John Key has somehow landed himself a spot on Letterman during his upcoming trip to the US (and Prime Minister, if you need any help writing jokes for the show just holla at me), which reminded me of my favourite Letterman guest appearance of all time: Crispin Glover.
August 27, 2009
The right-wing blogs are in an uproar about Key’s decision not to support Boscowen’s bill to Select Committee – over at Kiwiblog they’re referring to the National leader as ‘Helen Key’ and confidently predicting an ACT Prime Minister in 2011. I have to admit I’m a little surprised as well. John Armstrong writes:
[Key] would have been walking away from his personal investment in the existing law, of which he is part-architect as a result of his efforts to find a compromise back in 2007 to save Sue Bradford’s ground-breaking amendment to the Crimes Act from ending up on the scrapheap.
That’s how Clark would have seen things – if She changed her mind She would be admitting She was wrong, And She Is Never Wrong – but I don’t think Key works like that. Here are my speculative theories as to the PM’s motives:
Market Research: Key seems awfully confident about his direction here. I suspect he’s had some research company – maybe even the dreaded Cosby/Textor! – poll and focus group the issue and found that support for the current law is deeper than the referendum suggests, or that people are not opposed to the law so much as they fear the misapplication of it.
Prescience: Once you pass a bill defining the use of force allowed against children you ‘own’ the court cases in which it is used as a defense. This bill could result in some high profile cases in which people prosecuted for assaulting their children defend themselves on reasonable force grounds and, juries being what they are, possibly recieve not guilty verdicts for serious child assaults at which point public opinion could turn VERY quickly.
Ancient History: Key might see this as a done deal, something he simply isn’t interested in revisiting. He’s stated that he doesn’t want Parliament ‘derailed and consumed’ by the debate, which is, after all fairly trivial when compared to some of the other challenges facing his government. They want to reform the tax system next year, not spend months bickering about the definition of a light smack.
Enmity: Or maybe he just finds the pro-smacking lobby and the people behind it too distasteful to give them any more oxygen. Baldock and McCroskey have run a highly successful disinformation campaign in which they’ve flat out lied about the law and its effect. I think it’s safe to say that most pro-smacking parents want to be able to give their child a smack on the wrist in the supermarket without being arrested, while Baldock et al seem to see beating children as a rather core part of parenting. Could be that the PM simply doesn’t want to hand these idiots a win.
August 26, 2009
According to DPF, John Boscowen’s bill to amend Bradford’s amendment has been drawn from the members ballot.
I suspect Labour and National will kill it before it goes to Select Committee – my impression is that our MPs really don’t want to have to listen to anymore oral submissions vis-a-vis smacking, child abuse, demonic possession etc.
Update: That was fast. National will not be supporting Boscawen’s bill.
Richard Long accidentally wrote something interesting in his column today:
In the early parliamentary battles the anti-smacking law was promoted as a measure to prevent appalling cases of child battering. But of course that was a nonsense. The law has not made a blind bit of difference and there have been several high profile cases since it was passed.
The original intent of the law change was to close a loophole that had been used in a small number of child abuse cases to avoid prosecution, somewhere along the way the supporters of the bill decided that they could use New Zealand’s child abuse epidemic as ammunition to support the law and then made the argument that all smacking was child abuse, which gave opponents to the law change an unbeatable populist platform with which to oppose the Bradford amendment. I think it went a little like this:
Sue Bradford: This amendment to the Crimes Act will close a loophole that a small number of people who assault their children use to avoid prosecution.
Larry Baldock: Does this mean you’re banning smacking?
Sue Bradford: No, the purpose of the bill is to prevent defense lawyers from claiming that clients who have beaten their children . . .
Larry Baldock: Because parents have the divinely appointed right to beat their children.
Sue Bradford: Okay, so we disagree on that, but this bill has the support of all the child welfare agencies . . .
Larry Baldock: Beat the sin out of them, that’s what I say. Thrash them within an inch of their life.
Sue Bradford: . . . can cite a number of pertinent cases . . . Wow, I really do hate you. Maybe I do want to ban smacking.
Larry Baldock: Watermelons! Lesbians! Proverbs 13:24!
Sue Bradford: Yeah, you know what? Fuck you, asshole. This bill bans smacking! If you smack your kids it’s child abuse and you’re going to jail. How d’ya like that?
Larry Baldock: Witch! Witch! You can’t do this!
Sue Bradford: Oh can’t I? I have our popular and competent Prime Minister supporting this bill.
Helen Clark: This anti-smacking bill does not outlaw smacking it merely makes it illegal - I want to be very clear on this. There is nothing wrong with parents giving their kids a light smack but it is evil.
Larry Baldock: You’ll never get away with this Bradford.
Sue Bradford: Yeah, whaddya gonna do? Transform this into a national debate? Win overwhelming public support? Use it to turn popular sentiment against the government and cost them the election? Ha! I’d like to see that!
John Key: Closing a loophole that let’s people assault their children seems like a reasonable thing to do. The National Party will support this bill after a few minor amendments.
Helen Clark: This new bill is identical to the previous bill but it is different in every way. I want to be very clear on that.
John Key: Only a maniac would oppose this very reasonable compromise.
Parliament: The bill is passed with the ACT Party, New Zealand First and Gordon Copeland opposing.
John Key: That’s the end of that then.
Helen Clark: The police and CYFS will not prosecute parents for a light smack, but they will prosecute parents for a light smack. I want to be very clear on that.
