Cohen, Manafort guilty, increased jeopardy for Trump

The Jury in the Paula Manafort trial returning eight guilty verdicts was bad for Manafort, who could also face retrial on the other ten charges and has another trial booked in next month on yet more charges.

On it’s own I don’t think it would have been particularly bad for Donald Trump, despite him having had Manafort manage his campaign for three months in 2016. The offending was prior to this association.

But there was a near simultaneous double whammy, with Trump’ ex personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to eight charges in an agreement with prosecutors that will ‘limit’ his sentence to somewhere between four and six years in prison.

This on top of the Manafort verdicts looks bad for Trump, with the total whammy amounting to more than the sum of the parts.

And it gets worse, as Cohen has implicated trump in illegal actions during the election campaign.

Fox News: Michael Cohen admits violating campaign finance laws in plea deal, agrees to 3-5 year sentence

The precise range of sentence varies in reports, but it’s somewhere around that. For someone with no priors, used to a good standard of living and with a young family, that is a substantial penalty.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, admitted Tuesday to violating federal campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.

In entering the plea, Cohen did not specifically name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate.” But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and McDougal.

In a statement, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said: “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Guilani seems to be fibbing or mistaken. Trump wasn’t named as co-conspirator in court, but he was by Cohen’s lawyer afterwards.

Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said his client had pleaded guilty “so that his family can move on to the next chapter.

“This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump,” Davis added. “Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Separately, Davis told Fox News that Cohen’s involvement in the Trump-Russia investigation does not end with the plea deal, but in fact “it is only the beginning.”

Davis added that Cohen will speak with whoever is investigating the president to make sure the truth about Trump gets out.

Cohen has been labelled a rat by Trump supporters, so they are obviously concerned about where this might go.

MSNBC:  Cohen more than happy to tell Mueller all that he knows: attorney

Lanny Davis, attorney for former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen, tells Rachel Maddow that Cohen has knowledge that should be of interest to Robert Mueller and he is happy to tell Mueller what he knows…

“Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows”.

“Not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election, which the Trump Tower meeting was all about, but also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”

So Trump may be sweating on that for a while, until Cohen reveals everything he knows, and until Mueller plays his next legal hand. It looks certain that this saga is far from at it’s conclusion.

This puts Trump in potentially very tricky position. I doubt he will be charged or any serious attempt will be made to impeach him while president, but it must be getting increasingly difficult for Republicans to continue supporting Trump or tolerating his fecklessness and recklessness, especially those who face mid term elections in November.

There will be some interest in how Trump responds on Twitter overnight. He has been becoming more verbose with his claims, fibs and attacks lately – this could push him further, or he could heed advice and at least become somewhat more cautious.

Collins unrepentant over fake news link

The dangers to politicians of being active in social media were highlighted again today when Judith Collins used an online ‘news’ article to demand a response from Jacinda Ardern.

This is known to be a conspiracy web site, and this was pointed out to Collins along with the real legal situation in France.

Stuff:  Judith Collins defends linking to fake news article on France consent laws

Senior National MP Judith Collins is standing by a tweet linking to a an article that made false claims about France’sage of consent laws.

France had already made sex with any children younger than 15 an offence, but it did not automatically classify all such sex as rape – neither does New Zealand.

The new law makes it far easier for prosecutors to do so by introducing a new offence of “abuse of vulnerability”. Critics have argued that the new law does not go far enough, but not that the law goes backward.

Collins responded to those on Twitter who asked why she was tweeting out fake news by tweeting to reputable news sources covering the same topic, but in a deeply different way.

She told Stuff she didn’t necessarily “agree” with every article she tweeted but wanted to draw attention to the issue.

“I’m just concerned about the story about France itself,” Collins said.

Collins said she didn’t buy into “conspiracies” about liberals pushing paedophilia worldwide, despite sharing the article which suggested liberals were doing just that in its first paragraph.

And:

It would have been embarrassing, but admitting a mistake and apologising would have been better than digging deeper into the world of real fake news and conspiracy mongering.

More fake president

Donald Trump continues with his campaign spy accusations (with no evidence, prior to an investigation) and his ‘deep state’ conspiracy claims.

Fox News – ‘SPYGATE’: Trump blasts ‘Criminal Deep State’ amid reports of FBI informant spying on campaign

The president’s tweets come after reports that an FBI informant communicated with at least three members of his campaign—Foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Trump aide Carter Page and campaign adviser Sam Clovis.

