Brown slams van Gaalen prison sentence

Russell Brown at Public Address has slammed the two year prison sentence imposed on Kelly van Gaalen, and pointed out that Judge McDonald’s claim that “he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences” is highly disputable – it looks to be quite inconsistent.

Judicial caprice is no way to pursue law and order

Last week’s news that Kaikohe community leader Kelly van Gaalen had been sentenced to two years prison in the Whangarei District Court for possession of cannabis from two plants, with no evidence of commercial supply, has rightly and understandably caused outrage.

(Caprice: an impulsive change of mind, a sudden or unpredictable change of attitude, behaviour etc, etch; whim).

Some of that outrage was expressed here: More than just a troubling sentence.

Van Gaalen was charged after her husband, home alone at the time, was the victim of a violent home invasion in July last year. After he was able to raise the alarm, police arrived – and found the pot.

Charges against Mr van Gaalen were dropped when his wife took responsibility for the cannabis and said it was hers. Her claim that it came from two plants, one of which had gone particularly well that summer, is quite plausible. It’s notable that the police did not report what they found as cannabis heads. I’ll go out on a limb and guess this was not groomed, commercial marijuana and that most of it was some cabbage in a bucket.

Careless to leave something like that around but no evidence it was a commercial stash.

As Jack Tame notes in the Herald, the police presumably had the option to ”use discretion and destroy the drugs”, which might have been reasonable in the circumstances. But they laid a prosecution of possession for supply. Crown prosecutor Catherine Gisler then asked the judge to jail van Gaalen for three years, saying deterrence was important. Perhaps both parties felt it was not their place to exercise discretion.

But in our system it is certainly the place of the judge.

Brown quotes from the herald:

Judge McDonald said there was no evidence of commercial dealing, such as text messages on her phone, but Parliament had set the upper limit for personal use at 28g. Van Gaalen had 24 times that and knew it was against the law.

“It is not for this court to comment whether that is a just law or not,” he said …

Judge McDonald gave her credit for her previous good record and “extremely worthwhile contribution”, but said he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences.

“To say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement,” he said.

And Brown slams that.

This is, simply, bullshit.

We don’t even need to search for convictions for violent and anti-social offences which have attracted lesser sentences, although there are too many of those to count. We can look at how another judge in the Whangarei High Court was able to exercise discretion in the case of a man who actually was busted in for commercial supply of cannabis.

From the Herald on that case:

Phillips, 49, appeared for sentencing in the High Court at Whangarei before Justice Paul Heath after earlier pleading guilty to six charges of selling cannabis and six of possessing cannabis for supply.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Anderson asked for a starting point of three years’ jail with six months added for Phillips’ previous drug convictions, which went back over 20 years.

“When you came into court your two boys went over spontaneously to greet you. It was very clear to me the nature of your relationship with them,” Justice Heath said.

“It’s clear you did a very good job raising your children. But on the other hand you behave like this, in a manner that shows you lack control of yourself.”

He said the reaction of Phillips’ sons and Mr Blaikie’s submissions had persuaded him by the narrowest of margins to give Phillips another opportunity to turn his life around.

So he got home detention despite previous convictions and despite pleading guilty to selling cannabis.

Brown cites two more cases:

In the same week as van Gaalen was sentenced to jail, in Westport, Ian Alfred Cole, who was convicted of cultivating cannabis and possessing it for supply (in considerably greater quantities than van Gaalen had) was sentenced only to home detention. Cole was caught with all the trappings of commercial supply and had pleaded not guilty. He also had LSD in his possession.

In 2011, Judge McDonald himself sentenced a couple who admitted cultivation and supply (not only of cannabis, but party pills) to only six months’ home detention.

Brown’s criticism is unusually strong for him:

Judge McDonald’s claim that his hands were tied in van Gaalen’s case was not only risible and untrue, it was cowardly.

‘Cowardly’ seems like an odd term, but McDonald’s sentence and reasoning in the van Gaalen case is certainly highly questionable.

