World watch – Friday

Thursday GMT

WorldWatch

For events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world

1 News/Colmar Brunton – Greens 4%

The latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll:

  • National 44% (down from 47)
  • Labour 37% (up from 24)
  • Greens 4% (down from 15)
  • NZ First 10% (down from 11)
  • Opportunities Party  2% (no change)
  • Maori Party 2% (up from 1)

So National sort of hanging on, Labour way up and Greens way way down into threshold territory.

This poll was conducted 12-16 August so after the Green crisis,

The last poll was taken 22-27 July 2017, before Ardern took over and before Turei stepped down.

  • Don’t know 9%
  • Refused 4% (down from 11)

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Bill English 30% (up from 28)
  • Jacinda Ardern 30% (up from 6)
  • Winston Peters 5% (down from 10)
  • Andrew who?

These are rounded results, full results usually take a few days to become available.

 

On advocating and apologising for racism, bigotry, hatred, violence…

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Charlottesville:

“In no way can we accept, apologize for, racism, bigotry, hatred, violence, and those kind of things that too often arise in our country.”

That’s the crux of what has just blown up in the US. Most people get it, including Sessions.

In no way can I accept… racism, bigotry, hatred, violence, and those kind of things that too often arise in comments and are excused and supported on this blog.

Those who continue to run agendas in support of racism, bigotry, hatred, violence, misogyny, racial intolerance, or any other divisive or provocative agendas beyond reasonable debate on political and social issues may have responsibilities imposed on them if they can’t take hints and act responsibly themselves.

Trump’s ugliness – Charlottesville and after

What happened in Charlottesville last weekend looked ugly. Protesters congregated from around the country, many of them representing ugly and extreme views. Ugliness and extremes were on display. Counter protesters stood up against this, and there was no doubt some ugliness from some of them too, but the focus was rightly on the ugly right.

Many looked to President Trump for some appropriate condemnation. He disappointed for two days. This may have been in part because the ugly right have championed Trump, and in Charlottesville they cheered Trump.

Eventually Trump read a statement condemning the ugly right. It sounded like a carefully constructed statement, delivered without conviction.

The next day Trump reverted to type in an impromptu media conference. He swung back to defending his adoring ugly supporters and spreading the blame. He disappointed many people across the political spectrum. He was cheered by David Duke, ex leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

One disturbing aspect was Trump’s use of terminology repeated often online by those promoting white ‘supremacy’ and trashing anyone deemed different in race or religion.

Trump stirred up an ugliness that has long been in America. This ugliness has voted for him and applauded him, and he has effectively applauded this ugliness back.

RCP: A Defiant Trump’s Combative Homecoming

Donald Trump returned to his famed Fifth Avenue home this week, outwardly unchanged by the past seven months at the White House or the weight of the presidency.

Appearing at Trump Tower for the first time since taking the oath of office, the president rejected calls from within his own party and administration to reset his tone in the wake of a violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., and instead dug in his heels in vintage fashion.

During an impromptu press conference in the marbled lobby of his Manhattan property, flanked by members of his Cabinet, Trump defended his original statement on the protests—re-reading it from a paper he pulled from his blazer pocket–and criticized the “alt-left” and “very, very violent” groups that ran counter-demonstrations in Virginia. The president condemned neo-Nazis who organized the weekend protest, but argued there were some “very fine people” who came to the rally simply to protest the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The president’s frustration with the bipartisan political pressure he faced on his response to Charlottesville was palpable. Earlier in the day, Trump lambasted chief executives who resigned from his manufacturing council in protest of the president’s handling of the weekend’s events. The previous evening, he blamed the media for the way in which his more pointed Monday comments were received. And so, the president dismissed the advice and counsel of his staff who aimed to refocus the nation’s attention on the agenda, and instead embraced his comfort with combat and impulse. New chief of staff John Kelly stood nearby, arms folded and head down.

Trump blasted the press for not covering the counter-protesters, a minority of whom represented the anti-fascist “Antifa” group that has engaged in violence and vandalism, in the same way as the white nationalist organizers. “I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story,” Trump told reporters. “I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides.”

And with that, the president erased any goodwill he established with both liberal and conservative critics with his statement from the White House the previous day, in which he singled out the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists after coming under fire for initially arguing there were “many sides” of violence in Charlottesville.

