Is more people better?

New Zealand, like the world, seems to be on a growth treadmill. Is continued population growth really a good thing?

A thought provoking post by Bunji at The Standard who suggests This is not the growth you’re looking for.

There are different views on The Standard about growth and whether we really need it.  I’m all for environmentally-, socially-sustainable growth, and I’m a programmer, so I’m in a fairly “weightless” part of the economy.

But here’s one bit of growth that really seems pointless to me: that achieved only by increasing the number of people.

While there should be better ways of measuring our economy and success than anything GDP-based (Robert Kennedy: “it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”), it seems a simple fix to at least make it GDP-per-capita, while we’re working out the complexities of those other measurements.

Because if we’re only increasing GDP by increasing the number of people, as we are currently, we’re loading up the environment and we’re not even individually getting any richer for it.  Thanks National.

If you look at 64,000 immigration last year – 1.5% of the population(!) you’ve got to wonder whether it’s socially sustainable as well.  I love the super-diversity of Auckland, but that’s a lot to swallow in a year.  With about 40,000 of that immigration being to Auckland – a city that’s already got a massive house shortage and struggles creating enough infrastructure – you’ve got to wonder: what’s the point?

While it’s a much bigger problem for Auckland it’s also something New Zealand as a whole should be asking.

The human population can’t keep growing forever. We can’t keep transforming the earth we live on indefinitely.

Should we strive for bigger, more because we don’t want to be left behind the rest of the world?

And leave it to future generations to worry about more overcrowding and the depletion of resources?

Where’s the government’s plan?  We all know they haven’t got one.  Laissez-faire, set the conditions “right” and it’ll all come good apparently.

Grow and hope?

Or think seriously about humankind’s future, and do something about unsustainable growth before we self destruct, or condemn the world’s children to an insurmountable problem?

“Islamic Extremism: not a threat”

An extreme view on the threat of Islamic Extremism in New Zealand from Bunji at The Standard – nothing to worry about, nothing needs changing.

Islamic Extremism: not a threat

The war-mongering and hysterics are ridiculous.

Calling it ‘war-mongering’ sounds ridiculous. Virtualy no-one in New Zedaland is war-mongering, and especially not our Government which has been very cautious.

Apparently we have much to fear, an unprecendented threat and need to give up our liberties.

Bullshit.

And I call bullshit on that. We have something to be very wary of, and ISIS is an unprecedented threat in the Internet age.

Liberty isn’t an either/or concept, we don’t have it completely (far from it) and nor can it all be taken away.

We have no history of Islamic extremism in NZ.  No groups wanting sharia law.  No noticeable support for IS.

We have a small moderate Muslim community.

In general I agree with that.

The threat is hardly “unprecedented” – IS are not so dissimilar from al-Qaeda, except much more focussed on the Middle East, much less on the West.  Islamic militantism has been about since the 7th century when they made the Mediterranean a Muslim lake.

And over that time it has kept changing and adapting, as have many other threats. ISIS may in some ways be similar to previous threats, but those pose different problems, including their use of social media to have a much wider reach than militant Muslims in the seventh century.

I see no reason for us to send troops to Iraq to clean up US’s mess – we weren’t involved in the first place. Humanitarian aid? Sure.

I don’t think any plan has been announced to send troops anywhere in relation to this.

I see no reason for us to give our spy agencies more powers.  A few (and the number is probably literally that) who are misguided and actual potential risks can be easily monitored in current ways.

Our surveillance laws are out of date in a rapidly changing online environment.

It is not easy to monitor all potential risks.

I see no reason for us to make people stateless against UN conventions by canceling their passports while overseas.  We can follow the rule of law, and monitor anyone and charge them with any crimes in the proper way.

And we can change the rule of law to adapt to a changing world if we find that we can’t adequately monitor all risks. We can never fully monitor all risks, and trying to do that would swing things far too far towards a surveillance state and too far away from privacy.

But somewhere in between we have to find the best balance of providing our protection agencies with sufficient tools to enforce the rule of law as much as possible against intruding too much on our privacy.

Let’s just tone it all back a notch.

Ditto.

Saying Islamic Extremism is “not a threat” – and there are other potential threats – is an opposite form of extremism.

Just as our police must have some surveillance tools our national security must be adequately equipped in a very complex world of communications.

We should debate to what extent and under which checks and balances but getting hysterical about small changes is not going to prepare us for any possible threat – and the history of the world, and the history of New Zealand, suggests that it’s a matter of time before something bad happens here again.

I’m confident that most Muslims in New Zealand pose no threat, similar to the general population. But some who use Islam as an excuse to spread religious extremes or terrorism are potentially a threat.

And we should be as prepared as possible for that.

Dirty, dirtier and dirtiest

There’s no doubt that of the major political blogs Whale Oil has been the dirtiest. It seems to have been a surprise to many how dirty, but to any observers of the blogosphere it just confirms with some specific examples what was already well known.

Barry Soper alludes to this in The Soap Box: Revelations? Hardly!

Anyone who’s shocked by the dirty nature of the emails that have tried to paint a smear campaign by National of its opponents understand little about two things – the hate speak that Whale Oil Beef Hooked blogger Cameron Slater’s known for and the business of politics which is anything but clean.

