The Dim-Post

July 14, 2014

The Western District Way

Filed under: crime,Politics — danylmc @ 2:47 pm

Via the Herald:

Former Police Minister and Papakura MP Judith Collins was told there might be a problem with how police handled statistics around the same time as police were wrongly recording incidents to make hundreds of burglaries disappear – but she didn’t investigate further.

Ms Collins, who is acting Police Minister while Anne Tolley is overseas, launched an attack on Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern, calling the leaking of a report into police mistakes “politically motivated”.

A police internal investigation revealed that from 2009 to 2012, five officers in Counties Manukau had re-coded about 700 burglaries as incidents, which are not counted in crime statistics, raising questions about political pressure to keep crime figures down.

The investigation – revealed by the Herald on Sunday yesterday – found that offences should have been recorded as burglaries for 70 per cent of those incidents. Police are calling it an isolated incident, which has now led to spot audits throughout the country to ensure the integrity of statistics.

One of the reasons I think The Wire is the ‘best TV show of all time’, over say, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, is that The Wire explained to us how our own world works. Because we’ve seen Season 3 we all know that Judith Collins would never have told the police to falsify their statistics.’ Instead she would have said, ‘The budget is tough, you’re going to have to do more with less, and your staff will be promoted based on their performance at reducing crime as measured in the statistics.’ And the district commanders are left to consider that they’re (a) supposed to get crime down, (b) they don’t have any resources to do so, but (c) they get to collect and record the metrics on which their own promotions will depend. The result is a police force in which police inclined to falsify their statistics are promoted ahead of those that deliver high quality police work.

None of which is the Minister’s fault. She never told them to make 700 burglaries disappear, although she was more than happy to issue a press release and claim all the credit when those disappearing burglaries showed up in the crime stats.

July 13, 2014

Political biohazard watch

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:54 pm

In the hypothetical Labour/Green/New Zealand First/Mana/Internet Party coalition that voters are being asked to put in charge of the country this election year, its hard to figure out which inter-party relationship is the most poisonous, or who would like to destroy whom the most. But now that Laila Harre’s gone and started pre-releasing Green Party policy on the same day as the Greens and justified it on the basis that she worked for the Green Party for fifteen months, and therefore owns all their intellectual property, somehow, I’m gonna nominate the Green/Internet Mana relationship as, from here on in, probably the most toxic.

What’s the strategy here? The original vision for the Internet Party was that it would be a, y’know, Internet Party, focused on digital issues and changing the government by turning out young non-voters. My guess is that Dotcom’s money has paid for some market research which has found that the number of non-voters passionate about copyright restrictions is close to zero, and that the demographic most sympathetic towards the Internet Party are current Green voters. Harre doesn’t share Dotcom’s interest in digital rights, or his legal problems, so her focus – like any other political leader – is purely on maximising her party vote. Which explains why the Internet Party is now a tiny cannibalistic version of the Green Party.


July 10, 2014

Doing it wrong

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:05 am

Sometimes the politically smart thing to do is also the morally right thing to do. When the government directly wrongs one of its own citizens a politician will almost always meet with that person. Partly out of decency but mostly to get that person ‘on side’ and deter them from, say, going on national television, declaring that you’re incompetent and demanding that you resign:

The woman at the centre of a case involving an alleged sex attack by a Malaysian diplomat say Prime Minister John Key looked “bored” and insincere when he publicly discussed her case.

Tania Rose Billingsley, 21, spoke on TV3’s 3rd Degree last night, after she waived her automatic right to name suppression.

She was allegedly assaulted by Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail in her home in Brooklyn, Wellington.

Rizalman was arrested on May 10 on charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.

The same day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a formal request that Rizalman, an assistant to the defence attache for the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, waive diplomatic immunity to face charges.

Malaysia has said that at a meeting with Mfat representatives an alternative was offered for the accused to return to Malaysia.

Rizalman left on May 22, a day after Malaysia declined the request to waive immunity — asking for the police case to be sealed.