And how the Police and the Courts deal with cannabis law and offending is highly questionable. At the least it seems very inconsistent, and at the worst it is simply not working.

While van Gaalen has borne the brunt of Judge McDonald’s heavy handedness (for now) the Judge has put the spotlight on the stupidity of our drug laws. Was this inadvertent or deliberate?

Lauda Finem and conspiracy theories

There is frequent speculation and accusations about who ‘Lauda Finem’ is/are. It’s conspiracy theorist heaven.

Lynn Prentice has often made claims about knowing who runs Lauda Finem, how they run a joint conspiracy with Cameron Slater. On Twitter yesterday:

LF bros lying just as they usually do.

Accuracy isn’t part of the Nottingham thing.

He continued that line here:

But I have met Phillip Nottingham more often, usually when his mate Cameron Slater as a lawyer is making a complete dork of himself in court using his Dermot’s legal ‘expertise’. They like taking sly photos because that is how they are – rather gutless prats.

Coming to think of it. I don’t think I have ever had time to have a coffee with Greg either. Have had a single beer with him twice during the occasional biannual Standard meeting. I see him at the odd demo or public meeting that I have come along to.

I suspect that the Nottingham brothers or their great friend Cam Slater just have just been inventing material.

Claims linking the Nottinghams with Lauda Finem with Cameron Slater are common from Prentice and from others. For example some recent tweets:

It’s a messy saga strewn with toxic lies, but I reckon has nailed the latest Rachinger-Slater twist.

That link is to a blog specialising in conspiracy theories:

Matthew R. X. Dentith

Conspiracy theories, conspiracy theory theories and theories about conspiracy theorists.

His Twitter descrioption:

Author of the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories & co-host of The Podcaster’s Guide to the Conspiracy.

I heard an interview with Matthew on Radio One next week. Yes, he is very interested in conspiracy theories, although his knowledge of ‘Dirty Politics’ seemed a bit superficial. You might get an idea of his political interests from his blog Links.

Back to Nippert’s tweet, which started an interesting thread.

Lauda Finem top dogs were at WO’s shindig the other night.

Kemara has an interesting past, having been imprisoned with Tama Iti as one of the ‘Urewera Four’.

Talking about conspiracy theories, Cameron Slater asked of Kemara “Is This The Man Behind The Brash Email Thefts?” – like most conspiracy theories that was never proven.

Kemara’s conspiracy claim interested Dentith:

Really? Now that’s interesting…

And others:

So that would be D for dependent Dermot & Phil Nottingham? And was Marc Spring there too?
Oops, I meant D for *defendant* ..

But Cam claimed to be shocked and appalled by what LF had done! Surely, some mistake?

Where was Slater Jnr’s expression of being shock and appalled, Russell?

Embedded image permalink

WO being shocked by *that* alone should be clue enough…

Yes to the first bit, and don’t know about anyone else sorry.

Cheers, pattern recognition leads me to perceive those three as part of Slater’s ugly smear/attack gang.

Certainly appear to be helping him shoot out chaff.

Birds of a feather, etc. They each avoid writing about each other, so I’m sorta surprised they’d share meatspace.

Some interesting associations. Plenty of conspiracy stuff for Dentith to get stuck into.

I would have thought it would be a big story if it could be proven that Lauda Finem had close links with Cameron Slater – it would make a great scoop for Nippert.

Cracking through last big story before a well-deserved break. Main parties not talking, but it’s a cracking tale stretching to 11 figures.

Maybe that’s what his big story is about. It would be good to get some of the current conspiracies hacked open.

Rachinger: “we United to take on Mr Slater for his activities”

Ben Rachinger has reappeared on Twitter, making a very interesting claim that seems at odds with previous versions of how things happened – no names but Jessica Williams isn implicated – “that we United to take on Mr Slater for his activities”.

The exchange began:

So address has accused me of hacking ___ phone and publishing her private conversations…. I laughed.

Embedded image permalink

That’s a new claim – that Rachinger hacked Jessica Williams’ phone. A serious claim if true.