What about the rest of the blogs and social media? Certainly not as bad but there’s plenty of other dirt mongering and dirt mongerers.

In fact the hacking of Slater’s data and using it to hijack the election campaign must rate near the very top of the dirt scale.

Bunji at The Standard claims Left wing blogs aren’t “the same”.

On Morning Report yesterday John Key was busy casting all sorts of aspersions, and refusing to say that clearly odious behaviour by Judith Collins, Jason Ede and Cameron Slater was wrong.

But some of the aspersions were against shock horror left wing bloggers!

As a left wing blogger I take personal umbrage.

There is no equivalence.

He’s right, they are not the same. There’s no equivalence to Whale Oil across centrist and right wing blogs either. Cameron Slater is one of a kind, along with his co-dirt-mongers.

But Bunji and many others who frequent The Standard, by participating or not taking umbrage, support an often dirty forum there. Similar to varying degrees for Kiwiblog and The Daily Blog and Dim-Post and Public Address – and other social media forums including Facebook, Twitter, the Trade Me boards etc etc

(To be fair Bunji isn’t one of the dirty ones at The Standard, but I haven’t seen him speak up against the in-house dirt their either).

Saying “we’re not dirtiest so we’re ok” is making excuses for dirty and dirtier. They can’t wash their hands of it like that.

Political forums seem to attract a dominant minority of people who are intolerant of opposing (or even non-agreeing) views. And they can be bullying, lying and very nasty. Not quite in Slater’s league but some come close.

John Key has been justifiably been criticised for make the “but they do it too” excuse.

It’s nearly as bad saying “but we aren’t as bad”.

I’ve been banned from Whale Oil because my opinions were contrary to their agenda.

I’ve been banned from The Standard for suggesting they would promote their political ideas better if they didn’t play so dirty.

I’ve also been banned from Dim-Post and The Daily Blog. 

David Farrar has often been criticised for allowing dirty commenting run rampant at Kiwiblog – but at least I’ve never seen him ban anyone for having a different opinion, and that’s a major. And he’s never banned me despite me being strongly critical of him, his blog and National at times.

Whale Oil may be dirtiest, but there’s plenty of dirty and dirtier about as well.

This all reflects very poorly on our political discourse. Of course that our top politicians lead the dirt mongering by example doesn’t help. And media are caught in this too – it’s difficult to avoid reporting on what is attracting attention (they shouldn’t) but it’s easy to get stuck in a dirt mongering rut.

Some are suggesting that politics is just dirty and nothing can or should be done about it. That’s one of Slater’s favourite excuses for his excesses.

I don’t buy that rolling over and let our democracy be savaged. 

It’s time enough good people stood up against it and made a difference.We don’t have to (and shouldn’t) accept degrees of dirt.

We should demand decency and dignity in our democracy. We can’t eliminate dirt but we should replace most of it with a decent political contest.

That’s sort of what Nicky Hager seems to have been aiming at, but his book is likely to make things worse in the short term.

The challenge is how to create something better once the carnage has died down.

Who is up for this challenge?

 

Is The Standard “a mouthpiece for Labour”?

Lynn Prentice keeps adamantly denying that his Standard blog is a mouthpiece for Labour. Technically he’s probably correct – but there’s no doubt many mouths of Labour are active at The Standard.

The denials of being very Labour are bizarre. It’s not like Peter three times denying Jesus on one day. It’s more like the twelve disciples denying Jesus throughout the writing of the New Testament.

In a radio interview yesterday Prentice was at best blatantly misleading – see Lynn Prentice on radio on The Standard.

Here’s a list of most of the current and recent Standard authors.

lprent (Lynn Prentice) – Standard trustee, editor, sysop, author  and chief moderator (banner of unwelcome opinions). Prentice is a long time Labour Party member, has often mentioned how much he helped Helen Clark in her Mt Albert electorate, attends Labour conferences but has pledged to vote Green this election. No disclosure on The Standard but this of the “brilliant blogger” is still at The Daily Blog.

lprent (also known as Lynn Prentice) is an ancient geek who fell out of management in the 90′s after getting irritated with accountants and doing an MBA and back into programming. During the process he became involved in real world politics as a reluctant socialist. He hasn’t really emerged from those twin obsessions since.

Lynn Prentice is Editor of The Standard, the largest left wing blog in NZ. Lynn is a brilliant blogger and resides in the high ranking Jedi Knight category. He likes Don McGlashan, a facebook page called Whaleoil Sucks and the Ponsonby Fish and Chips shop.

Currently he programs anti-collision devices in c++, linux, Qt, and touch screens. Since he also acts as the sysop of multi-author blog The Standard, that large left-wing nest of vipers that plague the NZ politicians of all hues. He finds the same predictive algorithms useful in educating the trolls who waste his time. Occasionally he finds time to write the odd blog post on whatever interests him.

Mike Smith – Standard trustee (since 2010) and current author. Retired as “the long standing party secretary of the Labour party in 2009”. Worked as an adviser in David Shearer’s leader’s office up until last year.

mickysavage (Greg Presland) – current author.  Former chair of David Cunliffe’s New Lynn electorate committee and presumably still on the committee. He was the lawyer who set up Cunliffe’s secret trust during the Labour leadership campaign last year.

