Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#Waitergate Part Two: Tail-Spin

T.D.B. can reveal allegations are swirling that Prime Minister John Key's been at it again - this time, reputedly pulling the hair of a TVNZ employee. It's not entirely clear when the alleged incident occurred, but Beltway-insiders are predicting the Ninth Floor will shortly be bracing for another round of fallout.

A major media outlet is expected to break the story on Sunday. The female victim is understood to be a presenter on morning television. It has been speculated that the matter was 'covered up' by TVNZ bosses.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Green Party Adopts New Zealand First Policy #BlackGreen2017

Over the weekend, our friends in the Green Party announced a pretty cool policy: extending Kiwisaver to cover kids.

Establishing Kiwisaver accounts for newborns, replete with thousand-dollar kick-starters, is an excellent idea; and the near-$13,000 nest-egg a young person might have by age 18 is quite rightly being hailed as a "game-changer".

Good thing, then, that New Zealand First was (as per usual) AHEAD of the game when we proposed exactly the same thing almost a year ago in August of 2014.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery; and while some parties might get a little hot under the collar when their good ideas get taken up by others (e.g the present furor from Labour over National's decision to levy a sort of capital gains tax on housing) ... over here in New Zealand First we recognize that the politics game is about changing hearts and minds in order to implement policy.

A fellow Parliamentary party picking up on one of our great ideas is therefore nothing to be annoyed about. It's one more ally in the fight to effect change.

So while I could well understand it if Winston were to be vaguely annoyed that press coverage seems much more positive for the Green Party's announcement as compared to our own policy launch ... I'm also somewhat more prosaic about what this means in practice.

Instead of castigating the Green Party for plagarism of our policy, I'm therefore CONGRATULATING the Greens for seeing sense and being sufficiently impressed with our idea that they've taken it up for themselves.

After all, successful politics is about working together; and co-operation is made that much more fruitful when you're demonstrably singing off the same song-sheet to begin with. It's also quite satisfying when your dance-partner defers to you in following your lead.

As a wise man once said: "Great minds think alike - dirty minds collaborate" ;)

#BlackGreen2017

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Most Un-Edificient Spectacle

I must confess that as a man with a megalomaniac streak and a strong Shaivite enthusiasm, I'm a little biased about this. But when I read the story in yesterday's Herald about some guy out in Clevedon taking issue with his neighbour's new lawn ornament because religious intolerance, my blood began to boil.

From where I'm sitting, there's two things that need to be said about this.

First up, erecting a giant 6.4 meter effigy of Shiva in your back-yard (after having attained all the appropriate council permissions and geo-technical inspections) ... is just pretty awesome. Mad props to this guy. Maybe one day I'll have the coin (and, y'know ....land) to erect a similarly sized Nataraja.

Second. The neighbour who's objecting coz Catholic. What the hell. He "can't believe they're able to do this" because "it's part of a religion we don
't agree with", and reckons it's equivalent in terms of offensiveness to putting up a prominent swastika (assumedly in the Nazi sense ... rather than, y'know, *actually using said symbol in a culturally appropriate manner coz Hindu*.).
It may have escaped Mr Watt's notice, but we presently live in a secular society that tolerates pretty much all faiths (even ACT-brand cargo-cult Neoliberalism). This, despite the fact that our Head of State is also the head of a rather major church, and occupies a constitutional position forged in many respects by persecuting the hell outta Catholics some several hundred years ago.

Now personally, I ain't hugely bothered by large-scale devotional craftsmanship that's viewable to the general public. I find the really really huge Christian window-art in that knife shop up Mt Eden Rd every Easter and Christmas to be pretty gaudy, and I *still* wonder just how a gigantic cross found itself erected on public land on Mt Roskill ... but in the main, I tolerate publicly visible displays of faith and devotion on private land.

