Key on bloggers

For the first time that I’m aware John Key has condemned Cameron Slater for his apparent involvement in a smear campaign against the Serious Fraud Office as revealed by the email that precipitated the resignation of Judith Collins.

NZ Herald reports PM condemns Slater as Cunliffe slams inquiry:

When questioned, he condemned Mr Slater for his role in what appeared to be a smear campaign on the Serious Fraud Office.

Key also took a swipe at Labour’s use of bloggers:

And he took a swipe at Labour’s failed attempts to dig dirt on him, and at the “three or four” staffers in Mr Cunliffe’s office that wrote in the left-wing blogosphere.

“It’s a known fact that Jason Ede in my office talked to a blogger. There are people in your office who have written on blogs.

“It happens on your side and you know it … and I can name them if you want me to.”

To an extent at least that’s factually correct. For example Clint Smith currently works in Cunliffe’s office (and has worked for the Greens) and has been a Standard author in the past. Mike Smith is a trustee and author at The Standard and last year worked in David Shearer’s office.

The other Standard trustee Lynn Prentice reacted to Key on Twitter:

@thestandard – so far I have heard @johnkeypm impune our site a number of times. Sleazy dirty arsehole – just like @Whaleoil

I asked “You wouldn’t impune another site at all, would you Lynn?”

Nope. I impune people. Particularly those obsessing on ours. Looks at your tags.

He had just referred to @Whaleoil as a “Sleazy dirty arsehole” – while that Twitter handle is used by Cameron Slater ‘Whale Oil’ is a blog site.

And Prentice frequently criticises blogs. Like in The desperation of the National’s sockpuppets:

Then lo and behold within a week, it turns up on one of the Nationally funded blogs like Kiwiblog or Whaleoil. Still unverified. Still without proof. Still not a story that any journalist would touch because it would violate the press council rules.

And on Wakeup call for the media – has Slater done us all a favour?

Like a laser, a non-story would pumped back and forth between Whaleoil and Kiwiblog, each remarking on what the other had said, until journos started to write stories about “allegations” raised by the blogs.

The arseholes of the net will choose to hang off the self-destructive like Slater or dive into the older sewer at Kiwiblog. The more rational will come here or to Public Address or Transport Blog where the conversations may be robust but their comments can be heard.

Prentice raises some valid points especially in his post The desperation of the National’s sockpuppets but also makes unsubstantiated assertions about blogs, especially regarding the funding of them.

Prentice has a history of denying links between Labour and The Standard but they don’t stack up – see:

It was significant that Key finally publicly condemned Slater in last night’s debate, albeit on one specific issue and not for Whale Oil’s wider efforts to undermine opponents, democracy and political debate. Key has failed to condemn enough, but at least this is a start.

Expect Slater to react today.

Key also poked a stick at Labour’s connection with blogs that provoked a typical reaction of denial from Prentice. At least Key has made a start in acknowledging condemning dirty blogger politics.

Dotcom’s Assange announcement touches raw feminist nerve

Kim Dotcom has revealed that Julian Assange will participate in his September 15 town hall revelation show via video link. This will attract even more attention to Dotcom five days before the election, but it may not all be welcome attention judging by some initial reactions.

One News reports: Assange to help Dotcom drop ‘bombshell’ on Key

Kim Dotcom has revealed to ONE News the big international name who will play a role in the bombshell he’ll drop on the prime minister.
He says WikiLeaks founder and fugitive Julian Assange, who’s holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy, is set to take part in a pre-election attack on John Key.

“I can give you a hint. Someone who is currently locked up in an embassy might be on a live video link,” Mr Dotcom said.

He has already hired journalist Glen Greenwald, who made public the Edward Snowdon leaks. Now the addition of Mr Assange confirms the September 15 event will be about New Zealand’s spying.

Dotcom seems to like associating himself with international anti-spying ‘celebrities’.

Steve Park reacted at Public Address:

Given the announcement re Assange, I may have to resile from my ‘genuinely considering voting for IMP’.

@ColeyTangerina has been tweeting, suggesting it may not be a popular appearance amongst feminists )who have already expressed concerns about Dotcom):

Assange is confirmed for Kim Dotcom’s Auckland Town Hall big reveal. Nice company there. Please, tell me again how he’s changing the Left.