Bunji – current author and active Labour Party member.

I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland. That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

Stephanie Rodgers – current author (also blogs elsewhere). On the Labour campaign team in Ohariu. Communications officer at EPMU.

Stephanie Rodgers is a communicator who lives in Wellington with her partner and two guinea pigs.  One of them was once the Dominion Post’s Pet of the Day (the guinea pigs, not her partner).  She is a communications officer at the EPMU and member of the Labour Party, but blogs in a personal capacity in her own time.  Opinions are her own.

UPDATE: Stephanie was grumpy at me because she has a disclosure statement – but it is on her own blog, not at The Standard. Some of her posts have a link to her blog ‘Boots Theory’ and if find a hidden menu with ‘About’ on it (the black square on the left) she has a different disclosure:

Disclosure statement

All opinions expressed on this blog are my personal views.

I work as a communications officer at the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.  I am a member of the Labour Party and have previously worked for Labour’s team in Parliament as a lowly receptionist.  Nothing on this blog should be construed as a statement made on behalf of any of these organisations.

Stephanie has been a lowly staffer working for Labour in Parliament but that was before she began as an author at The Standard (which was in February this year, she was working at EPMU last year).

karol – current author (since 2012). Strongly promotes Greens. Previously used the pseudonym ‘carol’. A recent ‘Disclaimer’:

Disclaimer:  My primary political allegiance is to the Left. I am not now, nor ever have been, a member of a political party.  I don’t speak for any party.  I have party voted Green in recent elections, and intend to do so again this election.  I will give my electorate vote to Carmel Sepuloni.

James Henderson – author April 2010 until December 2013. Closely associated with Greens. There have been rumours he was Clint Smith who had authored under the pseudonym ‘Steve Piersen‘ until March 2009 when he went to work in Parliament for Labour.  Smith switched to Greens as media and political adviser (of “Hey Clint’ fame), and then in April this year switched back to work for Labour.

Rocky (previously as Rochelle Rees until 2009) – past author, has just started posting again (last posts before this week were in 2012). Prentice’s niece. Political and animal rights activist. Prentice blogged in 2008:

My niece Rochelle Rees has uncovered some unsavory practices operated by element of the NZ Police directed at peaceful protest groups.

You can read them either by buying the paper, or by these links to articles from Nicky Hager.
Police anti-terror squad spies on protest groups
Who the police were spying on
The activist who turned police informer
How Gilchrist was found out:

Twenty-two-year-old Rochelle Rees got involved in politics as a schoolgirl, determined to do something about issues such as cruelty in battery hen farms.

Since then she has handed out leaflets, been arrested for locking herself to a shop selling clothing made with animal fur from China and made the news during this year’s election campaign for a cheeky “Google bomb” calling John Key “clueless”.

Ben Clark – occasional author.  Labour Party member. Brother of Labour MP David Clark. Stood for Labour in North Shore in 2011 and was 69 on the party list. Not on the 2014 list.

Irish Bill – past author (last post September 2013). Earlier in 2013 Prentice denied – “Labour party member”.In the words of a Tui ad – “Yeah right!” but IrishBill corrected him:

We’re a loose collective at TS. I’ve a policy of keeping myself to myself outside of what I write there but would like to correct a couple of things here. I am a Labour party member (and have been on and off for a long long time) and my call for joining up certainly wasn’t tongue in cheek – having seen what happens when the broader left walks away from the party I’m very keen to see as many lefties as possible sign up now – it’s more important for us to be in the party now than it has been since the dark days of the 80s.

Eddie – author until January this year. Seems to have been strongly connected to one of Labour’s factions – see a post from March last year Labour’s three factions. Many rumours since way back about the identity, notably that it is a pseudonym that has been used by a number of Labour insiders or staffers, both male and female. The name Jennie Michie keeps coming up back a few years. Always denied. From Dim Post in 2009:

It’s rumoured that Eddie, the author of the rumour is a senior Labour comms advisor so if there’s a story to be found here I think it’s that Labour are begging the gallery to start smearing cabinet Ministers.

UPDATE: Eddie and IrishBill from The Standard refute the rumour that Eddie is a comms advisor with the Labour Party.

Comments:

“Eddie is not a comms adviser. You need to quote her job title 100% correct then ask her and Irish to deny it again. That is the game they play.”

“Does anybody actually believe Rob and Jennie when they keep denying who they are via their nom de blogs? Ridiculous.
“Senior EPMU staff member and labour staffer spend all day trying to smear and build mountains from molehills. Quelle surprise.”

“So Eddie aka Jenny Michie senior Labour comms wallah and IrishBill aka Rob Egan, Communications Advisor of the EPMU are getting their nickers in a twist over being outed ? Why don’t they just come out of the closet, it really would be much easier for them in the long run.”

An article on blogging in 2009 got a response from ‘Eddie’ plus a counter claim.