It is, after all, one of the ways I justify erecting an NZ First hoarding at the gate
 
wink emoticon

But Mr Watts would do well to remember: Once upon a time - not very long ago, in fact - adherents of HIS faith were the persecuted minority within the Anglosphere. Iconoclasm, as a word if not a concept, specifically refers to the act of destroying or defacing CATHOLIC works of devotional art. At least as the term was initially used.

We start declaring works like Mr Chand's Shiva Murti to be objectionable and demanding their removal from where we can see them at our peril.

Because, as a certain band of religious extremists blowing up the Bamiyan Buddhas proves (see? I can do the whole overblown-metaphor-to-express-outrage thing too...) ... our society and our culture do not benefit from being small-minded. Nor are we stronger for giving in to the boring and quite literally puritanical prejudices of people incapable of handling diversity - particularly of metaphysics and theology. 

But then, perhaps my own enthusiasm for ecclesiastical effigy is due to the fact I'm presently hard at work fundraising for my *own* large-scale devotional icon. A gigantic
 ‪#‎Muldoon‬ statue that will serve az my very own ‪#‎ThinkBig‬ project. 
And scare the hell outta any Epsom-based ACT voters that happen to wander past.

Paired up with the Nataraja on the other side of the driveway, I think
it'll look a little something like this
Oh, and as for Mr Watts? Well, perhaps he might wish to consider responding in kind with 
something a little more South American...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Winston Flags Referendum For Protest

New Zealand First has long been renowned as the party of direct democracy. As you'll remember from such controversial issues as Asset Sales, NZ's move from the Privy Council to a Supreme Court, and even our bills to legalize Euthanasia ... where there's a danger that the MPs and Parliament of our country will refuse to listen to the will of the people, we're straight in with our demand for a Referendum.

So surely, we'd be unanimous in our enthusiasm for the government's proposed flag-change referendum, right?

Wrong!

We support referendums because they offer a genuine choice to our voters, and a powerful tool with which to communicate to elected leaders what we *actually* want in a situation.

Key's vote on the flag, by contrast, is exactly the opposite of this.

The way it's been set up, we don't get to express a choice about whether or not we actually think we should change the flag.

Instead, we're presented with an array of options and asked to pick the one we like most. Then, that flag is pitted against the one we've got now in another referendum some time later.

That's not choice, and that's not how it should be. Instead, it's a carefully stage-managed attempt at coercing support for a flag-change from the New Zealand public that turns engagement with the whole process into a fait accompli.

In situations such as these, sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

That's why NZ First Leader Winston Peters is urging New Zealanders to send the government a message.

When you go to vote in the first flag referendum, don't tick any of the options on offer.

Instead, simply write "I support the current flag".

The number of defaced ballots received is recorded; and it's pretty much the only way to use your vote in the first referendum to tell the government what you actually think.

In the mean-time, continue to raise hell in public about this issue. The Nats are trying to take away your voice through railroading your vote.

And even though it's a symbolic issue they're doing it over ... that's important enough to mandate civil disobedience on your behalf.

Whatever you might think of the flag or the flag debate - it's our democracy that matters, and what's at stake.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Key: "It could've been a man's hair" - Maybe it already has been!

Key's latest excuse for #Tailgate is that his conduct wasn't sexist because he could have carried out the same long-running campaign of workplace harassment against a male worker just as easily.

Now while it's rather telling that the PM's best stab at an equivocation is to suggest he's got little problem abusing *other* workers rather than just the one ... there was one thing that really struck me about his statement.

When he said it could've been a man's hair, I found myself wondering if maybe this had already happened:

Remember when National's Napier candidate cut off his pony-tail during the last election campaign?

At the time, he claimed this was because it was a "barrier to communication".

One wonders whether he meant a barrier to communication with the electorate, or with his own leader...

Oh and on a more serious note - Key's statement is exactly how the police in other countries justify things like structural racism. "Oh, it *could* have been an unarmed white teenager our officers just blew away..."

Just because it "technically would have been possible" for Key to do the same thing to a male hospitality worker, TOTALLY doesn't mitigate the sexist nature of his offence - or cast aside the overtones we've all attached to it.