By inviting a twice alleged rapist avoiding trial to be part of a “Big Reveal”, Kim Dotcom & everyone involved show how they value survivors.

I wonder when we can expect Dotcom’s self-described “feminist” advisors like Bomber to be coming out against the Assange invite?

Nothing from Martyn Bradbury on this @CitizenBomber nor at The Daily Blog yet, I’ll update if he says anything.

No Assange hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, but if you don’t prioritise the right of survivors to at least bring him to trial, GTFO.

GTFO = ‘Get the freak out” or Get the fuck off”. Urban dictionary: “It is used to express indignation, usually towards stupidity, incompetence, or both. It can be used in response to something that is unwelcome.”

And frankly, survivors need people who believe them and stand with them, so if “BUT INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY” is your default GTFO too.

Remember this: Dotcom has advisors. This backlash against Assange would have been raised. It was disregarded. We were disregarded.

I’ve already had my full name and former workplace outed by TDB last time I kicked up a shit like this. I wonder what it will be this time?

Some responses:

Surely Assange is a pretty big get?

yup and it’s at the expense of justice for survivors, so their priorities are clear there.

Ugh, Assange. As if it wasn’t bad enough walking past a pro-Assange message on the street each morning.

Gross gross gross gross. IMP is a bro-left party who shout left while keeping the social politics of the right.

Survivors and survivor protection first, always. No compromise.

@LewSOS

The Internet Party: perfectly fulfilling its brand promise to pseudo-libertarian tech-utopian redditor dudebros since 2014.

Assangehats of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your mana!

Dotcom Ass-bomb

Comments on One New’s Facebook page are also mostly negative.

Tracey Cooke:

How dare these two people (Assange and Dotcom) hold our free elections to ransom by hoping to change who people vote for by scare tactics. What a disgrace. I never thought I would see NZ become a play-thing for such fools. Liking National or Key is not really the question anymore its about our country. Selling our freedom of choice is way worse than selling our land. Labour, National, Greens they are all politicians but I wish these grand-standers would go cause trouble else-where

Mike Halliday:

Let me get this right…..a convicted criminal on the FBI’s wanted list is going to get someone who has been dodging justice by hiding in a dodgy South American embassy for two years is going to drop a bombshell about the PM of an internationally insignificant group of islands at the bottom of the world? Really? Do grow up people……

Dotcom’s pre-election self promotion always risked over-shadowing the Internet-Mana campaign. His desire to get international attention risks blowing up on him and his party locally.

Another ring added to the campaign circus.

More opposition: Fightback opposes platform for Julian Assange

Fightback supports Internet MANA as an alliance between radical indigenous and progressive tau iwi forces, challenging the neoliberal consensus.

Providing a platform for Assange, and other men with a misogynist history, discredits the movement against transnational exploitation and repression…

Fightback opposes any platform for Julian Assange.

UPDATE2: Martyn Bradbury has now posted on this at The Daily Blog.

Wikileaks founder and the engineer of revealing some of the largest abuses of power in the modern era, Julian Assange, is rumoured to be appearing at the September 15th Town Hall meeting.

Assange would join award winning investigative journalist Glen Greenwald and other guest speakers to put the argument that we face a new threat of mass surveillance and how Kim’s case is a battlefront in that new war against our civil liberties.

Assange however could be a controversial choice for some. His extradition to Sweden to answer questions on two allegations of sexual assault will have some claiming this is another example of rape culture where the victim isn’t being respected.

That sounds more like Martyn the political hopeful talking rather than Martyn the feminist sympathiser.

MORE:

And now Assange given a platform? wtf. That some ppl are perpetuating rape culture in the name of ‘changing the government’ is despicable.

Personally I think the whole song is threatening. My main concern is SK is a young woman being tormented bc who her father is.

Party opening addresses

ACT Party:

Internet-Mana Party

Green Party:

Labour

National Party

NZ Independent Coalition

UnitedFuture

Democrats for Social Credit

Haven’t found yet:

Maori Party

NZ First

Hacked data good, spied data bad

Few will sympathise with the exposure of the dirty agenda of Whale Oil and Cameron Slater, but there are wider implications from the illegal hacking of data used for a doubled barreled political hit job.