Eddie: Sandra. Sorry that we didn’t get back to you on your email about us commenting for this article. Clinton used to handle the public stuff and he tells me he got your email when he was pulling out of the whole blog scene, forgot to pass on the email.

I’ll take this opportunity to clear up a few things.

The Standard is a broad-Left blog, about half the regular writers support the Greens and the other half Labour. We don’t toe party lines and we’re more likely to write critical articles on the parties of the Left than supporting ones.

You could have found this info on our About page and might be nice if you could edit the text to reflect them, at least noting we dismiss Hooton’s conspiracy theories.

Hooton’s got no evidence of any association with Labour, much less than any of us are paid by them. It’s simple lies from a man who has made a career out of spouting extremist rubbish. How’s his blog doing these days? Oh yeah, it died.

Roger: Eddie at the standard is Jenny Michie who is the communications officer at the labour party. When she says there are no labour party link with the standard that isnt credible.

Zetetic – current occasional author. Obvious Labour/left leanings. Rumoured to be many people including Trevor Mallard (I don’t think that’s credible) or associated with Mallard (feasible). Another denial from Prentice here, this time about Zetetic’s Labour-ness.

I can’t remember Zet ever mentioning unions and his posts that even mention Labour are usually somewhat disdainful. However as he mostly stirs in his posts it is frequently difficult to see the difference. He said he was voting for the Mana party in 2011 (and RAM in 2008).

But Zetetic was quite clear here early last year. In For a February leadership vote

No one in Labour can deny there’s a real issue with internal disunity. Not only is the caucus divided (and more than ever since the Shearer camp’s handling of the conference fallout), but there’s a major breach between the membership and the caucus. Unless this is fixed and we can get the party united we’re looking at another term in opposition after 2014.

Increasingly, people are coming to the view that the only way to heal this rift and unify the party is for caucus to take the leadership issue out to the membership this February so we can put it to bed once and for all. That’s what the conference was about. We wanted to make sure we were never ignored again. We simply want our right to vote, and whatever the outcome is I believe that will settle it.

Nearly all of these authors are proven to have close Labour links or are likely to have close Labour links. There are union links as well which isn’t surprising.

Later in the day on Newstalk ZB ex Labour candidate Josie Pagani named three people including Clint Smith who she says blogged as staffers at The Standard. The other two were Neale Jones (ex EPMU) and Rob Egan.

I’m baffled why Prentice and others keep trying to deny that The Standard is closely associated with Labour.

Sure it may be a group of semi-independent bloggers. But most of them have an obvious strong common interest – Labour.

Why do they try to hide from this? Prentice told blatant mistruths on Radio New Zealand about The Standard and it’s authors.

I would have thought they would be proudly promoting Labour, but they seem embarrassed or afraid of something.

They could be a very effective mouthpiece for Labour but they want to hide in semi-anonymity and denial. It’s bizarre. 

Note: I’ll amend this with any credible corrections or additions. Put in comments or email me at petedgeorge@gmail.com

UPDATE: Duncan Garner writes in Politics is a sleazy business – regardless of who is in power

Senior Labour  ministers and press secretaries rang to point me toward The Standard, a Left-wing blog, to read its vitriol on certain days. Who had written those posts? I’m told many were written under fake names by Labour staffers paid by the taxpayer.

More Labour connections

The Standard re-posts from Polity by Rob Salmond:

Rob has wide experience relevant to public affairs. He has been a Parliamentary adviser to two leaders of New Zealand’s Labour party (Helen Clark, David Shearer), and through Polity continues to work with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

They also re-post from Imperator Fish by Scott Yorke:

My name is Scott Yorke. I’m a lawyer, but this site doesn’t really have anything to do with my day job, because, really, what kind of twisted job would that be if it did?

This blog is my own, and the posts do not represent the opinions of anyone other than me.

Nor does anything on this blog represent legal advice. This is my hobby, not a job. I don’t give out legal advice over the internet.

Disclosure

Yes, I am a bit left leaning. But some of my best friends, etc. etc.

I am also a long-suffering member of the Labour Party. Now you can’t say I didn’t tell you.

Scott is also active in electorate campaigning for Labour.

These are both very good disclosures and they both do some very good posts, but it makes a nonsense of The Standard claiming no Labour input into their blog. 

 

Lynn Prentice on radio on The Standard

Lynn Prentice from The Standard was interviewed by Guyon Espiner on Radio  NZ this morning.

Left wing bloggers defend their own work

Espiner: And joining me in the Auckland studio is Lynn Prentice from the left wing blogsite The Standard. Good morning to you.

Prentice: Good morning.

Espiner: Well, you heard Bill Ralston saying there that this has been happening for years and this is just the new form of it with websites. Is he right?

Prentice: Ah not for the left. Basically we don’t take material particularly from the parliamentary wing. We never have. other blogs might be we don’t.

Prentice doesn’t speak for “the left”. There are other major left wing blogs like Public Address and The Daily Blog – at the latter (which Prentice has been an author at) Martyn Bradbury was posting while a paid consultant to the Mana Party and while involved in the setting up of the Internet Party.

Espiner: So the Standard has never received any information from the Labour Party.

Prentice: We have but a long time back. If you go back you have to go back to the H-Fee back in 2008.

