Trump tries to block Bolton book as bits revealed

Donald Trump has complained about what he calls threats to his free speech on social media to the extent of signing an executive order, but that has been seen as a threat to free speech itself – Donald Trump’s attacks on social media threaten the free speech rights of all Americans:

…his feud with Twitter is another example of the ways in which the president has routinely distorted the principles of the First Amendment in order to undermine the very freedoms he claims to be championing – as well as American democracy more broadly.

Trump is also not keen on free speech for his former national security adviser John Bolton, who is due to launch a book next week about his White House experiences. Trump obviously doesn’t think he will get much praise in the book.

Trump administration seeks emergency order to block Bolton’s memoir

The Trump administration has made an aggressive last-ditch attempt to block the release of John Bolton’s bombshell book, in which the former national security adviser writes that the US president offered favors to dictators and asked China to help him with his 2020 re-election.

On Wednesday night, the justice department sought an emergency order from a judge to block Bolton’s memoir, after explosive excerpts were printed by various news organizations.

This latest move comes after the administration filed a civil suit against Bolton on Tuesday. The emergency temporary restraining order filed Wednesday, which seeks to stop the release of his book on 23 June, is unlikely to succeed, legal experts said, especially since copies had already been distributed to booksellers and journalists.

In a statement, Bolton’s publisher Simon & Schuster called the restraining order “a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.’’

Details from the book have already been published – John Bolton’s bombshell Trump book: eight of its most stunning claims

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton has made a series of explosive claims about the US president in his new book The Room Where It Happened, according to numerous news reports and an excerpt.

1. Trump pleaded with China to help win the 2020 election

According to the excerpt of Bolton’s book published by the Wall Street Journal, Trump asked China to use its economic power to help him win a second election.

In one instance, Trump and President Xi Jinping were discussing hostility to China in the US. “Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes.

“He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

2. Trump suggested he was open to serving more than two terms

…published in the Wall Street Journal, Trump also seems to support Xi’s idea of eliminating presidential term limits. “Xi said he wanted to work with Trump for six more years, and Trump replied that people were saying that the two-term constitutional limit on presidents should be repealed for him. Xi said the US had too many elections, because he didn’t want to switch away from Trump, who nodded approvingly.”

The first does seem like a big deal, the second is quite ho-hum.

3. Trump offered favors to dictators

One incident published in the Washington Post includes a 2018 discussion with the Turkish president, Recep Erdoğan. Bolton says Erdoğan gave Trump a memo claiming that a Turkish firm under investigation in the US was innocent. “Trump then told Erdoğan he would take care of things, explaining that the southern district prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people.”

4. Trump praised Xi for China’s internment camps

According to Bolton, Trump was also approving when Xi defended China’s internment of Uighur Muslims in detention camps. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

5. Trump defended Saudi Arabia to distract from a story about Ivanka

Trump made headlines in November 2018 when he released a bizarre statement defending the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. It included lines such as “The world is a very dangerous place!” and “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

According to Bolton’s book, making headlines was the point. A story about his daughter Ivanka using her personal email for government business was also in the news at the time. After waging war on Hilary Clinton during the 2016 campaign for doing the same thing, Trump need a distraction.

“This will divert from Ivanka,” Trump reportedly said. “If I read the statement in person, that will take over the Ivanka thing.”

Again not a great surprise, one of Trump’s primary strategies seems to be media/social media diversions.

6. Trump’s top staff mocked him behind his back

From what has been reported, it sounds like Bolton’s book provides one of the clearest insights into the despair of Trump’s top officials behind the scenes.

In one example given by the New York Times, Bolton claims he received a note from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, after Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, simply saying, “He is so full of shit.” On top of this, Pompeo also allegedly said a month later that Trump’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea had “zero probability of success”.

Criticism and lack of respect has already been revealed, this is hardly a revelation. “He is so full of shit” won’t shock many people who seem Trump just like that. Even supporters and defenders of grump agree that he is full of shit (‘but gets things done’, which to an extent is correct).

7. Trump thought Finland was part of Russia

Bolton’s book reportedly details some giant holes in Trump’s knowledge. In one instance, Bolton says Trump didn’t seem to know basic knowledge about the UK, asking its former prime minister Theresa May: “Oh, are you a nuclear power?”. On top of this, he also alleges that Trump once asked if Finland was part of Russia, and repeatedly mixed up the current and former presidents of Afghanistan.

Trump’s ignorance of international basics is also not a surprise.

8. Trump thought it would be ‘cool’ to invade Venezuela

According to the Washington Post, Bolton claims Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool”, and that the country was “really part of the United States”.

