drug lords, or that Asian governments are corrupt. Why is it that the Pacific Islands can’t afford to have decent electricity generation? Who’s to blame for the fact that most sub-Saharan Africans have never heard of a computer or held a telephone? If China hadn’t destroyed their fleets in the fifteenth century, they‘d be running the world and most Africans still wouldn’t know what a microwave dinner tasted like. Should you apologise for the fact that your European ancestors were more advanced than everyone else? That they decided to bring the advantages of their more advanced civilisation to the rest of the world? Should they be sorry for trying to help? Should you be carrying some kind of racial guilt and apologising to their descendants on your ancestors' behalf? "Terribly sorry from rescuing you from those caves ..." Maybe those who complain about colonisation would like it better living in caves or mud huts again, wearing animal skins and sacrificing virgins to the sun god.

World Vision wants a dollar a day so you can sponsor some kid who will join an extreme terrorist fundamentalist group which will dedicate itself to destroying your life. The government wants you to pay taxes on every dollar you earn so it can pay other people to sit at home and watch TV all day. You are buying their cigarettes, their alcohol, their takeaways and their Playstation. You're putting clothes on their kids’ backs. You're paying for the education of children you don‘t have, for hospitals you don’t use, TV stations you don’t watch, politicians you don’t like, roads you don’t need, sports events you're not interested in, and artistic or cultural events you couldn’t give a stuff about. Charities ring you at home to beg for money you don‘t have. You obey the law and you're punished for it, but prisoners get three square meals a day, daily exercise, TVs in their prison cells, phone calls and conjugal visits. You pay more in student loan repayments than you do in rent, while juvenile delinquents get their fines written off because they can’t afford to pay them. You may be nothing special, but a word of thanks every now and then would be nice.

You're sick of life as it is, of being persecuted because you actually do care about yourself, your society, and your country. You are sick of voting for people who stab you in the back for a pay rise they don't need. You're sick of List MPs who got into Parliament without public scrutiny begin able to legislate for things that 90% of us don't want. You're alarmed by the realisation that there is nothing in our laws to prevent a List MP from becoming Prime Minister. And you're sickened by the realisation that the three-yearly lolly scramble by the same relentlessly power hungry and corrupt administration masquerading as different political parties manages to fool enough morons to allow them to retain some semblance of power. You know that democracy doesn't work, but you're labelled a Fascist for daring to say so. Democracy is moronocracy. The People? Sheeple.

Welcome to your life.

The good news is, one day it will end.

One day.

(This was first published by at in June 2007. I may have been slightly depressed and not coping well with rejection issues at the time. That does not in any way prevent much of this from being a realistic portrayaly of life in the contemporary West.)

Destined for Danger

"Tamaki's 700 'sons' swear oath of loyalty "
4:00AM Thursday Oct 29, 2009 - by Garth George

The Destiny Church is a small religius community which regularly punches above its weight in terms of gaining media attention. A lot of this is due to its leader, Brian Tamaki, a media-savvy opportunist who has transformed the tiny little Lake City Church from my home town, Rotorua, into a trans-Tasman religious money spinner. Destiny Church is a Pentecostal, strongly conservative religious group which favours the more literal viewpoint of the Bible and draws in worshippers from predominantly lower socio-economic and Maori + Polynesian sectors of the community.
The Church has aroused attention over recent years due to controversies surrounding its leader and its actions. In 2003 Brian Tamaki issued what he called a prophetic announcement that Destiny would be ruling the country in five years time. ( In 2005 Tamaki had himself ordained a bishop, charging his parishoners $70 a seat to watch the ceremony amd warning that "the church must recover again its attitude of militance." He declared "war" on a so-called "evil" government (okay, it was Labour but even I would balk at calling them evil!), and on the modern "secular humanism, liberalism, relativism, pluralism" which apparently plagues our society. ( Destiny is probably best known for the creation of a Destiny Party in 2003 to contest the upcoming 2005 election (it was the 9th most popular party on election night, winning 14,210 votes nationwide,or 0.62% of the popular vote -; the August 2004 "Enough is Enough" march against the civil union legislation, where thousands of black-clad marchers evoked memories of the Nazi stormtroopers in 1930s Germany; and reports in October last year that Destiny planned to build their own enclave or 'city' where all followers could live, children could be educated and the outside world kept at bay.

