Denials as Trump train wreck continues

When quotes from ‘White House sources’ were published in advance of the public release of from Bob Woodward’s book on Donald Trump there were some denials from those claimed to have said to have provided quotes (Woodward claims to have recordings of all his sources).

Following the New York Times publishing of an anonymous op-ed by a ‘senior White House official’ – see The White House ‘resistance’ and what the hell is happening – there have been a number of inevitable public denials from senior White House officials.

New York Times: It Wasn’t Me: Pence, Pompeo, Mattis and Mnuchin Deny Writing Anonymous Op-Ed

A day after a senior administration official described President Trump as amoral, impetuous, petty and ineffective in an anonymous essay, the denials from the upper echelon of the administration started to roll in.

The mystery writer is not Vice President Mike Pence, a spokesman said Thursday. “Our office is above such amateur acts,” the vice president’s spokesman, Jarrod Agen, said

“It is not mine,” Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said.

“Patently false,” said Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, responding to rumors that he or his principal deputy wrote the piece. “We did not.”

Press officers for the secretaries of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development also issued denials on behalf of their bosses.

They will feel bound by principles of journalism to publish these denials, but a few at the NY Times knows who it is.

The author, whose identity is known to The Times editorial page but was not shared with the reporters who cover the White House, describes him or herself as one of many senior officials in the Trump administration who are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Predictably Trump has tweeted on it.

Typical bluster and attempted diversion by attacking NYT, but he has attacked the media so many times because he hasn’t liked what they say about him it comes across as wailing wolf, again.

Bloomberg: Pence’s Office Says He Didn’t Write the Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed

Mike Pence’s office said the vice president wasn’t the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed claiming key administration officials were secretly working against President Donald Trump, calling the article false and “gutless,” as Trump demanded the paper reveal the writer’s identity.

The denial by Pence came as other Republicans, notably Trump’s Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Senator Marco Rubio, came to the president’s defence and said the writer should have resigned before making the accusations.

Fair call – if Trump is as bad as the editorial writer suggests (and Bob Woodward’s book suggests) then it should be untenable for them to work there.

However given the attack they would have faced from Trump and others it is perhaps justifiable to keep their identity out of it in the short term. It seems inevitable their identity will become known anyway, probably soon.

“America has one duly elected president. Anybody serving at his pleasure should do so faithfully,” Rubio said in a Twitter posting. “When they feel they no longer can, they should resign & speak in their own name so the country can evaluate their insights with a full understanding of where they are coming from.”

On Wednesday evening, before demanding that the Times unmask the writer, Trump tweeted one word: “TREASON?”

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” he said in tweet early Thursday. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

That is playing to the conspiracy theory crowd, but it is unlikely to convince others that he is of sound mind.

And in other news yesterday: Kim Kardashian West visits White House to discuss clemency reform

Does she qualify as a senior White House official?

One thing is indisputable – something highly unusual is going on with Trump’s presidency. If Woodward’s book  and the op-ed are coincidental it suggests major problems, and if they were coordinated it also suggests major problems.

ANZAC editorials

Not surprisingly ANZAC Day is prominent in today’s newspaper editorials.

ODT: Remembering those who serve

Early today, thousands of New Zealanders will meet at war memorials throughout the country to remember soldiers and support staff who died serving their country in far-away battlefields.

Interest in Anzac Day, commemorated, celebrated and remembered in many parts of the world, has grown exponentially in recent years. It is a phenomenon. From small intimate services held in New Zealand and Australian towns, the services have grown to large gatherings involving several generations of families touched in one way or another by the wars New Zealand has been involved in. Family members proudly wear the medals of their loved ones who fought, and sometimes died, in the service of their country.

As the World War 2 veterans age, their numbers are replaced by men and women who served in Asian campaigns. Being a veteran from Vietnam has not always been seen as something of which to be proud. In the United States, Vietnam veterans had to continue their fight for justice after the war became so demonised. In New Zealand, acceptance has become easier.

Soldiers do not often get a choice about where they serve and it is fitting, as a country, New Zealand can openly acknowledge the pain and suffering of many veterans from campaigns stretching from Europe, the Middle East through to Asia and Afghanistan.

