Friday, October 21, 2005

Tweek of the Week (21 October 2005)

US Military personnel in Afghanistan (US Psychological Operations Unit)

Not content with helping to whip up fundamentalist extremism in Iraq, the US has now apparently shifted its attentions back to Afghanistan where it has managed to offend even moderate Muslims and breach the Geneva Convention, with a decision by the US Psychological Operations Unit to burn the bodies of two Taliban fighters, whom US troops had killed earlier.

The bodies were arranged to face Mecca (Islam’s Holy City) and then set alight.

This stunt, reminiscent of the Crusades, was used as part of a psychological exercise by the US Psychological Operations Unit to “taunt [the Taliban] to retrieve their dead and fight."

The global security website ( notes that …

“Psychological Operations (PSYOP) soldiers use persuasion to influence perceptions and encourage desired behavior. The cornerstone of PSYOP is truth, credibly presented to convince a given audience to cease resistance or take actions favorable to friendly (US) forces.”

I note that this type of ‘persuasion’ has been really successful thus far in the Middle East and Asia and South America and…

Tweek of the Week - US Psychological Operations Unit

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hitlererian Dictator to Stand Trial…

I was watching Breakfast (that informed journal of intelligent news and information) this morning before leaving for work, when it was mentioned that Saddam Hussein is about to stand trial for a massacre at Dujail. I learnt later that it is a village north of Baghdad where his security forces are alleged to have killed at least 140 people after a failed attempt there on his life in 1982.

Well, good stuff, I thought. He should be put on trial for human rights abuses as should those who acted with and supported him during his bloody reign.

But, wait a moment, those people who supplied Saddam with the armaments and the money and, come to think of it, also sent military and security advisers across to train his army etc and then turned a blind eye and even in some cases condoned it when he committed terrible atrocities against the Kurds, the Iranians and his own people… They’re not standing trial!! They’re helping to run the trial!!! (Sigh)

Why, do I feel that Justice is not going to be served on this occasion?

Monday, October 17, 2005

And, so they danced with the Devil….

Well, it’s out, we now have a Labour/Progressive/United Future and New Zealand First Government with Winston Peters and Peter Dunne as Ministers outside of Cabinet.

Peters, is of course, trying to portray his decision as pragmatic and principled, while Peter Dunne is of course trumpeting his re-promotion back into cabinet as ‘promoting stability’ and ‘commonsense.’ The last time he was a Minister was under Bolger and he was Minister of Revenue then as well.

Already, the political calls are being made. Dunne is promoting a lower company tax rate, a move that Jim Anderton would support, considering the economic flip-flop that he has done over the issue now that the Alliance has ceased to exist as a coherent entity. It remains to be seen as to what other deals and delights Winston will deliver to the Cabinet table and the populace over the next term (assuming that the Government holds together that long). In case, anyone is thinking that Winston might hold fast to his principles, he hasn’t so far, why ruin a prefect run.

On his “I See Red” Blog, Tony Milne, past Labour candidate for Rakaia quotes Helen Clark as stating that the Government will be “… durable, strong, stable and progressive…” Hmmm…I’ve been hearing lots of different definitions of the word ‘progressive’ recently. However, I can’t help agreeing with the Greens, who are obviously disappointed with the way in which the Government has been formulated, and are worried about the Government's future progressive nature.

The one thing that is certain is that this is not a Left Government, a fact that will no doubt please the old ‘Rogernomes’ in the Labour Caucus. Jim Sutton, Annette King and Phil Goff will no doubt be secretly delighted that they do not have to water down some of their policies and that a conservative agenda, particularly on social and economic issues will continue to go ahead.

It does raise the question as to what would the Government have been like if there had been another party to Labour’s Left? The demise of the Alliance as a coherent and cogent political actor has meant that the Greens are the only option that Labour has for a left partner (and not a very left partner at that). With a Left Party and a Green Party supporting Labour, then the road could have been open for a hegemonic shift in the political spectrum of the country. It is less likely now that the right is essentially in bed with a liberal administration in the Asquith meaning of the term.

In one sense, Labour can only blame itself. It set out to destroy the parliamentary left in this country and has largely succeeded. If you don’t have choices, then you have to do a deal with the Devil and doing a deal with the Devil brings its own troubles.

Pale Pink Peas and (the) Ham….Michael Bassett and the Rewriting of History

I used to admire Michael Bassett. His historical writing and research was excellent and I still refer to his previous works on the Third Labour Government and Third Party politics in New Zealand. However, this admiration has increasingly waned in recent years, not just because of his right wings views, courtesy of him having been a Minister in the Fourth Labour Government (1984 – 1990), but also because those views now tend to cloud his writing so that so, that much else is excluded.

The most obvious is his recent column in the Press, in which he laments the lack of front bench talent of the Government.