She sent them to me . How can you spread such vicious lies! Or is that what she told you? Genuine Q. Are you lying or lied to?



The whole point of this was that we United to take on Mr Slater for his activities. I declined to get involved in the smears for that reason

That looks quite different to previous claims by Rachinger that he reacted to requests to hack Slater and did a lone wolf sting.

Who United? The implication here is Williams with Rachinger.

I genuinely thought all the parties involved in this would do the right thing. I guess I have to clear the air myself!  Sometime later

Since then one of those comments expanded into an exchange:

She sent them to me . How can you spread such vicious lies! Or is that what she told you? Genuine Q. Are you lying or lied to?

v serious accusation by ; Please can all parties confine themselves to the certain truth or withdraw & apologise

He’s previously admitted to and apologised for publishing my private messages.

The plot gets ever thicker.

In praise of Russell Brown

No I’m not going to launch into praise of Russell Brown (although his Public Address does serve a useful purpose in the blogosphere).

Russell does a good job of it himself – Hard News: We’re in this together

You’re a good crowd. And I will take some credit for that. Through my journalistic career, I have, without necessarily trying to do so, been good at drawing a crowd. There are literally people who read Hard News who listened to its original incarnation, as a weekly rant on 95bFM, in 1991.

If I say so myself, I throw a good a party. It’s the only part of my life in which I can say I am truly organised. I make sure everyone has their chosen drink in their hands, that there’s food to go round and that the music is choice. Running this place is not entirely unlike being a DJ: it helps to be able to read the crowd and drop the right tune.

But the party metaphor only takes you so far. Even here, we can take a tone with each other that would spoil a real-life party pretty quickly. And that’s fine and inevitable. But everyone can help by not being a bore and being civil to the other guests, especially the strangers. Sometimes on Twitter, where people become so devoted to their damn arguments they forget themselves, all hope goes missing. But this here is my house andI’ll say what goes on and who gets to be here. And because I will move to show someone the door, I rarely have to.

That can be taxing – indeed, it’s easily the most taxing thing about doing this. But it’s my host responsibilty. Hateful speech and tendentious behaviour might have their place on the internet, which has a place for everything, but that place isn’t here. Whether you’re running a busy blog or an online newspaper comments forum, you do at some level own what you publish.

A bit of a dig with a certain amount of immodest irony:

In a year when “the bloggers” and “the blogosphere” have been commonly deployed as synonyms for a certain awful enterprise, I think it’s valuable to demonstrate that’s not the case. You can be angry without hurting others, political without being pointlessly partisan. You can have a bit of fun. You can dance, if you want to.

Anyway, this will be my last substantial post here for the year (but Friday Music will still run tomorrow), so let me conclude by thanking everyone who’s helped, including those of you who simply joined a discussion. If you’ve never done that, sign up and give it a go. Contribute.

Because we are, after all, in this together.

Those who are “in the house”:

And yeah, guilty of tub thumping, tendentiousness, being a bore, and worse, so I’m immeasurably grateful for your tolerance of my often injudicious longwinded posts.

You try my patience sometimes Chris, you really do. But you’re still in the house :-)

Public Address is a long running and successful part of the online political landscape in New Zealand, albeit fairly left inclined. Russell is prominent in his fan club, serving a sizeable selected niche.

Word of the Year: #dirtypolitics

In one of the least surprising poll results of the year Public Address has named their word of the year as #dirtypolitics. That reflects an obsession in a bubble.

‘Dirty Politics’ has certainly been prominent this year – in some circles. Most of the public see it differently, ‘dirty politics’ is synonymous with ‘politics’ and it has been for many more years than 2014.

“I can only suppose that a hacker has penetrated the special Google voting software,” said a near-comatose Brown. “I’ve asked Pete George to investigate.”

No investigation needed. When a blog shuts out alternative opinions it is likely to get a poll result like this. Russell banned me for debating dirty politics and challenging Nicky Hager’s perfect record of never being proven wrong (as claimed on Public Address).