Dominion Post: On Anzac Day we also mourn for Turkish democracy

New Zealand and Turkey have a special Anzac bond. The conflict that divided them at Gallipoli now brings them together each year. Anzac Day celebrations in Turkey usually attract thousands of New Zealanders who receive a warm welcome there.

Gallipoli played an important part too in the development of both countries. It is sometimes said that the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli and the Western front in World War 1 helped make us an independent nation. In the fires of war we supposedly forged a new sense of our country and its strengths. There is at least some truth in this.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who once visited New Zealand, is now a clear threat to Turkish democracy. He has become a despotic populist in the mould of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who observes the forms of democracy while subverting its deepest values.

Erdogan has preyed on his country’s fears – of refugees, terrorists and an over-powerful army – and has as a result merely heightened the violence that now marks everyday life in Turkey.

The demagogue is the true enemy of democracy, because he undermines everything central to it: human rights, respect for minorities, the rule of law and the necessity of checks and balances.

Today’s Anzac-Turkish commemorations in Gallipoli take place under the threat of terrorist attack in a country that is splintering.

That is a tragedy which will reverberate in New Zealand on this special day.

The Press: We must support our war veterans of all ages

We remember the dead on Anzac Day today, but the poppies that we wear were sold to raise funds for the living – to provide support for veterans needing help.

New Zealand has about 31,000 veterans of operational military service overseas and about two-thirds of them served after the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975.

They served in deployments, and on peacekeeping and aid missions, in places as diverse as Iraq and Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the former Rhodesia, Namibia, Sinai, Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, Laos, Korea, East Timor, Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria.

New Zealand on Anzac Day should acknowledge its debt not only to the fallen of wars long past, but also to its veterans still living, old and young. They and the organisations dedicated to helping them deserve the support of the wider community.

Anzac Day, with all its symbolism and acknowledged importance in the story of our nation, loses some of its meaning if this support is not forthcoming. This needs to be an ongoing commitment – the old soldiers’ ranks may be thinning, but younger generations will need help into the future.

It is also important for the younger veterans to know and feel that they are deserving of that support and to not hesitate to ask for help when the going gets tough.

Southland Times: Warfare will keep testing our morality

Warfare can bring out the best in our military, through feats of heroism and mateship. But it is such a hideous, arbitrary business that mistakes, misjudgments and misdeeds can be evoked from decent but fallible men and women.

This year’s Anzac Day comes in the wake of the book Hit & Run which makes the accusation, denied by the Defence Force, that a retaliatory raid in Afghanistan was ill-disciplined, indulgent, and achieved only the death of innocents.

That book starts with the sentence: “In any Anzac Day, someone is sure to talk about honour.”

And it ends like this; “The real message of Anzac Days should be that we do not want to make the same dreadful and unnecessary mistakes over and over again. Facing up to wrongdoing is part of making them less likely to recur. Honour is not about ceremonies, bugles and ribbons. It is about trying to adhere to moral principles and stand up to wrong, especially when it would be easier not to. It requires a special kind of courage.”

Whatever we individually make of the book’s specific contentions and the responses, that last sentiment it holds true.

NZ Herald: Anzac Day issues its enduring call

A centenary of a long war helps us imagine what it must have been like.

Most of us alive today can only imagine what it was like to live through the world wars of last century. It is easier, thanks to books and movies, to imagine the lives of those in combat than for those at home, reading delayed and usually censored news from the battlefronts, seeing the wounded return, dreading the arrival of a grim telegram, trying to say something helpful to those who have received one, living under the shadow of a long war that is taking the lion’s share of the country’s production and so many young lives.

I can’t come close to imagining what it might have been like in any war.

My father missed most of World War 2, serving in Italy at the end of the war (and later in J Force, he brought back a photo of Hiroshima). He said little about his experiences, but told me once about doing sentry duty outside a farmhouse in northern Italy and feeling scared shitless (I don’t recall his exact description) in the dark hearing gun fire in the distance.

He was also involved in the stand off with Yugoslavia in Trieste, where he was billeted in a private home, and took a rifle with him to the movies.

