The Dim-Post

June 30, 2011

Dolchstoll

Filed under: climate change,psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 5:13 pm

Remember when Hone Harawira outraged Don Brash by comparing him to Adolf Hitler?

Mr Harawira stood by his previous comparison of Dr Brash to Hitler and said his politics were of denigration of Maori.

Dr Brash told the programme he felt that was offensive.

“I mean, in what sense am I like Hitler?

From an NZPA story on Harawira and Brash six weeks ago. Now here’s Brash speaking to Federated Farmers today:

Dr Brash says he is constantly regaled with horror stories of the “little Hitlers” who far too often seem to populate the lower levels of local and regional government.

He says says they throw their weight around and sometimes refuse to grant RMA consents on flimsy excuses.

Because, really, that’s what was objectionable about Hitler – he did sometimes refuse to grant consents on flimsy excuses. Like, when his General Staff wanted to divert resources into the conflict with Russia and away from the death camps exterminating Gypsies and Jews, Hitler would be all, ‘Nah. I don’t feel like it.’ Is that the attitude we want in our public servants?

There’s more:

Dr Brash also reiterated ACT’s desire to scrap the Emissions Trading Scheme and challenged the science behind global warming.

He says even if a case can be made that human activity is behind an increase in global temperatures, it is not obvious that this is necessarily a bad thing for the planet.

So we might change the chemical composition of the atmosphere of our planet? Eh – what’s the worst that could happen?

This child-like idiot ran our Central Bank for fourteen years.

Free speech revisited

Filed under: books — danylmc @ 1:58 pm

Lew at Kiwipolitico has a post up on why the decision of some booksellers not to stock Ian Wishart’s book about Macsyna King does not constitute a ban, and I think he’s right. This is essentially the same argument we heard about Paul Henry – that free speech means some people can say or print whatever horrible, offensive things they like and everyone else just has to silently accept it, because exercising our own right to free speech for public disagreement or protesting or boycotts of things we find offensive, actually threatens free speech, somehow, in ways that are never clearly articulated but always associated with witches and Nazis.

And here’s a related question: Ian Wishart insists that Macsyna King won’t profit from the publication of the book. Okay. What I’d like to know is if he’s already paid her any money. If so, then that’s an operating cost from the writing of this book that Wishart intends to recoup via profits from its publication and sale.

What’s the best way to influence MPs?

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:52 am

Some of the left-wing bloggers in the US are debating the merits of writing letters to elected representatives regarding key issues. Matthew Yglesias argues that this is surprisingly effective; Balloon-Juice makes this point:

Several staffers told me that until we started calling and writing about the Affordable Care Act, almost every call they got came from [Glen] Beck fans screaming about crap like death panels and the gold standard. The only other feedback that most of them had to work with was CNN replaying clips of Barney Frank debating whether to give up. Congress jumps at every rightwing whim at least in part because their media does an excellent job motivating a pissed-off rabble to phone their Reps. This is not even a bug – democracy should work like that. Congresspersons must respect feedback from constituents. It is their job.

Other commentators note that e-mails aren’t that effective but letters and faxes and phone calls are. But that’s the US – any staffers or politicians in the house want to offer up their opinions and advice on this issue from a New Zealand perspective? (One press sec I know tells me a surprising amount of his Minister’s correspondence is from the mentally ill.) What’s the best way to communicate with an MP on an issue, and is there much point in doing so?

Update: A staffer for a senior politician writes:

There is no hard and fast way to best influence MP’s. It largely comes down to how individual MP’s deal with correspondence. For example, my MP manages their parliamentary email account so they receive and read all correspondence from constituents. Others, however, do not. Therefore, email may not be the most effective way to influence MP’s.

Calling MP’s is, in my opinion, the worst way to influence MP’s. 9 times out of 10 the MP in question will not have time to deal with non-urgent phone calls and, more often than not, just can’t be bothered talking to a constituent anyway. For example, my MP never takes calls from constituents and will rarely bother contacting people who have left messages.

In my opinion one of the most effective ways to influence MP’s, besides face to face meetings, is to write an old fashioned letter. My MP pays particular attention to hand written letters and letters sent in from people in a personal capacity. Pro-forma letters, for example letters from lobbyists, are almost always disregarded.

All EA’s sort through mail each morning and compile a folder usually labeled “today’s mail”, “constituent mail” etc etc and MP’s will read each letter (besides pro-forma rubbish). Any letter that requires a response will be marked by the MP and filed. In most cases the EA, but sometimes the MP, will draft a response and, upon approval, enter into correspondence with the constituent. MP’s always read their mail and will always respond to letters from people in their electorate. The best way to get an MP’s attention is to make clear that you are a constituent and that the MP is your representative. The MP is then obligated to read the letter, consider it and, where necessary, respond.