Larry Baldock: Mainstream New Zealand is still bitterly opposed to this law and we blame Labour and the Greens.
Sue Bradford: What do I care? My party doesn’t rely on any of those voters to get elected.
Helen Clark: That’s right! No . . . wait.
Customs Officer at La Guardia: Welcome to the United States Ms Clark.
August 25, 2009
That’s Tau Henere’s description of Rodney Hide. Nice. I love the word buffoon, use it a lot and I’m thrilled to see it enter the political discourse.
Colin Espiner writes about the Hide-Sharples-Henare three way, commenting on the ACT leaders odd behaviour:
So Hide has got his way, but I think he has burnt considerable political capital in getting it, and it seemed a strange issue to die in a ditch over. You don’t get many opportunities to threaten to resign as the head of a party polling as low as Hide’s, and he has used his up.
My theory is that Hide has swallowed a LOT of rats over the last nine months, that he’s proposed various insane neo-liberal schemes for local government or the destruction thereof (‘then we sell all the public libraries to Saudi Aramco and lease them back!’) that English and Key have listened with open-mouthed horror and gently rejected them all (‘maybe in 2022 but we’re not promising anything’), and that the idea of Maori seats on the council – Rodney’s council! – was just the last fucking straw. No way. Never.
Hide’s tantrum was probably fairly convenient for Key – there wouldn’t have been a lot of enthusiasm within his own party for Maori seats: just last month the Nats failed to elect Wira Gardiner to their board of directors even though Key supported him for the presidency (which was won by Peter Goodfellow – how’s that working out for you guys?).
Colin writes about the Maori Party:
I think Sharples has come out of this looking very moderate and statesmanlike. He hasn’t issued any threats or ultimatums. Clearly the Maori Party is upset. But there’s no toy-throwing or talk of walking away from National.
Personally I think the Maori Party are looking a bit daft: Tau Henare put up more of a fight for the Maori seats than Sharples or Turia. I’m not really qualified to talk about how Maori will view this but I suspect they value Council representation higher than having Sharples look all statesmanlike and moderate.
From the Herald:
Green MP Sue Bradford, who sponsored the original child discipline bill, last night congratulated Mr Key on his response.
“Steps to increase people’s comfort with and understanding of the law – while keeping the law intact – are an appropriate response to the referendum result,” she said.
. . .
[Larry] Baldock said Mr Key did not address the real issue, which was people’s concerns that the law criminalised parents for smacking for correction.
“It’s not about prosecution and the Prime Minister is using the wrong language. When he says no parents have been criminalised what he means is that very few parents have been prosecuted.”
Act MP John Boscawen said Mr Key had made “a huge mistake” in his handling of the issue.
If Bradford wants to be constructive here she’d have been much better off railing against Key’s response, calling it a disgusting compromise, abandoning the abused children of New Zealand etc. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Boscawen, Baldock et al will oppose any solution Bradford supports and support anything she opposes. These people don’t care about outcomes, they just want the attention and to be seen to have ‘won’, and for that to happen Bradford needs to be seen to have lost.
I started feeling sick on Thursday and the symptoms – sore throat, headache, runny nose – were close enough to those of the H1N1 virus that I went to the chemist on my way home to stock up on supplies.
My usual drug regime for a cold is to take pseudoephedrine during the days and codeine and whiskey at night, but the chemist I went to didn’t have any medications containing pseudoephedrine – they all had an alternative decongestant called phenylephrine. This rang a dim bell at the back of my mind – hadn’t I read a paper or study about phenylephrine? – but I was too sick to care. I paid and went home to bed.
Yesterday I was still sick as hell but I ventured out anyway to buy some more drugs: the first and nearest chemist didn’t have pseudoephedrine, the second did but not on display – you had to ask the pharmacist and he bought me some from the drug locker in the back of his store. There are indications that the government will make pseudoephedrine a prescription only drug, but it seems like they’re already half way there. The chemists don’t want to stock it because people try to break into the store and steal it to manufacture P, and when they sell it they have to go through the hassle of recording peoples name and drivers license details. So they’re switching over to phenylephrine based solutions.
The big problem with this is that phenylephrine doesn’t do anything. Take it from me, I’m a walking control set – I took it for three days and I went through more tissues than a teenage boy with broadband internet. For the last two days I’ve been on pseudoephedrine based medication and the difference is stark, especially since I soaked the pills in ether, mixed them up with red phosphorus and HCl and smoked them.
Just my little joke – but if you (wisely) consider me an unreliable source then there are plenty of studies on Pubmed contesting the efficacy of phenylephrine. The pharmaceutical companies insist that it works but most independent clinical trials indicate that it’s little better than a placebo. This study from the University of Vienna seems to be the most recent one, the results:
Phenylephrine was not significantly different from placebo in the primary end point, mean change in nasal congestion score at more than 6 hours (P = .56), whereas pseudoephedrine was significantly more effective than both placebo (P < .01) and phenylephrine (P = .01)
It’s unfortunate that P hysteria and the swine flu are peaking at the same time so that chemists are de-stocking one of the only drugs that’s effective at treating the symptoms; my advice is not to waste your money on phenylephrine: go to the counter and ask for the good shit, although you might not want to use those exact words.
August 24, 2009
You know what’s wrong with kids music these days? Not enough of them turn the Kennedy assasination into pop-art.