I mean, come on. It does occur that Pita Sharples probably never had to put up with this sort of thing!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Just Horsing Around"? More Like Victim Blaming!

So Key's managed to make it to ANZAC Day and get out of the country without doing anything else that comes across to the New Zealand public as "weird".

His handlers (and the collective National Party Caucus) must be breathing one hell of a collective sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, while the Prime Minister might be out of the immediate scandal-ridden frying-pan ... he's stepped straight into an international laughing-stock fuelled fire.

He's presently in Turkey, inadvertently tarnishing the hell out of one of our most sacred days simply by being there.

And regrettably, his - and therefore, by extension, our - problems don't end there.

For you see, while the world was watching our buffoon of a PM, he decided to issue a clarification of his conduct and a sort-of apology.

From the highly appropriate venue of an International Peace Summit in Istanbul.

Truly, his sense of comic timing is impeccable.

In it, Key sets out his belief that instead of his conduct being deplorable, creepy, and a flagrant abuse of his position and power against an ordinary Kiwi worker ...  it was just "silly" and "having too much fun".

Why did he do it? What on earth lead him to think this was an OK way to behave in public? Well, he "misread the tea-leaves", you see. It's all part of his "pretty casual and laid back" public persona. The one we all like (and voted for) because it's "good for a laugh".

But check the next bit.

Instead of acknowledging his own agency in this situation, Key describes his role here as "playing along a bit". Or, in other words, he didn't create the situation - he was just going along with the actions of others and got a bit carried away. The implication is: she might very well have been asking for it. He just went where she lead him.

Who could blame a man for "[misreading] the tea-leaves" of a woman's intentions and accidentally taking things too far? Never mind the fact this woman had previously laid out in coffee-grounds her overt intention to assault the Prime Minister if he persisted in his conduct. That's apparently a declaration of limits that's open to being "misread".

Rather than treat this with the seriousness this episode demands, Key (perhaps unintentionally - he may very well be that situationally unaware) attempts to make light of proceedings by describing his pulling of a pony-tail as "a bit of horsing around".

Ha-bloody-ha, Prime Minister.

The message from John Key to the ordinary Middle New Zealander is as clear as it is reprehensible.

"You like my 'fun' persona. The one I whip out in press conferences to make you want to invite me round for a beer over a barbie. Aren't I a great guy. Like you! A bit high-spirited, perhaps ... but this one isn't my fault. I was just "playing along" with the waiter and having "too much fun" to realize I'd gone a bit far. I was mislead. I didn't do this on purpose. We all make mistakes. This one isn't serious or creepy - it's just "silly"."

There's a second, unspoken bit to match it, which goes something along the lines of:

"But some people don't like having a Prime Minister who's "casual and laid back and good for a laugh". Those bullies in the media, and leftists and feminists who kicked up this whole fuss want me to be dour and serious all the time. They're anti-hijinks. So now Mr Fun PM's going to have to go back in his box for awhile. :( You won't like that, will you. Let's forget about all of this and move on so Mr Fun PM can come back. :) "

Regrettably, as the mainstream media continues to build this scandal into a crescendo, they'll be playing right into the Prime Minister's hands. We saw the same sad phenomenon during #DirtyPolitics at the last Election. Ordinary Kiwis sympathize with an underdog; and by presenting himself as the victim of an ongoing media beat-up, Key may very well salvage enough credibility and good will with the electorate to avoid having to resign or other serious political fallout.

But to the legion of female voters who've previously helped to sweep him into office, it's likely he now comes across as an altogether less wholesome and less salubrious figure than he did before.

More pointedly, the abominable spectacle of Key's Minister of Women's Affairs point-blank refusing to take a stand on the ongoing workplace harassment of a female worker ought to cast in stark relief just how little regard this government evidently has for women.

In Kiwi culture, there's a tradition of looking out for your mate who goes out to socialize, but inevitably winds up doing something dumb and embarrassing.

