The Dim-Post

September 9, 2014

The only election event that matters: Aro Valley Meet the Candidates

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:10 am

It was scheduled to begin at 7:30 PM, but by 6:45 all the seats in the humble Aro Valley community hall were taken. By 7:00 the crowd spilled out the doors into the brisk Wellington night. At 7:15 Kim Hill and Linda Clark appeared and prowled the crowded aisles, glowering at people with seats until a group of scruffy, bearded hipsters relinquished their chairs to them. I’m no good at estimating numbers but in a hall designed to accommodate about fifty people I’d guess there were around three hundred. The candidates arrived and chatted amongst themselves, looking nervous. Rows of people stood on the benches outside peering through the open windows, occasionally slapping their hands against the frames like hordes of ravenous zombies. At 7:30 sharp it began.

Community co-convenor Roland Sapsforth opened the event, welcoming us to the ‘Supermoon edition of the Aro Meet the Candidates evening’ but reassuring us that none of the candidates would come into direct contact with moonlight ‘for your own protection.’ He attempted to discuss fire safety but was drowned out by laughter from the audience, as it was obvious to everyone present that every exit was blockaded and in the event of an actual fire, death was certain.

Then MC Bryan Crump took over. He explained the rules of the debate: each candidate could speak for four minutes: then a bell would ring; then they had thirty more seconds to talk before they were drenched with water pistols. These rules were not rigorously enforced and candidates were randomly sprayed with water throughout the evening.

Speaking order was selected randomly with names drawn out of a plastic, rainbow-colored hat. The first speaker was Huimaono Karena Puhi, also known as Geoffrey, although he declared that Geoffrey was his slave name. He was standing as an independent ‘meaning he was number one on his party list’. He wore an elegant black suit and tie, black-thick rimmed glasses over a full-facial moko, and short neatly cut hair.

Geoffrey launched into a brief korero, then explained that ‘we have many policies’, ‘We’ meaning the Hui Independence Movement of which he was part, although, slightly confusingly, he reminded us that he wanted our electorate vote because he ain’t got no party. ‘Give your party vote to these other colonials,’ he gestured at the rest of the candidates.

Second speaker was Hugh Barr, number eighteen on the New Zealand First list. ‘Our party is not about looking after the rich,’ he said. ‘Just Winston,’ replied a heckler. ‘We’re not about looking after unions or the poor either,’ he continued, to which the crowd jeered and laughed for most of his allotted speaking time. ‘We will look after ALL New Zealanders, he eventually promised before urging the crowd to ‘Tell your grand-parents about the super-gold card.’

Third speaker was Alistair Gregory for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.  Gregory is a twenty-three year old chef with a bobbing tuft of straw-blonde hair who had possibly never worn a tie before tonight. Michael Appleby, the seemingly immortal goblin-like head of the ACLP is overseas, Crump explained, possibly arranging a deal or avoiding the police.

Gregory announced that cannabis is used for ‘medical, recreational, industrial and spiritual purposes’ and insisted that reform advocates are not wowsers because ‘they also like to drink’. ‘15% of New Zealanders smoke cannabis,’ he cried, ‘So at least fifty of you here tonight use cannabis.’ General laughter at this radical underestimation.

Next up was James Knuckey, a sorrowful bearded man standing for ‘Democrats for Social Credit’. ‘We are basically Social Credit,’ he explains, adding, ‘A lot of people in the party wonder about our own name.’ Social Credit wants a universal basic income. ‘Some countries use it. Well, this one state in Canada.’ He also advocated a financial transactions tax and welcomed his water-pistol drenching when he went one second over the time-limit talking about monetary policy.

Grant Robertson, Labour Party Machiavelli stands and dons a water-proof poncho. ‘That looks like an invitation to me,’ Bryan Crump told the water-pistol wielders. ‘The face is open!’ Called a heckler from the crowd.

National had released a rather vague tax policy earlier that day so Robertson told the crowd, ‘Tonight I’ll tell you about a speech I might give in three years time,’ adding that the only undecided voter in the hall was National candidate Paul Foster-Bell’s campaign manager. He mentioned dirty politics and the crowd hissed with fury. ‘I could go on a lot longer,’ he finished up, flourishing his poncho.

Greens candidate James Shaw was greeted with hall-shuddering applause, while a sea of Green Party placards fluttered above the audience. Wearing a tailored, shiny grey suit and perfectly cut black hair, standing before the crowd with his arms raised, drinking in their adulation, he looked more like a television evangelist than a politician. Shaw’s speech was stern. ‘The Green Party only won 44% of the vote here in Aro Valley last election,’ he rebuked the room. ‘The Onekaka town hall in Golden Bay gave us 51.2%. It’s time to beat the Onekaka town hall!’