Espiner: So for the last, what, six years you’ve not received any information from anyone at all in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Mike Smith was General Secretary of the Labour Party until August 2009.  He became Prentice’s co-trustee at The Standard in 2010 and became an author. He was an adviser in the Labour leader’s office (in Parliament) up until last year. He is still authoring posts as of today. (Source L Prentice).

Prentice: We will often get stuff pointing at stuff that is already in public.

Espiner: Right. So you have received material but just not fresh material.

Prentice. Nah, That’s right. The thing about it is…

Espiner: You’re in contact with the Parliamentary wing of the Labour Party surely?

Prentice: Yes.

Espiner: Yeah, ok. So you’re really just the left wing equivalent then of Whale Oil are you?

Prentice: No.

Espiner: What’s the difference?

Prentice? The difference is basically we sit there and write opinion, we don’t try to form it. We write our opinions about what we actually do, we don’t actually go off and try and say what everyone should be thinking. We’re not broadcasters in the same way.

Yeah, that’s an interesting explanation. They have even had a number of posts recently imploring people how to vote. See Get Out The Vote!

Espiner: Well that’s a fairly subtle difference isn’t it? You’re forming or making left wing opinions based on contact with the Labour Party at times. You’ve just said that.

Prentice: Not just the Labour Party, I mean we talk to the Greens…

Espiner: Other left wing parties.

Prentice: There’s maybe, I don’t know, fifteen or twenty people who’ve been active on the blog over time, some of them from the Greens, some of them just not affiliated at all like Karol.

Karol recently stated she was not a member of any party but “I have party voted Green in recent elections, and intend to do so again this election” and has been strongly promoting Greens and voting left.

Espiner: Was it originally hosted on the Labour Party server?

Prentice: Ah hem. There was a server courtesy of a, that was donated to the Labour Party which then got ported onto an activist, and we were hosted on the activists running it, and that was for a grand total of about six weeks until we found out that that was actually the case.

Espiner: Right, ok. Why don’t people on The Standard blog blog under their own names?

Prentice: Why should we?

Espiner: Well because when you’re putting an opinion forward, putting your own name to it …

Prentice: Because the fast way to have Cameron Slater go and try and trace you down at work.

Espiner: Well, no…

Prentice: It, it’s actually in my current job I had to actually go off and tell them if Cameron Slater finds I’m here he’ll attack me.

Espiner: Ok, but you could say look, Cameron Slater, no matter what you think of Cameron Slater, you know who he is.  He’s the son of the former National Party president. You’ve got no illusions about where he’s coming from whether you like his material or not. Yep I’m looking at The Standard website now and I have a bunch of people, Rocky, who’s Rocky?

Prentice:  Rochelle Rees, my niece. She’s well known.

She may be well known amongst the regulars at The Standard but will be unknown to casual readers. I check out The Standard quite often and either didn’t know who Rocky was or didn’t remember. Being well known to Lynn doesn’t mean everyone else knows her that well, but they don’t seem to get that.

Espiner: Ok, who..

Prentice: There’s Mike Smith.

Espiner: Who’s um, you’re lprent I presume.

Prentice: Yeah.

Espiner: Who’s Bunji?

Prentice: Bunji’e just one of the guys from Auckland.

Espiner: Who is it?

Prentice: I don’t know.

Espiner: You don’t know who that is?

Prentice? Well, I do know but ‘m not going to tell you.

First he lies, then he won’t say. Fair enough for the latter, except that Bunji himself did say a bit today.

There’s much more and this must surely rumble on, but for a start can I say that I’m unaware of any passing of gossip and scuttlebutt to The Standard – even if I don’t know all the authors.  I know that a few times Labour policy has been sent to us as it was to journalists with an embargo so we can have stories ready and scheduled when it’s announced.  But nothing more than that.

So they have received material before it goes public. A repeat from above:

Espiner: Right. So you have received material but just not fresh material.

Prentice. Nah, That’s right.

Bunji also said today:

People know where I’m coming from far more than whomever is doing today’s Herald editorial.

They know I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland.  That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

Ok, so an active electorate party member. But again, ‘people’ don’t know this.  Some regulars will know but many won’t. I didn’t. Unless you happen to notice the comment amongst many that reveals a bit about someone you won’t know. None of the authors (or either trustee) has disclosures or any information about themselves that’s easily available.

Espiner: Ok, well this is the point though isn’t it, because people can’t make up their minds about…

Prentice: …about what they’re writing? Of course they can? It’s sitting right there on the page.

Espiner: Yes, but it’s anonymous, isn’t it.

Prentice: No it’s not anonymous.

Espiner: Well yes it is because we don’t know who these people are.

Prentice: No, but the thing about it is that it’s no more anonymous than the editorial of the Herald…

Espiner: Well let me put this to you.

Prentice: …who are completely anonymous, they don’t even put their names to it.

Not right – here are named people in editorial positions at NZ Herald.  No one is identified in About at The Standard, and rarely is anyone identified on posts apart from their pseudonym (with an exception or two).