“Clark is soldiering on with the remnants of 20 years’ worth of indifferent
candidate selections, and no rejuvenation process in sight…”

Bassett asks why the calibre of Labour’s candidates dropped in the late 1980s? He concludes that it is the fault of those who lifted Clark into the leadership role. It is the fault of the Margaret Wilson/ Ruth Dyson /Maryann Street party presidencies which promoted weak people into positions in the Labour Party caucus to bolster up support for Clark.

He does note and I agree that it is also inevitable that after an administration has been in power for several terms that it starts to become stale. This happened to Labour during the 1940s and to National in the 1960s and 1970s. What often happens is that when the Government is removed from office, resurgence takes place as former Ministers resign from the front bench or retire from parliament and new talent, which has often been languishing on the back bench or outside parliament come forward.

But, let us take up Bassett’s synopsis for further investigation. When we subtract 20 years from today (2005) where do we end up? We end up at 1985, when the Fourth Labour Government, of which Bassett was a Minister, was in power and it is that Government which has set the direction for Labour ever since. Here lays the answer to the questions that Bassett poses.

The real reason for the ‘supposed’ decline of the calibre of Labour MPs was the demise of the Labour Party as a coherent social democratic alternative during the 1980s and the early 1990s due to the factional infighting and desertion of members that occurred during that period. The Labour Party became the scene of an intense and protracted civil war, caused by Mr Bassett and his fellow right wing cronies who decided that social democratic policy and principle was expedient compared to the ideological correctness of the free market.

As the war wore on, each side attempted to get their own supporters elected into positions of power so as to ensure that their principles and policies would remain entrenched. It has also meant that Labour can not return to anything approaching its pre 1984 social democratic ideals, as for every Tim Barnett there is a Darren Hughes. So horribly, the ‘Third Way’ approach adopted by the Party since 1996 is probably as left wing as it is going to get. (Every time, I think of the ‘Third Way’, I think of former British Labour Deputy Leader, Roy Hattersley’s comment that the 'Third Way' was a series of cliques looking for a coherent thought).

Of course, the so-called left of the Labour Party (and now, supposedly in control) were those in the Party’s political centre during the 1980s. They had no strong ideological conviction and were prepared to play 'footise' with both the Left and the Right over issues and governance; this was before the Left departed with Jim Anderton to form the NLP and the Right left with Douglas and Prebble to form ACT.

Further, Labour has, sadly, never really recovered from the dramatic drop in Party membership that occurred in the 1980s.

I note that the people that Bassett admires, Jim Sutton, Trevor Mallard, Annette King et al are right wing leftovers from that Government. Bassett’s real lament appears to be that Clark and Co have placed their own ‘left-wing’ supporters into positions of power. However, given the recent history of the Labour Party that is hardly surprising.

If Michael Basset wants the real reason why there is a decline in the calibre of Labour front bench prospects, all he needs to do is look in the mirror.

Tweek of the Week (17 October 2005)

Well, it's a bit dull now that the election is over. All the shouting has quietened down and the politicians are into conciliatory mode. I'm hopeful that once the talks are over and then we can see the winners and the losers in this battle - The Greens, sadly, maybe one of the losers.

I thought about giving a Tweek to the incoming German Chancellor, Germany's new Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel who has has been essentially neutered by the inconclusive German Election results in that key Ministerial Positions may have to be given to her opponents, the Social Democrats.

However, Joe Hendren's remarks in relation to Alexis Stewart daughter of Bruce Logan, Chairperson of the Maxim Institute, a right wing conservative thinktank that laments the evil permissive society unleashed by the present 'socialist' administration, caught my eye. I can't do any better than to refer people to Joe's excellent blog on the matter and to Russell's Brown equally excellent Blog about Stewart.

Like many in Christchurch, I've been appalled by Alexis's ill-informed comments over the past months in the pages of The Press, so it was very amusing to learn that she and her horrible father are just plain simple cheats and that she appears to simply plagiarise his ill-informed opinions - Tut...tut...are these the right moral standards for today's youth?

Tweek of the Week - Alexis Stewart and Bruce Logan of the Maxim Institute

Postscript: I have just learnt that Brucie really does deserve this Tweek...sad...sad...sad.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dancing with the Devil…

It appears that those political discussions that have been occurring between the various parties are drawing to a close and that sometime over the next few days, we can expect an announcement as to the shape of the Government. As well as the details on the various deals that has been struck between the participants.

On the basis of the current media frenzy, it appears that a deal that includes the Greens and (cough…cough…) New Zealand First but, which might exclude United Future and the Maori Party appears imminent. It is uncertain as to what price New Zealand First has extracted from the Government for its support in terms of supply and confidence. It appears that Labour might have been forced to swallow “The Gold Card” for the elderly, as well as a rise in the minimum wage and a renewal of free doctor’s visits for under 6 year olds….hmmm….all well and good and then you go to the other demands for a review of all Treaty clauses in legislation and a commitment to the current seabed and foreshore legislation….that also does not include any other little demands that Peters might be waiting to spring on an unsuspecting Government.

