Clinton v Trump, round 1

There has been massive coverage of and commentary on the first US presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Will it change anything? We wil have to wait to find out.

Clinton sounds like a PC electronic checkout; Trump like a drunken uncle from a side of the family you try to avoid.

I didn’t watch the debate and have only seen small bits of it, but from what I did see and hear Clinton was a practiced, smug and smarmy establishment candidate. She won’t have lost committed support but I don’t know whether she will have won many over either.

Trump emphasised his boofishness and what must be a deliberate strategy to lie profusely.

One bizarre aspect of the debate was that Trump denied having said something (I can’t remember which brazen lie it was), and it was shown shortly afterwards that tweets from him that prove he was lying were being deleted from his Twitter account.

Prior to the debate there was interesting string of tweets from @gtiso on the Italian election of Silvio Berlusconi in 1994.

Berlusconi’s secret weapon leading into the 1994 elections was he worked out he could just lie all the time. The whopper the better.

He worked out that the state media would be paralised by the imperative to provide balance and powerless to correct him, while his opponents were left in a state of permanent impotent outrage, both at being lied about and at the fact that he was getting away with it.

So they, and the portion of the non-state media aligned with the left, just spent the campaign repeating “this man can’t be prime minister”.

Result: he won in the closest thing we could get in our system to a landslide. Hey, does any of this sound familiar?

To give you an idea of the caliber of lying: he said over and over that the communists had been in power in Italy for the previous 50 years.

This was, obviously, the opposite of the truth. But in no time at all I started hearing people repeating it in my neighbourhood.

The Brexit campaign adopted similar tactics, now Trump. But I’m shocked it took so long for such a simple idea to be exported.

How many Americans don’t care about politicians lying? Enough to turn their politics and their presidency upside down?

I’m not a US voter but I think I share a common sentiment – I don’t particularly like Clinton, nor what she stands for in politics. But I fear for the effect that a President Trump would have on the United States, and how that would flow on to impact on the world.

Credible democracy is already the loser, but perhaps we ain’t seen nothing yet.

The US election may hinge on how many of those who despair at what they are witnessing turn out to vote versus how many turn away from the election .

New party welcome to try

Two editorials on the rights of New Zealanders to start up political parties versus the rants of people who oppose new parties.

NZ Herald: An Asian political party would be welcome if migrants feel they need it

A new political party aiming to represent Indian and other Asian immigrants ought to be welcomed by all New Zealanders. Our electoral system has been designed to give a voice to minorities. Oddly, the “People’s Party” has not been welcomed by Winston Peters, an enthusiast for MMP who exploits its fragmented politics at every opportunity. “No country is going to progress if we have political parties accentuating their differences,” he said, probably with a straight face.

It is a daring move to form a distinct political party. Newcomers to a country are naturally unsure of their right to assert themselves in its decisions. They know there will be many like Peters, who calls it “an extraordinary demand”. If they elect their own party it might confine itself to issues of particular concern to migrants. That would be a pity.

It is a strength of this country that it has a place in its politics for minorities and it is not for others to tell them how they are represented.

A key aspect of a health democracy is participation, something that New Zealand has a growing lack of.

So more parties and more options for representation should be welcomed by those who value democracy rather than their own narrow self interest.

Dominion Post (Stuff): New party welcome to try for Parliament, but the task will be difficult

The New Zealand People’s Party aims to have its first candidate ready for a by-election in Auckland’s Mt Roskill, if current MP Phil Goff leaves to become the city’s mayor.

Not surprisingly, NZ First leader Winston Peters is agitated. “A whole [lot] of New Zealand people are getting sick and tired of people who think they can walk into our country and now demand to have a say in the political system,” he says.

This is typically gutter-level stuff – “our country” and the fight to protect it from uppity outsiders who “demand a say”. No need for the dog-whistle here.

It’s nonsense. Those who live in New Zealand as residents or citizens are New Zealanders. This is their country and they don’t need to demand a say: they have it as of right.

Yes, it is everyone’s right, including the 25% of New Zealand residents or citizens who were not born in this country but have chosen to live here. And a lot more are children of immigrants – the population of our country is built on immigrants.

Political representation is part of the deal. If a party wants to pitch its tent as a voice for minority communities that it believes are often ignored, then that is fine and no-one should be troubled by it.

An entirely different question is whether it will be successful.

Success will be very difficult to achieve if their aim is to get seats in Parliament, but publicity given them by Winston Peters’ dog whistling may help.