The situation:
Over the weekend, at Destiny Church's national conference, some 700 young men swore the following oath to Tamaki:
"To you Bishop we pledge our allegiance, our faithfulness and loyalty. We pledge to serve the cause that is in your heart and to finish that work. Success to you and success to those who help you - for God is with you."

The NZ Herald article explains exactly what this means - Tamaki's "spiritual sons" are obliged to always speak highly of their leader; to publicly acknowledge him first on formal occasions; to protect him from outsiders who are seeking to be "in his face"; to ensure that he and his wife are given "appropriate respect"; to "guard, protect and watch out for him" and his wife; to endorse and support whatever he endorses and to ensure that others do not cut in when he is speaking; to follow him on his speaking circuit in order to reflect his importance to them; to give gifts to him and his wife "on birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions or achievements" or just as a surprise; to never expose any weakness which Tamaki may have or demonstrate; to reinforce and emphasise his words, quoting him as often as possible in favourable terms; and, most chillingly,
They must never tolerate anyone (regardless of who they are) speaking or talking critically of Mr Tamaki and his wife/family or the church. "You are not only to stop them in their tracks but warn them that they criticise you when they criticise Bishop."

My opinion:
Some of my very distant ancestors, the Anglo-Saxons, swore an oath of fealty to their superiors. They would proclaim this binding oath: "I will to my lord be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns." Essentially, Tamaki could have just made his followers swear that oath, as it has the same effect. Much comment has been made in the media about whether or not this group is a cult. I say that if it wasn't before, this "cult of worship" created on the weekend confirms the status of this 'church' as a dangerous and oppressive cult. Those who challenge Tamaki now challenge 700 men who have pledged to follow and protect him, like clients surrounding their patron as he walked towards the Forum Romanum in the latter days of the corrupt Roman Republic.

Further to this are the revelations that Tamaki has, apparently, adopted the title of 'King' and that, in addition to the six figure salary he already receives from the 'church', he apparently pockets some half-a-million dollars straight from the collection plate ( and No wonder some of these people are struggling - many of his supporters being in the lower socio-economic groups anyway, struggling with paying their taxes, possibly affected by unemployment, yet having to pay a tithe to their leader AND pay to attend special services, not to mention getting guilted in to purchasing Destiny merchandise from the gift shop in the lobby. If tithing and the sale of indulgences created such a backlash against Catholicism in the 15th century, it is interesting to see a Protestant based faith going even further. This is no religion - this is a business, pure and simple.

My suggestion is that local dairies in the vicinity of Destiny Church buildings put their Refresh, Raro, and Rat-poison on sale to help Tamaki carry out his next Jim Jones impersonation. Hopefully he drinks it first and gives the rest of them time to realise that living with him was bad enough, let alone dying with him.

And that's my two cents to sense.

Maori Party acts to protect its own ... criminals, that is

c Young men 'will fight back' against police, says Maori party
8:32AM Thursday Oct 29, 2009

Yesterday the NZ Parliament passed the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill to enable police to take DNA swabs from any person they intend to charge with an imprisonable offence, from 2011. The vast majority of the House voted in favour of the bill, which was opposed only by the 13 MPS of the Green and Maori Parties.

The Situation:
According to the NZ Herald article, Rahui Katene of the Maori Party said that Maori youths would "of course" fight back if police attempt to take a swab without their consent. I'm still waiting to hear if this constitutes a violation of a person's mana or a lack of respect for Maori cultural traditions, which are the usual planks of any protest by Maori advocates when opposing any measure they don't happen to like. Ms Katene, whose concerns were echoed by new Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei (who has done one GREAT thing in her political career - her promotion to coleadership of the party directly resulted in Sue Bradford's resignation), both of whom suggested that the DNA database kept by police would become overwhelmingly Maori.