Dealing with Winston is a bit like entering a relationship with the Devil. You never know what moves your partner is going to spring or what hooks the subsequent relationship is going to bring. Only, that there will be hooks (and twists) attached in this relationship. National discovered that to its cost during the late 1990s.

I wonder if Jim Anderton and the Progressives are having similar doubts. For those with long memories, when the Alliance was a going concern in the mid 1990s, it tried a marriage of convenience with Winston, only to learn that he had every intention of jilting them at the altar. Fortunately, they learnt this prior to any ceremony.

I often wonder if some in the Labour Party lament the demise of the Alliance (I know that Jordon does). In proportional representation it pays to have allies you can rely on after all socialists/left social democrats are easier to deal with than xenophobic conservative nationalists. They are also closer to Labour’s own liberal ideals. However, there is no sizeable party to Labour’s left and therefore it has been left with little option but to ask Winston for a waltz.

Like any contract with the Evil One, the ‘devil’ (if you pardon the term) is in the small print. Dance with the Devil at your own risk….

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tweek of the Week (10 October)

Maybe, it's the crap music and the crap advertisements!!! ...Maybe, it's because of the fact that they are at the forefront of further dumbing down news and information in this country...Maybe, it's because of JJ's webpage ( which gives us her enlightened views on political correctness, international affairs and promises us a 'naked JJ'... Maybe, it's because they offer lousy competitions in which people prove that they are willing to do anything for money...(I am referring to Crazy Frog).

But, perhaps because of all these things....The Edge get this weeks 'Tweek.'

The Edge (featuring JJ, Mike and Dom) this week's 'Tweek of the Week.'

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Riddle me this…Do the Money Men believe in Democracy?

Early in the morning, prior to leaving for work, I watch the Business News on Television. The ongoing falls and rises of the stock market and the latest developments in the Business Community provide an informative start to the day as well as something additional to digest with my breakfast.

Often they will bring on Business Analysts to discuss the various and possible outcomes of company mergers and government policies on the market place. These may be ‘independent’ commentators (that is they belong to no particular organisation, but might be contracted to provide advice and or opinion) or representatives of organisations such as NZX (formerly the New Zealand Stock Exchange).

While, a number of their opinions are apparently made with a dispassionate ‘toss of the head,’ they are, anything but dispassionate. Prior to the Election, the NZX Analyst noted that the problem with public ownership was that people had agendas, that they and Governments could be ideologically driven, that Governments and people could be passionate about who or what company owned assets and that this was a distinctly unwelcome thing. This morning, the NZX Analyst commented that businesses were pragmatic in their approach. Unfortunately, the present Government had put itself off side with Business with the unpragmatic approach of some of its policies. The message that I got from these two comments was clear, the Government was not acting pragmatically rather it was ideologically driven, where as, the market was dispassionate about ideology. The Government was extreme and the Market was moderate.

If only this was the case, any serious (or indeed cursory) investigation of the ‘market’ and its various players over the past several decades would establish that they are far more ideologically focused than recent governments. Key individuals and organisations, who claim to speak for the market, oppose labour market reforms and such like not on the basis of accountancy, but on the basis of ‘freedom of association’ or ‘individual choice,’ which are ‘value’ judgments.

This is why I was feeling disturbed about the Greens recent discussion with the Business Community. I got the distinct impression that some in the Greens feel that a compromise might be able to be worked out with the various doyens of the market place. (Hey! We’re not scary!) However, since several of the key players in the ‘market’ are ideologically driven, no such relationship will be gained without one side compromising more than the other. My guess is that the Greens would be forced into compromising rather more than the leadership of Telecom.

This brings me to the nub of my argument; which is that these people just don’t like democracy. Why shouldn’t political parties or Governments have ideological leanings or ‘anti-business’ agendas? what is wrong with it? In a democracy, people should be able to vote for and support those parties and individuals of different shades. It’s not the fault of the political parties if they reflect a diverse range of popular opinion – that’s democracy.

Yet, I get the distinct impression that the NZX analyst feels that society would be better if people and parties just did what they wanted and put forward the reforms that they approved of. Well, there are names for societies like that – they are not called democracies.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tweek of the Week ( 1 October)

As promised it's back to Tweek of the Week. This week's Tweek is for last week.

There are a number of people who might qualify for a Tweek over the past week

The petulant Peter Dunne, newly elected MP Bob Clarkson who appears to be obessed with his testicles and Donna who has made a habit of spending other people's money .

However, after much thought I have decided to award a Tweek to:

Taito Phillip Field

While he may have thought that he was doing people a favour, the general impression is that he has attempted to defraud lower income people out of money and homes for his own self interest...

Unfortunately, appearances in politics can be every thing...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pictures don't work...

Interesting. Blog pictures don't work at the moment as I've tried several times to upload with no success. So unfortunately, no Tweek of the Week at this time.