In the 3rd Degree interview, she said she was angry her alleged attacker was allowed to leave, and called for Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to resign.

Why didn’t McCully do the politically obvious thing and meet with Billingsley to apologise in person? Presumably because he didn’t give a shit, but also didn’t think that anyone else would either. This might not be the best guy to be handling our most sensitive diplomatic negotiations.

It’ll be interesting to see how our media culture deals with Tania Billingsley. As a young woman who talked about ‘rape culture’ and critiqued John Key and one of his senior Ministers you’d expect her to come under vicious and sustained attack, with the Sensible Blokes of Talk-radio leading the charge. But in the post-Roastbusters environment things might be different.

July 9, 2014

NZ Household incomes

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 10:10 am

I’ve been reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century (11% of the way through!) and the recent publication of the 2014 Household Incomes Report makes me wonder if the core hypothesis holds in contemporary New Zealand. Via the Herald:

Growing income inequality is largely a myth, according to the latest household income figures, though the pockets of the poor are hit the hardest by rising housing costs.

Income inequality is a major political issue this election, as the Labour and Green Parties have tried to paint a picture of a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots under the National-led Government.

The 2014 Household Incomes Report, released yesterday, showed income inequality had mostly remained the same since the mid-1990s, and is slightly higher than the OECD average.

Household incomes had rebounded by 4 per cent from 2011 to 2013, making up lost ground after the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes. The report showed:

Lower earners were hit hardest by the recession, but riches from the recovery were more evenly spread. Overall from 2009 to 2013, average incomes were stagnant for the bottom half of earners, but grew by 5 per cent for the top half.

July 7, 2014

Makes sense

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:34 am

Voters routinely tell pollsters that they consider education to be ‘the most important issue’. It’s an area where National has made themselves weirdly vulnerable, deciding that our high-performing education system needs to be ‘fixed’ by adopting a bunch of crack-pot ideas from the US and the UK, both of which rank far lower on the international comparisons of student evaluations, and they’ve chosen Hekia Parata to champion those reforms and stuck by her through a series of ongoing public debacles. It’s a natural target for Labour in a way that the health system – usually the second ‘most important issue’ – simply isn’t.

And the launch went well too. A positive lead story on TVNZ on a Sunday night is just about as good as it gets, and something I don’t think Labour have accomplished once this year, until now. So it’ll be interesting to see if this reverses their decline in the polls. It should, but if it doesn’t pretty much nothing will.

July 5, 2014

On Cunliffe’s apology for being a man

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:16 am

Via Stuff:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has sparked a new controversy by apologising to a women’s refuge symposium ‘‘for being a man’’ because they are the main perpetrators of family violence.

‘‘Can I begin by saying I’m sorry – I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man, right now. Because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’ he said.

‘‘So the first message to the men out there is: ‘wake up, stand up, man up and stop this bullshit’.’’ His comments came as Labour headed into its election year congress, and sparked a war of words on social media.

Many ridiculed Cunliffe for apologising when most men were good fathers and partners.

The theory goes like this: Sure, most men are ‘good fathers and partners’ and they aren’t directly committing abuse. But many men hold misogynistic attitudes that perpetuate a culture in which domestic violence and sexual abuse are allowed to flourish, hence there’s a collective responsibility for those crimes. The various scandals around the ‘Roastbusters’ alleged gang-rapes are Exhibit-A in terms of evidence for the ‘rape-culture’ hypothesis in New Zealand. The police who refused to investigate the complaints and the host of media figures who instantly jumped in to defend a pack of alleged gang-rapists by attacking their victims weren’t directly committing crimes, and are probably good dads, etc, but their attitudes create a culture in which rape and violence towards women are tacitly tolerated.

The problem with Cunliffe’s apology for being a man and acknowledging that collective responsibility is that while the rape-culture hypothesis is pretty much accepted as valid by most people involved in left-wing politics, at least under the age of forty, it’s completely alien to most of the rest of the population, who have absolutely no idea what Cunliffe is talking about here. Why is he sorry? What’s wrong with being a man? Most men are good dads, etc.