Trump then went on to quote former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who discussed the issue of an FBI informant Tuesday during ABC’s “The View.”

“’Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign’ No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!” Trump tweeted.

The Justice Department instructed its inspector general to investigate any alleged “impropriety or political motivation” in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election, following demands from Trump.

It should be investigated, but it is highly improper for Trump to be making unsubstantiated assertions before that is done.

CNN: James Clapper did NOT say what Donald Trump keeps saying he said

On Tuesday, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, went on “The View” — weird, right? — to talk about President Donald Trump and the intelligence community.

During that interview, this exchange happened between Clapper and co-host Joy Behar:
BEHAR: “So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?”
CLAPPER: “No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”
BEHAR: “Well, why doesn’t [Trump] like that? He should be happy.”
CLAPPER: “He should be.”

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Clapper makes crystal clear that the FBI was not spying on the Trump campaign. And he also makes clear that while he doesn’t like the word “spying” — because we are talking about the use of a confidential source — that, to the extent there was any information gathering happening in conversations between the FBI’s informant and members of the Trump campaign, it was entirely designed to shed light on Russian meddling efforts related to the 2016 election.

In the hands of Trump, however, Clapper’s words have become anything but straightforward.

Early Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted this about the Clapper interview:

“‘Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign’ No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!”

Then, answering reporters’ question on Wednesday afternoon, Trump said this:

“I mean if you look at Clapper … he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign yesterday inadvertently. I hope it’s not true, but it looks like it is.”

NO. HE. DIDN’T.

Clapper did the exact opposite of what Trump is saying he did.

But this is classic Trump, making things up and making the story about himself. It will play well to his base, but shouldn’t affect legal processes and investigations.

Another Winston conspiracy accusation

Winston Peters seems to be trying to wrest attention off Metiria Turei. Today in Parliament he accused the Government of working on secret plans to sell Transpower, much to the mirth of the Government bench. Minister of Finance Steven Joyce did not appear to be greatly concerned about this revelation.

6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, how?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): Yes; by standing and speaking into this microphone.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, right now, standing and speaking into the microphone, can he confirm that he said on 18 November, 2013, regarding asset sales: “We will be transparent.”; so why has he not told New Zealanders that the Government is moving to sell Transpower?

Mr SPEAKER: There are two supplementary questions there. The Hon Steven Joyce can address one or either.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, by speaking into the microphone and stating to the member: it isn’t.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question—the right honourable Winston Peters. [Interruption] Order!

Hon Member: Sounds like Cook Strait ferries again!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That will not scrape the bottom.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I have less interjection from my immediate right.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I know whose bottom could be struck shortly; about three axe handles wide.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We will just have the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can he confirm the contents of a requested presentation by UBS AG, a Swiss investment bank giant, which details options to sell our national grid, worth billions of dollars—this document, marked confidential.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, maybe the member has requested it but, certainly, I have not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How has this Government been transparent, when there is clearly a detailed business case requested from UBS AG outlining options on the potential sale of Transpower’s national grid, with no advice to the New Zealand taxpayer owners whatsoever?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I invite the member to table his document. All I can say is that it has not been requested by, or provided to, me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that former National Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall was appointed to Transpower’s board in May 2016, and then rapidly elevated within 4 months to the board’s chairmanship, in September, against Treasury’s advice, all to expedite this sale?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Do the Ministers, who are in the ownership role for the New Zealand taxpayer, not acknowledge that his colleagues have been planning the sale of further State assets, which is why the Government, ignoring Treasury’s advice, appointed their old mate Tony Ryall to the board so that he can facilitate the entire sale operation outlined in this document?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, but I do note that the member, once upon a time, used to be the MP for the seat next to Tony Ryall, so possibly he is on this conspiracy. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I need to be able to hear the supplementary question. Supplementary question—the right honourable Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: They won’t be laughing out there, mate. When, in late 2013, there was a referendum held by the New Zealand people on power company sales showing a massive opposition to it, why is he again in this document going behind the people’s backs before the election?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Sadly for the member, we are not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table this confidential document that I have referred to in my questions, which some enlightened New Zealander made sure I got. Thank you very much.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table this particular confidential document. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

 

Trump blames everyone else for his self destruction

Donald Trump defied many predictions when he won the Republican nomination for the US presidency.