More unsurprising ignorance plus a bit of normal idle bluster.

There is not much here that will change many minds about Trump’s behaviour and competence. Of these only the China could be a problem.

New York Times: China Slams Trump Over Uighur Law Amid Bolton Accusations

China lashed out at the United States on Thursday after President Trump signed into law a bill that would allow him to impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the mass incarceration of more than one million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

The rebuke came after China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, held an unusual meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii that underscored the depth of discord between the two countries.

China’s incarceration of members of minority groups in Xinjiang has become another increasingly contentious, if complicated, issue between the two countries. New accusations by John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, have muddied the issue even further.

New York Times Five takeaways from John Bolton’s book (paywall)

Expect plenty of attempted diversion from Trump when the book hits the bookshelves. He is already doing his usual attacking:

And retweeting this:

Dumping on the messenger is as unsurprising as the book revelations. It’s hard to be shocked by trump any more, but his attacks also look like same old.

Bolton has been criticised for staying silent through the impeachment trial of Trump, holding back information until his book launch.

Trump attempted to use military aid to pressure Ukraine on political investigations, Bolton says

For months, as the nation was convulsed by the impeachment of President Donald Trump, his critics held out hope that the congressional proceedings would unearth a high-level witness with first-person testimony about Trump’s efforts to use his office to try to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that could bolster him politically.

Now, more than four months after Trump was acquitted by a Republican-led Senate, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton has emerged with just such an account in his new book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

In it, Bolton asserts that the delay in releasing $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine last summer was an attempt by the president to get the foreign country to provide damaging material about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former vice president Joe Biden.

The former national security adviser cites personal conversations in which he describes a quid pro quo that Trump long denied, including an August meeting in which Bolton alleges that Trump made the bargain explicit.

“He said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all Russia-investigation material related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton writes.

Bolton seems as self-interested as Trump.

Chris Penk book on how to undermine a leader and an election campaign

Chris Penk, first term National MP for Helensville, has self published a sort of a book called Flattening the Country: the real story behind Labour’s lockdown – but it is more like “How to undermine a new leader and an election campaign”.

Penk praised his ex-leader Simon Bridges, and says that he had discussed his book with ‘the party’s leadership when Bridges was in charge, implying he had approval, but he has made no mention of discussing his book with new leader Todd Muller or getting approval from National’s election campaign team.

Penk also said he was not worried about any potential backlash from the public. Is he naive, stupid, or deliberately dumping on Muller and National’s campaign? Possibly a bit of all of those.

I think that back bench MPs shouldn’t be gagged, and they should put their views out in public so that voters can see what they are like and what they think and believe in. But they also should have the sense to put the good of their party and the good of the country ahead of their own agenda, especially heading in to an election.

RNZ: National MP Chris Penk’s book derides government’s Covid-19 response

National backbench MP Chris Penk has released a 30,000 word missive criticising the government’s “lockdown lunacy” and calling its initial response to Covid-19 “shockingly slack” and “incompetent”.

Penk unveiled his self-published book – “Flattening the Country: the real story behind Labour’s lockdown” – on his National website on Thursday evening, alongside an offer to send out signed copies for $20 a pop.

The book is heavily critical of the Covid-19 response, arguing that a poorly prepared and panicked government “set about destroying the village that is New Zealand in order to save it”.

“It was only supposed to be the curve that got flattened, not the whole country,” the book begins.

The whole country is nothing like flattened. We have come through the pandemic remarkably unscathed, albeit with some substantial economic, business and employment difficulties. But compared to many other countries New Zealand looks to be very well off.

Speaking to RNZ, Penk said he had discussed his plans for the book with the party’s leadership going back to when Bridges was still in charge.

“The positions that I have stated in the book are consistent with the messages that National has been putting out from the start.”

Messages that National had been putting out perhaps. But the leadership change also changed the leadership messaging quite a lot. Did Penk not think to check out his messaging with Muller and the new campaign team?

He said he was not worried about any potential backlash from the public.

“A large number of people are fearful about expressing a view that is anything other than the received wisdom, the single source of truth, and they don’t want to be ostrasised as not being part of the team of five million.

“Frankly, the bullying tactics that have been applied to others don’t hold any weight with me.”

Is that a swipe at Muller and the new National leadership? Even if not intended as such it effectively looks like it.

Penk’s book is closer in tone to that of former Opposition leader Simon Bridges than that of the new leadership team, and it is complimentary of Bridges’ performance.

Indeed, Penk noted that Bridges would be remembered in time “for performing his constitutional role with commitment and courage”.