Worst designed government in the world

David Farrar summarises an old post at Vox (January 2015) on 3 reasons why New Zealand has the best-designed government in the world.

Does NZ have the best designed Government in the world?

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House. He argues Upper Houses tend to be useless and undemocratic.
  3. NZ’s Constitutional Monarchy which provides a Head of State with no legitimacy to interfere in domestic politics

I’d don’t agree with all his arguments but he makes a good case. I’d add a 4th. No state parliaments. No disputes over what is the role of central government and state governments, and no duplication of multiple police forces, education ministries etc.

I don’t think the Constitutional Monarchy matters, we could do without that without noticing much difference, but the first two are valid.

Our system of Government is certainly a lot better than the US version of State, Congress, Senate and President.

In comments there’s a few other suggestions so I’ll start a new list.

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House.
  3. No State parliaments.
  4. No constitution.
  5. No Supreme Court that overrules the legislature.
  6. We are a small country with a small population.
  7. We are a geographically isolated country.
  8. We have a Bill of Rights.
  9. We are well educated.
  10. We have an Ombudsman and an Official Information Act, and a Privacy Act and a Privacy Commissioner.
  11. Social institutions and sound traditions of democratic rule and good governance.
  12. Low corruption.
  13. Little social tension.

There’s a few contrarians but their arguments don’t stack up.

New Zealand has more of an evolved system of Government rather than being designed, and there is certainly room for improvement in the structure of government and the implementation of government and opposition (who politicians use and abuse it), but our form of democracy is in practice better than most.

S.Russell remodels an old quote:

Ridiculous! New Zealand’s system of government is terrible. Its only redeeming feature is that all other systems implemented anywhere in the rest of the world are worse.



Democracy compared

Anthony Robins posted on Democracy vs efficiency  at The Standard:

Events in England really highlight the different processes of the two main parties. The Conservatives have completed their leadership transition, Labour’s contest has barely begun. Which model is best?

Nor surprisingly Robins thinks Labour is best.

I believe in the Labour model – both here and in the UK – as I think anyone who believes in democracy should.

It depends on what sort of democracy you believe in. Most democracies have some degree of representative democracy – where you elect people to represent you and make decisions for the people – and relatively limited options for direct democracy (where the majority of people make the decisions via votes) beyond occasional elections.

Two little say annoys the hell out of people, but too much say too often can bog down and even paralyse the functioning of a government.

Labour have barely started the challenge process in their (largely) democratic but cumbersome manner – an open selection, with real input from the members.

But there is no doubt that it is cumbersome, it paralysed (and will continue to paralyse) UK Labour at a time when it should have been moving decisively.

Robins understands the problems with a cumbersome democratic process (he doesn’t mention the game playing and manipulation of the processes going on with UK Labour).

There needs to be a counter-narrative. As the UK accepts the “democratic” Brexit vote, it should also accept and celebrate the democratic Labour process. Yes it’s cumbersome, but it involves we the people in politics, when it is obvious that the Tory “closed doors” model has been undermining democratic participation for decades.

This is naive inaccurate partisan bollocks.

Missy commented on Robins’ post yesterday:

I braved the swamp, and dipped my toe (figuratively, not literally) into The Standard. Anthony Robbins has done a post on the differences between the UK Labour leadership and the Conservative Leadership change.

His post however shows exactly how little he has either followed – or understood – the differences. He (naturally) extols the virtues of Labour’s way as being more democratic in that the members can vote, whilst the Conservatives did it behind closed doors quickly in an undemocratic manner (by inference, he didn’t actually state it was undemocratic). Anthony also seems to have overlooked the fact that of the final two candidates Leadsom dropped out, leaving only one candidate, which made it more efficient in terms of getting a new leader in place this time around.

Whilst he acknowledges the Labour party system is cumbersome, he doesn’t seem to think of what may happen if they have to run one of these leadership elections if they are ever in Government.

So lets look at the two ways (as I understand it) that these parties vote for their leaders. (disclaimer: I haven’t read the party rules on either of these parties, and therefore am getting my knowledge from how the media have reported it, so could be wrong on some facts).


Labour: Leaders are nominated to the NEC, requiring a certain percentage of support from the Parliamentary Labour Party, (in this case it worked out to be 50 MPs), so essentially they need to have some support to be nominated.

Conservatives: I am not sure how this happens, but from the way it was done this time it doesn’t look like they actually need to be nominated by anyone, they can just nominate themselves – or rather they declare an interest in standing.


Labour: I am not sure exactly, but I believe that Labour run a one member one vote system, so there is no weighting like in NZ.