It is coming up 72 years since the second war ended, long enough to believe we will never see war on such a scale again. The weapon that ended the war in the Pacific ensured the major powers maintained an armed peace thereafter but their proxy wars have been threatening enough. The first of them, in Korea, still simmers and poses a challenge to relations between the United States and China today.

But it is not fear or anticipation of being drawn into another war that brings New Zealanders and Australians to their war memorials today. It is quite the opposite, a sense of gratitude that the wars their grandparents won have left an enduring peace.

I’m not sure about all this. Since World War 2 New Zealanders have served in Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia (1,300 served there), Afghanistan, Iraq. Also other places around the world, often as peacekeepers.

I’m not confident the world will avoid another major conflict. There are already multiple countries involved in rising tensions around Korea, and in the ongoing and unresolved mess of the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.

There may never be the number of people called on to serve for their countries.

But there is plenty of scope for and risk of widespread death and destruction around the world.

The nuclear risk always hovers over us menacingly. A major nuclear conflict, no matter where it may be centred (or it could be widely scattered), will impact severely on the whole world.

Nuclear war is unlikely to last anywhere near as long as the world wars of last century, and it won’t require many soldiers, but it’s impact could be easily as devastating, if not more so.

Editorials on pay equity

Editorial response to the announcement of an agreement by the Government to substantially increase pay rates for health care workers after a pay equity case that began in 2012 – see Pay equity for health care workers.

ODT: A giant step for womankind

The undervalued work of a group of (predominantly) New Zealand women is about to be rewarded with a substantial and long-overdue pay check. It is likely to be the first of several.

The settlement is the result of caregiver Kristine Bartlett’s 2013 case to the Employment Court (it also went to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court), which found her low hourly pay rate (then $14.32) was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. It reinterpreted the Act as applying to equal pay for work of equal value, not just the same pay for the same work.

Seeing the inevitable snowball effect, and wanting to keep future claims out of court, the Government set up a joint working group comprising government, business and trade union leaders to develop universally applicable pay equity principles (which, once legislation has been passed, will provide the framework for future claims).

More money to women means more money to families and children (and it is likely to be money spent locally). It also means women have more chance to put money towards vital retirement savings and the like. Surely everybody wins?

The message the settlement sends about value (of women, their work and those they look after) reaches far beyond the pay packet. In the changing world of work private businesses will simply have to adapt – especially if their workers now have other options.

Although forced to act, the Government has again stolen the traditional social policy ground of Labour. Its announcement mere months away from the general election may help it cash in on its investment.

Whatever that result, the settlement remains a giant step towards giving some low-paid New Zealand women (and men) the dignity, respect and financial reward they deserve.

NZ Herald: Pay equity’ deal could lift all low incomes

Nobody will begrudge residential carers the big pay increase agreed yesterday between their union, employers and the Government. The carers, predominantly women, provide services to the elderly and disabled that are not always pleasant but need to be performed with patience, compassion, professionalism and a good deal of common sense.

It may be the first time a wage increase has been won on a gender equity argument and the Council of Trade Unions hopes it will be the first of many, in the private sector as well as the public service.

Now that the argument has been accepted for residential carers it will be interesting too how widely it is applied. School support staff are staking their claim next. They, too, are paid from the public purse. It may be much harder to convince industries in the private sector that they should pay more than they need to where women are concerned.

But the scale of the increase awarded to residential carers, even if goes no further than state paid or subsidised services, will be felt across the economy. Private sector employers may have to offer more than the minimum wage to keep female staff who could otherwise find work in rest homes and the like. If the decision starts to lift all low incomes, it will do a great deal of good.

The Press: Aged care settlement an important pay equity milestone

Speaking to RNZ, tax expert and Labour candidate Deborah Russell expected that a flow on effect would lead to pay rises in equivalent private sector work. There has been predictable consternation about the costs to business, so it was pleasing to see that Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett welcomed the pay equity settlement, saying that “the many businesses that do not have a gender pay gap have no reason to be alarmed”.