Is it a sort of a ‘Bring back Bridges’ campaign?

Early on in the book, Penk acknowledged the lockdown was “necessary” and its timing “roughly right”, but he went on to critique “Labour’s particular form of lockdown lunacy”, arguing it was too harsh and was unnecessarily extended.

Level 3 would have been a more appropriate starting point, Penk said.

“Whole industries have been led like so many lambs to a no-longer-non-essential slaughterhouse.”

Penk also reserved some harsh words for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, describing her as a “cheerleader-in-chief” and “one trick pony” for repeatedly imploring the public to “be kind”.

“Compulsory kindness is oxymoronic. And moronic. And insulting,” he wrote.

He includes quotes from social media including Kiwiblog in his book. It sounds like it.

and he may have put himself (and National) in an awkward position regarding donations. Stuff: National MP Chris Penk’s lockdown book raises political donation questions

He’s now published it on the National party website, where people have the choice of reading the book for free or ordering a signed copy for $20 after depositing money in Penk’s bank account, which is listed.

Penk also asks people who read the book for free to “consider making a small contribution to fund the printing and distribution of more copies”.

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said the donations may have to be declared as donations to Penk as a candidate, although not if the donation was a “like-for-like” fee covering the cost of printing the book.

Penk may not have thought things through.

Penk said all laws relating to the donations would be complied with.

They will have to be complied with, he hasn’t got any choice. He can’t claim ignorance, now at least.

The book has confounded critics. It is critical of the way the lockdown destroyed “the village that is New Zealand in order to save it”.

Yet, in its opening pages, the book also acknowledges the lockdown was “necessary” and the timing was “roughly right”.

It also acknowledges tourism would have been destroyed anyway, and there would always be “considerable” economic disruption.

Not very consistent.

This book may have seemed like a good idea to Penk and perhaps a small faction of National MPs, but it is likely to have a negative impact on his party’s election chances.

I can’t see any reference to the book on the main National Party website, but it is prominently promoted on Penk’s National Party site where you can read the book: FLATTENING THE COUNTRY

Maybe Muller doesn’t feel flattened by Penk’s attack, but it doesn’t look good for the new National leader. the book doesn’t mention him at all, but has 14 mentions of Bridges.

 

Gavin Ellis on Whale Oil book: “a harrowing slaga” but enduring long form journalism

RNZ media commentator Gavin Ellis applauded what Margie Thomson’s book Whale Oil

Margie Thomson’s investigation into the Whale Oil blog suggests that books may be the most enduring type of long-form journalism.

Transcript (from 6:22)

Great cover on that book, it’s not a whale so much as a sort of a monster of the deep coming up from the bottom of the book.

I think it was Margie who said that a whale was inappropriate, too nice to depict Slater and the dirt he is infamous for.

I think the monster comes from Matt Blomfield’s famous wrestler grandfather Lofty, who created an octopus hold.

Whale Oil by Margie Thomson really is a harrowing tale about a man, a businessman called Matt Blomfield and his decade long fight to clear his name after it was besmirched in a pretty serial fashion by Cameron Slater on the Whale Oil blog.

The book itself, I thought Finlay Macdonald summed it up perfectly, let me just read you one sentence of what he said. he said:

“Many readers will need a shower after a session with this book, and and Margie Thomson is to be applauded for her willingness to go where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen could feel at home.”

And that’s really, this is a, when I say it’s an awful book, it’s a very very good book. What it said is really quite awful about the ability of social media to basically destroy the reputation of an innocent person, and she sets about disproving virtually everything that appeared on the Whale Oil blog.

Of course Matt Blomfield has won defamation cases against Cameron Slater over it, but it’s a harrowing slaga, saga, but the thing that impressed me most I think is that it shows, with books like this it shows that this sort of excellent very long form journalism, you know the book chronicles a saga over ten years.

It may be that the most enduring form of journalism that we have.

The work that we do as daily journalists is ephemeral, you know it’s here one day and gone the next. I used to hate people saying that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish wrapper, but there’s an element of truth in that.

This sort of deep investigation, and of course she’s not alone, we have a number of other journalists who’ve written books about different subjects, Rebecca McPhee, absolutely, and I think that they do us a real service by having an enduring form of journalism.

Now of course books are not regarded as a news activity, which is a problem under the Privacy Act, which makes them vulnerable, more vulnerable than a daily journalist would be.

Whale Oil was carefully vetted by lawyer Stephen Price to avoid possible legal actions.

Even with proposed changes to the Privacy Act I don’t think that this form of journalism enjoys the same protection as news activities do.