If it can happen to Whale Oil it could potentially happen to any blog – or newspaper.

Didn’t David Fisher at NZ Herald write against potential breaches of privacy through spy data? He seems to be less concerned about hacked data.

Minister’s staffer took part in blog.

The Herald was able to confirm the use of Mr Bryant’s ministerial computer through details obtained from an individual other than the hacker who also accessed information from Whale Oil during the Denial of Service attack.

In the file held by the Herald, hundreds of messages sent from people working on ministerial or government computers are linked to the servers and IP addresses from which they were posted. The file links those details with email addresses – including Mr Bryant’s.

That’s getting quite intrusive. I wonder how people on other blogs would feel if a media organisation or a private hacker or an unprincipled blogger were able to identify people who posted under pseudonyms.

Fisher refers to “people working on ministerial or government computers” – but Cameron Slater claims to have communicated much wider than that, including with Fisher and MPs and staff from other parties.

If this is correct Fisher is only highlighting selected illegal data, following Hager’s and the hackers’ target of just one party, National. Is Fisher going to out other politicians? Journalists? I highly doubt the latter.

Comparing GCSB surveillance to illegally hacked data is pertinent. Who would be worse to discover sensitive data, the GCSB, NZ Herald, Cameron Slater or an anonymous rogue political activist?

I presume we can’t rule out what happened to Whale Oil happening to other blogs. I’m very concerned about the precedent that this has set and where it could lead. I personally don’t care if people find out what I’ve been posting because it’s already in the open.

But others might be more uneasy. If they aren’t perhaps they should be.

The best advice for anonymous bloggers and commenters is to not post anything that you wouldn’t want made public by a hacker or newspaper.

The risks of trying to remain anonymous have been highlighted by this. While Whale Oil has been exposed and to some extent at least neutered (a good thing) the political blogosphere in New Zealand has been compromised.

It seems that the potential of the GCSB intercepting your data with a legal warrant is regarded as the pits, but hacking and outing is fair game in politics.

Hacked data good, legally intercepted data bad?

Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill

After the poor behaviour in parliament last week, hightlighted by the speaker Lockwood Smith and blogged here – Addressing disgraceful parliamentary behaviour – I emailed MPs asking for their opinions on it.

Ross Robertson (Labour MP for Manukau East) replied saying he has a Member’s Bill in the ballot that addresses MP ethics and behaviour. Whether this makes it into parliament is subject to the chance of the ballot. Roberston tried to promote his bill a few months ago:

Tuesday 24 April 2012 Media Statement

Local MP Calls For Support For Parliamentary Code

New Zealand should be a world leader in democratic accountability and transparency, according to Ross Robertson, Labour MP for Manukau East, who spoke to an audience of Rotary members this morning on good governance and democracy.

“Unfortunately New Zealand is not leading as it should be,” Ross Robertson said.

“My Members Bill, title the Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill would see a Code of Ethics adopted by MPs and followed according to its spirit and purpose. Unfortunately this bill is yet to be drawn from the members’ ballot.

Ross Robertson told Rotary members that he was frustrated that Kiwis were being put off politics due to often inaccurate perceptions about standards of behaviour.

 “New Zealanders expect parliamentarians to serve out of conviction and a commitment to the public good,” Ross Robertson said. “This bill aims to clarify that purpose and engage young people who are being turned off politics in droves.”

“We need to demonstrate the relevance of Parliament in order to earn the respect for democracy that is so vital to our future as a free and thriving nation.

“With regard to my goal of raising respect for both Parliament and our New Zealand democracy by improving the performance of Parliament, I believe that to do nothing is not an option, for the biggest advantage of a code lies in its ability to regain the trust of citizens in the institution of Parliament and its Members.

“While progress on my bill is at the mercy of the ballot, I will continue to advocate for these important principles.

“This code is about good governance. It is about such things as integrity, transparency, legitimacy, accountability, an acceptable standard of behaviour, and acting in good faith.

“Good governance and transparency are non-negotiable for a healthy democracy,” Ross Robertson said.

I think there will be a lot of public agreement with this. How to get parties and MPs to take some notice?