Other sectors may soon follow. Teacher aides have began mediation talks with the Ministry of Education after a 10 year battle.

In a broader sense, the settlement is about more than whether women are paid the same as men. Some of the workers who benefit from the settlement are paid just $15.75, the statutory minimum wage, despite years of experience. It is about whether New Zealanders are paid enough, full stop.

The settlement does not solve all issues that could be said to fall under the umbrella of pay equity and access to work. There are still barriers to working parents and more attention must be paid to making childcare affordable and easily accessible. Workplaces must become more family-friendly for both men and women.

 

“Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy”

While it isn’t surprising to see the Washington Post Editorial Board opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy for president the timing and the force with which they have expressed their opposition seems unusual, possibly without precedent.

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome.

The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament.

They detail:

  • He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance.
  • To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions.
  • Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together.
  • His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril.

And they go on to list:

  • Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower.
  • There is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington.
  • he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact.
  • Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.
  • What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous.
  • The Trump litany of victimization has resonated with many Americans whose economic prospects have stagnated. They deserve a serious champion, and the challenges of inequality and slow wage growth deserve a serious response. But Mr. Trump has nothing positive to offer, only scapegoats and dark conspiracy theories.
  • Mr. Trump speaks blithely of abandoning NATO, encouraging more nations to obtain nuclear weapons and cozying up to dictators who in fact wish the United States nothing but harm. Republicans…put forward a candidate who mimics the vilest propaganda of authoritarian adversaries about how terrible the United States is and how unfit it is to lecture others. He has made clear that he would drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to global security could be disastrous.
  • Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.
  • he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies.
  • Mr. Trump campaigns by insult and denigration, insinuation and wild accusation.

According to WaPo Trump is the worst of the worst.

The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters.

Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution.

Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.

I acknowledge that many people, including some in New Zealand and regulars here at Your NZ, see Trump as a refreshing alternative to establishment politics and power in the US and think that he could do great things.

But like the Washington Post I have serious concerns about his playing to populist prejudice, his lack of experience, his lack of substance, and his international threats that could put the world at risk.

Democracy has it’s strengths, especially when compared to the alternatives.

But democracy in the US, in an overreaction to a corrupted, money and business dominated clique) risks making a farce of itself and threatening the stability and well being of the democratic world.


Editorial: Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy

Transcript: Donald Trump’s interview with The Washington Post editorial board

 

Another call for bridge flag comparison

Today’s Herald editorial adds a call for the fern flag to fly alongside the current flag on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Let’s see fern flag on harbour bridge

This is a serious and urgent request of whomever is running the Government in the Prime Minister’s absence. Please fly the proposed new flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, either on one pole alongside the existing flag, or on both poles.

We will be voting on them in just two months and it is vital to see the proposed alternative in action before we can decide.

Until we see how it looks fluttering in a breeze, lying limp and performing in various conditions, we cannot know whether its design really “works”.

We also need to give it a test of time. A design that is striking at first sight, and even at subsequent sightings for a week or two, can lose its appeal later. A new national flag would need to hold our affection for a lifetime. We need to test it for as long as possible before we face the decision. That’s why this request is urgent.

They say that the Government has sent “samples of the alternative flags to individuals and organisations that had two flagpoles and undertook to fly both of them as directed” – has anyone seen both flags flying together?

People cannot be expected to go looking for them. On the harbour bridge, the Government’s transport agency has the most visible poles in the country. Why are they not being used for this important exercise?

Surely a decision need not await John Key’s return. Better that he not be involved. Put the flag up there, please.

There’s a petition running asking the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, to Fly the Silver Fern Flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

We the, people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag, ask that the “alternative” flag flown from the Auckland Harbour bridge. Starting immediately and flown until the end of the second flag referendum.

I support that but I think they have made a mistake (as well as the misplaced comma) referring to “people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag” – anyone who supports a good democratic contest in the referendum should consider supporting having both flag options flying together wherever possible.

 

Should Key treat office of PM with more respect?

A Herald editorial says that Prime Minister John key should treat his office with more respect. They say that things like candid admissions in a recent radio interview robs the office of dignity.

