One of the stupidist arguments for clinging to a monarchy

David Farrar has posted Prince Charles’ letters to be released at Kiwiblog and says:

The advantage of a monarchy is that it is meant to be a politically neutral institution. These letters will show beyond doubt that Prince Charles is not in any way politically neutral. I don’t want him to be New Zealand’s next Head of State.

Some of one of the stupidest arguments for retaining a monarchy in New Zealand are repeated (they are often made).

Scott:

Prince Charles is fine. We like the monarchy, it is not broke and there is no need to fix it.

And I don’t want a NZ President because the President will one day be Helen Clarke and that thought I cannot abide.

That’s as good as saying that Scott can’t abide the thought of a democratically elected head of state. It’s stupid in the extreme to say we shouldn’t allow the people to choose in case Phillip John Smith  or Kim Dotcom get to become a symbolic head of state.

big bruv:

“So if you want to avoid Charles III, or George VII, or whatever he intends to call himself, you really have to start doing something about that now.”

As bad as Charles might be I will take him any day of the week over President Clark, Bloger, Peters, Fitzsimmons or some fat truck driver from the Waikato.

If New Zealand could elect a head of state and the people chose Helen Clark or Jim Bolger or Winston Peters then they should have them as their head of state. That’s what democracy means, as opposed to having a head of state imposed by some archaic system of succession from the other side of the world  by a country that effectively dumped New Zealand in the seventies.

mudrunner:

The energy of the anti-royalists seizing the weaknesses that he has shown swamp the benefits he brings.
I don’t want a President Clark or Bolger or Devoy either!

All this opposition to an elected head of state when they participate in electing Helen Clark or John Key or potentially Andrew Little as the Prime Minister with a primary level of power.

We don’t need a head of state on the other side of the world, no matter how noble or stupid they are.

We don’t need a symbolic head of state at all.

All we need is our current democratic system that elects a Government and effectively elects a Prime Minister, with the addition of a democratic mechanism that allows the people to overrule our politicians if the need and appropriate level of support dictates.

ODT: Transparency vital in a democracy

The Otago Daily Times editorial today is on the National Government and Transparency vital in a democracy.

Watching the Government’s desperate lolly scramble as it tries to shore up votes in the Northland by-election has made uncomfortable viewing.

The big guns are being brought out to bolster support for National candidate Mark Osborne, with visits by Prime Minister John Key and a raft of other ministers.

Critics view the Government’s sudden interest in the province with scepticism.

With good cause, what National are piling into Northland hints of abuse of power and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

Voters are left wondering what can be taken at face value, and some critics suggest obfuscation has gone beyond pattern to habit.

Yes, that seems to have become the expected norm. Not a good look for a Government in it’s third term.

The editorial details a number of examples of questionable actions and inaction over reasonable disclosure, then concludes:

There are times when information is genuinely required to be withheld to keep New Zealanders safe, some sensitive negotiations are required to be done away from the public, and some comments may be inappropriate to make in a police or legal case.

But regularly providing obscure, incomplete, or partly true answers to questions inevitably results in ”boy that cried wolf” scenarios.

Trust is fundamental to any individual or government, transparency essential for any democracy, and robust oversight mechanisms and a free and active press equally crucial (particularly when there are claims the former two are lacking).

Mr Key and his Government would do well to remember that as they ask Northland voters to trust them and make more promises for the future.

Trust can be difficult to maintain during an extended term in Government. It tends to get whittled away.

Once lost trust is much more difficult to get back. John Key is struggling with this.

He has to be seen to significantly change direction meaningfully towards far better openness and transparency or he will keep gradually sliding out of favour with voters.

Transparency is vital in a decent democracy.

Paddy pimping Peters

Winston Peters has a campaign bus on the road in Northland. And some of the media seems to be actively pushing the Peters blusterbus while they sideline some other candidates and ignore the rest.

Media driven democracy at it’s worst.

Leading the charge is 3 News political editor Patrick Gower, who even commissioned a poll for Peters. Ok, it wasn’t ‘for Peters’ but the nature and timing means it was virtual pimping.