My view:
The use of DNA evidence in law enforcement has been a contentious issue for civil libertarians, all of whom seem to think that the police don't actually do anything except plant evidence at crime scenes just to make an arrest so they can knock off at five and have a drink at the pub. Personally, I think that the vast majority of law enforcement officials in this country are good, honest citizens who are trying to protect society. Collecting DNA from people they intend to charge for an offence makes sense - it could be that the DNA sample proves that person's innocence, but realistically the police would have to have some evidence with which to charge the suspected offender before taking the swab. A glance at NZ prison statistics () reveals that roughly 42% of current female inmates and 53% of men currently behind bars had already racked up 6 or more previous convictions, while only 25% of women and 17% of men in prison were there as a result of their first conviction. This suggests that crimes are more likely to be committed by existing criminals, already known to the justice system. Surely it makes sense to collect DNA samples from these people?
The Maori Party is concerned for obvious reasons - many Maori seem to have an affinity with Her Majesty's Correctional Facilities. According to the Ministry of Justice (), 45% of the male population of NZ prisons in 1995 were Maori, whereas only 10% of NZ's population at the time were Maori men. The report explains that:
"Part of the difference between Māori and non-Māori is accounted for by the younger age distribution of the Māori population, as young people in general are more likely to be offenders. However, the high percentage of Māori in prison also reflects higher offending rates (measured by the rate of prosecutions per head of population) and a greater number of previous convictions on average compared to other ethnic groups, and a greater average seriousness of offending compared to other ethnic groups with the exception of Pacific peoples."
The same report identified 49% of the female prison population as being of Maori descent.
Critics will point to the disparity in educational outcomes and socio-economic status as expalantions for this disproportionate figure, but I ahve never bought into that. Crime is crime, and there is no justification for it. I've never heard of anyone being sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread; offences leading to conviction are not acts of desperation but of calculation.
If the police intend to charge you with a crime and you have done nothing wrong, then you should be glad to give a DNA sample to clear your name. The only reason for not wanting to do so is because you have something to hide.

And that's my two cents to sense.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A new blog

With all the best intentions in the world, I honestly really mean it this time - I will try to keep regular updates on this darn thing! My old blog didn't last too long; I'll try to rescue some of the content and repost it here, but the original can be found at for now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

War is War, Peace is Peace, and Ignorance is Bliss

A response to John Pilger's "War is Peace and Ignorance is Strength", published in the New Statesman on October 15, 2009.

(Thanks to Lawrence Hill for directing this to my attention.)

It will help to read if you read the Pilger article first:

Much as I intensely dislike the cult of worship which has developed around US President Barack Obama in the past 18 months or so, this article by John Pilger is remarkably unfair to him - it basically calls Obama a dishonest warmonger. While this diatribe is about what I'd expect from the pen of John Pilger, who leans so far to the left that his brains seem to have seeped out of his ear, what I find most interesting is that hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned - if old Pilgie wasn't one of those liberal commentators near the forefront of the "go-'bama" campaign in the foreign (ie non American) press then he was certainly watching with joy from the sidelines, but he's now turned his back on the Golden Child. However, it is nice to know that such people can change their minds.

I would like to address some of the key issues raised in the article, which is why, if you haven't read it, you should probably click on the link and do so before moving forward.


We need to acknowledge some home truths here. The Taleban do not obey the rules of war. They are not signatories to the Geneva Convention. They kill, beat, maim, rape, torture and steal from people who do not hold their views. After the recent Afghan elections Taleban agents cut off the hands or even limbs of people they caught with the indelible ink mark imprinted on their thumbs while voting, because they did not want Afghans to vote at all. The Taleban routinely hold meetings, training camps, and recruitment posts under cover of weddings, birthday celebrations, and the like on innocent peoples farms, on construction sites, in schools and especially mosques, etc. Sometimes the people involved are forced to be there in order to provide cover; sometimes they themselves are Taleban sympathisers. The Taleban are not stupid - they know that the West puts more faith in a couple of minutes of one sided, disjointed emotive drivel on a news report than in the strategy and tactics of fighting a war against people who welcome death as martyrdom.