However books have an advantage of time to check out their accuracy and reduce risks.

But nonetheless I really commend not only this book but the whole process of committing to books.

This sort of long form investigative journalism, it really is great reading but also the lessons in them remain for the future, and that’s something in daily journalism we’re in danger of losing, particularly with the avalanche of material that we have bombarding us every day that is so ephemeral and this sort of anchors it with a degree of permanence. let’s hope so anyway.

It’s true that newspapers are published and sold one day, and disappear off the newsagents’ shelves by the end of the day. Books remain for sale on bookshelves for weeks.

But publishing news online means that it does endure far more than it used to. It can be just a Google search away. Enduring news – and blog posts – provide a lot of readily available research material for books like Whale Oil.

The difference with well researched and written books like Whale Oil though is that they collate and filter and edit a vast amount of material – and there is a vast amount of material in the Matt Blomfield story.

One of the successes of Whale Oil is that Margie took a huge amount of information and made it interesting and readable, while putting on record an awful campaign of attack that took place over many years.

It was, as Ellis says, a harrowing Slater saga, or saga.

Statement from Matt Blomfield on ‘Whale Oil’ book

Statement from Matt Blomfield (posted on Facebook):


On Tuesday last week we had the launch for the book Whale Oil by Margie Thomson. It was an incredible and humbling experience. About three hundred people turned up. My wife and kids attended and afterwards they talked about what an amazing night they had with other friends and family.

This weekend with the dust starting to settle I looked back at the week that followed the launch and I felt uncomfortable. It was a busy week with media appearances and messages of support, and naturally there was a big focus on the details of my protracted battle against Cameron Slater. What got me thinking, though, was a book review on Newsroom by Finlay Macdonald – not his words but the image at the top of the page: Cameron Slater knocked out in the first round of his boxing match with Jesse Rider. He looks broken. I needed to beat Cameron in court in order to win back my reputation. It was never my intention to break the man.

Cameron Slater has had his struggles in life. He’s had business failures. He struggled with mental illness; he lost his home. More recently he has had health issues. It follows that my mind takes me to a place of sympathy for Slater. He has a wife and kids just like me; he has tried to succeed, just like me. I feel increasingly concerned at the tone of some of the comments about him that are appearing online. I know what it’s like first hand to be ridiculed online, to be bullied and it affects more than just the individual. It flows through to that person’s friends and family.
Slater is not well. His attacks against me are not the actions of a right thinking individual. He needs help.
I’m concerned that some of the coverage given to the publication of Margie’s book gives the impression this book is a tit-for-tat exercise. It’s not, and that’s clear to anyone reading it. Yes, it’s the story of my long struggle to rescue my reputation and get justice, but
it’s about much more than a fight between two individuals. It is about our changing world and a system that needs to change so that our children are protected. It introduces readers to some incredible individuals and shows that even during the hardest of times good people will stand up and be counted. It’s about never giving up, and that sometimes the decision to fight can come from a place of love, compassion and family. Finally, it’s about people as a whole and how we choose to live not only on the internet but as a society.

The people who have read the book have all had the same reaction; a feeling of surprise. It follows that those same people have expressed to me what an important book this is and how much it impacted them as individuals.

I am now going to focus on my family, my health, my education and hopefully move past this. My story has been told.

I hope that people will move past attacking what can be only be described as a damaged individual. Let’s put him where he belongs, in the footnote of history, and move on to talking about the important issues he only symbolizes.

 

How to buy ‘Whale Oil’ (the book)

The book ‘Whale Oil’ was launched on Tuesday night, and got significant news coverage yesterday. I think this is an important book, and I think that it is worth reading.

If you want to borrow the book from a library there could be a long wait – someone reported yesterday at The Standard: “I have just ordered a copy from Auckland Library.  21 of 21 holds on one copy.”

Whitcoulls have copies available in most stores – you can check out where on their website, and also order online.

It can also be ordered directly from the publisher potton & burton: (this is an easy and fast process, I ordered other books from them recently):

WHALE OIL

ONE MAN’S FIGHT TO SAVE HIS REPUTATION, THEN HIS LIFE
Margie Thomson
Availability: In Stock

In May 2012 Auckland businessman Matt Blomfield found himself the target of a vicious online attack, the work of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. The attack came out of the blue, destroying Blomfield’s reputation and career, stealing his identity, turning him into a social outcast. Two years after the online attack began an armed gunman came to Blomfield’s house and tried to kill him. He only survived because the intruder’s shotgun misfired.