The appearance is that some media are actively promoting Winston’s chances and want him to win the Northland seat. And they rule the rest out of anything like equivalent coverage.

Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime announced her candidacy nearly a month ago and launched her Labour campaign nearly two weeks ago. The media, especially the television media, seems to have virtually ignored her.

National’s Mark Osborne was selected last Saturday and seems to get little other than incidental coverage, and his inexperience is often emphasised.

In start contrast Winston Peters announced he was standing last Saturday. He had already arranged (and been given) promotional slots on TV3’s The Nation on Saturday and 3 News’ Q&A on Sunday.

Peters launched his bus campaign on Tuesday near lead news television coverage.

He was given a slot on 3 News Frontline on Wednesday morning.

And yesterday he was to the forefront of 3 News with a poll result, presented by a seemingly ecstatic Gower. It’s not surprising that the poll result favoured Peters, 35% to Osborne’s 30%. Peters has been splashed all over the headlines and the other candidates have been barely mentioned or ignored comparatively.

This is media driven political campaigning at it’s worse.

3 News website headlines yesterday:

Peters: ‘Labour can’t win – we can’

Winston Peters is calling on Labour voters in Northland to give him the tick in the upcoming Northland by-election.

Peters on track to win Northland seat

A 3 News political poll has found Winston Peters is on track to deliver National a shock defeat in the Northland by-election.

It appears as if plenty who voted for National in the last election feel wronged and are holding a grudge.

The latest 3 News-Reid Research poll shows Mr Peters with a clear lead over National’s Mark Osborne.

A poll taken pretty much before the campaign has started with a result of 35% to 30% is not “on track to deliver”, unless Gower means he is on track to deliver the campaign to Peters on a platter.

And the margin of error for the poll is over 4%. meaning there is substantial overlap on the potential response.

The poll is certainly a significant boost to Peters chances but the way it has been promoted is far from balanced coverage.

And the pimping of Peters continues today with Age no barrier for Winston Peters.

Going back to Tuesday the 3 News headlines:

You have to go back to Sunday to find a headline on a Peters opponent:

Ok, that’s not an opponent, it’s John Key’s view and doesn’t mention the National candidate tell near the end of the article, tacked on after another promotion for Peters:

However, Mr Peters says the National Party is panicking because of how much support he has from its own members.

NZ First had a record of achieving outside of government, he told the programme.

He had brought bridges to Tauranga and could bring roads to Northland, Mr Peters said.

“Northland has been a forgotten province. It needs a voice and we’re being asked to put our hands up put it all on the line for Northland and I intend to do just that.”

The by-election on March 28 is a four-way contest with National’s Mark Osborne, Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime and ACT’s Robin Grieve also standing.

And even that’s factually incorrect. There are eleven candidates. 3 News has chosen to ignore seven of them. Candidates have no show if the media chose not to include them in coverage.

This is media driven democracy at it’s worst.

Paddy pimping Peters is very poor political coverage.

Herald calls hacking “relatively minor” common theft

NZ Herald calls political hacking “common theft” and claims it is “relatively minor”. They are wrong on the first count and I think they are also wrong on the second.

In Editorial: Hager raid an intimidatory over-reaction the Herald voices a concern I share:

The effect of such raids is to intimidate such people from approaching media to disclose uncomfortable truths.

The raid on Nicky Hager’s home may be over the top police action and raises valid concerns about freedom of expression for  journalists – but we don’t know many details apart from Hager’s side of the story so it’s difficult to judge how much of a concern at  this stage.

While the heading promotes this concern the paragraph quoted above is well down the editorial.

I disagree with something in particular the editorial repeats – they talk down the severity of the hacking of Cameron Slater’s private data, possibly for political purposes and used by Hager for political purposes.

In response to a complaint of theft – common old theft – five police officers spent the best part of a day searching the Hager home and taking away everything from computers to an iPod. Not because Hager was considered a “suspect” but because he could be a “witness” to the crime.