Next Crump introduced Internet/Mana candidate Callum Valentine. ‘He’s number eighteen on the party list, so if his party gets about thirty percent he’ll be in.’ ‘At least I’ve got a seat tonight,’ Valentine replied, standing to take the microphone and gesturing back at his chair just as Grant Robertson stole it.

The crowd greeted Valentine with jeers of ‘Lil Kim!’ Lil Kim explained that Internet/Mana stood for unions, the poor and people who liked Game of Thrones. ‘Log off!’ Yelled a heckler. Valentine’s speech was interrupted by cries of ‘Tell us about Kim.’ When he finally sat down Crump observed, ‘He didn’t say ‘Fuck John Key’ once!’

When National candidate Paul Foster-Bells’ name was drawn a loud musical wail of pure sorrow came from a woman at the back of the room. Foster-Bell – a larger, cuddlier version of Labour’s Grant Robertson, who is already rather cuddly – stood and took the microphone to a rising chorus of boos and jeers.

When Foster-Bell spoke at this event last election he was totally drowned out by the crowd, and he’d crafted a clever plan to prevent this, opening his speech in fluent te reo. The crowd fell silent again, confused, torn between its hatred of National and instinctive respect for the Maori language. Foster-Bell continued to speak for about thirty-seconds, grinning, until he uttered the words ‘Ko John Key te rangatira,’ and the crowd gasped with sudden comprehension. He was using te reo to say secret right-wing National stuff! The rest of the speech was drowned out by heckling and hissing and boos, although the tide of hatred ebbed every minute or so admitting fragments of Foster-Bell’s speech. ‘Healthcare targets . . . roads . . . hard-working kiwis.’ Eventually he finished and sat down, having endured what must be the most hostile audience of any candidate in the country .

Bryan Crump took a pause to acknowledge the hard-working party activists running around the electorate knocking down all the billboards and the other hard-working activists putting them all back up again. He questioned Grant Robertson on the mysterious lack of vandalised Labour Party billboards when everyone else’s was knocked down every night. ‘It’s a conundrum,’ Robertson replied.

The next speaker was the most mysterious. Peter Franklin Robinson was an independent candidate. A soft-voiced, gaunt, hunched man in a tan anorak, Robertson announced he was standing to fix the economy of New Zealand which was ‘dictated to by earthquake fault-lines.’ ‘All government departments as of the 31st of March 1975 will be reinstated,’ he mumbled. ‘And there will be an inquiry into substandard medical apparatus. And the Local Bodies Act 31st of March 1984 will be revisited. Also, the current New Zealand flag will remain the ensign of New Zealand because there’s nothing wrong with it.’ The crowd applauded.

The final speaker, Conservative Party candidate Dr Brian Hooper was a tiny, friendly man with a child-like face beneath a shock of white hair. He was eighty years old, he announced, with twenty-seven grandchildren. ‘I dreaded coming here tonight,’ he confessed, ‘And my wife offered to come as my substitute.’

‘At least we’d have had one woman candidate,’ called a heckler from the crowd, and Hooper rounded on her, beaming with delight. ‘You’ve stolen my joke,’ he marveled. Hooper then flicked through a Conservative Party pamphlet while the crowd called out questions and insults, which Hooper parried and threw back at them. Then he tucked the pamphlet under his arm and announced, ‘I’m not going to talk about the Conservatives. I’ll tell you about myself.’ He was trying to say something about water when he was soaked with the water-pistols.

That bought the candidate statements section of the evening to an end. The remaining half hour of the event consisted of questions from the audience.

Would you support a Prime Minister who doesn’t know what’s going on in his own office? Hypothetically? Everyone said ‘No,’ except the Conservative candidate who replied, ‘Absolutely.’

Would you support a price on water and would power prices rise as a result? Yes, replied the Green candidate, but water costs were not a significant component of power prices. The independent candidate who thought that our economy was an earthquake faultline gave a long, complicated answer, interrupted by an audience member calling out ‘For fucks sake!’  The hall was so crowded it was impossible to identify individual hecklers by voice, unless they were, say, a famous, award-winning Saturday morning radio host. The Conservative Party announced they had ‘no plans’. The New Zealand First candidate was laughing too hard to answer the question because someone had made a joke about ”squirting’. Legalise Cannabis replied that we should legalise cannabis.

What is the role of NGOs and non-profits in the economy? ‘WhaleOil doesn’t count as a non-profit,’ shouted a heckler. Legalise Cannabis wanted to build a convention centre.