Yes, civilians have died, and more are dying, as a result of US and allied raids and tactics. The Taleban have been routinely killing civilians for years, raping women who go out in public without a male escort or revealing too much skin, raiding schools where girls are taught to read in order to keep the fairer sex subjugated and oppressed, murdering anyone who speaks out against them. This is a WAR, people, and until the boffins can create weapons which have a friend / foe distinguishing button, collateral damage will happen - ESPECIALLY when the enemy deliberately use civilian shields to maximise the death count.

Yes, more money does need to be spent on infrastructure such as roads, electricity, education, and medical care, but it must be noted that a lot of the money given to the government for such projects is being siphoned off and diverted to the Taleban by corrupt bureaucrats and sympathisers within the Afghan administration. A lot of the existing projects in Taleban controlled areas are being destroyed by the insurgents, so obviously we need to get rid of the Taleban first before the serious reconstruction can begin - otherwise, it's just money down a sinkhole.

Yes, the current 'President' of Afghanistan appears to have stolen the election, but he has bowed to international pressure and a new run-off election is to be held within the next fortnight.

We in the West have a choice: we fight these people on their home ground, now, or we leave them alone, wait for them to gather strength, allow their agents to infiltrate our society as 'refugees', and then fight them in our own streets when they try to force NZ neighbourhoods to adopt sharia law, female genital mutilation, institutionalised rape (aka arranged marriages, or the belief that men should rape women who are out in public and not wearing a hijab or a burqa, or even that to avenge an insult against your family the men of your clan can rape a woman of another clan, who will then be put to death by her own family in order to save face - yes these things happen, not just in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Sudan but in Amsterdam and Oslo and Bradford!) and all those other fundamentalist practices which have been adopted by Islamic extremists and which are an anathema to our way of life. Gay rights and marriage? Forget about it - under sharia law homosexuals can be stoned to death, and I don't mean the kind where they lock you in a room with several kilos of maryjane and tell you to go for it. These fundamentalists hate our way of life, and they hate our perceived weakness in accepting other ways of life, and they despise our secularism, our freedom and our democracy as an affront to Allah, who alone has the right to legislate the regulation of society (through the earthly intervention of the mullahs and imams, of course).


The 'war in Pakistan' has nothing to do with Obama. It is a Taleban inspired insurgency which has more to do with the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of the North-West Frontier Province and reaction to the Pakistani system of government than anything the US and its President are doing. The fact that Taleban funded mullahs have had free access in the tribal areas in the north for a number of years without the authorities intervening, providing educational and social services which were poorly funded by the federal goverment, has been a major catalyst for the extremist sympathies and anti-government feeling in this area. US pressure on the Pakistani authorities to deal with this situation before it spirals out of control (remember that many commentators believe that, if he is still alive, Osama Bin Laden is most likely in this area) fell on deaf ears for a number of years; the previous Pakistani military dictator General Musharraf used the existence of the pro-Islamist militia as an excuse to maintain a strong army and also as a scapegoat for anti-Indian agitation and action when such things occured. The new civilian government of Pakistan has taken the threat seriously but their poorly trained troops are not doing particularly well, simply encouraging the pro-Taleban cause through their ineptitude.