The Herald unquestioningly promotes Hager’s version of the raid, and refers to the hacking as “common old theft”. The Rawshark hacking and subsequent use of data to try and defeat the Government in an election campaign is far from ‘common” and it isn’t even theft.

The Ministry of Justice refers to “unauthorised access to a computer system (hacking)” – that’s as I understand it. Copying data is not theft. And Findlaw describes the two offences that Rawshark could be investigated for:

Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose

The Bill creates a new offence of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose. Anyone who accesses a computer system and dishonestly, or by deception, either:
obtains some form of property or advantage; or

causes loss to any person;

can be sentenced to up to 7 years imprisonment.

Anyone who accesses a computer system with intent to either cause loss or obtain property is liable for up to 5 years imprisonment.

Accessing a computer system without authorisation

Accessing a computer system without authorisation will become a new crime punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. This new provision is intended to cover “hacking”.

The new offence will catch a range of cyber crimes that have recently featured in the news, including stealing credit card information from Web sites, industrial espionage, the unauthorised transfer of funds from company bank accounts, and the destruction of data by hackers or disgruntled employees.

Not theft, and not common old theft, new laws were created specifically for hacking type crimes. The Herald should know basics like this, but apparently not:

A complaint of theft had been made and Hager had been identified as the eventual user of the stolen material.

If every theft complaint made to police resulted in this kind of response, searches under warrants of houses and businesses would be constant and not much else would be achieved by our constabulary.

The theft complaint was made by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

It is unlikely anyone else reporting a theft would have resulted in the police raiding the receiver of the stolen property quite so readily.

Apart from the fact that it isn’t theft I’m sure the police readily raid suspected receivers of stolen property quite often.

The editorial concludes:

It would be good if that judge took a stand for freedom of expression. He or she will not be deciding whether the hacking was a crime, just whether the police treatment of Hager and his sources can be justified in the pursuit of that relatively minor criminal offence.

It’s important to determine “whether the police treatment of Hager and his sources can be justified”. If it is more intimidatory than investigative then I’ll have serious concerns.

But referring to it as “a relatively minor criminal offence” is an interesting judgement, considering the hacking of Slater and the use of his data to attempt to bring down the Government is unprecedented.

If political hacking was deemed not worthy of investigation by the police where could that lead us? I think it’s a serious threat to our democracy.

Of course what the Herald doesn’t say is media organisations like the Herald can make headlines if they are provided with hacked data.

While the Herald is not openly encouraging hacking they are trying to depict it as trivial and theft. They’re wrong on both counts.

And the Herald also doesn’t disclose that they are also the recipient of data hacked from Slater. They have a vested interest in encouraging the police to ignore this offence that is deemed serious enough to have a seven year maximum sentence.

The possible intimidating of journalists is a serious issue.

I think political hacking is also a serious issue. The playing down of hacking as minor may be in the Herald’s own interests but I don’t think their self interested stance is good for democracy at all.

Democracy hacked

I fear that our democracy is being hacked to bits. There are likely to be ongoing frenzies of attacks. It is making a mess of the election campaign.

As we acknowledge the hundred year anniversary of the Great War we seem to have launched into a great war of political attrition with mustard gas levels of nastiness that will bring more than tears to our eyes.

Effects of Mustard Gas

After a mustard gas attack, you might think nothing more about it for a few hours or even a day. But eventually you would see red spots forming on your skin that quickly turned into painful blisters. If you underwent a direct attack and inhaled mustard gas, it wouldn’t take long to feel pain and swelling in your nose and throat as the blisters developed, sealing your airway.

The longer the exposure to mustard gas, the greater the damage it causes. Conversely, if you had a brief encounter, your body would heal faster, giving you a greater chance for survival. In some cases, victims experiencing multiple exposures develop hypersensitivity to the deadly chemical agent.

Unfortunately this encounter has already surpassed being brief.

Our democracy has already been hacked, we just don’t know how long it will keep bleeding.

National, Conservatives and democracy

Reposted from Politicheck.