Usually, when we think of this, we're picturing some obnoxiously intoxicated 20something in a dress shirt down the Viaduct being kept out of fights with bouncers and other patrons by his long-suffering mates.

Not since the days of Sir Robert Muldoon has the Diplomatic Protection Squad been effectively charged not so much with keeping the Prime Minister safe from the Public ... but rather, with protecting the Public from the ravages of a "hijinks"-prone Prime Minister.

Let's just all collectively hope he doesn't pull the tassel on some poor Turkish man's Fez while he's over there in Turkey this weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

#Waitergate - Joined-At-The-Hip-Group

They say in politics, it's not the crime that gets you ... it's the cover-up.

That looks set to be what happens here with #Waitergate.

Key initially tried to front-foot allegations of some seriously creepy weirdness meted out to a waitress at Parnell's Rosie's Cafe on Wednesday; but when the sad spectacle of our Prime Minister appearing on the nightly news attempting to defend his inappropriate touching of hospo staff as "a bit of fun" evidently failed to wash with the electorate, his Black Ops team went into action.

The first sign that this was being taken deadly seriously by the Nats came when they deployed Rachel Glucina acting in the guise of a "PR Advisor" to go have a chat with the waitress in question. Now, most people know instantly who Glucina is - and while she definitely specializes in PR and spin, she's mostly done that in a reasonably covert capacity as the mistress of the Herald's Gossip pages, rather than as a professional.

Although having said that, experienced political warriors have long speculated that her lines of communication run right the way into the Beehive - allegations which were later proven during #DirtyPolitics, when it turned out she was being deployed by the Nats to run scandalous "exposes" about alleged links between Russel Norman, Winston Peters, and Kim DotCom. At the time, Winston alleged her information source must have been the Office of the Prime Minister misusing the state's security intelligence services to track his movements.

So we can already see that Glucina's regularly up to her gills in Nat-party covert ops.

But how did she know so instantly precisely *which* Parnell cafe the incident had occurred at?

Or, for that matter ... which waitress to call up and talk to.

New Zealand's a small place - the well-healed east side of Auckland's central suburbs even more so ... but this was just uncanny.

Fortunately, Glucina has a brother in the know. For, you see, Rosie's is run by Hip Group.

And guess who manages Hip Group? Why, it's Glucina's brother, Henry.

Well how about that.

So what I'm speculating happened here, is when Key's team knew the hair was about to fly on this story; his shadow comms and PR team called in a previously utilized and demonstrably successful political weapon (Glucina), and told her to make the victim's moral high ground go away.

Glucina then took advantage of her familial connection to Rosie's afforded by her brother; and set up the interview with the victim and her immediate employers in the guise of running PR for them.

Now obviously, I can't prove that Henry Glucina personally leveraged or convinced Rosie's owners Grant and Brown to let his sister into their home for the purposes of running damage control ... but it's certainly not implausible.

In fact, the idea of Henry Glucina hitting up the people he works with on a day-to-day basis and saying something like "I know this looks *really bad*, and I've heard The Herald's about to go public with identifiable details. Here, let me introduce you to this PR person I've got sitting around on retainer" and then wheeling in his sister to do an interview and photo-shoot - well, if anything, that seems scarily plausible. And would definitely explain why the Herald's amended its own version of events to acknowledge considerable "confusion over the initial approach" while deleting Glucina's earlier claim that "at no stage did she misrepresent herself or mislead anybody".

This is how the Nats work. Words-in-your-ear, taps on the shoulder, going straight to your employers, and firing off falsehoods safe in the knowledge that somebody else comes along to clean up the mess afterwards.

I'm disgusted with the way Glucina and The Herald have acted here.

But if anything, I'm even MORE outraged that the only thing the Prime Minister appears to have learned from #DirtyPolitics ... is that the Cameron Slater modus operandi works *really well* at skewering the innocent.

Fortunately, just like with #Watergate ... this time, the crooks have been caught red handed.