Concerns about Trump’s pandering to the ugly right have been expressed from elsewhere on the right.

While the president had previously echoed some of the grievances of the GOP base, his unplanned press conference garnered little support. Several Republican lawmakers quickly came out to out to counter Trump’s remarks. “White supremacyis repulsive,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “There can be no moral ambiguity.”

Kansas’ Jerry Moran, a red state senator who once chaired the party committee focused on getting Republicans elected to the Senate, called out the president specifically. “No one — especially POTUS — should ever tolerate” white supremacy, bigotry and racism.

In a series of tweets, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio raised concerns the president’s statements would further fuel hate groups. “Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame,” he wrote. “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win.”

But pointedly…

David Duke, former KKK grand wizard, applauded the president’s remarks.

The ugly right may be all Trump has left to applaud him.

NY Daily News: Both Bush Presidents, McConnell horrified by Trump’s Charlottesville response: ‘There are no good neo-Nazis’ 

The only two living Republican ex-Presidents joined a growing chorus of conservatives criticizing President Trump’s Charlottesville response and denouncing extremism.

“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms,” former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush said in a joint statement Wednesday.

In offering prayers for the Virginia city, the politicians invoked its most “prominent citizen,” Thomas Jefferson, quoting his words in the Declaration of Independence: “We are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — responding to Trump defending Charlottesville white nationalist protesters as “fine people” — emphasized “there are no good neo-Nazis.”

NY Post: Trump’s horrifying ‘take three’ on Charlottesville

On Tuesday afternoon, we learned yet again that the president of the United States is against neo-Nazis, which is nice. They’re “very rough,” he said at an impromptu Trump Tower press conference — by which he likely meant some of the people he saw on TV in Charlottesville this past Saturday had beards and leather jackets and swastika tattoos and were overweight.

The night before, by contrast, Trump said there had been some “very good people” rallying with “a permit” by a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. Maybe he thought so because the photographs we all saw showed clean-cut young men in Polo shirts and Dockers.

The rest of us also saw them engaging in Nazi salutes and carrying torches.

Those images seem to have eluded the president.

Trump did not note that they were not locals with aesthetic concerns but rather had been summoned from all over the country under the slogan “Unite the Right.”

The ad promoting the “Unite the Right” rally, which ran on far-right websites all week, did not even mention the statue. It was designed to evoke a fascist poster with birds similar to the Nazi eagle in the sky over the marchers and Confederate flags taking the place of swastikas.

It invited people to join speakers like Mike Enoch, who hosts a podcast called “The Daily Shoah.” And Augustus Invictus, an alt-right figure who once said, “I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War; that if I did not witness the coming of the Second American Civil War I would begin it myself.” And Christopher Cantwell, who calls himself a “fascist,” along with Johnny Monoxide, who just labels himself “fashy.” And Michael Hill, an ex-professor who said, in 2015, “Never underestimate the perfidy of the organized Jew.” And Matt Heimbach, who says only 27,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

The march’s own organizer, Jason Kessler, described the view of those who wanted to move the statue thus: “You don’t give a damn about white people. You people are implementing policies which are displacing us in our home countries, and we will not be allowed to survive.”

As David French writes, “When Trump carves [the alt-right] away from the Nazis and distinguishes them from the neo-Confederates, he’s doing exactly what they want. He’s making them respectable. He’s making them different.”

This has been ugly from America’s right, and it has been ugly from Trump.

Even Fox sees this.

WSJ:  Trump Loses Corporate America

There is no point in taking brickbats for a president who does not deliver.

Mr. Trump’s administration is turning out not to be the administration they were hoping for, though probably the one they realistically expected.

Especially he has not made headway on corporate taxes—the issue that bought him whatever benefit of the doubt America’s CEO class was willing to give him.

Now a handful are fleeing his advisory council because he didn’t say the right words over Charlottesville, or didn’t say them quickly enough. This is big news because the media can’t get enough Trump. He insists on making himself the lightning rod. That’s one problem.

If the president or a scraggly someone close to him in the West Wing is soft on white supremacists because he thinks these groups are a vital bloc, this would be the miscalculation of the century. Their adherents couldn’t swing a race for dogcatcher. It is precisely the left’s fantasy of the right that these people constitute a useful electoral base.

None of the departing CEOs likely believe Mr. Trump is a white supremacist or Nazi sympathizer. They just see no upside to being associated with him.