Espiner: Yes, but we it could be couldn’t it that these people could be members of the Labour Party, could even be Parliamentary staffers for all we know, they could have very strong links to the Labour Party, so…

Prentice: Except I say they aren’t. Mike Smith says they aren’t, and we’re the people running the Standard.

That’s the Mike Smith mentioned above, who was himself an adviser in the Labour leader’s office not long ago.

Espiner: So none of these people are connected to the Labour Party?

Prentice: No, they might be connected to the Labour Party, they might be members, they might be supporters, but what you’re asking is are they MPs, are they staffers? Nah.

Espiner: Who are they?

Prentice: They’re basically people who’re interested in politics.

Like mickysavage (Greg Presland), who isn’t a staffer but works in David Cunliffe’s electorate committee and set up a donation trust for Cunliffe last year. And who else? No way of most people knowing.

Espiner: And why don’t they put their names to it?

Prentice: Because basically we’ve had people who go off and try to attack them at work, ok. And it’s a strange thing to do. If some of our people like Clint Smith for instance, basically went on as Steve Piersen on the blog, and eventually went off when he went off when he went off to work for Parliamentary Services. He just happened to be out in the open.

I’m not sure that he was out in the open. Clint Smith worked for Labour, switched to Greens (‘Hey Clint’) and earlier this year moved back to Labour. It had been claimed but wasn’t verified that Smith posted at The Standard as ‘James Henderson’ up until the end of last year, if that is true it was as a Green staffer.

Prentice: But the point about it is there’s a long tradition of being pseudonymous on the ‘net. That goes back thirty years…

Espiner: Ok, can I put a hypothetical to you. Someone comes to you with information which is hugely damaging to the National Party, and it’s four weeks before an election, around about where we are now, and what do you do, do you put it on a website?

Prentice: Ah, a lot of the time what we’ll do is just simply forward it to a journo.

A lot of the time?

Prentice: We’re not there to make news, we’re there to write opinion.

Espiner: All right, thank you very much for explaining that and for joining us, we really appreciate your time. That’s Lynn Prentice from the left wing blog site The Standard.

Some may not be interested in making news, but there is a lot of discussion at times about wanting to make news and to be noticed by mainstream media.

I think it’s fair enough that some people choose to use pseudonyms online. I don’t and being known makes me more of a target for personal abuse. I understand that some prefer to avoid that.

But using a pseudonym does alter perceptions of what is written, not knowing if it is just an ordinary unaffiliated person or David Cunliffe’s offsider.

Lynn hates getting advice (he bans people for it) but I’ll give him and Standard authors some – it would help if you had an ‘authors’ page (or add to ‘About’) with named authors with brief backgrounds plus authors with pseudonyms with brief descriptions of their disclosed background. It does make a difference if you know you’re talking to an active party member or a non-aligned individual.

The problem with avoiding saying anything about authors (apart from in comments scattered through the blog) is that it makes it much more likely people will speculate. If an author is hard out promoting a party but their background is unknown many people will presume they are working with or for the party.

They way things are at the moment there is doubt and there is mixed messages that are far from convincing.

UPDATE: Later in the day on Newstalk ZB ex Labour candidate Josie Pagani named three people including Clint Smith who she says blogged as staffers at The Standard. The other two were Neale Jones and Rob Egan.

There has been discussion about this at The Standard (including Prentice) and so far no denials. I’ll update if there is more on this.

Hi Bunji

Various people at The Standard are busy today defending their blogging integrity and pseudonimity.

micksavage posts:

To equate the Standard with Slater’s hate filled website is ludicrous.  Posts are policy and not personality driven and the only time personalities are involved is when there is a political angle to the story.

There’s a political angle to most stories on a political blog.

wtl4

I really don’t understand why there are so many people coming on here to defend the actions of Slater et al. If this had come from the other side (e.g. involved the Labour party and the Standard), I would be one of the first to criticise those involved. I’m sure many (but obviously not all) of the other regulars here would do the same.

That, I think, is what difference ultimately is between Whaleoil and the Standard, and those who frequent each site.

Left good, bad right. 

Bunji does a whole post that deserves some comment.

Hi Guyon!

So Bill Ralston and Guyon Espiner think it’s terrible this pseudonymous blogging.  And Lynn gave a good defence – but I felt I wanted to add to it…

The thing is being only pseudonymous (like much on the net), all the important details to my argument are out there.  People know where I’m coming from far more than whomever is doing today’s Herald editorial.

That’s quite a claim. Knowing who is making the argument and what their associations might be can make quite a difference.

They know I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland.  That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

That’s a major flaw in a common argument. Of course people who are very familiar with The Standard and follow a lot of discussions over time might remember details like this that relate to a particular pseudonym – but most readers are unlikely to have any idea. There is nothing that identifies the person apart from what may have been said scattered over months.

I watch The Standard quite a bit and didn’t know or couldn’t remember that Bunji was a Labour Party member from Auckland.

So people can take that background into my opinion.  But my words (like the Herald‘s editorial) should stand or fall by the argument on the page.  And the good thing about blogging to a wide community like The Standard, is that I have it wrong (or even any of the minor details…), it’ll be exposed within a few comments…

It won’t necessarily be exposed at all, if it is something that they want to hear.