Obama did not lie about the Iranian cover up of a “secret nuclear facility” - Iran reported it to the International Atomic Energy Authority only after they realised that British and American intelligence knew it was there. As for the supposed dichotomy of the US supporting Israel's right to have nuclear weapons while contesting the Iranian nuclear programme, I can see how some people might have an issue with this. From my point of view, and this is admittedly the weakest part of my counter-argument, is that IF Israel has nuclear weapons (the Israeli government officially neither confirms nor denies the existence of any nuclear aresenal), then you can certainly understand why - ALL of its neighbours (apart from the Egyptian government which does not reflect the will of many of its people in this regard, and to some extent Jordan) want to OBLITERATE the nation, pound it into the dust, and forget it was ever there - they do not even officially recognise its existence! Israel is outnumbered significantly and with Iran aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons (oh, sorry, a 'nuclear power' policy) can we seriously ask Israel to give up the one deterrent it has to safeguard its existence? I can see the counter argument - with US forces in Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east, the theocratic powers that be in Iran may see themselves as being encircled by potentially hostile forces, and is seeking to build a deterrent. If this is the case, why not just admit it instead of lying to the international community at every turn? I'm sure a number of countries would support Iran's right to a nuclear deterrent if it was diplomatic and responsible enough in raising the issue. However, the actions of Iran's governments of late has been everything else BUT responsible - look at the crack down after the current government blatantly stole the election this year and demonstrated its contempt for any moderation of its hard line rule. Even Zimbabwe's Mugabe realised that, in stealing an election against such an obvious groundswell of opposition, you need to do a sneaky compromise and make people THINK you're going to accept change. (Conveniently killing off the wife of the main opposition partner and new government coalition ally can send a powerul message to other opponents as well!) The point here is preventing further proliferation of nuclear weapons - once the genie is out of the bottle, you can't put it back, but you can prevent others from releasing it. Am I uncomfortable with the Israelis having a finger on the big red button? Yes, of course - just as any of us are uncomfortable with any country which currently has them. Nuclear non-proliferation is not about getting countries to give up their existing arsenals (how would we ever trust that any country has done so?) but about preventing more countries from joining the nuclear club. Building nuclear power stations is a very small step before building weapons facilities, and we know Iran has been testing missiles with longer and further ranges over the past few years. I expect that at some point in the near future, if this is not resolved, we will see a repeat of Israel's 1981 pre-emptive strike on Iraq's nuclear facilities on Osirak. I find it hilarious that the Iranian nuclear programme was initially funded by the US 'Atoms for Peace' prorgramme in the 1950s, but of course everything changed with the toppling of the Shah in the late 1970s. I've read that Iran's "Supreme Leader", the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, once proclaimed in a fatwa that the use, and even production, of nuclear weapons was an offence to Allah and forbidden by Islamic law; then again, apparently there is nothing in the Koran about raping women to avenge honour-crimes so I guess some of this stuff can be made up as you go along. Certainly on 24 September 2005 the International Atomic Energy Authority's Board of Governors declared that Iran's failure to comply with the Safeguards Agreement in the past compised a "non-compliance" with the protocols of the agreement, and this remains the current view. Given the rhetoric from people such as Pakistan's President about Israel's right to exist, I think Iran has yet to prove that it is responsible enough to be trusted to develop a nuclear programme, even a peaceful one. Even at the height of the Cold War neither the US nor the USSR ever refused to acknowledge their adversary's right to exist.


Pilger is a well known Palestinian apologist, so of course I expect him to discuss the "Israeli war crimes" without making mention of the actions of Hamas. Is firing rockets into civilian areas on a daily basis not a war crime? Again, because Hamas is an illegal terrorist organisation, it has not signed the Geneva Convention governing the rules of war. Yes, it cannot be denied that there were more Palestinian casualties than Israeli in teh recent conflict. Much of this is due to that fact that Gaza has an extremely densely packed population, and therefore more casualties will be suffered in any conflict. The vast majority of the population are first, second, or third generation refugees, descended from people who fled Israeli forces in the War of Liberation of 1948 after the sudden and immediate declaration of war on the nascent Jewish state by its Arab neighbours. Many Jewish inhabitants of those states fled or were expelled from their homes as well; they were taken in primarily by Israel and the US and their descendants are fully functioning members of those states; some 40% of Israel's population in 2002 was comprised of or descended from these refugees. Many Palestinians remained in Israel instead of fleeing their homes - 20% of Israel's population, according to the latest census, are of Arab descent, although estimates of the 1948 'exodus' are suggest that up to 80% of the Arabs within Israeli territory (perhaps up to 750-800,000 people) left of their own volition, fled the conflict, or were expelled by Israeli Defence Forces or the government after the conflict. In 1949, at the Lausanne conference, Israel offered to accept 100,000 refugees back, while the Arab states would take the remaining refugees and Israel would take the Jewish refugees from those lands. The Arab states did not agree to this proposal. So while Jewish refugees were resettled within Israel, the supposed brethren of the Palestinian Arabs on the borders of Israel forced the Palestinian refugees to live in refugee camps by not allowing them free passage into or citizenship of their countries. While we in the West are constantly castigated about not having high enough refugee quotas, those countries which are socially and culturally a better home for many of the refugees refuse to have anything to do with them, and blame Israel for the enduring poverty of their existence.