The Charlottesville protests, which included an attack by vehicle that killed one person and injured many others (similar looking attacks in Europe have been called terrorism), has looked ugly, and Trump’s response has been uneven and increasingly ugly.

It looks like Trump is becoming toxic to Republicans, and toxic to corporate America.

And with Trump remaining defiant it is likely to get uglier.

General chat

“Is there any way we could have a thread for the more lightweight stuff like music and general chat?”

Try it here. Please no personal attacks or bickering. Anything abusive, provocative or inflammatory may be deleted.

Media watch – Thursday

17 August 2017

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

Open Forum – Thursday

17 August 2017

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria.

Free speech is an important principle here but some people who might pose a risk to the site will have to keep going through moderation due to abuses by a small number of malicious people.

A wide variety of topics and views are encouraged and welcomed, but some topics and some extremes may not be appropriate nor allowed.

World watch – Thursday

Wednesday GMT

WorldWatch

For events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world

Hager on the impact of ‘Dirty Politics’

It’s three years since Nicky Hager launched his ‘Dirty Politics’ book. He looks back on what it exposed and what the effects of it have been.

The Spinoff:  Sunlight did what sunlight does: Nicky Hager on Dirty Politics, three years on

Dirty Politics landed like a bombshell in the NZ election campaign of 2014. It may not have affected that outcome, but that was never the ambition. It has, however, made a big impact on our politics, argues Nicky Hager

Three long years ago, during the last election campaign, the book Dirty Politics revealed a political dirty tricks campaign being run out of John Key’s Beehive office. It was an ugly operation, jarringly contradicting the friendly, BBQ-guy image cultivated by Key. If you don’t know the details, it is still well worth reading the whole grubby story.

He must have a bit of stock left. Most people have moved on. The only person who keeps banging on about it is Cameron Slater.

Quite a lot of people wondered at the time whether the book might change the outcome of the election. It didn’t and some concluded that the book had had no effect. But my aims were different.

It’s hard to believe that timed a few weeks out from an election there were hopes of an impact – if not from Hager, there were certainly hopes on the left that it would be a game changer. It did nothing to make David Cunliffe electable.

The book has had an effect far beyond what I could reasonably have hoped for.

Here is my assessment of what has changed as a result and what hasn’t.

Exposing and considerably closing down the dirty tricks campaign

Before the book, the dirty politics brigade was having a huge influence over New Zealand politics. Personal attacks were cooked up in the prime minister’s office and elsewhere, drafted into nasty, drip-fed blog posts and sent out into the world through two National Party-aligned blogs: Whale Oil and Kiwiblog. An embarrassing number of journalists reprinted these attacks and came to use the bloggers, Cameron Slater and David Farrar, as regular sources for tip offs and news. The journalists were aware that the bloggers had close links to John Key and his government, and this further enhanced their status and influence.

There was some nasty stuff going on, mainly centred on Whale Oil but with the complicity of the Prime Minister’s office and mainstream media.

The most important effect of the book is that this dirty tricks campaign was exposed and largely stopped. The dirty tricks coordinator in John Key’s office, Jason Ede, was hastily removed from his job and has never been seen again. There is hardly a single journalist left who would take stories off the dirty politics bloggers. Cameron Slater and the Whale Oil blog still exist, but they have shrunk back to the margins of politics.

That particular source of dirty politics has been severely curtailed, but there’s still quite a bit of more subtle dirt mongering. The people and aims of the Todd Barclay issue still have a mucky look, aided and abetted by some media.

Revealing the attack machine to its other countless victims

Numerous people have been attacked over the years by the Whale Oil or Kiwiblog sites: politicians, journalists, academics, a public servant handing out political leaflets in his lunch hour, almost anyone doing something effective on the left side of politics. Some attacks were to help the National Party; some were commercial operations attacking private people on behalf of undeclared paying clients. The important thing that has changed is that now these people know what was going on.

Quite a few people new quite a bit about what was going on. While there were grubby details in ‘Dirty Politics’ there wasn’t a lot overall that surprised me. A lot of it was blatantly obvious.

Hager confronted it and forced change – in particular he forced Key’s office to tidy up their act and he forced the media to be more responsible too .