Russell also took a swipe at David Farrar.

I mean, Jason Ede and Phil de Joux have new jobs, Judith Collins has a newspaper column, David Farrar has returned to his familiar role of providing an internet platform for scary racists and bigots – and confused, mendacious Taxpayers’ Union press releases are being  pasted into newspaper stories again.

Farrar’s moderation policy of not censoring opinions does allow some fairly extreme views to be expressed.

Is that any dirtier than shutting out opinions you don’t agree with?

#dirty politics may be an appropriate word of the year for the New Zealand blogosphere, but using “Word of the Year” as a vehicle to continue a political campaign may be as self revealing as it is accusatory.


1. #dirtypolitics

2. “At the end of the day”

3. Whaledump

4. “Pretty legal”

5. “Not as Prime Minister”

6. Peak Cray

7. Textual relations

8. Rawshark

9. Swearwolves

10. Ebola

That reflects a politically slanted vocabulary.

‘Word of the year’ dominated by partisan politics

What words or phrases have been popularised this year?

Russell Brown has run an interesting ‘Word of the Year’ since 2006. Past years have produced a mix of general and political flavours (runners-up in brackets).

  • 2006 unbundled (peow peow, truthiness, emo)
  • 2007 Te Qaeda (Sub-prime, It’s business time)
  • 2008 credit crunch (rofflenui)
  • 2009 Always blow on the pie (whanker, Whanganui, Lhaws)
  • 2010 twatcock (vuvuzela, liquefaction, wikileaks)
  • 2011 munted (nek minnit, ghost chips)
  • 2012 brainfade (Marmageddon, Planet Key)
  • 2013 metadata (selfie, Lorde, berm)

Some of those were in common use, others not so much. I don’t remember Te Qaeda at all. The 2009 and 2010 picks seem to be have chosen for their quirkiness or cleverness rather than the amount of use.

The last two years has seen a more narrow political focus rather than looking at wider social vernacular.

Public Address Word of the Year 2014

It’s that time again! The time, that is, when Public Address readers nominate, debate and vote for their Word of the Year. What winning word or phrase will emerge? Will it come from the hurly-burly of the weirdest general election ever, or from another part of the culture?

This year is dominated by obsessed partisan politics on a left leaning blog rather than social commentary.

  • at the end of the day
  • pretty legal
  • not as Prime Minister
  • #dirtypolitics
  • #gamergate
  • TeamKey
  • akshully
  • attack blogger
  • bubble
  • chit chat
  • conspiracy theory (why not chemtrails?)
  • chit chat
  • CV
  • Ebola
  • exonerated
  • Ferguson
  • Hacker
  • Hager
  • Hagerbomb
  • Johnkey
  • legal highs
  • Lorde
  • MSM
  • OIA
  • Peak Cray
  • Pfffsssttt
  • Rawshark
  • refute
  • selfie
  • surveillance
  • swearwolves
  • textual relations
  • tipline
  • twerking
  • uber
  • uncoupling
  • Whaledump
  • XKeyScore

Comments on the voting thread shows where much of the attention seems to be, with these two pointing it out:

half of it could combine into a stream of consciousness mumble by dear leader in any interview

Intriguing that the list has a strong anti-right bias

So a strong political/John Key.dirty politics focus in the choice of words and also political considerations in the discussion:

Got to be Whaledump: it’s so 2014-specific.

I was sorely tempted, but I think Slater would see it as a personal victory.

I must admit, that thought did put me off voting for Whaledump.

the ultimate victory. imagine the juvenile gloating

The vast majority of the population won’t have heard of ‘Whaledump’ nor will have any idea what it’s about.

Most people won’t know what many of those words are about.

‘Word of the year’ seems to have become a partisan exercise in political point scoring. That’s obviously what interests the active participants at Public Address but it doesn’t seem to reflect current common Kiwi vernacular.

What words or phrases have been popularised this year?