Conservatives: The Conservatives have a two part vote, the MPs get to vote on the candidates, and after their vote the two that are left go to the membership. This means that the MPs get a say in who their leader will be. I am not sure how many times the MPs vote, this time it was twice, but I am not sure if they would have more if there were more candidates, or less if there were less.

Keeping in mind the leader of the party is leading the MPs it seems eminently sensible that the MPs get a reasonable say in who may end up being the leader, the members after all do not have to spend all week with the leader, nor do they have to work for or with them. Based on this I think the Conservatives have a better system for the election of a leader in that the MPs get a say in who may be the leader, but the membership gets the final say.


There are different ways of doing democracy, some better than others, and which is the best may vary in different circumstances.

If a country is in chaos or crisis decisive leadership on behalf of the people can be a far better bet than trying to get thousands or millions of people to understand complex situations and make complex decisions.


Farrar on why Brexit won

David Farrar makes good points (despite the hammering he gets from the left he is still an astute political observer) about why he thinks the Brexit vote won in the UK in  Three reasons Brexit won

1. Democracy

The EU overall has been a force for good with many benefits for many people. However it is not what most would regard as a democratic government. The heart of democracy is that the people can sack a Government they have got weary of.  There was no real way for the people of Europe or the UK to sack the EU Government when they think it has got it wrong and needs to go. Without such a pressure release valve, discontent grows and grows.

The concept of an EU is good. The structure of the EU is bad. It may have worked when they had nine members, but not for 28.

A particularly good  point. Voters in the UK or any other member country can’t kick out the EU governors if they don’t like what they are doing.

2. Borders

The whole point of nation states is to have control of your borders and your population.  This is not racist or xenophobic. The elites who think it is, are out of step. You can be pro-immigration, but against uncontrolled immigration.

The UK as part of the EU has almost no control over who can live and work in the UK. 500 million people in the EU all have the right to move to the UK and work there if they wish to. Of course it also gives UK people the right to work and live in the EU – and that was a great right for many UK citizens.

Immigration – and a lack of control over it – has become very contentious.

3. EU regulations

A decade ago most of the angst against the EU was the endless regulations coming from Brussels that were ridiculed and resented. However I think this was a minor factor when it came to the vote. The Tories in 2005 campaigned on these, and lost. While people agreed with them, they didn’t think it was as important as issue as the economy, the NHS, schools etc. For the hard core activists, this was red meat, but less important to the majority of the public.

The bigger the governing body the bigger the bureaucracy.

RMA and democracy

Dunedin City Councillors have expressed concerns about aspects of the latest proposals to reform the Resource Management Act.

Today’s ODT editorial looks at some pros and cons in Democracy not negotiable:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith introduced the Bill by citing widespread reports of the RMA’s “cumbersome planning processes and the time and cost of consenting”.

The proposed changes would reduce that time and cost in many cases while tightening rules around which affected parties were entitled to inclusion in a given consenting process.

The result, Dr Smith said, was an enhanced Resource Management Act improving both environmental management and economic growth.

These are goals most New Zealanders would readily support and applaud.

There is widespread acknowledgement that RMA improvements are needed – but a sound democratic process is also very important.

Councillors have said they fear environmental benchmarks will become too flexible under the proposed changes while the powers of a local body’s own district plan would be watered down.

They are also concerned the Bill will centralise power in Wellington at the expense of local bodies, but the biggest stumbling block is their concern citizens affected by a given development could be shut out of consent hearings.

Under the Bill, non-expert submitters could be cast aside.

The result, councillors fear, is residents wanting to be heard on a development they believed would affect them would not have that chance unless they possessed expert knowledge or could afford to hire someone who did.

And here lies the conundrum.

It is a conundrum. There are examples of ‘non-expert’ submitters influencing RMA decisions for what some would say are fairly trivial objections, like how a development would look from a distance.

At an Dunedin RMA hearing last week one objection was that an apartment block would increase traffic on the street – that would probably be minor, central city apartments tend to reduce the need to travel by car, especially compared to dwellers in distant suburbs were urban sprawl is likely to occur.

There will be few New Zealanders who disagree with what Dr Smith says the Bill will do: improve environmental management and economic growth.

There will be few New Zealanders who can’t bring to mind examples of infuriating, expensive and protracted RMA hearings.

But there are a few New Zealanders whose hobby seems to be frivolous RMA objections.

But there would also be few Kiwis who don’t cling steadfastly to New Zealand remaining a fair, democratic country offering access and voice to all citizens, not just those highly skilled, educated or deep-pocketed enough to have their opinions considered valid.

