The media, as its critics regularly point out, is far too easily diverted by political sideshows and slanging matches, from its duty to cover the real issues. Yet this week gave an interesting example of how hard it is to untangle the reality from the slanging matches. The issue that emerged early this week could hardly be more important. Does the government intend to cut spending in health, education and on the environment if re-elected, or not? For clarity’s sake, here are the arguments, as they unfolded. Read the rest of this entry »
When future historians seek to identify the exact moment when the prime ministerial career of John Key hit the downward slope, they may well point to Key’s interview yesterday with Guyon Espiner on RNZ’s Morning Report. In particular, they’ll cite the broken record moment when Espiner repeatedly asked Key whether he thought the behaviour of his Justice Minister Judith Collins was OK, and Key kept on trying to ignore the question. Was it OK with Key that one of his Cabinet Ministers has admitted that she secretly released to Cameron Slater the name of a public servant that she thought might have leaked some information that had embarrassed the government, thereby exposing that individual, as Espiner noted, “to some pretty serious death threats.” Is that OK? Read the rest of this entry »
Call me old-fashioned, but ad hominem attacks have almost seemed the last refuge of a scoundrel. That doesn’t mean you can’t reach a conclusion or make a judgement call – but you need to be guided by the evidence. You don’t start with personal abuse, to try and distract people from looking at the evidence. Right now, that’s the difference between John Key and Nicky Hager. Key’s desperate accusations: “screaming left wing conspiracy theorist” “typical Nicky Hager book” “baseless accusations” “what ifs” etc etc are personal slurs that can be easily refuted by picking up the book and reading what it contains. If I was Gareth Morgan, I’d spend a few bob on sticking a copy of Dirty Politics in every letterbox in New Zealand, before the election. Read the rest of this entry »
Illustration by Tim Denee
According to Minister of Everything Steven Joyce – whose duties now extend to fielding questions about Nicky Hager’s new book Dirty Politics – Hager has got it all wrong, and the apparent collusion recorded in its pages between the prime minister’s office and blogger Cameron Slater is really no more than business as usual between government on one hand, and the journalists they brief as a matter of course on the other. Nothing to see here, move on.
If that’s true, one wonders why almost all the key players mentioned in the book have gone to ground, and don’t seem to be available for interview. To date, the other well-worn route of response has been to cast aspersions about Hager’s motives and to denigrate his modus operandi. Prime Minister John Key laid out that line of defence yesterday – even before Dirty Politics was out of the box – by trying to write Hager off as “a screaming left wing conspiracy theorist” who didn’t really know what he was talking about. Methinks the PM protests too much. Read the rest of this entry »
Getting yourself criticised by the educated elite is a well-worn path to electoral success in this country, dating all the way back to Rob Muldoon and the Citizens for Rowling campaign, which played right into his hands. Winston Peters’ Chinese “joke” was a similar attempt to bait the same elites, in the hope of drawing critical fire. Thereby, Peters could cozy up to the wide swathe of conservative voters who dislike being lectured about their racism and sexism, and who resent being mocked for being unable to explain the difference between a mochaccino and a cappuccino. Sure enough, Peters has since portrayed himself as the innocent victim of the PC brigade. Read the rest of this entry »
It isn’t often that unilateral US bombing raids within a foreign country can be supported, but the current US bombing campaign in northern Iraq is one such case. The fighters of the Islamic State (IS) appear to be intent on committing genocide against the Yezidis, Christians, Turkmen, Kurds and every other non-Sunni community in the region. Due in large part to their capture of US-originated weapons and Humvees, the IS forces currently enjoy military superiority over the Peshmerga fighters of Kurdistan. If the US air strikes can check the IS progress, and allow the exit of the hundreds of thousands of refugees (currently in peril of being massacred) to safer territory, then so be it. Amidst the bombs, the US has also been dropping thousands of ready-to-eat meals (MREs) and water supplies to the refugees cornered by the IS advance. Read the rest of this entry »
Hand on heart time, folks. At any time in the past six years, has the thought “ F+++ John Key” ever crossed your mind? I know it has crossed mine, from time to time. I think it was about the time that he sold down everyone’s shares in our power stations, for no good reason. Though, come to think of it, it might have been when he appointed his chum to be the head of the GCSB, while denying that they were, in fact, chums. Then there was the crony deal with Sky and its gambling operations. I might have said a bad word about that, too. Mind you, my ill will and profane thoughts are not restricted to John Key. I seem to recall that the thought “F+++ David Cunliffe” has also crossed my mind in the last few months. And as for Jamie Whyte? Don’t ask.
This is relevant because… as we have learned over the past 24 hours, the fact that some young people chanted “F+++ John Key” out loud at an Internet Mana political meeting in Christchurch is an awful, awful sign of the depths of depravity into which K. Dotcom Esq has led the impressionable youth of this great nation. Read the rest of this entry »
While the truce in Gaza allows time for negotiations on a more lasting solution, the current signs emerging from the Israeli side are not encouraging. Gaza has been devastated. It has no functioning water supply or electricity system and many, many homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged. Yet the current Israeli negotiating position seems to be that permission to rebuild will depend on Hamas being disarmed. Once again it seems, civilians are being collectively punished to achieve a military end. Attaching such a condition to the rebuild would in itself be a violation of article 33 of the Geneva Conventions, which forbids collective punishment. Read the rest of this entry »
It is still anyone’s guess which major party will Winston Peters support after Election Day 2014, though suspicions are rife. But if we’re being reduced to guesswork, it seems more rewarding to speculate on the chances that New Zealand First will not reach the 5% threshold, and won’t be back in Parliament at all. On that point at least, we have the 2011 election results as a rough guide. Read the rest of this entry »
At an international level, the Key government is waging another election campaign right now, to win a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. So far, the government’s tepid response to the carnage in Gaza has done nothing but erode our only real selling point – that New Zealand would be a strong, independent voice on international affairs. By contrast…Turkey is the clear frontrunner for the UN seat and it has been highly critical of Israel’s violation of international law and the UN Geneva Convention – notably, with respect to the responsibility of an occupying power to use proportionate force and to refrain from carrying out collective punishment of civilian populations. Read the rest of this entry »