Also, if you’re a adult male you have an incentive not to believe the rape-culture argument. Rape and domestic violence don’t really affect you, while accusations that you have a collective responsibility for it do – which is why some people are more outraged by Cunliffe’s awkward statements than they are by any of the actual abuse that happens in this country.

July 3, 2014

Deep state syndrome

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:09 am

The fiasco over the Malaysian Diplomat seems pretty typical of what happens when you get organisations like MFAT – elitist, pointlessly secretive, largely unaccountable. The incentive is for officials in these departments to act in their own short-term interest, which then gets conflated with ‘the national interest’. After all, are they not our intellectual elite? Do they not know best? Thus it was in the national interest for an alleged attempted rapist to just quietly leave the country, because the alternatives would have been really awkward and meant a load of extra work for everyone in the protocol department.

As usual the Minister responsible is claiming ignorance. If there’s anything happening inside the Labour Party these guys are always all over it, happy to relay rumours and disinformation to the media, but if anything important happens in, say, the GCSB or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – for whom government Ministers are the only oversight function – they never know, not their place to know, not their job, not their problem or responsibility.

Update: Via Toby Manhire:


July 1, 2014

Tracking poll and small parties

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:50 am

Peter updated the code to include the Internet/Mana Party so I’ve generated graphs for the smaller parties. The trendline prior to their alliance is the Mana Party, then the Mana Party plus the Internet Party. Then Internet/Mana.  Here is the bias corrected graph. Non bias corrected here.

Big difference for New Zelaand First. What we don’t know is whether the polls just prior to the 2011 election underestimated the level of support for New Zealand First or whether the teapot tapes saga swung voters from National to New Zealand First after the sample periods ended. Also, what impact will voter turnout have on that party’s chances of getting back in? He could get the same number of voters, but if turnout is higher still drop below 5%.

Internet/Mana are doing better than I thought they would. Almost exactly level with the Conservatives in the non-correcting graph. (I don’t think Colin Craig’s party will go much higher. I think that in 2011 he was a blank canvas that some Conservative voters could project their own values onto and now he’s a weird, silly canvas.) I have no idea how high  Internet/Mana will go. My wild guess about the voter behavior on the left is that the Greens are losing votes to Internet/Mana and Labour are losing votes to the Greens (also, Labour voters are probably switching to undecided). Ordinarily I’d expect Internet/Mana voters to act kind of like Green voters and not actually turn up and vote, but they say they’re pouring their resources into voter turnout so who knows?

Here are the graphs for the large parties. Bias corrected. Non bias-corrected here and a screen-shot below.


June 29, 2014

See, the thing about roads is . . .

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 12:44 pm

DPF has had a couple of posts up recently about environmentalists, one revealing that some Greenpeace staffer flies on a plane twice a month, the other that some Green Party candidate drives a car! The general gist is that if you argue that we should move away from a carbon based economy because of the environmental impacts you shouldn’t use any kind of carbon based transport system, which, unfortunately for environmentalists, means they’re supposed to work and campaign without travelling anywhere, because its pretty much all carbon based, which is exactly what they’re campaigning against.

Meanwhile, the National government has just announced their first policy for the election. An extra $212 million dollars on ROADS. This government loves ROADS. They announced a $12 billion dollar roading package about two years ago. I read somewhere – but can’t quite remember – that their total spend on ROADS is about $30 billion.

And here’s the thing. ROADS are SOCIALIST. They are!  The government takes your tax money, some central planner decides where to spend it, they build something that the state owns and anyone can use it for free. That is the textbook definition of socialism.