He is now living up to many predictions that he would self destruct. Defeat looks increasingly likely, unless something game changing occurs.

The way Trump is playing the game it will have to come from another team, like WikiLeaks, but so far Trump has failed to take advantage of the drip feed of hacked emails, instead choosing to keep attention on his flailing, especially on the accusations against him of sexual misconduct.

Trump is now blaming everyone else in what looks like excuses in advance of as loss.

He has blamed his own team, the Republican Part, and especially it’s Speaker Paul Ryan after Ryan said he would no longer campaign for Trump. The party appears to be fracturing.

Trump is blaming the Clintons and the media and owners of the media for conspiring against him.

He is blaming the growing number of women claiming to be victims of the sort brazen sexual assaults that he bragged about doing in the tape released just over a week ago.

And he says the election is rigged against him. He has even intimated that the Republican Party is a part of the conspiracy.

One thing that has been common in Trump’s campaign, a tactic that seems to be quite common, I’ve seen it used here, is a form of transference. He accuses others of doing what he is guilty of. The most frequent example of this is accusing others of lying.

He has just come up with another transference attack. In the first two debates he had a habit of sniffing loudly, and there were suggestions in social media it looked like someone with a cocaine habit.

Trump has now come out saying that he thinks Clinton is ‘pumping herself up’ for the third debate and they should take a drug test before the debate.

So it looks like the race to the bottom will continue. Fox News has just described Trump’s campaign as a scorched earth policy.

Fox has been one of Trump’s biggest promoters. This morning they have had a number of people on their election programme saying that Trump must turn his attention to policies and the differences between him and Clinton as president.

There is no sign of Trump changing tack like this. His success was through tapping into the ‘stuff the lot of them’ constituency, and now he seems to have one focus, ‘stuff the lot of them’. A lot of them are voters. He can’t keep lashing out at people and groups of people and expect to increase his support.

After the sexual assault bragging and allegations polls show women have turned away from Trump in big numbers, and they make up over half the voters.

The problem for Trump with the scorched earth strategy is that it is unlikely to turn the polls around. They have been trending against him since the campaign went off the rails, so driving the train further off the rails is unlikely to make a positive difference.

Talking of conspiracies, one that’s been floated is that Trump is deliberately trying to lose. I don’t think it’s that complicated.

It’s likely that Trump is simply stuffing things up.Self inflicted cock-up rather than conspiracy of others.

But going by past behaviour of blame transference it is unlikely Trump will blame himself.

 

Presidential contests and conspiracies

Truth doesn’t seem to be particularly important in US politics – to politicians or to voters.

Conspiracy theories are popular, especially to Donald Trump and Republican supporters.

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll Finds Trump Supporters More Conspiracy-Minded Than Other Republicans

Conspiracy theories are alive and well among supporters of the 2016 Republican candidates for President, but Trump supporters are more likely than Kasich or Cruz voters to endorse them. Trump supporters are more likely than those of the other Republicans to believe in birther theories about President Obama, think that Hillary Clinton knew about the Benghazi attacks before they happened, and to think that global warming is a myth.

The most popular was the belief that Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton knew about the Benghazi attacks before they took place, with 23 percent of Americans saying that it was “definitely true,” – including 10 percent of registered Democrats.

The least popular theory dealt with whether there was a link between childhood vaccines and autism, something only 7 percent of Americans said was “definitely true.”

“Conspiracy theories appeal to voters across the spectrum,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the poll. “The data shows that lots of people on both sides of the aisle are willing to believe a theory when it claims someone they dislike was up to something nefarious.”

The conspiracy theories checked in the survey:

  • President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened
    Definitely true 15%, Possibly true 31%
  • President Obama is hiding important information about his background and early life
    Definitely true 17%, Possibly true 29%
  • It has been proven that childhood vaccines cause autism
    Definitely true 7%, Possibly true 36%
  • The 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook elementary were faked, in order to increase support for gun control
    Definitely true 8%, Possibly true 14%
  • Global warming is a myth concocted by scientists
    Definitely true 18%, Possibly true 23%
  • As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton knew the US Embassy in Benghazi was going to be attacked and did nothing to protect it
    Definitely true 23%, Possibly true 37%

 

ben_1_conspiracy

Source – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/28/for-hillary-clinton-the-benghazi-damage-has-been-done/

Ironically those who ‘believe’ President Obama is hiding information about his past have been called ‘Truthers’.