“Them or Us” Standard

In contrast to the often silent censorship at Whale Oil – see Addressing Slater ist streng verboten – message control at The Standard is far more open and amusing (in a sad sort of way). But the intent is similar – to shut out opinions or people that challenge their blinkered views.

Pretty much anything I say at The Standard will be attacked just because some there either don’t like me or simply don’t want me involved in their wee domain.

There was a typical example of the mob mentality recently, beginning with an implied “ban him or I’m leaving” comment – standard “them or us”. This is one of a number of ways they try to pressure lprent into erasing comment they may disagree with (he doesn’t need encouraging).

Weepus beard:

I’m not sure I can stomach PG’s and Hooton’s attempts at micro-managing debate.

If this is the future of the standard then I’m not sure I can continue. Pete George in particular sucks up so much life by inspecting the finest detail while being ignorant of the message itself that it is too exhausting to have to read.

As the thread this started proves most of the ‘sucks up so much life” happens without me needing to be involved, but I’ll get blamed for disrupting the blog. Cute but crazy.


I have faith that pg will be banned or otherwise fuck off in the foreseeable future

Weepus beard:


I guess my point is that the socially responsible side of politics (the left) is divided enough at the moment and has enough internal arguments about the way forward that these trolls, PG, Hooton, BM, fistiani, Chris 73, etc, are in no way contributing to the benefit of the cause. Our cause.

I know Sun Tzu says know your enemy but this shit is just not worth it.

If you’re not deemed to be part of “socially responsible side of politics (the left)” you’re enemy.

Murray Rawshark:

I don’t think they add anything either, and they comment in bad faith.

Of course Murray always adds value to the threads and comments in good faith.


@Weepus Beard +100…”too exhausting”…..i cant be bothered nor do i have the time


Concerted effort by all to leave his self gratifying posts alone.

He has “look at me! Look at me, i AM important” complex

She has a bit of an obsession with this line, she keeps repeating it.


I’m sick of wading through all these tr***’s
Using the Standard less as it seems to full of their nonsense.


Maybe we need to go back to responding just with Rolling eyes. That might work?

half crown:

I am all for that.

The rolling eyes campaign was enormously successful – at making them look even pettier. Next thing they will want to paint rolling eyes on our doors and make us wear rolling eyes patches (that’s Godwin’s law in action).

And lprent joins in with his message his requirement for behaviour modification – only of enemies of course.

It is a rope thing. You can’t assume that people can’t learn. Most of the time they eventually do.

So people start on the same general basis after each ban apart from ramping up their next ban length if they prove that they haven’t learnt. How they behave is up to them.

The rope is there to hang them if required. But you hope that they have actually engaged in a some thought to figure out how to avoid that same stupidities again.

PG does seem to to adapt, and has after each ban, but he keeps looking for a angle for leverage in the rules rather than simply dealing with the debate.

That’s as funny as usual and presumably the irony is inadvertent.

The troops at The Standard keep looking for angles for leverage – the often flaunt lprent’s behavioural requirements (often led by him) to leverage out anyone they decide should be excluded with little or no attempt at debate.

And funnily the thread that follows is about Russell Brown criticising The Standard on National Radio along with Matthew Hooton.

Phil Ure:

russel brown just did a major hatchet-job on the standard..on nat-rad..

hoots also said the standard is ‘never funny’

and hoots said everyone here is ‘crazy’

brown and hoots have a chortle about how brown is ‘on the enemies list’ of the standard..


[lprent: There isn’t one. There are a few people who I keep my eye on because of past bad experiences with what they do to comment sections.

However I suspect that he ran into some commenters being critical about stance he had. I vaguely remember that it was about some position he took on a film or media matter.

But curiously it now means that Russell Brown has just added a myth of an “enemies list”. Jez – what a dork. ]

There’s a number of people who are automatically attacked at The Standard no matter what they contribute.

I’m sure there is no official ‘enemies list’ but the the troops can certainly sniff out an enemy very quickly, and once an enemy always an enemy.

And they wonder why most voters can’t be bothered with politics and many don’t vote for them.