Pilger bewails the use of Long Range Acoustic Devices against protestors in Pittsburgh. My God, what does this man want teh authorities to use? Rubber bullets and tear gas? How about a full military clamp down with sub-machine guns? Crowd control during protests and demonstrations is essential because, as learnt in Somalia over a decade ago (if not in other places earlier), crowds of innocent protestors are targetted by anarchists and terrorists and used, against the knowledge and support of many of their participants, to mask violent action. The right to organised protest should never be permitted to outweigh the right to safety and security. As for calling Guantanamo Bay a concentration camp, well, in some ways it is nice to see someone who is not scared of invoking howls of outrage from Jewish lobby groups at the blatant misuse of that term, but come on - it is an internment camp. Yes, it needs to be closed if we (the West) are to retain any moral high ground, but such a closure must be managed - a vast majority of the inmates are not suspected terrorists, they are actual terrorists, and holding them saves lives; releasing them just means more people will die, and if my mother is killed because some extremist is released from Guantanamo Bay to find his way to Christchurch and blow up the NZI building at Addington as an attack on the western financial system then there will be trouble. Oh, and the convenient thing about accusing people of "secret assassinations and torture" is that you don't need any proof - it's a secret, so there is none!


The US - Colombian military bases are primarily targeted at controlling the Western Hemisphere and intercepting the drug trade which is sponsoring the terrorists. The worst thing about the West is that we are our own worst enemy in this regard - we bleat on about drug laws and how ever many percent of our people routinely use drugs, but such recreational use creates what I call “herbological latifundia” in poor nations - farmers can earn more from growing coca and opium in one year than from growing corn or wheat in 20 years. The war on terror must tackle the purse strings as well as the terrorists. This is in no way an indication that Obama of the US plans to “rollback” the independence and democracy of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Paraguay - it is just a recognition that the institutions in these countries are so corrupt that they cannot deal with the problem themselves. The Colombian armed forces receive military support and training from the US and Britain; I don't read anywhere in this article about the terrorist and guerrilla warfare training camps in Afghanistan and the Sudan which are run by the Taleban and/or Al Qaeda and are paid for in roughly equal amounts by Saudi Arabian fundamentalists and European governments - the latter through the excessive welfare payments made to non-integrating 'refugees' who send money back to their 'families' at home and also donate money to their local mosque, some of which then send the money on. (In some countries such as Denmark, Muslims make up 5% of the population but receive 40% of the welfare outlay.)

The Nobel Peace Prize

Finally, Pilger and I are, if not on the same page, at least within the same chapter. I agree completely that Obama should not have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at such an early stage of his presidential career; in my opinion, someone like Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, or even Chinese activist and current political prisoner Hu Jia would have been a much better recipient. I completely agree with Pilger's concerns regarding what he calls the "Call of Obama", which he describes as being "not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded." And I love the quote from George Clooney which Pilger uses to illustrate his point: “When Obama walks into a room... you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere." (For those keeping score, this may well be the first time I have EVER agreed with Pilger on ANYTHING apart from the issue of sweatshops in Indonesia.) And, for a record third time, I totally embrace Pilger's comments about political debate having become so debased in our "media monoculture" that issues of race, gender and class can be used as "seductive tools of propaganda and diversion." I point the finger, in part, to the education system and our curriculum; yes, as a Social Studies teacher, I must admit that I and my colleagues are part of the disease. I do as much as I can to prevent a liberal-socialist-egalitarian view point from brainwashing my students but one person can only do so much.

For those of you who are interested, I recommend you read "While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within", by Bruce Bawer. It's an interesting take on the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe, written by a gay American who lives in Norway and has also lived in the Netherlands - two countries renowned for their tolerance.

Search This Blog