Why aren’t there any female candidates standing? ‘Why don’t you stand?’ Asked a heckler. ‘I’d bloody love to,’ replied the questioner. Second part to that question: ‘What will your party do about domestic violence?’ Grant Robertson urged an end to violence and was spontaneously sprayed with the water-pistol. Paul Foster-Bell explained that we needed to work together to end violence and he too was sprayed. ‘Keep shooting him,’ chanted the crowd. Legalise Cannabis said that he wanted a woman to stand up because that would look ‘Soooo good.’ Admited his party does not have a domestic violence policy.

What about the rights of young people in New Zealand? Green candidate James Shaw asked ‘Did you have any particular rights in mind?’ The questioner replied, ‘We have a lot of interests.’ Shaw looks suspicious. ‘Who is ‘we’?’

Asked by a red-faced man in a suit with a Yorkshire accent: ‘On the west coast does your party support workers or slugs and snails? ‘The Greens support ALL the residents of the west coast.’

Wellington’s swimming places are too polluted. Whaddya all gonna do about it? The Greens will clean them up. The Social Democrat candidate alleged that the Greens stole their environmental policies back in the 1970s. Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis loves Oriental Bay beach!

The final question is an Aro Valley tradition. If you couldn’t vote for yourself who would you vote for? Most of the candidates endorse Grant Robertson or James Shaw. Grant Robertson supports Alistair, the ACLP candidate. The Social Credit candidate pleads for our party vote. ‘We want to get 1%,’ he explains. ‘That would lift us up out of that ‘other’ category.’ The crowd cheered and called out comments endorsing their support of otherness.

And on that note it was over, the crowd applauded the candidates, water-pistol shooters and themselves and milled out into the valley.

August 29, 2014

How most people get hacked

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:13 am

Chris Trotter writes about hackers

LISBETH SALANDER is the archetypal hacker: a damaged outsider; phenomenally clever; contemptuous of society’s rules; but possessed of an unflinching, if somewhat quirky, sense of right and wrong. Without Lisbeth, the journalist hero of Stieg Larsen’sThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist, could never have brought the guilty to justice. In a world of mendacious millionaires, giant corporations and impenetrable public bureaucracies, the hacker provides the only credible means of moving the plot forward.

 In mythic terms, Lisbeth is Ariadne, the Cretan princess whose precious linking threads allow the Greek hero, Theseus, to find his way through the impossibly complex Labyrinth and destroy the Minotaur – the monstrous, bull-headed man who dwells in its depths.

Maybe whoever hacked Cameron Slater is a Salander/Ariadne-like computer hacker, but most people carrying out this sort of activity have minimal technical skills. Here’s what usually happens: 

  1. You set up your accounts with gmail, facebook etc, all of which are password protected. 
  2. You set up an account at, say, Adobe, to download acrobat reader, or Apple or Ebay to buy stuff, and use the same password as your gmail and facebook account
  3. Ebay, or Adobe, or some other entity with your account credentials gets hacked. 
  4. The hackers post the list of account credentials online where anyone can download them
  5. Someone decides they want to hack you. They download a bunch of these lists, find your name, use free, publicly available, easy to use software to crack your password and then try logging onto your gmail account. Since the passwords are the same across both accounts they succeed. 

Obviously the people hacking the Apple database are technically skilled, But Slater’s email and Facebook could, in theory, have been hacked by anyone with the ability to download a couple torrent files. 

The way to prevent this happening are: 

  1. Change your passwords on your important accounts. Use different passwords. 
  2. Set up two-step verification on your gmail so that only certain computers can access your account. 

Quick post debate comment

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:28 am

The general consensus seems to be that Cunliffe ‘won’ the debate although not overwhelmingly. Various pundits have wondered what happened to Key. Why wasn’t he funnier? Didn’t he prepare enough? 

I think Key’s problem last night went a bit deeper than that. The premise of National’s campaign is that everything is basically okay; they haven’t introduced any significant policy this election, but Key ‘hopes’ that there will be tax cuts at some stage in the future. 

If you look at the polls most people agree that the country is heading in the right direction, so National’s ‘don’t rock the boat’ strategy makes a lot of sense. But when you put Key up on the debate stage with Cunliffe, who hammered issues like house prices and foreign land sales which the majority of the country thinks are not okay, and which Labour has policy solutions for but National does not, then Key is at a huge disadvantage. Most of the debate consisted of Cunliffe identifying problems and proposing solutions, with Key insisting that the problems didn’t exist and Cunliffe’s solutions wouldn’t work. Key never had the chance to articulate his solutions or his vision, because he doesn’t have any. It’s hard to joke your way past that. 