Incidentally I’m on the enemies list at Public Address too, and also at Whale Oil.

Political blogging is still dominated by last century class warfare – not surprising, as some of the prominent regulars at The Standard seem to be bitter old school political activists, with lprent leading the way.

The more of ‘us’ they excommunicate they less of ‘them’ there will be in a diminishing circle of jerks.

UPDATE: this is really funny:


Maybe lprent does have an enemies list operating.

Mixed blog reactions signal a major challenge for Little

There have been mixed reactions to Andrew Little’s elevation to Labour leader around the blogs.

On the left there seems to be a stronger reaction than to the election result – that may be because it was a tight race with uncertainty in the result in Labour’s leadership contest, compared to a predictable election result, there were feelings of despair in Labour circles well before the September vote.

The Standard is mostly congratulatory and supportive of Little in And the winner is …

This isn’t a surprise, they have been Cunliffe supporters and promoters and switched to Cunliffe’s choice in this contest. And there are significant union leanings and involvement at The Standard.

In contrast Andrew Geddis at The Pundit is very negative about it.

Worst. Result. Ever.

The only thing worse than electing the wrong person as leader of Labour is electing him by the narrowest of margins, by virtue of the influence of a handful of individuals acting under instructions.

Labour just made the wrong choice, in the worst possible way.

Obviously, I think that the decision to choose Andrew Little over Grant Robertson was the wrong one however it came about … that’s because Grant is a good friend whom I think will one day make a fantastic Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Russell Brown is just about as negative:

News from home …

I’ll be brief (it’s 5am where I am and have to catch a plane) but the Labour’s leadership result and the means by which it was achieved both seem disastrous for the party and for the prospects of the centre-left.

Little didn’t win the support of the party or the caucus, he loses his electorate more badly every time he contests it, and he’s vowing to dump all the intellectual capital built up by David Parker. I can’t see any good thing about this.

Am I missing something?

Martyn Bradbury laments the languishing of his revolutionary dreams:

And the new Labour Leader is ZZZZZZZZZZ

The dullness and caution of the latest Leadership race will be served well by Andrew, he was the leader of the EPMU, one of the most conservative Unions in NZ, so don’t expect revolution, expect tepid evolution. With MANA killed off, Labour can now try and out-gallop the Greens to the centre because activists and members can’t politically go anywhere else so expect National lite for the next 3 years.

Some interesting blog votes though. That post currently scores a low 2.2/5 approval. And in comments:


Martyn, why are you writing off Little before he has even had a chance to do anything? This is not helpful. Give him a chance and stop bagging him before he has even started.

Rating: +44 (from 60 votes)


I’m not writing Little off – Labour are trying to reach muddle Nu Zilind now, they aren’t waving the flag for the Left – their pitch will be centrist, not progressive.

Rating: -14 (from 62 votes)

John Minto also has a post at The Daily Blog:

Lack of policy ambition is Andrew Little’s main problem

The corporate sector will be particularly happy with his appointment because they know that when the tide runs out on John Key and National they can be assured Labour will continue to run the economy on their behalf.

His personal style is thoroughly inoffensive and this is what Labour thinks it needs at the moment.

But how important is this to the progressive movement in New Zealand?

Not much. Little will lead a Labour Party which seeks power not because it has a policy programme to make a big difference for working New Zealanders but because senior Labour MPs hope they will soon get another turn to run the free market economy and receive the baubles of power which go with it.

Little won’t cause waves outside the party either. The mainstream media have endorsed him as Labour’s best choice for leader because he is deeply conservative economically and in particular doesn’t support a capital gains tax. He hasn’t advocated any change to economic policy settings that would make a significant difference either to corporate profits or the plight of hundreds of thousands of families struggling on low incomes.

The ability to drive an ambitious policy programme to back up a big vision for working New Zealanders is simply not in Andrew Little’s genes.

Not surprising that Little is not revolutionary left enough for Minto.

And Chris Trotter’s post is more of a Grant Robertson lament:

Too Close For Comfort: Reflections on Andrew Little’s narrow victory over Grant Robertson.