Truth and politics are often tenuous partners.

Clinton and the Benghazi Report

I haven’t been following the Benghazi issue, nor how it has impacted on Hillary Clinton.

The US House Senate Committee (headed by a Republican) has just released it’s final report and there as been mixed reports.

New Your Times headlines House Benghazi Report Finds No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton

Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.

The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which they occurred. And it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts there that they could not protect.

But Washington Post says For Hillary Clinton, the Benghazi damage has been done

Last month, researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University asked a number of Americans whether or not they believed in a variety of political conspiracy theories.

Most people said that none of the six theories presented were definitely true — but the responses varied. Only 30 percent of supporters of Donald Trump, for example, rejected all six of the theories, a lower figure than backers of any candidate still in the race at that point.

And no conspiracy theory had a higher percentage of people saying it was definitely true than one that is particularly salient this week: “As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton knew the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi was going to be attacked and did nothing to protect it.”

Time will tell whether more damage has been done to Clinton – most by opponents – than Trump has done and will do to himself.

Currently the RealClear Politics poll average:

  • Hillary Clinton 46.4%
  • Donald Trump 39.6%

This probably won’t be the last of the Benghazi conspiracy nor many other attempts to inflict political damage on both Clinton and Trump.

 

Cultural Marxism

Cultural Marxism is a term that’s been used regularly here by kiwi guy, alongside his strong anti-feminist views. What is it apart from a general perjorative?

An insidious attempt to impose socialism by stealth? Or a nutter conspiracy theory?

Godwin alert!

Urban dictionary:

The gradual process of destroying all traditions, languages, religions, individuality, government, family, law and order in order to re-assemble society in the future as a communist utopia. This utopia will have no notion of gender, traditions, morality, god or even family or the state.

The Philosophy was proven not to Work already by Vladimir Lenin as he tried in vein to control and subjugate the people. He admitted before he died that capitalism was the only true system in which people understand how to live with each other….

Lenin knew that there were a few western Idiots who kept spreading the communist ideas long after Lenin gave up…. he called these people useful idiots as they had more emotion than brains and could be used to subvert the western states for a military takeover in the future as the citizens would already be perverted and sick and weak from poisonous ideas, decadent lusts and mindless entertainment.

An Australian perspective from Jason Wilson in ‘Cultural Marxism’: a uniting theory for rightwingers who love to play the victim:

What do the Australian’s columnist Nick Cater, video game hate group #Gamergate, Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik and random blokes on YouTube have in common? Apart from anything else, they have all invoked the spectre of “cultural Marxism” to account for things they disapprove of – things like Islamic immigrant communities, feminism and, er, opposition leader Bill Shorten.

What are they talking about? The tale varies in the telling, but the theory of cultural Marxism is integral to the fantasy life of the contemporary right. It depends on a crazy-mirror history, which glancingly reflects things that really happened, only to distort them in the most bizarre ways.

It begins in the 1910s and 1920s. When the socialist revolution failed to materialise beyond the Soviet Union, Marxist thinkers like Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs tried to explain why. Their answer was that culture and religion blunted the proletariat’s desire to revolt, and the solution was that Marxists should carry out a “long march through the institutions” – universities and schools, government bureaucracies and the media – so that cultural values could be progressively changed from above.

Adapting this, later thinkers of the Frankfurt School decided that the key to destroying capitalism was to mix up Marx with a bit of Freud, since workers were not only economically oppressed, but made orderly by sexual repression and other social conventions. The problem was not only capitalism as an economic system, but the family, gender hierarchies, normal sexuality – in short, the whole suite of traditional western values.

The conspiracy theorists claim that these “cultural Marxists” began to use insidious forms of psychological manipulation to upend the west. Then, when Nazism forced the (mostly Jewish) members of the Frankfurt School to move to America, they had, the story goes, a chance to undermine the culture and values that had sustained the world’s most powerful capitalist nation.

And:

The whole story is transparently barmy. If humanities faculties are really geared to brainwashing students into accepting the postulates of far-left ideology, the composition of western parliaments and presidencies and the roaring success of corporate capitalism suggests they’re doing an astoundingly bad job. Anyone who takes a cool look at the last three decades of politics will think it bizarre that anyone could interpret what’s happened as the triumph of an all-powerful left.