Hearings panels already have the power to ignore submissions they consider frivolous or vexatious.

Are further limits to submissions required?

Democracy has been consistently championed, fought for and celebrated by New Zealanders.

But not because we hold it as the cheapest or most efficient form of government.

It is neither.

Democracy is difficult and comes with a hefty price tag.

While efficiencies should be sought wherever possible, we should be wary when they come at the expense of democracy.

We should certainly do what we can to protect democracy.

But as much of a problem as eroding democratic processes is the trend for activist individuals or groups to misuse and abuse submission processes to try and impose minority ideals on the majority.

Getting the right balance won’t be easy.

What Harre really wanted from TPPA questions

Yesterday I posted Some questions about the TPP from a post by Brendon Harre in which he said…

I have an open mind regarding international trade.

I am in favour of free trade reforms if the beneficiaries are spread throughout society.

I am not sure if the TPPA fits into the beneficial category for the ordinary person. I am not sure if trade and democracy are working together like they have in the past or against each other.

I have some questions -not just for the supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but also to those that oppose it.

He has circulated this on left wing blogs were he has made what he wanted clearer.

At The Daily Blog:

It was directed at both sides. But I mainly want answers from the pro-TPP people because they have done such a poor job answering basic questions.

Some of anti-TPP people have also done a poor job of truthfully answering basic questions.

At The Standard:

I wrote an article about the TPP where it seems we may be in danger of losing important aspects of our democracy. Pro-TPP people have to give some pretty robust answers to some fundamental questions IMHO.

So it’s fairly clear where his TPP allegiances lie.

Are we really “in danger of losing important aspects of our democracy” with the TPP?

I haven’t seen any robust arguments in support of this claim. There seems to be little if anything in the agreement that impacts any more on our democracy than past international agreements.

Every international agreement can put some restriction on what New Zealand can do, but it’s a voluntary restriction that can be reversed if ever our democracy chooses to do so.

Before the TPP agreements was reached last year the anti-TPP warned of a range of specific potential problems.

After the text of the agreement was made public the opposition changed to general terms like anti-democracy and anti-sovereignty.

Brendon, it’s up to you and those who oppose the TPP to make robust arguments for the problems you allege.

In the absence of compelling arguments that our democracy will be compromised I assume there is nothing much we need to be concerned about.

Labour: ‘Say no to the TPPA’

Has Labour been convinced enough by Jane Kelsey and Lori Wallach that the US will not ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement to swing to all out opposition to it, punting on it not going ahead anyway? If so what if the US pulls out but the rest of the countries go ahead?

Labour have now jumped on the petition bandwagon. Political petitions are not designed to achieve change, they can’t.

They are aimed at proving a level of support for a stance.

And they are a means of email address harvesting.

There’s at least one other anti-TPPA petition running. Splitting them will split the numbers to an extent, and due to the possibility (and probability) that some people will sign both petitions the number of signatures added together will be meaningless.

But this cements Labour’s definitive opposition to the TPPA.

Sign the petition: Say no to the TPPA

The TPPA undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty and is a threat to our democracy. National has overestimated the benefits to New Zealand and negotiated it in secrecy.

Under the TPPA:

  • Our Parliament would not be allowed to ban overseas speculators from buying up Kiwi homes. Other countries, including Australia, negotiated an exemption from this clause but National failed to do so for New Zealand.

  • Foreign corporations could sue the government over policy changes seen as affecting their businesses.

  • New Zealanders’ access to life-saving drugs could be restricted as our laws are tilted in favour of US pharmaceutical companies.

Labour cannot support the TPPA as it stands and will seek to renegotiate it in government to get a better deal for New Zealanders — one that doesn’t undermine our sovereignty.

Are you with us? Add your name.

The petition:

To John Key and Cabinet:

Protect the democratic rights of New Zealand citizens. The TPPA is an attack of New Zealand’s sovereignty and democracy. That’s something that should never be traded away.

Claiming “the TPPA is an attack of New Zealand’s sovereignty and democracy” is both strongly claimed and strongly disputed.

Current number of signatures: 15,786


US dysfunctional democracy

In what is claimed (by Americans) to be a beacon of democracy the US presidential selection process is as heavy on money as it is light on talent, which should be a real worry for the country that at least claims to be the most powerful in the world.