THE TRAGIC SCREENSHOT of “Gracinda” in defeat bears eloquent testimony to the bitter disappointment of the Grant Robertson-led faction of the Labour Party. And, yes, ‘Party’ is the right word. The Robertson machine has now extended its influence well beyond the confines of the Caucus Room to become a genuine party-wide movement.

It’s all there in the numbers. From being the strong partisans of David Cunliffe, the allegiance of a clear majority of ordinary, rank-and-file members has shifted to Grant Robertson. It is a measure of just how hard Robertson’s people worked for their man’s victory that another 100 votes would have clinched it for him.

He went on (and on) about Robertson and his campaign, and barely touched on Little until the final paragraph – with the only positive comment being directed at Robertson.

Little’s victory is, therefore, a win for those Labour members who still believe in the party’s emancipatory vision and in its antagonistic stance towards the demands of Capital. That it was so narrow is not simply a testimony to Robertson’s political skill and determination, but a worrying indication of just how strong the temptation has become among Labour members to stop struggling against the treacherous currents of capitalism – and turn the boat around.

The left remains strongly divided, with both the hard left (Bradbury and Minto) and the centre left (Brown and Geddis) bitterly lamenting Little’s elevation.

Andrew Little has a massive challenge – and so does the Labour caucus and Labour Party.

More on Dotcom and hacking

Kim Dotcom has deliberately kept his hacking history in the news so he (and Pam Corkery) shouldn’t be surprised when the media pay it attention and wonder if Dotcom could be linked to the hacking currently in the news.

Neither should Dotcom’s supporters be surprised.

Russell Brown @publicaddress

Righto. So we’re going to have at least a day of obsessing about a theory (Dotcom is Whaledump) that is quite unlikely for various reasons.

Dotcom is almost certainly not @Whaledump – but that doesn’t rule out some much more likely possibilities.

Dotcom has a motive and a history that makes linking him in some way to @Whaledump believable, especially after his speech yesterday where he said:

“I hacked our German credit rating system and put our Prime Minister’s credit rating to zero because I didn’t like the guy. You have all figured by now there’s another Prime Minister I don’t like.”

But remember that there appears to be more than one hacker. David Fisher claims to be sourced from a separate hacker. Fisher has an established relationship with Dotcom.

There’s more than one way Dotcom could be linked to the hacking.

UPDATE: On Radio NZ Dotcom has admitted to being “very unwise” for making the connection between his hacking history and not liking the current Prime Minister. He said he is on his “final final warning”.

That’s another curious connection. There are widespread calls for Judith Collins to resign for being unwise.

“Not as bad as Whale Oil”

Since the release of Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ there has been much discussion and condemnation of what has been revealed – even though much of the dirtiness of Cameron Slater was already well known. He has boasted about his political uncleanliness.

Last year after the Len Brown revelations just after the local body elections Slater said on The Nation:

Mr Slater argued that Auckland politics was “a dirty disgusting despicable game”.

“It involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels,” he said.

“And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.”


He repeated this on his Whale Oil blog recently. He often quotes ” Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it”, along others from his list of ‘rules’.

Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

2. Utu is good, even necessary

3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too

4. Always know where the bodies are buried

5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels

6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate

7. Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer

9. Speak plain, Speak Simple

10. Remember, I’m telling this story

11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2

12. Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name

There might be a lot of people, especially politicians, giving serious consideration to rule 3 right now.

Slater’s personal attacks and vindictiveness are well known. There’s no one who comes close to his media prominence and dirtiness in New Zealand politics.

So all other bloggers can comfortably claim they are “not as bad as Whale Oil”. But that sets the bar very low and should not excuse lesser levels of dirtiness.

One of the more long serving and respected bloggers Russell Brown posted  We can do better than this at Public Address and concluded:

In one of the early reports that annoyed me, Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards, talked about smears being unleashed to “blogs” and “the blogosphere”.

Actually, we’re not all like that. The multitude of bloggers, political bloggers included, have no part in this. And while the cynical side of politics is not new, I do believe that the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can, all of us, do better than this.