I exposed something that was wrong once within a few comments at The Standard and I was harassed and banned (I was eventually able to prove it).

Why not say who I am?  Well, my employer’s not left-leaning and probably isn’t happy about me blogging left-wing propaganda in my lunch half-hour.  And while it might get me targeted by WhaleOil (how many people’s houses and addresses has he published over the years – usually encouraging people to turn up there.  It’s not just Nicky Hager & John Minto he targets…), it really wouldn’t add to my argument.  So why bother?

There’s valid reasons including employment and business for using a pseudonym. It’s not just people at Whale Oil who can threaten you with your personal details. 

Implying there are many people’s houses and addresses published is a claim that should be substantiated. It sounds like at least an exaggeration. 

Also Guyon, there’s quite a large difference between a blogger who is on endless personal vendettas (and not just against MPs) being fed personal attack and private information – as well as confidential Government information – versus us on The Standard (without the nasty personal vendettas)…

Yeah, nasty personal vendettas, The Standard – those who aren’t on the receiving end see nothing wrong with the frequent mob harassment and vendettas, or they don’t care and ignore it.

…getting the odd embargo-ed media release from sympathetic parties, or links to newspaper stories pointed out to us (and I’ve not had either of those since 2011, they’ve obviously forgotten me…).

Tips and information don’t just get given to you, you have to develop relationships and networks. Some of the Standard authors obviously have built up relationships with people able to provide interesting and useful information.

In the meantime on Newstalk ZB Wellington’s Friday Forum this morning, Josie Pagani disclosed that three senior Labour/Cunliffe staffers regularly and anonymously blog at the Standard. Names are on the audio file here:

http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/wellington/listen-on-demand/audio/tf-friday-forum-pt1-15thaug2014

These are in addition to Mike Smith, Lynn Prentice and Greg Presland, who are identified authors with longstanding links with Labour.

Cunliffe’s trust and 3 strikes

It looks like mounting pressure on David Cunliffe has forced action on his secret trust – see Cunliffe “happy to be open” about keeping donations secret.

Claire Trevett broke this story on Sunday and continues today:

@CTrevettNZH

Cunliffe has named 3 donors who were willing to go public, including Selwyn Pellett, Tony Gibbs. will return donations of 2 others who won’t

Also Cunliffe got donation from Perry Keenan. Cunliffe says didn’t know donors names till recently. Says using trust was error in judgment.

It’s taken Cunliffe two days to admit that. He must be copping some flak from uncomfortable places.

This is yet another in a series of cases of poor judgment by Cunliffe. Taking belated action will repair some of the damage but some of the dents will remain prominent.

Ironically at The Standard, just under Bunji’s post How short are memories? defending Cunliffe is a repost of Rob Salmond with Polity: Three ramshackle PR fiascos and you’re out. Salmond was referring to the Taxpayers’ Union, not Labour but…

GCSB on blogs: slow Standard, cynical Bunji

The GCSB illegal spying story broke just after 1 pm yesterday after an official announcement by John Key – Prime Minister requests inquiry. It exploded on Twitter, followed soon after by a slew of media reports.

David Farrar was on to it quickly at Kiwiblog – GCSB acted unlawfuly in Megaupload case – posted at 1.18 pm. He commented:

There have been so many stuff ups by law enforcement in this case, that once the court action is concluded it could be worth having a wider inquiry into the entire way NZ authorities deal with extradition cases such as this.

It’s good there is no attempt to hide what happened, and that there will be a formal inquiry into what the GCSB did, and who was responsible for authoring actions that they did not have authority for.

Whale Oil posted on it mid afternoon – Inquiry into GCSB.

Imperator Fish posted at 4.16 pm: The Dotcom Shambles: A New Chapter

I’m not the biggest fan of Kim Dotcom, but his treatment at the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies has been nothing short of disgraceful.

Today we learn that intelligence agencies may have been unlawfully intercepting communications by Dotcom and one of his co-accused.

No doubt US authorities have been pushing our law enforcement and intelligence agencies hard, because they want Dotcom extradited and jailed, as an example to others.

But that’s no excuse for the series of poor calls made by our own people. We expect them to be independent and to act with integrity. They have failed.

When the matter of Dotcom’s extradition has been settled there must be an official enquiry into the conduct of our police and intelligence agencies over this matter. There is something very troubling going on within these organisations, and we should not trust them to put things right themselves.

Dim-Post posted at 6.16 pm: Stuff I’d like to read in a political column on the GCSB/Dotcom story

When intelligence agencies make mistakes they usually manage to convince their political masters that it’s ‘not in the public interest’ for their incompetence/law-breaking to be revealed. Why hasn’t that happened this time? Did this information come out through the discovery process in one of Dotcom’s court cases, and the government is pre-empting that revelation by announcing it themselves? Or is Key just ‘doing the right thing’?

(I’d also like to go on record predicting no one will be held accountable for this. Any illegality will be due to a faulty ‘process’, that needs to be ‘reviewed’.)