Mark Triffit, a lecturer on public policy at Melbourne University, writes ( original article published at  The Conversation, republished at NZH as US democracy trumps all as a dysfunctional disgrace):

As the rest of the world looks upon America’s 2016 presidential race and what has become a disgrace of a democratic system, its bewilderment can be organised around a series of hows and whys.

How can a political and policy freak show like Donald Trump become a serious contender for the job America touts as “leader of the free world”?

Why has the democratic “competition of ideas” become so degraded that Trump’s thought bubble to ban more than 20 per cent of the world’s population (Muslims) from entering America has passed relatively unimpeded into mainstream policy debate?

More broadly, how can the race for America’s top job be so short on facts and logic that nearly every leading 2016 presidential candidate is uttering outright lies, mostly false statements or half-truths at least half the time they open their mouths?

Why will it take nearly US$2 billion in campaign funding to win this year’s presidential race and lead a country founded on the idea that “anyone can become president”?

Because that’s what it now takes to fund a circus that has more clowns than potential ringmasters.

Questions such as these go on and on. Separately and collectively, they speak to the absence of the bare bones of a fair, free and moderate democratic system.

The US democratic system has been corrupted by too much money and too little talent.

The dwindling ranks of those who line up to defend America’s system are able to do so only if they view it through a prism of its lofty 18th-century ideals, rather than 21st-century realities. They typically counter critiques with one or more of the following three arguments.

First, there have always been demagogues, money politics and lies in politics. What is occurring in America today is just a variation of these age-old themes.

Yet everyone else, including many ordinary Americans, recognises America’s political system has crossed into a new era of extreme dysfunctionality and inequity. After all, has not a tipping point been reached when the US Congress becomes such a warzone of hyper-partisanship that its current legislators are themost unproductive on record?

Aren’t we seeing money politics played out on a cosmic scale when corporate interests spend US$2.6 billion per year to twist what little legislation is passed in Congress to their own ends?

A second argument is that the antics of a Donald Trump are needed to shake up a complacent political class and raise issues that better mirror public opinion.

But that begs another question. Has the American political system fallen so low that it requires a massive injection of anti-democratic behaviour to make it more “democratic”?

The third line of defence is the claim that beneath the mess that is presidential and congressional politics lies a vibrant sea of local and state-based democracy. More than 500,000 public positions are contested via grassroots elections.

The reality, however, is the fish is rotting from the head down.

With no sign of a remedy.

The proportion of US citizens who trust government is down to less than one in five.

American democracy’s legitimacy crisis is even worse among young Americans. They have been deeply disengaged from what they view as a highly combative, negative and self-serving system. They hardly ever discuss politics, let alone think of pursuing a political career in any shape or form.

This raises the real prospect that increasingly more of America’s democratically elected positions will become less contested.

Similar to here in New Zealand but on a much larger, more powerful and more worrying scale.

Alternatively, they will be captured by the same ideologues and extreme activists who now dominate and distort the national political and policy scene.

That doesn’t seem to be a risk here, at present at least. The extremists where soundly rejected in last year’s election.

The big irony in the massive decline in the quality of America’s democratic governance over the past two decades is this: it has coincided with a period in which the US has aggressively stepped up its efforts to promote and embed this same system around the world.

Th Us certainly isn’t a great advertisement for functional democracy.

Many liberal democracies across the Western world are suffering deep-seated ills as their institutions and practices fail to keep up with the 21st-century world. Yet the US has become the outlier of Western democratic dysfunction.

Any assertion it continues to be a beacon for democracy is surpassed only by Trump’s most fantastical claims.

New Zealand has advantages of being small enough and close enough to ordinary people, and of not being reliant on big money to get elected. And being relatively un-corrupt.

But our international power and influence is very small. We can do little but look on with concern at the increasingly dysfunctional US democracy.

Revolution in Switzerland?

An op-ed from Sam Gerrans has been getting a bit of attention – Switzerland: Poised for a revolution?

When Iceland jailed its bankers something changed. The unthinkable had happened: the real criminals had been held to account. Now Switzerland is also threatening to go off the fiat-bankster reservation. But will it happen?

In an article entitled “Switzerland to vote on banning banks from creating money” the Telegraph reports: “Switzerland will hold a referendum to decide whether to ban commercial banks from creating money.

The Swiss federal government confirmed on Thursday that it would hold a plebiscite, after more than 110,000 people signed a petition calling for the central bank to be given sole power to create money in the financial system.

The campaign – led by the Swiss Sovereign Money movement and known as the Vollgeld initiative – is designed to limit financial speculation by requiring private banks to hold 100pc reserves against their deposits.