But Matt Blomfield decided to fight back. He spent seven years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars taking a defamation case against Slater, which he ultimately won, establishing that Slater’s vendetta was based entirely on lies.

This book is a remarkable piece of investigative writing, a story of courage and tenacity, which reminds us how important it is to stand up to bullies, and to be reassured that in the end they do not always win.

There is an interesting story around the book cover – Matt’s grandfather was famous New Zealand wrestler Lofty Blomfield:

He is credited for inventing “The Octopus Clamp”, an early version of the Scorpion Deathlock,

Disclosure: I assisted with a little bit of information for the book, but I have no financial interest in the book nor in sales of the book.

I’m promoting it here because I think it is an important book that has wider implications than the Matt Blomfield saga – it shows how easy and bad destructive blogging and online activity can be, and how poorly our laws and our policing practices allow us too deal with it.

Media coverage of ‘Whale Oil’ the book

The Spinoff: The 10 most shocking moments in the blistering new book ‘Whale Oil’

The book, we can now reveal, is by Margie Thomson, and its title is spare and clear: Whale Oil. It tells the story of businessman Matt Blomfield’s long-running struggle against blogger Cameron Slater, who, of course, was at the centre of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics. The saga, told principally from the perspective of Matt Blomfield, covers the extensive legal battle between Blomfield and Slater, as well as examining the way our justice system works, and the way the media has shifted (and shifted again) to allow and then disavow someone like Slater. Blomfield believes that Slater’s attacks led to an attempt on his life at his home in the North Shore of Auckland.

It’s a page-turner – thoughtful and with remarkable attention to detail.

RNZ: New book looks at battle between Slater and Blomfield

Whale Oil is a remarkable piece of investigative writing by Margie Thomson, who has painstakingly researched and documented this unbelievable story.

“It is a chilling account of how inadequate our protection is in the face of a digital attack, and a depressing exposé of police indifference to a citizen’s dire predicament,” the book’s promotional material said.

The book’s foreword is written by Nicky Hager, who said it’s a story of right and wrong, standing up to bullies, and a sobering story of how few protections there are against online attacks.

NZ Herald – Revealed: Book exposes how Whaleoil blogger’s campaign spilled from internet into the real world and took a heavy toll

A new book has revealed how an extraordinary online campaign of harassment and humiliation spilled into the real world and alleges the long-running plan may have been linked to a brutal home invasion.

A conspiracy under the name “Operation Bumslide” saw the former business partner Warren Powell supply Slater and others with a decade of Blomfield’s personal and financial records which were then used in an attempt to destroy his reputation.

The blog posts were then backed up by complaints from “Operation Bumslide” members to a host of government enforcement agencies, leading to Blomfield being described as “one of New Zealand’s most investigated people”.

Eventually Blomfield was cleared of any wrongdoing and Slater lost a High Court defamation case and Human Rights Tribunal case in which one of his articles about Blomfield was described as nothing more than “character assassination”.

The Whaleoil book, by journalist Margie Thomson, is presented as a detailed, behind-the-scenes investigation into years of alleged bullying and threats against Blomfield, including claims that after he launched his seven-year defamation action his computer was hacked and Slater approached one of his daughters over social media.

Along with the personal and financial cost, the book speculates a 2014 attack at their Greenhithe home might be linked to “Operation Bumslide” and the Whaleoil blog posts.

According to the book, Blomfield received odd and frightening text messages forecasting physical harm ahead of a home invasion by gang associate Ned Paraha, who was sent to prison for the armed assault.

The book is highly critical of police handling of complaints, which was conceded by a senior officer who carried out an internal investigation in the way they were handled.

It includes an appendix from barrister and media law specialist Steven Price in which he proposes the creation of a criminal offence for intentional harm caused by posting of online content.

Stuff: New book lifts lid on Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater’s dirty tactics

It took nearly eight years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a few mental and physical scars, but Matthew Blomfield believes he may have finally harpooned the big one with the release of Whale Oil.

The book, written by Margie Thomson, tells the story of Blomfield’s lengthy defamation battle with and ultimate victory over Whale Oil blogger Slater and was released amid secrecy at a launch on Tuesday night.

It had gained notoriety even before its release, as Blomfield’s lawyer Felix Geiringer claimed a family was detained by NZ Customs while entering the country and questioned about the name of the book.

Geiringer said the family, who were carrying a copy of the manuscript, had been stopped at an undisclosed airport, and questioned for several hours, and Customs officers threatened ‘dire consequences’ if they didn’t inform the officers what the book was called.

Note in the NZH report “complaints from “Operation Bumslide” members to a host of government enforcement agencies” – may be just coincidental.