National, Conservatives and democracy

In There Will Be No Deal in Rodney Cameron Slater details at Whale Oil what he knows about or wishes will happen with an arrangement between National and Colin Craig and the Conservative Party.

For Colin Craig though he can forget Upper Harbour, there is no way that Paula Bennett will give up that for Colin Craig. Likewise in Rodney. Mark Mitchell has stared down terrorists, thugs, drug dealers and general scum so a knock out fight is something he would relish.

He rules out any chance of helping Craig in the North Harbour or Botany electorates.

That leaves McCully, frankly he is in his last election, and if he doesn’t bail before hand with the promise of Washington then he should go list only and East Coast Bays can be gifted to the Conservatives.

While East Coast Bays could be “gifted” to Craig that would be dependent on the voters of the electorate.

And as far as democracy goes it would stink.

One comment at Whale Oil:

But if leading up to the elections and the Nats and Conservatives keep telling us how to vote, I will dig my heels and might go off in a tangent or not even vote.

Another:

If National offer a deal to Craig, I am unlikely to vote for either.

And another:

Gifting a seat is not giving democracy a chance, its a cynical manipulation of a flawed MMP system. Being told to vote for a party I don’t support in order to play the system is not democracy

Despite debate and expert recommendations National have chosen to not change the way our MMP works. This leaves in place a 5% threshold that favours large established parties and makes it extremely difficult for small and new parties to get representation. The initial recommendation in 1986 was to have a 4% threshold. That was increased by politicians. Last year’s recommendation was to put it at 4% and that has been ignored by National.

(I believe for fair representation the threshold should be much lower or removed altogether.)

National also chose to leave the coat-tailing provision in place.

The Conservative Party failed to make the 5% threshold last election so failed to get representation for those who voted for them.

A gifted seat would (if voters allow) give them representation that in itself would seem fair to voters – but only Conservative voters. Other small parties who fail to win an electorate and fail to make the 5% threshold would be unfairly excluded.

It would be reprehensible if through self interest National gifted an electorate seat to a selected party to avoid the threshold and enable coat tailing when they have left in place a very high hurdle for other parties.

It would be an outrageous abuse of democracy.

I hope John Key and the National Party will rule out giving themselves a blatantly unfair advantage in the upcoming election.

Pete George

Greed for power versus democracy

The current use ( some say misuse) of our MMP system is only partly the game rules’ fault – thresholds and coat tailing are fiddles designed to benefit the larger parties.

But any democratic system will only ever be as good as what the players (in particular) and the voters make of it. The desperation for power will corrupt any system.

The biggest problem is that there is no provision for a ‘pox on all their houses’ vote. More and more voters protest by withdrawing from the game but that doesn’t punish the manipulators and the corrupters of democracy.

It’s a huge irony that the IMP circus thinks they can pick up the votes of the disillusioned (or the never illusioned).

There’s a huge opportunuty for a principled party but there’s no sign of getting one. the system and the turn off is against it. The two latest political incarnations are attempts by rich people to buy power.

We are seeing what happens when greed for power shits on democracy. Even what appeared to be sensible and reasonable people have been sucked in to the sewer.

Brown affairs: Who watches the watchdog?

A comment by blokeintakapuna at Whale Oil.

Why the Governor General needs to investigate Auckland democracy issues…
and whilst there, look at the political / media corruption issues also.

Our form of democracy is a 2-sided coin. Firstly, we all get “free” elections on a regular basis where all of us are free to choose who we wish to vote for and in a transparent, credible manner and with correct over-sight, the winner is eventually announced soon after voting finishes. That winner then needs to uphold the laws and expectations from the mandate they created for themselves by the values and virtues of who and what they campaigned and crusaded on as an individual.

They are supposed to not only help create the by-laws to help our societies function better, they are required by virtue of being the elected office holder, to actually up hold the laws, ethics and standards of those laws, rules and expectations.

The other-side to our democracy coin, is the checks and balances. Keeping the elected officials and politicians honest, corruption free and being held to account. The so-called mandate of the 4th Estate – the traditional media.