As usual from Graeme Edgeler a detailed  informed post at 2.45 am this morning – Kim Dotcom and the GCSB:

When allegations of illegal behaviour are made, it is usual for lawyers like me to pontificate on whether laws have been broken, and by whom. But we appear to have a different situation here. The conclusion of illegality appears to be agreed by everyone with any of the facts. Ian Fletcher, the Director of the GCSB, the PM, Crown Law and others seem to be in general agreement – someone in the GCSB did something illegal. Who and what is no publicly clear, but may become moreso following the investigation.

Etc etc

Feel free to speculation wildly. But, you know, don’t be a dick 🙂

All fairly typical blogger action. And what about the flagship of the left, The Standard? A few comments appeared in the Open Mic from 1.53 pm. Of the number of authors Bunji managed a post by 11.31 pm last night – Cynical Key:

So Key knew about the GCSB’s ‘unlawful’ actions for a week before he bothered to tell us.

He happened to know that this Monday state owned companies would be announcing they were causing the loss of 500-600 jobs (including contractors).  A terrible story for the economy.

Only one story would get its full due of airtime.

He had to tell us about the GCSB illegality before the next court appearance in a couple of days.  He could have been upfront and honest and told us 1 week ago, straight after calling in the Inspector-General.  But no, he wanted to hide his complete lack of oversight.  His complete loss of control of his department.

The investigation into whether his “don’t read, don’t care” philosophy went beyond Banks to his oversight of important national security issues.

Then it became clear it would come out.  So then it was a matter of when to slip the bad news out.  And before you can say “Media Management 101″ it’s scheduled Monday afternoon in the middle of the job loss announcements.

Cynical.

Yes, cynical. Oodles of cynicism from Bunji based on nothing but wild speculation. Tardy Standard.

Why was Key’s accouncement timed for yesterday afternoon? We can only guess, or like Bunji accuse the worst. But I saw media discussing it on Twitter and this was reported by Newstalk ZB at 1.18 pm in People illegally spied on in Kim Dotcom case:

Our political editor Barry Soper says this is the latest in a series of revelations of botched actions by the authorities over the raid.

He says the timing of John Key’s announcement’s interesting, given the raid was made on behalf of the Americans.

Barry Soper says he was clearly not wanting to upset them when their defence secretary was visiting last week, which was when he knew his spy department had carried out illegal acts.

That sounds credible. Bunji may not have had time to read any media reports. Or just makes things up regardless.

For detailed legal comments read Graeme Edgeler – Kim Dotcom and the GCSB.

And media conference coverage from Scoop (7.16 pm) Audio+Video+Photos: PM Announcement On Unlawful GCSB Activities

RedLogix and pushing buttons

RedLogix started a bit of a kerfluffle at The Standard with what he later admitted to be a deliberately inflammatory comment. His explanation made some good points about pushing buttons (although he got it wrong about who’s buttons were actually pushed).

RedLogix 12.4.1.2.4
16 July 2012 at 9:10 pm

Now you find my comment inflammatory and offensive … and yes on face value, this is true. Mea culpa. It was deliberately constructed to push Pakeha buttons. But also you now have some sense of how Maori feel when WE push THEIR buttons.

Most commenters didn’t find the comment inflammatory and offensive – until I pushed a button they didn’t react at all. But when I pushed a button all hell broke loose, that storm carried through the next two days on progressing threads and resulted in me being banned.

It’s significant that the explanation that RedLogix posted got one response, and that was questioned by one other commenter. Why was there so little interest? Was it due to embarrassment at being caught out flying off the wrong handle, and not wanting to be seen changing course?

Or that there is little interest in serious discussion. Are most there for war games and don’t care about anything worth debating?

I thought RedLogix’s explanation raised some very interesting and important points, and I would have discussed them, but by then I was banned. But it was good I remained out of that, because it continued the experiment, albeit not as intended.

The majority of commenters had little interest in the actual topic. They simply used it as an excuse to attack.

So, it started when one person posted what they admitted was ‘deliberately constructed’ and was ‘inflammatory and offensive’. They were patted on the back, and then their wider point was virtually ignored.

I posted a deliberately constructed response – opposing something that was ‘inflammatory and offensive’ – and was mob mugged and run out of town.

If I had posted the original comment instead of RedLogix what would the reaction have been? One has the protection of blog moderation, and the other has blog ‘moderation’ actively supporting ongoing prejudice, including vicious attacks.

Blog moderation is still justifying their stance:

[Bunji: he’s on a week’s ban for misrepresenting an author]

But the author hasn’t said they have been misrepresented. I could show many examples of me being misrepresented.

Plenty of ironies in an experiment on pushing buttons and blog behaviour.

So far they have been, by and large, pretty patient and generous about the whole deal. So all things considered you may want to think about how they might feel about constantly having their buttons being pushed.

We know you don’t PG.

I think I know more about button pushing and prejudices than RedLogix is prepared to give me credit for (and not just from my experiences at The Standard).

And if the usual suspects from The Standard read this they will, if true to form, say this is a moan and whinge post. What they seem blind to is they do most of the the moaning and whinging. What this experiment has shown is that moan and whinge – and worse, raising that to frenzied attacks on targets – is a favourite pastime of commenters at The Standard. And authors. And actively supported by the moderators.

It must be The Standard they want.