By understanding the game, people have been able to fight back. On page 95 of the book Dirty Politics, for instance, there is mention of an attack job done for money by Cameron Slater and his PR industry collaborator Carrick Graham against a school principal who was in a matrimonial dispute.

The person who paid Slater and Graham for the attacks was a lawyer and she has since been taken to a legal tribunal for improper behaviour. Just this month the tribunal decision was published, revealing the whole operation. It makes interesting reading.

The dirt at Whale Oil was much wider than the Prime Ministers office. The above case, recently revealed through a court decision, was not political at all, it was a presumably privately funded domestic smear job.

Revealing corporate smears for cash operations

The book revealed that one of Slater and Graham’s most lucrative freelance attack campaigns targeted public health professionals – on behalf, apparently, of unlovely corporate clients such as the tobacco industry. The public health professionals were trying to save people’s lives from tobacco, alcohol and obesity harms. The attacks seem to have been an effort to protect profits from these meddlers.

Even after these activities were exposed in the book, Graham and Slater appeared to continue the attacks. Eventually some of the health professionals took action. In June last year they launched defamation action against Slater and Graham

I presume this action is still progressing.

Diminishing the influence of the dirty tricks operatives

On this point, the results are more mixed. Slater and the Whale Oil blog, the heart of the dirty politics system, are certainly diminished. It now seems hard to believe that not long ago they were so influential. But some others have continued to be a problem.

Slater’s political attack collaborator, Simon Lusk, was seen in last year’s local government elections when he assisted with attack tactics for some mayoral candidates. His campaigns faced a backlash in some towns when people realised that a dirty politics practitioner was involved in the election campaign.

There seems to be still a market for dirty political campaigners.

Slater’s fellow attack blogger, David Farrar, is still used as a commentator by some news media, including being introduced just as a “blogger”.

I think Farrar was rocked personally far more than Slater and has been more subdued on Kiwiblog, but still uses his blog for political activism.

Williams even won a defamation case against former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, after Craig accused Williams of being involved in dirty politics against him. Record defamation damages were awarded to Williams.

But then in April this year the presiding judge, Justice Katz, took the unusual step of setting aside the verdict, saying it would be a miscarriage of justice. She said Craig’s actions “must be viewed in the broader context that his own character and reputation were under sustained attack from Mr Williams”. The judge’s carefully argued judgement is a pleasure to read (there are extracts here).

That legal action is also presumably still progressing.

…as the list above shows, plenty has changed already. The trouble with using dirty tactics is the risk of being found out and the tactics blowing up in your face. Bit by bit, the triumphant manipulators of the 2011 and 2014 elections have been getting their comeuppance; and other people have hopefully been deciding that there are better ways to do politics than following them down that dismal road.

While ‘Dirty Politics’ has had a significant impact it takes more than one book to tidy up decades if not centuries of political skulduggery.

Disgraceful sermon, disgraceful pastor

The US seems to be heading down a slippery slope of intolerance and violence, greased by President Trump.

But we are not immune from exteme rhetoric here either. It’s very sad to see this sort of un-Christian preaching in New Zealand.

NZH:  West Auckland pastor preaches gay people should be shot

A West Auckland pastor has delivered a sermon calling for gay people to be shot.

Westcity Bible Baptist Church pastor Logan Robertson agrees his comments are hate speech but is unapologetic.

Footage posted online at the end of July shows Robertson making highly offensive comments against homosexuals.

My view on homo marriage is that the Bible never mentions it so I’m not against them getting married,” Robertson says.

“As long as a bullet goes through their head the moment they kiss … Because that’s what it talks about – not homo marriage but homo death.”

Bullets weren’t mentioned in the bible either Marriages as they are today didn’t exist then either.

WestCity is independent and has no association with the Baptist denomination of New Zealand.

I expect this is isolated religious nuttery.

As they should.

Stuff: Auckland police look to speak with pastor who made violent anti-gay remarks

Detective Senior Sergeant Marcia Murray said on Wednesday police intend to speak with Robertson.

“We recognise that members of our communities will be concerned and fearful about those comments and we would like to make it very clear that we are treating this matter very seriously.”

This is not an isolated outburst.

PASTOR’S LONG HATE SPEECH HISTORY

In the most recent video, published on Sunday, Robertson said he did not believe women should be allowed to vote.

He also said newly appointed Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should leave parliament and “get in the kitchen where women belong”.

Religious positions abused can be dangerous as well as disgraceful.