August 28, 2014

Debates don’t change anything unless they do

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 3:23 pm

Leaders’ debate tonight! Reading through some of the political science about debates over lunchtime and the general consensus seems to be that debates don’t really change voters’ minds unless one of the debaters dramatically under-performs or over-performs.  But all other things being equal, viewers generally think the politician they liked going into the debate ‘won’, and the greatest impact of most debates is to persuade viewers towards the policies and viewpoints of the politician they’re already predisposed to like. 

But its possible that either candidate tonight could dazzle us, or disgrace themselves. Key is likely to be the usual chilled out entertainer who sees everything in All-Blacks analogies and played golf with Barack Obama, but he’s very crafty and quick-witted when he wants to be: he ran rings around Phil Goff in 2011. On the other hand, his judgement over the last couple weeks hasn’t been great. 

And then there’s Cunliffe. I was one of those idiots who thought he’d make a better Labour leader than David Shearer, because Cunliffe could ‘take the fight’ to Key, and I had events like tonight’s debate in mind. So this would be a good time for Cunliffe to deliver on what now seems like his very distant promise. Sadly I think he’s just as likely to say something inane and narcissistic and further repel voters. I hope he doesn’t do that. 

I also hope the pundits and commentators lined up to comment on the debate have more substantive critiques to make than, ‘He looked masterful,’ or ‘He seemed nervous.’ 

In terms of strategy, I think Cunliffe will attempt to speak to older voters who are deserting his party for New Zealand First. Key will speak to current National voters and frighten them into turning out and voting ‘Unless you want David Cunliffe, Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom running the country.’  

August 27, 2014

PVR advice

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 1:48 pm

Yesterday I called Vodafone’s customer support line to get some help with my broadband internet. Today I cancelled my Vodafone account and signed up with Spark because that seemed like an easier way to get my internet working again. 

Anyway, part of the deal with Vodafone was the ‘T-Box’ which we used for recording/time shifting tv shows and Spark don’t got nothing like that. We could sign up for Sky and get MySky, but that’s $50/month and all we want to do is record and rewatch free tv. So buying a Personal Video Recorder looks like the way to go. 

Any recommendations? The DishTV devices look pretty cheap but the reviews suggest they’re horrible. Maybe the new generation ones are better? Has anyone used one of the Panasonic PVRs? Anything else out there on the market? 

August 21, 2014

The SIS OIA

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:23 am

Via Stuff:

Labour MP Phil Goff says he has evidence the prime minister was briefed about a decision to release Security Intelligence Service documents to WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

John Key, who is also the minister responsible for the SIS, has denied his office had anything to do with the release in 2011 of the documents used to embarrass Goff, who was then Labour Party leader.

Goff had denied being briefed by then SIS director Warren Tucker on a security matter, but the documents showed he had been fully briefed.

Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics, alleges Slater was tipped off by Key’s staff to ask for the papers.

Key has insisted that this absolutely did not happen, and that the SIS released the information themselves. Why did they do it so quickly? Because Phil Goff had questioned Tucker’s word, and so Tucker obviously had an incentive to get the information out as quickly as possible.

There are a few problems with that version of events. The biggest is that Fairfax had requested the same document a few days earlier and the SIS refused to release it to them. The second big problem is this dialog in the Slater/Bhatnager correspondence dumped by whaledump yesterday:

Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:03am Should be a big day tomorrow if my PO Box has a nice brown envelope with OHMS on it
Aaron Bhatnagar, 8/2, 9:04am oh, whats that about?
Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:05am I OIAd the briefing minutes and notes for Goff’s SIS briefing it has been expedited in the public interest
Aaron Bhatnagar, 8/2, 9:05am oh yes
Cameron Slater, 8/2, 9:06am it is devastating for Goff I am told

Surely if the SIS wanted this information to be published they’d have released it to Fairfax, who asked for it first? It is also hard to imagine the SIS Director’s office calling up Cameron Slater and crowing to him about the contents of his request that they’d just ‘expedited’. 

August 15, 2014

DPF Hacked!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:18 am

Via Stuff

David Farrar, whose company does polling for National and who operates the National-sympathetic Kiwiblog, was also a subject of Dirty Politics.

He posted on Kiwiblog this morning that after a careful reading of the book, he realised Hager had information “that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office”.

The two most likely scenarios were that his computer system had also been hacked, or someone had physically removed documents from his office or apartment, Farrar said.