The theory of cultural Marxism is also blatantly antisemitic, drawing on the idea of Jews as a fifth column bringing down western civilisation from within, a racist trope that has a longer history than Marxism.

It allows those smarting from a loss of privilege to be offered the shroud of victimhood, by pointing to a shadowy, omnipresent, quasi-foreign elite who are attempting to destroy all that is good in the world. It offers an explanation for the decline of families, small towns, patriarchal authority, and unchallenged white power: a vast, century-long left wing conspiracy. And it distracts from the most important factor in these changes: capitalism, which demands mobility, whose crises have eroded living standards, and which thus, among other things, undermines the viability of conventional family structures and the traditional lifestyles that conservatives approve of.

The story of cultural Marxism is also flexible and can be tailored to fit with the obsessions of a range of right-wing actors. As such, it’s one example of an idea from the extremes which has been mobilised by more mainstream figures and has dragged politics as a whole a little further right

Rational Wiki describes it:

The term “cultural Marxism” is most commonly encountered as a snarl word decrying everything right-wingers don’t like, alluding to a conspiracy theory involving sinister left-wingers in the cultural and artistic spheres, including the media and academia, supposedly being engaged in a decades-long plot to undermine Western culture. With bonus anti-Semitism.

Outside of graduate seminars in the history of critical theory, the term is primarily used by reactionaries to red-bait anyone with progressive tendencies.

The conspiracist usage was prefigured in Nazi Germany, where Kulturbolschewismus (“Cultural Bolshevism”) was used as a term of political abuse

Wikipedia says similar in a more long winded fashion in Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory:

A 20th-century conspiracy theory regards the Frankfurt School as the origin of a contemporary movement in the political left to destroy western culture, referred to as “Cultural Marxism” by theory proponents. It advocates the idea that multiculturalism and political correctness are products of critical theory, which originated with the Frankfurt School. The theory is associated with American religious paleoconservatives such as William Lind, Pat Buchanan and Paul Weyrich, and has received support from the Free Congress Foundation.

According to Chip Berlet, who specializes in the study of extreme right-wing movements, the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory found fertile ground within the Tea Party movement of 2009, with contributions published in the American Thinker and WorldNetDaily highlighted by some Tea Party websites.

Philosopher and political science lecturer Jérôme Jamin has stated that “Next to the global dimension of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, there is its innovative and original dimension, which lets its authors avoid racist discourses and pretend to be defenders of democracy”.

Professor and Oxford Fellow Matthew Feldman has traced the terminology back to the pre-war German concept of Cultural Bolshevism locating it as part of the degeneration discourse that aided in Hitler’s rise to power.

William S. Lind confirms this as his period of interest, claiming that “It [Cultural Marxism] is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I.

 

Trotter: TPP will win the 2017 election for ‘the Left’

Chris Trotter seems to be going all out campaigning for the 2017 election, seeing the Trans Pacific Partnership as a way of unifying ‘the left’ – Labour, Greens and NZ First – to defeat National, businesses, journalists and academics who he says will run a campaign against them.

Trotter goes full throttle in a column at The Press and online at Stuff.

Chris Trotter: Labour’s TPP choice could swing election

OPINION: Labour’s stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could end up determining the outcome of the 2017 General Election.

If Andrew Little aligns his party with the other parliamentary opponents of the TPP – the Greens and NZ First – then the legislation giving effect to the agreement will barely scrape through the House of Representatives. Such open and substantial parliamentary opposition will clear the way for Andrew Little to lead an anti-TPP coalition into electoral battle in 2017.

If, however, Labour ends up supporting the TPP, then it will be a fractured and fractious Opposition that takes the field against John Key in two years’ time.

Trotter doesn’t consider that hard out Labour opposition to the TPPA could easily result in a fractured and fractious Labour Caucus. Some of that Caucus have a history of not just supporting trade agreements but initiating them. Phil Goff played a significant role in getting the TPP going in Helen Clark’s government.

With Labour firmly opposed, the National-led Government’s best outcome would see the TPP’s enabling legislation passed by a margin of three votes. But if, as seems likely, the Maori Party acknowledges the rising anti-TPP sentiment within Maoridom, by either abstaining or voting against the bill, then the nearest thing to a TPP ratification process that New Zealanders are going to get will be carried by just one vote – Peter Dunne’s.