So I guess I’d like to hear from DPF as to why he isn’t just a huge disgusting hypocrite for using roads, when he claims to be a classical liberal who opposes socialism and champions the free market. And I guess he’ll say something like, ‘I pay my taxes so I’m entitled to use them.’ Or ‘I’m an advocate for toll roads and public private partnerships.’ But that’s not how it works with environmentalists. They pay their plane fares, and they’re ‘advocates’ too, and they’re dirty stinking hypocrites for flying on planes, somehow. How can DPF ever travel on ROADS? Shouldn’t he be named and shamed every time he sets foot on a footpath (perhaps a better term would be gulag-path)? Isn’t it time people who care about freedom stand up for it and stay at home, forever?

More seriously, it’d also be fun to hear from the Prime Minister and Joyce as to why the dead hand of the state needs to distort the market and build so many roads? Why doesn’t the private sector intervene? The answer, of course, is that just as the private sector outperforms the state in some areas, the state is a better solution for plenty of others, and ROADS is one of them. National MPs aren’t allowed to think that though which is funny, because they really, really, really love ROADS.

June 27, 2014

The difference

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 7:31 am

The Herald editorial is in defensive mode insisting ‘Cries of bias will not stop reporting.’

It is common in election years for political parties under pressure to attempt to shoot the messenger. In 2005, the Herald was stridently criticised and accused of bias by National supporters for our reportage of Dr Don Brash and the Exclusive Brethren. In 2008 it was the turn of Winston Peters and his New Zealand First people to call for resignations of the editor and political editor for the inconvenient revelation of funding from millionaire Owen Glenn, despite his “No” sign. Last election it was National partisans again, livid at the Herald on Sunday and Herald for John Key and John Banks talking openly before a microphone accidentally left on their “cup of tea” table in a cafe.

This year it is the turn of Labour and its leader, David Cunliffe, incensed at reporting on the donations to the party and its MPs by the controversial Chinese migrant Donghua Liu — and that party’s connections to him.

Mr Cunliffe is considering unspecified legal options against the Herald. Party supporters have weighed in with accusations of political bias and complicated right-wing conspiracies.

The Herald is a large and complicated institution. Editorially its a right-wing newspaper that favors National and the ACT Party, and when you talk to journalists who work there they’ll happily admit that, although some of them say things like ‘We are a pro-business newspaper that you might consider right-wing.’ Whatever. Editorially its a right-wing paper.

But its journalism is usually pretty balanced. Just like it says in the editorial, their reporter Jared Savage broke the story about Donghua Liu’s links with Maurice Williamson. They covered the teapot tapes story, and Don Brash’s links with the Exclusive Brethren. When the story about Liu’s donations to Labour broke I thought most of Labour’s senior party figures were going to have to resign, because I took Savage’s journalism seriously.

But the difference, I think, between the stories about Maurice Williamson and Don Brash and the tea-pot tapes is that those stories turned out to be true. There really was a tea-pot tape. Maurice Williamson did phone the police. Don Brash did collaborate with the Exclusive Brethren. But the Herald’s story that Donghua Liu gave Labour $150,000 and that Labour didn’t declare that donation has turned out to be false. Weirdly its the Herald’s own reporting that proved that, but they tried to fudge it and didn’t issue any kind of apology or correction, and they’re still demanding to know what happened to the other $15,000, or $38,000 or however much they still reckon Liu gave Labour, although they have yet to provide a shred of proof that any donation took place.

And maybe I’m a big, wide-eyed conspiracy theorist, but since we know that person who took the false statement from Liu – a major donor to the National Party – passed the information in it onto the Prime Minister several weeks before they gave that statement to the Herald, I’m pretty confident in saying it came from National. If the Herald wants to rule that out – they have NO obligation to protect a source who fed them false information – then they can do so.

But failing that, the sum total of the Liu story is that we have a newspaper with right-wing editorial sympathies who published a false smear story about a left-wing political party fed to them by the government in the immediate run-up to the election. And it’s still ongoing. Yesterday they published a story about a former Labour Party fundraiser called Steven Ching, linking him with Liu and Labour. Ching issued a statement disputing all of the allegations and adding that the Herald never even bothered to contact him to check their story. At this point in the train-wreck you’d think they’d be a little more cautious.

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