Part 2, 7 (2):

It is the duty of every member of Parliament to conduct themselves in a
manner that will maintain and support the public’s trust and confidence in the
integrity of Parliament.

Many of the public would argue that some MPs are not conducting themselves in an appropriate manner in parliament. As this bill is “declaratory rather than mandatory” there should be no reason why parties can’t adopt it’s principles anyway.

Members of Parliament (Code of Ethical Conduct) Bill

Member’s Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to provide a Code of Ethical Conduct for members of
Parliament.

The legislature plays a key role in promoting good governance and curbing corruption and poor administration in all sectors of society. Citizens expect parliamentarians to maintain a high moral standard in their professional and private lives. They expect parliamentarians to serve out of conviction and a commitment to the public good, rather than for aspirations of personal power and the pursuit of private profit. In turn, they have conferred on them the legitimate authority to take decisions that determine the fortunes of both the state and its citizens.

Failure by parliamentarians to live up to these expectations can seriously undermine the trust citizens have in the ability of their elected leaders to act in the public interest, and also in the legitimacy of the state and its institutions. At best, this leads to cynicism and apathy on the part of citizens. At worst, it leads to a questioning of the entire political system.

It is crucial therefore, that elected members of government act, and are seen to act, in an ethical manner.

The Code of Ethical Conduct is deliberately modest and declaratory rather than mandatory. There is no evidence in New Zealand of the sort of corruption that has plagued other Parliaments from time to time or is endemic in some other countries. 

The role of a member of Parliament comes with both legal and moral responsibilities. The Code deals more with the moral and ethical responsibilities than those imposed by law. This is reflected in the Code’s guiding principles of selflessness, integrity, confidentiality, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

The Code promotes principles of common courtesy and decency whilst sustaining the sense of cut and thrust that is vital in any legislature at the cutting edge of ideas, creation and consideration. The overall purposes are;

  • to promote high standards of service by politicians;
  • to inspire the quality of behaviour which reflects the honour and dignity of the profession;
  • to encourage and emphasize those positive attributes of professional conduct that characterise effective political leadership;
  • to enable politicians to declare themselves publicly accountable.

Culture of violence in schools

New Zealand’s culture of violence is spread through much of our society. That it is apparently protected by schools trying to protect their reputations at the cost of teacher and pupil safety is, if true, disgraceful.

The secret story of violence in schools

A teacher is punched in the face, another is shoved in the chest and their lunch stolen, one is regularly verbally abused while another has their car vandalised.  But at the schools’ request, none of it is reported to police.

Post-Primary Teachers Association president Robin Duff called the situation “intolerable”.

He said, in the PPTA News, the teachers’ union could not continue to be “complicit in this conspiracy of silence” that concealed the level of violence within schools.

He said competitiveness in schools gave them an incentive to hide issues of violence towards teachers and staff, and some schools didn’t want police involved because it could lead to negative publicity.

The national executive was “particularly concerned” to learn that some schools were actually forbidding teachers from reporting instances to police.

This is similar to families who keep violence secret to avoid exposing their reputation or mana to scrutiny. But…

The Secondary Principals’ Association was reluctant to support the  PPTA’s move.

President Patrick Walsh said he had not seen any evidence of a conspiracy of silence, nor was he aware of principals banning teachers from reporting assaults to police.

An open inquiry would find out if he’s right or not.

Walsh said some schools could be worried by bad publicity associated with assaults, but principals would be foolish to cover up violence against teachers because it could result in a personal grievance case against the school.

But there are serious claims that it’s happening.

Until we deal with our violence problems openly and honestly the culture will continue to ruin people’s lives – can it will continue to cost some lives.

Dirty school secrets, like dirty family secrets, need to be exposed and addressed. This takes courage, but it’s something we as a country need to do.

Easter shopping farce

The current laws are a selective uneven mess. Some businesses are allowed to open legally, some aren’t. Movie theatres were open yesterday but gardening shops weren’t supposed to be, does that promote popcorn over home grown vegetables?

While I’d like to see less consumer addiction and I’m happy to go for days without using the plastic it’s impossible to be fair on businesses when some are given preference over others.