The book details the devastating effect that Slater’s smear campaign had on Blomfield’s life, and how he and his family had to go into hiding after an intruder in a Spiderman mask showed up at his Auckland home and tried to shoot at him while his wife and two young children were present.

The book can be ordered online, eg: https://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/product/whale-oil-6462218

But bookstores should have copies.

So what is the ‘Whale Oil’ book about?

A book called ‘Whale Oil’ by author Margie Thomson was launched by Nicky Hager last night in Auckland to a large receptive crowd. I now have a copy of the book, and have been able to have a quick look through it.

The book has been very well researched and well written. It is very readable, and should be of interest to a much wider audience than people involved in blogging.

Disclosure: I was interviewed by Margie, and feature in a very minor way in the book, due to the fact that I was dragged into a campaign of harassment and was myself harassed when I put a stop to attacks here on Your NZ.

Obviously the book is about the Whale Oil blog and about Cameron Slater aka ‘Whale Oil’ the blogger (or sort of ex blogger). But it is about much more than that.

Primarily the book is about Matt Blomfield and his partner Rebecca and daughters Rosalie and Bella, and the extreme harassment they have been subjected to for about a decade. The worst of this was a home invasion attack on Blomfield in which a shotgun was used and Matt was seriously assaulted in front of his family, who were also targeted, But there was much more attacking and harassment, ranging from extensive attacks on Matt’s business operations, threats to family, and even an attempt by someone called Cam Slater trying to friend a 10 year old daughter on Snapchat.

The handling of the assault and a number of other complaints made to the police, in particular the lack of police action, feature prominently through the book. These issues are still under scrutiny.

The six year defamation case that Matt pursued against Slater also features. This shows that claims by Slater and associates on Whale Oil that lead to the defamation, throughout the proceedings, were largely a big pile of whale shit. Finally last October a judge ruled that after years of deliberate delays and stalling and incompetence, Slater had no credible defence.

Damages may take another year to be determined, but as Slater declared himself bankrupt it could be a hollow victory for Matt, unless some of the company and asset ownerships that have been ‘rearranged are unraveled.

Also under scrutiny in the book is ‘Operation Bumslide’, a campaign of harassment by Slater and ex business associates of Matt’s – Warren Powell, Marc Spring and Amanda Easterbrook, plus the close association with the notorious Dermot Nottingham.

Matt’s challenging but determined efforts to shut down Lauda Finem and their notorious website are also covered. However there is still a lot of material still online, despite a jury and judge finding that Nottingham was largely responsible. Spring and Slater were also implicated in using Lauda Finem to harass and attack people, including myself (and many others).

Things have caught up on Slater and Nottingham, both now bankrupt and both suffering health problems – although it is apparent that Whale Oil overstated the effects of the stroke suffered by Slater last October, and Slater tried to avoid and delay court proceedings claiming he was incapacitated, while showing he was far more capable than he was claiming.

But what about the others? It is claimed that Powell paid Slater, which has implications of the campaign against Matt being a paid hit job. But Powell moved overseas.

Easterbrook is put under scrutiny for her involvement. She seems to have avoided consequences so far, but will be uneasy about what is written about her.

And Spring, in my opinion, still looks like a loose cannon, unrepentant and intent on continuing his harassing activities. The book claims that evidence shows that both Spring and Slater discussed the attack on Matt before it happened as well as immediately afterwards. Lack of police action in that respect looks odd, but Spring seems to have been dealt with leniently by police over the years of harassment. Perhaps an attempt at justice will finally be seen to be done.


The book also looks at the wider and very topical issue of bullying and online harassment, and the failure of the police and court system to adequately protect people.

Nottingham has been convicted of five counts of criminal harassment, in which he harassed people over periods of several years. The sentencing judge said that the five charges were the worst of many found on the Lauda Finem website. I disagree with the judge on this.

Matt Blomfield and Rebecca and Rosalie and Bella have, I believe, been subjected to far worse, over a longer period of time, than any of the victims for which Nottingham alone has been convicted. I am amazed and concerned that the police have not addressed this adequately, or addressed those working with Nottingham, in particular Slater and Spring.

Perhaps the book will prompt some more holding to account for the worst case of harassment by a big margin.

These are nasty people who seem to enjoy trying to destroy people’s lives (they have called it fucking over’ – and possibly in one case, take lives. They seem unremorseful, unrepentant, and Spring at least seems intent on continuing with this behaviour, while claiming to be a victim (something Slater and Nottingham have also done). This is typical of bullies.