This sounds incredibly dull, doesn’t it? But the idea behind it is what revolutions are made of.

The article continues: “Banks won’t be able to create money for themselves any more, they’ll only be able to lend money that they have from savers or other banks, said the campaign group.”

I’ll repeat that bit: they’ll only be able to lend money that they have from savers or other banks.

That’s probably what you think banks do: lend money they acquire from savers or other banks.

But no! They are busy creating money (albeit by a circuitous route); that is, they are busy magicking that thing the rest of us spend our lives working so hard to obtain – money – into existence. They do it by means of the creation of an imaginary thing called debt. We then undertake to pay these fictional notions back, and do so with interest.

Not only is this outright fraud and theft against the poor sap who signed the original credit agreement, it also debases the value of every single unit of the currency in which the transaction takes place.

Put in business terms, it is equivalent to printing more shares.

The article continues: “The SNB (Swiss National Bank) was established in 1891, with exclusive power to mint coins and issue Swiss banknotes.

However, over 90 percent of money in circulation in Switzerland now exists in the form of “electronic” cash created by private banks, rather than the central bank.

‘Due to the emergence of electronic payment transactions, banks have regained the opportunity to create their own money,’ said the Swiss Sovereign Money campaign.

‘The decision taken by the people in 1891 has fallen into oblivion.’

That is correct: if we had access to the same computer terminals the banks have, we could magic in or out of existence all the imaginary stuff we are trained to think of as important – money – in whatever quantities we liked.

This is how it works: when they print quite a lot of this stuff there is a boom. When they print too much of it, there is inflation (actually, the printing of money is inflation). When they stop printing it or simply hold on to it, there is a depression.

As long as the people keep slaving away and let the bankers give them pieces of paper or blips on a computer screen in exchange for their blood, sweat and tears, everything is fine.

But if a nation begins to wake up to the con and starts pushing back it is visited by a color revolution, cultural invasion, or simply bombed back into the Stone Age.

That’s it. You now understand economics.


Now back to the prospective plebiscite in Switzerland.

I am skeptical that this duck will get airborne without being shot down. The democracy the Swiss think they have is a pleasant enough fiction, but I am sure it will never be allowed to interfere with business.

And if we read the article carefully, it does say that the central bank should be given sole right to create money. This would essentially leave the creation of money in the same hands as those who control the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England rather than allow them to farm out the process. But at least it shows that people are beginning to wake up to where the true power lies.

In the unlikely event that this grass-roots movement in Switzerland should get its way and its proposed legislation be enacted, and then begin to morph into something which really does threaten the banking elite, we must not be surprised if Switzerland is shortly discovered to be harboring weapons of mass destruction, or to have masterminded 9/11, or to be financing Islamic State.

Yes, we will need to brace ourselves to be educated by a Western media unanimous in pointing out the connections to be made between the production of precision watches, pavements so clean you can eat your lunch off them, and the evil of an irrational hatred of freedom – one with roots in a culture which tacitly supports jihad against all non-eaters of expensive confectionery.

Freedom. You’ve got to love it!

Here’s something else from Gerrans, from eleven years ago:

I don’t believe in democracy. In some liberal circles this makes me a heretic who should be shot.

I suggest that – internal squabbles notwithstanding – the strong and powerful do more or less what they want, and the rest is just PR. This view is unflattering to the rabbits caught in the headlights of Democratic rhetoric, but I can’t help that. Still, happily for me, as things get worse in the Middle East, the liberals will find it increasingly difficult to justify their worldview to themselves. It’s small comfort in the circumstances, but it’s something.

Democracy’s key attraction for those who truly wield power is the fact that widespread belief that we are free is a cost-efficient means of control. But democracy is not and never has been Freedom; merely dictatorship-lite. And now the Totalitarian infrastructure is in place our rulers can opt to dispense with the spin.

Democracy will, of course, cling to its touchy-feely slogans for as long as it is expedient. But since the real U.S. game plan is to ratchet up the stakes in the Middle East to the level of war necessary to complete the project for Greater Israel – from the Nile to the Euphrates – and since the history of the last hundred years shows that no sacrifice to this end is too great, don’t be surprised if our rulers drop the pretence that this is anything but a good old fashioned massacre and start levelling whole Iraqi cities.

My point here is not to draw moral conclusions. I have my opinion of course. But, for me, the bottom line is this: The strong and the sneaky do what they do and the rest of us need to decide what – if anything – we are going to do about it.

Just don’t wave the democracy dogma in my face because I don’t believe in it.

So shoot me.