Or, y’know, Hager could have talked to one of Farrar’s employees, who read the scripts hundreds of times, and if you look in the footnotes to Hager’s book it turns out that information about Curia is attributed to an ‘employee’. 

June 24, 2014

I love this shit

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:15 am

So here’s my theory about the great Labour/Donghua Liu mystery.

  • Like I said in my previous post there are two separate stories about two separate donations. The ‘party source’ who told the Herald that Liu gave Labour $15,000 for a book signed by Helen Clark at a Labour Party fundraiser and the mystery source who obtained a signed statement from Liu shortly after the Williamson story broke and then gave the statement to the Herald over the weekend. The statement claims that Liu paid ‘close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser’.
  • We’ve also seen this photograph of former Cabinet Minister Rick Barker handing over a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark to Liu’s partner at a 2007 fundraising auction.
  • It’s weird, isn’t it, that the first source didn’t say anything about the $100,000 donation for wine and Liu’s statement doesn’t mention anything about a $15,000 donation for a book. It matches up with the way Labour’s made a big deal about ‘nobody remembering a $100,000 donation’.
  • My guess is that the different sources are all talking about the same donation with inaccuracies in each story: that Liu paid $15,000 for a bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark – which is the bottle of wine we see Rick Barker handing over in the Herald photo – that the ‘party source’ – let’s call him Shane Gones – misremembered slightly and said it was a book, and that Liu misremembered the amount and claimed it was $100,000.
  • If Liu eventually fronts up with proof he donated $15,000 – and not $100,000 – it will be a bit awkward for Labour, but it will be awful for the Herald.

June 21, 2014

It’s all a big nothing!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:43 am

I think Fran O’Sullivan has the right perspective on the great Cunliffe/Liu scandal of June 2014. That it is, in almost immediate retrospect, trivial nonsense.

Maybe it’s because the elegance of the trap – such an artful piece of political gamesmanship – was almost instantly undermined by National’s clumsy attempts to publicly gloat over their handiwork while simultaneously denying they were involved while also promising there was more to come. I mean, WTF?

And it looks like there’s not ‘more to come’. Stuff ran a story last night:

Labour is bracing for the expected release of an affidavit claiming six-figure donations were made to the party by wealthy businessman Donghua Liu.

A spokesman for Liu told Fairfax this week: “No comment is to be made at this stage.”

It is understood the affidavit was being pored over by lawyers today because there was a lack of documentation.

Prime Minister John Key this week referred to rumours about ‘‘hundreds of thousands’’ of dollars in undeclared donations from Liu, but refused to elaborate.

He said he would be ‘‘very amazed’’ if Liu had not donated more than the $15,000 he reportedly paid for a book signed by former Labour leader Helen Clark.

The rumours have been circulating for weeks in the media and in Parliament of much bigger payments by Liu to Labour, including suggestions a sworn affidavit existed.

And this morning the Herald’s run a story indicating that the rumours are probably mostly bullshit:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu has confirmed for the first time that he donated to the Labour Party.

The 53-year-old has been at the centre of political scandals involving National and Labour for months but yesterday broke his silence to say he had given “equally to Governments of both colours”.

But Liu said he would not make any further comments about political donations or swear an affidavit outlining dollar amounts.

May 1, 2014

National’s week

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:03 pm

This election isn’t about whether National can beat Labour. It’s about whether National can win enough seats to cobble together a nice manageable government for its third term, or whether they’re going to spend three long years dependent on United Future, New Zealand First, the Conservative Party, Te Ururoa Flavell and some ACT Party doofus to pass any legislation. That means maximising turnout, not alienating probable voters to stay at home on election day or to cast a protest vote for Colin Craig or Winston Peters.

So I think this Williamson resignation is a pretty big deal. Superficially it resembles the case of Nick Smith resigning after intervening in an ACC debacle. The big difference is that Smith intervened on behalf of a friend who was struggling in her dealings with the agency, while Williamson intervened on behalf of a National Party donor who assaulted his wife and her mother by informing the police that the accused was very wealthy. Smith looked like a Minister who abused his position. Williamson looks like a horrible, hateful crooked scumbag who obviously doesn’t accept that he’s done anything wrong: he’s given a ‘sorry if I caused a perception of wrongdoing’ non-apology and insists he’s going to stand again in September.

National can’t do much about Williamson. But putting forward two tobacco lobbyists as candidates in one week seems like another vote-suppression technique. Maybe I’m wrong, an out-of-touch liberal, yadda yadda yadda; but running this twenty-three year old tobacco shill in Southland just seems like its designed to provoke voters down there into saying, ‘Screw you guys! I’m voting for Winston.’

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