Nobody in the pro-TPP camp wants that to happen. A Parliament split down the middle (61:60) presents the public with a powerful symbol of discord, disagreement and dissent. A one-vote (or even a three vote) majority says: “This isn’t over. This matter will be decided at the ballot box.”

Sounds like a repeat of the grand hope for a united Left riding to victory in 2014 using asset sales as the stick to beat National with. Labour had their worst result in nearly a century and Mana crashed with the Internet Party.

What the Right fears the most is two years of rising political temperatures and sharpened social antagonisms, during which the controversial content of the TPP supplies the Government’s opponents with all the ammunition they need to bring down the National-led coalition of right-wing political parties.

I think Trotter and other hard left activists actually talk themselves into believing that ‘the Right’ fears their cunning strategies.

So who is the fearful ‘the Right’?

Over the next few weeks the New Zealand people should, therefore, be on the alert for two full-on political campaigns. The first will be a government-funded PR campaign designed to sell the alleged benefits of the TPP to as many Kiwis as possible. The second will involve dozens (if not scores) of journalists, businesspeople and academics doing their level best to persuade Labour to return to the bipartisan fold.

The Government (National), businesspeople, journalists and academics – dozens if not scores of them – are all up against Trotter’s socialist revolutionary zeal.

The 2017 election, if Labour, the Greens and NZ First box clever, can thus become a contest between competing visions. The TPP’s vision of an economy that’s managed for powerful business interests; and the progressive Opposition’s vision of an economy that works for people.

That sounds very much like Andrew Little’s latest lines, claiming he is working in the interests of ‘the people’ against big business and the USA.

Probably not coincidentally:

Anat Shenker-Osorio on the creation of left metaphors

Communications Anat Shenker-Osorio has some simple messages for Labour in its quest for Government.  The left’s strongest advantage is its care for people rather than the economy and the message that will resonate is a positive one emphasising the care of people and the environment.

But there’s some potential problems with this Corbynisation of Labour, tying to control dissent within the Labour Caucus being one.

What if the TPPA doesn’t end civilisation as we know it?

What if in two years time there are signs that trade with the eleven other countries in the TPP is improving for New Zealand exporters.

Those exporters would be large, medium and small businesses that employ people.

What if these people don’t buy into the doom and gloom of trade as per Jane Kelsey or Chris Trotter or Andrew Little?

I’ve just heard Andrew Little on Breakfast saying there’s likely to be benefits from the TPPA for some exporters.

His main line was that “for the people’ a Labour government would ‘test the boundaries’ of the agreement by deliberately breaching it over foreign buyers of New Zealand property and wait and see if any of the Partnership countries take legal action against us.

They may not take legal action, they may just take Labour’s lead and breach the agreement too, to New Zealand’s detriment. Has Little and Trotter thought of that possibility?

Other countries with trade agreements may then think that the spirit of the agreements doesn’t matter to Labour and push their own boundaries.

But the glorious revolution promoted by Trotter will happen regardless of reality. Or not.

‘Waitzen’ challenges Trotter on fairy stories versus reality

Following on from Trotter’s conspiracies – is something amiss with Chris? a commenter ‘waitzen’ at Bowalley has challenged Chris Trotter’s claims, suggesting he has “gone way over the top”.

Chris, I rarely agree with you but always enjoy your posts. However I do think you have gone way over the top with these recent anti-TPP posts. First you accused Helen Clark of being in league with the enemy, a saboteur and closet neo-liberal. Then you proclaimed the end-of-times with a forthcoming second wave of colonisation-apocalypse.

Now you have gone full tinfoil hat conspiracy-theorist and claim the SIS and GCSB will be deployed to monitor those that oppose the TPP. All without a shred of evidence and way too much rhetoric. The Left, if that is what you represent, need to present much more coherent arguments against the TPP if you are win the public debate. 

Lastly, using quotation marks around certain words to indicate ambiguity or irony is tiring after a while.

Trotter replied:

People like you, Waitzen, always remind me of the White House Press Corps under Nixon. They, too, had no clear notion of what the Deep State was, or how it operated, and when the Watergate break-in was reported they were happy to go along with the official line that it was nothing more than a “third-rate burglary”.

The activities of the Deep State are almost impossible to investigate without the help of a “Deep Throat”. Certainly, Woodward and Bernstein would never have gotten to the heart of the Watergate conspiracy without his help. [He was, you’ll recall, the Deputy Director of the FBI, W. Mark Felt.]