However – when the “watchdog” traditional media become complicit in assisting an elected official to maintain mass subterfuge on all of the population… even aiding and assisting with the façade, through rate-payer funded personal using rate-payer funded resources, to launch coordinated smear campaigns – by the watchdog 4th Estate – on the messenger that revealed the political corruption – well then it really is time our entire democratic systems were investigated… independently. For the sake of “Perception” if nothing else.

…and the coordinated smear campaigns are easily proven too. The Press Council can just review the likes of the Herald’s coverage and that of some of their captured journalists and their attempts at character assassinations of the messenger that spoke up about the corrupt practises by the Mayor elect. For these so-called journalist professionals have nailed their colours the masthead by the tone and calibre of their “articles” ..and it’s that same masthead from which they have hoisted their own petard.

When the democracy Watchdog has been captured and lulled into more of a lapdog of the Left, it’s an ugly stain on the political sofa in the Mayor’s office. When the Authorities can see our democracy and democratic processes being subverted for secret agenda’s of a select few and then elect to sit on the side-lines whilst the messenger gets attacked for exposing the political corruption to the disinfecting qualities of dazzling sunlight…

Our democracy can only function correctly with proper checks and balances. The checks it seems are in the post… and the balances are somewhat MIA.

The Governor General needs a microscope, rubber gloves, and the stomach to lift up the rug in the Mayor’s office and see what’s been swept under there…

Who watches the watchers when the watchdog has become a drooling lapdog? …and a willing, complicit component of coordinated subterfuge upon the Auckland population and NZ’s democratic freedom?

Super city clusterfuck

The Auckland super city mayoralty is a major clusterfuck.

Len Brown has failed badly, and more failings are being revealed and alleged.

Bevan Chuang has been used and abused, but she is responsible for her own actions. She appears to be a political prostitute.

Brown’s main mayoral rival John Palino claims to have no knowledge of the Brown affair – with what appears to have been going on within his campaign he should have. If he didn’t have control he is tainted by association.

Luigi Wewege appears to have discredited himself big time, and at the very least by association he has discredited Palino. If Chuang is a prostitute Wewege can be likened to a pimp if claims made by Chuang of coercion are accurate.

Cameron Slater (Whale Oil) had a right and perhaps a duty to publicise news, but the manner of the revelations, the degree of detail provided and the disregard for collateral damage especially of Chuang are highly questionable. And while he claims to have had no collusion on this with Palino’s campaign manager – his father John – it was obvious that possible links would be presumed and alleged.

While the focus is on local body politics in Auckland there are a number of interconnections with national politics.

This super city clusterfuck is a super sullying of democracy in Auckland and New Zealand.

No wonder more and more people are turned off voting and participating in democracy.

If Brown stood down and there was another election for mayor of Auckland would any decent, capable people want to be involved by putting themselves forward?

Any re-election would more likely be a cluster of vultures scrapping over the carcass of Auckland’s democracy.

Whale scale fail for democracy

The biggest news following the local body elections was abysmal turnout with record low numbers of voters bothering to have their say.

Then the news spotlight turned to the Len Brown affairs. Today these stories got more complicated and dirtier, with claims of coercion of Bevan Chuang from Luigi Wewege who was closely associated with rival candidate Palino’s campaign, and a new revelation that Brown helped Chuang get a job at the council’s art gallery.

(Affairs as plural is deliberate, this involves both an indiscrete personal affair and murky political affairs).

This dirty political business is getting dirtier, and we may not have seen the worst of it yet. People are being and will be hurt by this.

It looks like Chuang’s life is being tossed around on a storm of political players. She has to take some responsibility, but it appears as if she has been used by Brown, by journalist Stephen Cook and Whale Oil, and by Wewege. She is significant collateral damage.

Brown’s wife and family are also major collateral damage.

On a wider scale democracy is going to be hurt by this too. There’s a lot more interest in the unravelling scandals than there was in the election campaigns, that’s the nature of media and public attention.

This is unlikely to translate into increased interest in voting – more likely it will be a whale scale fail for democracy.

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