Matt Blomfield has done something huge for the many victims of abuse from this group of people, he has stood up to them, he has had significant successes, and through this book has highlighted a number of things that should be of concern to the public.

‘Whale Oil’ is about far more than a blog. It is about a pod of pricks.

This has been online bullying at it’s worst. At least it has now been confronted and serious questions have been asked. However more answers are needed, and as a society we need to be looking at how we can prevent this sort of thing from happening, at least to this extent.


Margie has done a great job with this book. Please read it. Copies have been distributed to book shops around the country.

Those of you who have followed things here over the past few years will recognise a lot of what is detailed in the book, but there will be things that will (or should) shock you.

It should also have wider appeal. It details real dangers of harassment online, and how the tentacles of that can spread into the real world, doing real harm.

The book can be ordered online, eg: https://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/product/whale-oil-6462218

But bookstores should have copies.

NZ Customs accused of abusing powers ahead of Blomfield book launch

Felix Geiringer was Matthew Blomfield’s lawyer for part of the Blomfield v Slater defamation proceedings. He has also represented Nicky Hager.

On Twitter today:

NZ Customs have been accused of abusing their powers to discover a book title. The book is being launched by Nicky Hager.

The book is being launched this evening. The details of the book, including its title, have been embargoed until after the launch.

The book has been written by Margie Thomson. Nicky Hager has written the forward and will be speaking at tonight’s launch.

The book is being published by Potton & Burton, the same publisher that publishes Nicky Hager’s books.

On the weekend, someone carrying a manuscript of the book was stopped by NZ Customs while trying to enter New Zealand.

The passenger has asked not to be named at this stage. The following is the passenger’s account of what happened.

“They pulled me and my whole family into a side room and insisted on searching our luggage. At first, I thought it was just a random search, but it became clear to me that the two officers conducting the search were looking for something specific.

“When they found the manuscript they started questioning me about it. They wanted to know what the book was about. I told them the details were embargoed and I could not discuss it, but they wouldn’t let it go.

“They wanted to know the title of the book. They told me they wouldn’t let us through Customs unless I told them. They told me I would receive a hefty fine for refusing to tell them.

“I thought the search was abusive. I had three young girls travelling with me and they became very upset. It was over the top behaviour from Customs.

“I could not understand what the title of this book could possibly have to do with a Customs search. I asked, but they would not tell me. They just kept threatening me with dire consequences if I did not answer their questions.

“I just do not understand. Why were Customs using their powers to find out the title of this book?”

I am not independent of the people behind this book. But I think that NZ Customs have some explaining to do.

It is very difficult to see how the demand for details about this book, including its title, could possibly be a legitimate exercise of Customs’ powers.

If the search occurred as alleged, and these passengers were being detained so that these Customs Officers could pursue an illegitimate line of enquiry about the book then that also brings into question the legality of the detention.

Sounds concerning. Another lawyer has a suggestion:

If it is a manuscript of an unpublished book how can it be on a banned list?

How would NZ Customs know about it and try to find out the title? Unless they say some papers and tried to find out what they were, but that seems very unusual.

Bob Woodward on Donald Trump – Fear and Crazytown

Bob Woodward has been a reporter and editor since 1971. he shot to prominence in 1972 when with Carl Bernstein did a lot of reporting that led to Watergate and the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon.

A number of parallels have been suggested between Nixon and Donald Trump, but there are also significant differences.

Woodward has written a book on Trump called fear. The Washington Post reports: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency

…“Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward writes that his book is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background,” meaning the information could be used but he would not reveal who provided it. His account is also drawn from meeting notes, personal diaries and government documents.

The president called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work would be “tough,” but factual and based on his reporting.

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

This is fairly credible because it’s fairly obvious that this is a fairly plausible explanation for Trump’s statements and behaviour.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Some one has to do it to try and keep the United States on the rails.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”

Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, fretted that he could do little to constrain Trump from sparking chaos. Woodward writes that Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and tweeted, “the devil’s workshop,” and said early mornings and Sunday evenings, when the president often set off tweetstorms, were “the witching hour.”

The devil’s workshop has been getting busier and more bizarre as time goes on. One reaction yesterday to ongoing attacks on the US Attorney General: Trump shows why he is unfit for office. From ‘Fear’:

A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

Trump has been a particular concern in the volatile Middle East.

After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”

Other officials manipulated Trump.

Cohn, a Wall Street veteran, tried to tamp down Trump’s strident nationalism regarding trade. According to Woodward, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing.

Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides,

“That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

On North Korea:

Woodward recounts repeated episodes of anxiety inside the government over Trump’s handling of the North Korean nuclear threat. One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran.