What is possible, however, is for people like myself to scrutinise the sequencing of related events. Helen Clark’s intervention in the TPP debate was one such event. (To suggest that she did not know exactly what she was doing is an insult to her undisputed political gifts!)

Another such event was Tim Groser’s publicly avowed intention to change Labour’s mind about the TPP. Yet another is the public revelation that the Government intends to spend millions of dollars on a “public information” campaign – explaining TPP.

What do you make of all these events, Waitzen? – No, don’t tell me, I can guess. “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along please.”

As for the SIS and the GCSB. What do we know about their behaviour? Well, we know that they were only too happy to make their services available to the FBI (acting for Hollywood and against Kim Dotcom) as well as to the PM’s Office (in order to embarrass Phil Goff).

But, according to you, they will take no interest in the TPP debate. Even though they are legally mandated to protect NZ’s “economic well-being”. (That two SIS agents were caught attempting to break into an anti-globalisation activist’s house is also, presumably, irrelevant to the probability that the building popular movement against the TPP is already under SIS/GCSB surveillance.)

You’ll have to forgive me, Waitzen, for becoming just a little testy with people who display zero knowledge of even their own country’s recent history. You may prefer the fairy-story version of NZ politics, in which nothing remotely like the activities predicted here ever take place, but, personally speaking, I prefer reality – no matter how grim.

There have certainly been issues with the way the SIS and GCSB have operated in the past. There have been significant changes made – but Trotter’s reality seems to be that that the worst will always happen.

And ‘waitzen’ responded back:

Chris, reflecting upon what you wrote I think what you are saying is that the organs of the state, including the intelligence agencies, will seek to spy on those who protest against the TPP, disseminate what they find to others in the so-called deep state, and thereby undermine the legitimate democratic process of opposing the TPP.

You point to recent examples of such activities and criticise those, such as me, who seem ignorant of what has actually gone on in New Zealand. There is, it seems to you, a vast web of interconnected people and agencies who are working together to advance the their cause, and that of their masters, at the expense of ordinary people. 

In reply I would say that bringing up Watergate is pure rhetorical flourish. That happened 40 years ago in another country in another time. It has, in my view, nothing to do with New Zealand in 2015. I understand you do think it does. I disagree and not from a position of ignorance either.

Secondly I profoundly disagree that there is a conspiracy of the deep state to undermine the democratic process and legitimate opposition to TPP. That the GSCB/SIS cooperated with the FBI over the Kim Dotcom affair does not make in an organ of repression. I do understand the history of my country, I just don’t see the things you see. 

You accuse me of preferring a so-called fairy-tale version of New Zealand politics. I assume this is a reference to so-called dirty politics. Well, yes, there is plenty of that around in all political parties but again, I simply do not see this as the massive conspiracy to fatally undermine democracy as you do.

Indeed you seem to delight in seeing the ‘grim reality’ as you describe it. The world is seemingly full of Machiavellian realpolitik players hell bent in advancing the interests of the ruling class at the expense of legitimate democracy. Maybe in the world inhabited by the conspiratorial Left, but I see New Zealand democracy at least as inhabited by people, from all parties, who genuinely want what is best for the country, and generally play by the rules. The organs of the state are inhabited by ordinary New Zealanders, just like you and me, who are generally decent, honest and law-abiding. A Fairy tale? I don’t think so.

I’ll add more responses if Trotter continues to engage.

Comments on Securing “Buy-In” For The TPP: The Deep State Takes Over.

UPDATE: the exchange has continued at some length from here.

It currently concludes with:

waitzen said…

Chris, you know of course that the quote by Disraeli was from his work of fiction, Coningsby published in 1844, before he was Prime Minister? That doesn’t necessarily mean he was wrong, but in mulling it over, I did take account of its fictional context.

Chris Trotter said…

Yes, I was aware of the quote’s origin, Waitzen. But, you know what they say: “if you want to tell the truth – write fiction.”

waitzen said…

Yes, I was aware of the quote’s origin, Waitzen. But, you know what they say: “if you want to tell the truth – write fiction.”

Does that mean your blog posts are fiction?

Chris Trotter said…

A little obvious, don’t you think?

It could be a case here of Trotter’s ‘facts’ being stranger than fiction.