Russell is right, we’re “not all like that”. No one else is as bad as Whale Oil. I agree that “the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented” – although it shouldn’t really have been a surprise to Russell if he was aware of what Whale Oil has been doing for years.

But in comments Russell seems to think that the ‘all of us” in “We can, all of us, do better than this” doesn’t apply equally to all of us.

It’s over to you, Pete, to identify a left-leaning blogger with even a tenth of the venality and vindictiveness of WhaleOil.

I feel kind of icky agreeing with Pete (sorry, Mr. George) but if our baseline is “not as bad as Whaleoil” that’s a depressingly low bar you can clear without lifting your feet.

Which is really just a morally elevated way of saying “everyone does it”. It’s simply not true. What has happened in and around Whaleoil these past few years is actually of a different nature.

He seems to be claiming it’s not true that everyone doesn’t do it, despite calling for “all od us” to do better.

Some of what Whale Oil has done has been of a different nature” and of a more extreme nature, but there are many examples of dirt mongering across the blogosphere. Russell moderates Public Address fairly well but even his own blog shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. There’s dirt at different levels but there’s dirt – there were even mild attempts to attack me personally to divert from the issues being discussed on that thread (eg ScottY and Kracklite).

Public Address is relatively mild but still allows personal political attacks and dirty comments. The other major left wing blogs The Standard and The Daily Blog allow and promote a lot of abuse and attempts to emulate some of Whale Oil’s “success”.

Lynn Prentice (lprent) at The Standard often boasts about his nastiness:

That is because in my sysop role I’m deliberately a nasty vindictive mean old man with abuse of power issues, whose only redeeming quality is that he is too lazy to be bothered exercising those traits, but who often and almost randomly goes totally over the top when roused.

And as chief moderator that sets the tone for blog with support of a one sided attack culture.

And Martyn Bradbury is well know for over the top rants and abuse, as well as doing party promotional blog posting without revealing he is being paid by or seeking payment for his work, one of the things Slater is correctly criticised for.

Josie Pagan is very familiar with how nasty the left wing blogs can get, they have blasted her a number of times. She recently posted The politics of vilification.

Nicky Hager’s book exposes both the politics of demonisation and the National Government’s role in facilitating it. The right wing blogs have been more extreme, more violent and more coordinated with the parliamentary party and so the book is their comeuppance. 

I agree with that. Whale Oil is obviously the main culprit but Kiwiblog can be very nasty in it’s comments and I think the generally and widely respected David Farrar would admit to overstepping lines of decency at times (as most if not all bloggers do to varying degrees).

But imagine how much harder would it be for the government to deflect some of the disgusting stuff they’ve been involved in if some on the left blogs had not spent so much energy vilifying and demonising people they disagree with.

I’ve been suggesting to left wing blogs for a long time thatthey would be fdar more credible and effective if they cut down on the crap – I’ve been banned from The Standard for giving them advice along those lines.

At least Farrar recognises problems and has pledged ttake measures to try to improve Kiwiblog – Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Josie concluded:

But there is also a wider lesson to everyone about the way politics is conducted. 

As I wrote back in December, “The fundamental principle of the left is our compassion…. Ours is the politics of redemption, forgiveness and humanity.” 

Or, as Nicky Hager elegantly stated on The Nation this morning, “if anyone is doing it, they should stop.

It’s hard to see Whale Oil changing it’s degree of nastiness but if we are to improve political discourse in New Zealand it’s up to all of the rest of us to do what we can to improve – bloggers and politicians.

Directing all the blame at the other lot and demanding action from them ignores those shitting in our own nests.

Yes Russell, we can, all of us, do better than this. ‘All of us’ means not opting out because we’re are not as bad as Whale Oil.

UPDATE: Russell has responded via Twitter:

Thanks for another droning restatement of what you’ve already said. I’m at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it.

I replied: Try using your stature showing some leadership in the blogosphere in raising standards perhaps?


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