On family and advisers:

The president’s family members, while sometimes touted as his key advisers by other Trump chroniclers, are minor players in Woodward’s account, popping up occasionally in the West Wing and vexing adversaries.

Woodward recounts an expletive-laden altercation between Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist.

“You’re a goddamn staffer!” Bannon screamed at her, telling her that she had to work through Priebus like other aides. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”

Ivanka Trump, who had special access to the president and worked around Priebus, replied: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter.”

The Mueller inquiry:

The book vividly recounts the ongoing debate between Trump and his lawyers about whether the president would sit for an interview with Mueller. On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his deputy, James Quarles.

Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

“John, I understand,” Mueller replied, according to Woodward.

But Trump, concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.

“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told Dowd, according to Woodward.

“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”

The next morning, Dowd resigned.

There will no doubt be more on Woodward’s book.

But remarkably there is little about Trump that will shock, because he has been such a train wreck that the absurd and the outlandish and the scary have become normal Trump news.

It could be that ‘Fear’ tips Trump over the edge, demanding something be done about his dysfunctional presidency, but the odds are that the White House will stagger on while Trump increasingly obsesses over Twitter. Some oof his recent tweets:

Some will applaud these tirades as Trump telling things as they are, but they are a telling indication of John Kelyu’s observations from having to deal with him:

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.”

Comey versus Trump – book bashing

The FBI director dumped by Donald trump has hit back, bashing Donald Trump in a book. The book has been bashed by critics (ahead of it’s launch).

NY Times (bashed a number of times by Trump for ‘fake news’): James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive.

In his absorbing new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey calls the Trump presidency a “forest fire” that is doing serious damage to the country’s norms and traditions.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes. “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

That won’t shock many people.

Fox News (regular praisers of Trump and bashers of trump critics): Comey book filled with unproven attacks on Trump, lofty praise for himself

A highly ironic headline given the habit of Trump for launching unproven attacks and loftily praising himself and demanding praise.

It’s important for every fair-minded person to remember that just because Comey makes a charge, he is not speaking gospel truth – despite his inflated sense of virtue and self-importance.

Just about anyone who’s ever been fired fancies “getting even” with the boss. Comey’s new book does that in spades, according to excerpts leaked to the media Thursday. In the process, it lowers the reputation of both the FBI and Comey, undermines the presidency and hurts the nation.

The book is seething with disdain and insults for a man the American people elected to lead our nation. Comey openly vilifies President Trump, throwing forth every insinuation and slur you can think of, even descending into petty criticism of the president’s tan, length of his ties and height.

Petty criticism is a fair comment and also highly ironic.

NY Times with details: Comey’s Memoir Offers Visceral Details on a President ‘Untethered to Truth’

The 304-page memoir by Mr. Comey is the only firsthand, insider account to emerge so far by a former Trump official describing what it was like to work in the chaotic early days of the administration. In it, Mr. Comey, a veteran law enforcement agent, writes unsparingly about Mr. Trump, calling him a tempestuous president whose connection to honesty was tenuous at best.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Mr. Comey writes in the book, saying his service to Mr. Trump recalled for him the days when he investigated the mob in New York. “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

With the book’s release set for next week, Mr. Comey is planning a media blitz, beginning with an intensely hyped interview with ABC News that is set to air Sunday night. Republican allies of Mr. Trump’s have already set in motion a counteroffensive, creating a “Lyin’ Comey” website aimed at discrediting the former F.B.I. chief.

Mr. Comey’s book does not include dramatic new revelations about the Russia investigation itself, which is continuing. But Mr. Comey does not pull punches as he provides rigorous detail — pulled from his contemporaneous notes — about his charged interactions with Mr. Trump during the transition and in the White House.

This must be unprecedented, a book in which an ex-FBI director blatantly bashes a sitting president. But a president with a character and record like Trump’s is also unprecedented.

The book bashes trump and the book is already taking a bashing, before it goes on sale.

Comey will probably make millions, and his reputation will be savaged by Trump defenders.

With Trump’s lying and his eccentric, bombastic,  and vainglorious behaviour on constant display it’s hard to be shocked by confirmation of his worst traits – perhaps the world should be, but until Trump does something really stupid that has an obvious and drastic effect (as opposed to stupid) that’s likely to continue unabated.

The real danger with this book is that it could provoke Trump and tip him over the edge, prompting him to actually do something damaging to the presidency or the country or the world, rather than his usual blister and ranting and raving.

The US political circus continues, absent a ringmaster.