Restrictions are even a nonsense in countries where Sunday shopping is supposedly not allowed. For example Switzerland has no shopping on Sundays, supposedly. Except some things. supermarkets that are a part of railway station complexes can open on Sundays but their opposition aren’t.

Having shopping free days is a quaint old theory that doesn’t work in practice. It needs to be all or nothing, and nothing is too flawed.

You don’t have to go shopping on days you don’t want to.

Liberal centrism

I’ve never cared much about political definitions and labels, they’ve seemed restrictive and pointless. I’ve tried to look at things objectively without a preconceived position, to learn about pros and cons and then to decide. And also to allow decisions to be modified if further learning justifies it.

But this description of liberal centrism and Liberal Democrats is some thing I readily identify with (not so much the frog).

Liberal Democrats and Kermit the Frog

The liberal centrist approach requires a sensibility and a pragmatism that often does not sit comfortably with the prevailing political debate. It is inevitably much easier to be “for” something, or “against “ it in a sort of soapbox way, than it is to take a more discerning approach based on the particular circumstances of the time and the best response to them.

To the cynic such detached objectivism is not only passionless, and therefore lacking commitment, but also unprincipled and opportunist, easily dismissed as “wishy-washy”, or “standing for nothing”, or “just having an eye for the main chance.” Far better, the cynic argues to be unmistakeably “right” or “wrong” as the case may be, because at least that way everyone is left in no doubt as to where you stand, regardless of the consequences.

Principles, it would seem, are the millstones ideologically based political parties attach to their own necks. To the liberal centrist, however, principles are enduring values which enable one to decide how to respond effectively to changing times and the actual situation. To the cynic, being rigidly “for” or “against” something is principled – whereas using principles to guide behaviour is “convenient” or “pragmatic” in the most disparaging way.

…the liberal centrist espouses and operates by the values of decency and honesty, and getting things done, while pricking the balloons of social and political pretension.

I know some people won’t be happy with this. I’ll post it on a variety of blogs and will inevitably it will be abused, I’ll likely be attacked personally, and Peter Dunne will again be heaped with scorn.

I’ve been called all of the usual insults, “wishy-washy”, “standing for nothing”, and “sitting on the fence”. By people too blinkered or extreme to understand centrism.

But I hope that more moderate readers (often they’re the silent readers), will see something in this that makes sense. It seems like common sense to me.

Credibility of anonymous blogging?

There’s frequent debate about anonymous versus identity blogging and commenting.

The Problem of Online Anonymity

There’s something freeing, to be sure, about being able to say anything you want. You can engage in unfounded name-calling, or intentionally hurt someone’s feelings, or just generally behave like a twelve year old. And no one will know it’s you. And that’s why I don’t read many blogs that are written by people who prefer to remain anonymous or who write under pseudonyms when there isn’t really any reason for them to do so.

In fact, I don’t think there are any blogs I read on a daily basis whose authors are anonymous. The anonymous or pseudonymous blogs are often just filled with cruelty, name-calling, and bad arguments. Indeed, there are a great many people who choose to write under an assumed name because they want to harrass or offend others.

In my experience there’s some truth to that.

When I read a blog post that anonymously uses phrases like “Both sides are scum” and “making a dick of himself and pathetically trying” it immediately diminishes in stature for me.

When comparing the general tone of that with this post, which is also politically critical but a more reasoned and reasonable tone, I know which one I respect more. Notably this author has chosen to identify themselves.

About Anonymous Blogging

They believe their anonymity means they create better writing. It is a specious argument and one that largely leads to their blogs becoming echo chambers.

I believe that if more of them “came out” that there would be a better more honest, reasoned, political discourse in the NZ blogosphere.

I agree. It can still be robust debate when you are up front and honest about who you are.

(I undertsand that some people have good reasons to blog anonymously, but political commentary has enough suspicions about motive as it is without being cloaked.)

New Zealand Official Yearbook available online

A digital version of official yearbooks going back to 1893 is now available on the Statistics New Zealand website. A great source of historical information.

Digital Yearbook Collection

Viewing and using the yearbooks

Choose a yearbook from the list and press [Ctrl]-F to search within it using keywords. Our main website search box will not search within these files.

So no global search available, but browsing and year searching could find a lot more interesting things.

There’s a large amount of information and statistics in each yearbook.