Without a doubt though, the best way to influence an MP is through face to face discussions. However, it is incredibly difficult to obtain a meeting even with the lowliest of backbenchers. You either have to be somebody or you have to know somebody. This option is not available to ordinary folk.

Ultimately, if you want to influence an MP you need to know how their office works or how Parliament works. So if a person was serious about getting something done ones best bet would be to enlist someone who knows the inner workings of Parliament. Again, this isn’t an option available to most people though.

June 29, 2011

Wishart over-reaches

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 4:41 pm

Via Stuff:

The Paper Plus Group issued a press release today saying they won’t stock Breaking Silence: The Kahui Case, which is being written by Ian Wishart in conjunction with King.

A short time ago the Warehouse also announced it would not be stocking the book, while Whitcoulls was planning to make an annoucement tomorrow.

Not all publicity is good publicity.

Ian Wishart is always at the back of my mind – every now and then it occurs to me he’s been ominously quiet, and then he publishes, say, a biography of Helen Clark (definitely a lesbian, according to Wishart. Huge lesbian. Big, big lesbian. There – I’ve just summarised the entire book for you). And I remarked to a friend just the other day that Wishart had been laying low, and now here we are. You can’t say he isn’t industrious. Utterly amoral and a blight on the country, sure – but he works hard.

Step change watch

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 2:23 pm

Via Stuff:

More than three hundred military personnel have been told this morning that they have lost their jobs.

They include 81 officers and 227 personnel from other ranks.

It expected that there would be 500 fewer military personnel by the end of the year with $40 million a year saved on payroll.

And:

Ovation New Zealand has today confirmed the closure of its Waipukurau boning facility and redundancy of 304 staff.

But not to worry – there’s HEAPS of jobs on TradeMe. All those rural meat-packers and junior officers can all just walk into roles as senior Java developers.

Clumsy sarcasm aside, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is gonna have to throw a lot more people off the unemployment benefit to game the statistics for this quarter.

Update: The CTU claims that the government is sacking military staff and then re-hiring them as civilians on lower pay and worse conditions, which is normally illegal but isn’t in this case because defence personnel aren’t covered by employment law for constitutional reasons.

Amateur electoral system blogging

Filed under: policy — danylmc @ 11:34 am

One of the criticisms of MMP is that it allows politicians voted out by their electorate to get into Parliament on the party list. I haven’t actually seen any evidence that the public considers this a problem, just endless claims to that effect made by political elites. Consider the recent by-election in Te Tai Tokerau. Did the electorate ‘kick out’ Kelvin Davis? Are they outraged that he’s still in Parliament because of the list system? Of course not – on the contrary, they voted strategically so they could have both Davis and Hone Harawira representing them.

So how’s this as a compromise measure, an amendment to the current system if the nation votes to retain MMP in the electoral referendum: if a politician loses an electorate by a significant margin – 25%, say, then they can reasonably said to have been rejected by the voters, and they’ll be struck from the party list for purposes of that electoral cycle. This addresses the ‘kicked out and snuck back in’ complaint – if voters really want to kick someone out they can.

Update: incredibly obvious flaw, pointed out in the first comment: this would stop minor parties from standing in electorate seats. Slightly more complicated solution: you get struck off if you get >25% less than your party’s nation-wide vote?

June 28, 2011

ACT Death Spiral Watch

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 1:58 pm

Via Scoop, this press release from ACT is a satirical rage against the politically-correct Stalinist thought police who try to brainwash us into believing that insulin resistance is influenced by diet:

Air Diet Best For Diabetes, Says ACT

ACT New Zealand is delighted to be counted among the opposition parties calling for healthy eating policies following the release of a report showing New Zealand has one of the highest rates of diabetes among developed countries, says the party’s Forbidden Foods Spokeswomanperson, Heather Roy.

“Yes, even I find it difficult to resist culinary temptation,” Ms Roy sighs, lasciviously eyeing a side-dish of bean sprouts. “But we must bite the bullet (and very little else). Another recent study showed that diabetes can be reversed on a diet of 600 calories a day. While such a regime may fall short of the ideal, no-calorie diet, a law banning the consumption of more than 600 calories should be the minimum objective of all parties’ healthy eating policies.

“Failure to pass such a law will only encourage stroppy individualists in their perverse and anti-social belief that what they eat is up to them,” Ms Roy concludes.

If the Ministry of Health ever puts out an advisory warning New Zealanders not to eat shards of broken glass, the entire ACT Party would be dead by lunchtime and we’d be able to spend the millions of taxpayer dollars we waste funding this clown show on a real political party.

June 27, 2011

Vacuum watch

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 12:39 pm

Via DPF, this surprised me:

Labour’s Andrew Little is moving to New Plymouth in the next two weeks but he already has a mountain of work to do.

The man many are touting as the next Labour leader and prime minister will have to quickly roll up his sleeves after a significant poll of the New Plymouth electorate he covets this week indicated National’s lead in recent nationwide polls is being reflected in the city, previously the country’s most marginal electorate.

The election may be five months away, on November 26, but incumbent National MP Jonathan Young has the early jump on his main challenger, polling well ahead of the former Labour Party president in a Witt School of Journalism survey.

Mr Young secured a tiny 105-vote majority in 2008, but he won 41.56 per cent of support in Witt’s random telephone poll compared with Mr Little’s 25.33 per cen

The poll, which had a margin of error of 4.55 per cent, asked 820 voters to choose between Mr Young and Mr Little. Of that number 462 people responded.

Mr Little said Labour’s internal polling showed the race was a lot closer than the New Plymouth survey suggested. “The feedback I’m getting is positive but I certainly don’t take anything for granted.

“I’ll be in New Plymouth virtually fulltime in a couple of weeks. It’s hard running a campaign from Wellington.”

I don’t know how robust a poll is when its carried out by a journalism school – but the stakes for Andrew Little in this race are pretty high. There’s a leadership gap within the Labour Party, Little is considered a candidate to fill that gap. If he wins his seat then he might be the first and only Labour MP to capture a new electorate in six years, which would be a pretty strong argument in his favor.

But if he loses then his pitch for party leadership goes something like: ‘I was party president during a period in which the party disintegrated, I have no parliamentary experience and I came in on the list because I got beat on the campaign trail by Jonathan Young.’  That’s not a winning spiel.

So if Little wins his electorate race he could be Prime Minister in four years time; if he loses, nada – seems like he’s leaving things a little late.

June 26, 2011

Deathblow!

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 8:00 am

When someone tries to blow you up, not because of who you are but because of different reasons altogether:

The boss in trouble for “sexist” comments is now under fire for boasting he asked the Prime Minister about a sexual relationship with a woman unionist.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly confirmed she had been publicly confronted by Employers and Manufacturers Association head Alasdair Thompson.

At a dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant in Washington, Thompson approached Kelly, Street and the business leader.

Thompson is alleged to have made lewd comments at the social event about the relationship Kelly had with Prime Minister John Key, who has been married to wife Bronagh since both were teenagers.

Offending the entire nation is one thing and insulting Helen Kelly another, but blemishing the PM’s wholesome family-photos-on-the-cover-of-women’s-magazines based media brand – that’s a capital offence.

North by northwest

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:37 am

Hone Harawira wins his by-election:

Mr Harawira was defiant in victory tonight, attacking the Maori Party and telling his supporters that his Mana Party and the Maori Party he left would be reunited one day, once co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples retired.

Harawira said he would be ringing Dr Sharples but he was “hugely pissed off” with his former colleagues.

Originally I predicted a Kelvin Davis win but I changed my mind last weekend after watching the Marae debate. Every time I’d seen Harawira on TV in the past he’d was in adversarial mode – he’d said something offensive or done something dumb and was on TV to defend himself – but the debate showed a different side: charming, very quick-witted, disingenuous. Labour’s Kelvin Davis was completely outclassed.

It was a pretty narrow margin off a low turnout, but Labour won’t be able to throw the same resources at it in the General Election. The big question is whether Mana will try and take the rest of the Maori seats or whether they’ll reach a non-aggression pact with the Maori Party. This latter option doesn’t sound too likely:

Hone Harawira told supporters yesterday that Mana would eventually take over the Maori Party, following yesterday’s Te Tai Tokerau by-election.

Harawira thanked his supporters and said he would call Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples as promised, but was “hugely pissed off” with them.

“They shit all over [the people of the North] when they got rid of me and then they got someone else [Solomon Tipene] and they shit all over him,” he said.

The Maori Party would have to pay the price further down the track, he said. “We, the people, deserve better.”

Sharples and Turia would have to retire soon, he said, and Mana would be there to take over.

“We will take over that party, we will bring it back together as Mana Maori and if ever I dare to step upon the people the way the Maori Party has stepped upon the Tai Tokerau, just slap me,” he said.

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