Editorial: Too much information robs office of dignity

How does John Key get away with these things? To expose himself on radio to personal questions to which he can answer only yes or no is bound to endanger the dignity of his office. Thanks to an appearance on Hauraki’s breakfast programme, we now know our Prime Minister has, among other things, stolen something and peed in a shower.

Though that is more than we want to know, it is less than we might learn.

Certainly Key’s answers were more than we need to know, and more than some want to know.

Should Key be candid about personal things? Or should he shut himself off on a Prime Ministerial pedestal? Would that gibe the media more chance of knocking him off it?

To me some of what Key has said and done is not a good look for anyone let alone Prime Minister, especially the pony tail pulling.

But should be have to hide away his personal; character while he’s Prime Minister?

He did not seem at all embarrassed this week when the radio segment was screened on American television’s popular satirical programme Last Week Tonight.

So what’s the problem? Does it diminish his ability to be a respectable Prime Minister?

Those who like him and vote for him will like him all the more for the enjoyment he clearly derives from the lighter side of his job.

It’s a key part of his image, cultivated for political purposes but also obviously revealing a bit of how he is as a person.

Those with no time for him will be disgusted at what he has admitted and think it no part of his job to be answering questions such as these.

But I’ve seen those who have no time for him disgusted at things he does as Prime Minister as a part of his job, like promote policies that he believes in. Like flag referendums.

He is candid to a fault. He holds our highest elected office and he should treat it with more respect.

Or should media respect his right to be himself sometimes, even in front of the media?

New York Times editorial: Maybe One Less Union Jack

New York Times editorial Friday 21 March:

Maybe One Less Union Jack

Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand wants to get rid of his country’s flag. Earlier this month, he promised a national referendum in which citizens would choose a new flag design to replace the current one, a blue ensign with Britain’s Union Jack in the upper left corner and four stars of the Southern Cross, which has flown over New Zealand for more than a century.

That flag proclaims New Zealand as a South Pacific outpost of the British Empire, which is precisely why Mr. Key wants to abandon it. He thinks it shackles his country to its colonial past and is unrepresentative of the racial and cultural diversity of 21st-century New Zealand. (The nation’s biggest city, Auckland, is more diverse than London or Sydney.) Those on Mr. Key’s side argue, too, that their flag is nondescript and derivative; it looks very much like Australia’s flag, for which it is often mistaken. The New Zealand Herald recently published a graphic of 30 flags from around the world based on the British flag, writing: “Somewhere in here is the N.Z. flag, lost in a sea of blue and Union Jacks.”

Mr. Key favors a simpler design — a silver fern on a black background — used by New Zealand’s national sports teams, including its famed rugby squad, the All Blacks. A poll published Wednesday by The Herald found a slim majority in favor of keeping the current flag, but among the 40 percent who wanted to change it, most preferred the fern.

While some critics are dubious about using a sports symbol — arguing that a country needs a flag, not a logo — The Herald was on the mark when it urged Mr. Key in an editorial to go bold and not leave momentous aesthetic decisions in the hands of a committee of politicians. “The selection of a design to be put before the public should not made by senior ministers,” the editorial said. “It should be entrusted to a panel of vexillologists, artists and designers.” That makes sense. For practitioners of vexillology — the study of flags — an opportunity like this does not come often, and they are surely eager to make the most of it.

NZ Herald refers to this: Flag change gains international support

NZ Herald editorial: Key needs to be bolder on flag change

More marriage editorials

More editorials on the passing of the marriage equality bill (see also the previous editorial roundup – Mixed marriage equality editorials).

Taranaki Daily News – Wall’s work makes more equality

George Orwell in Animal Farm wrote: “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

In New Zealand society the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has always been less equal than others. The phrase consenting adults did not apply to homosexuals until 1985.

When, in 2004 they were permitted to enter a civil union, it made them equal, but not as equal as heterosexuals, who could marry.

On Tuesday that changed with the passing of the marriage equality bill.

We suspect that  those MPs who opposed it, including the three National MPs whose electorates cover Taranaki, will one day conclude they should have voted yes this week.

Nelson Mail – Love warms House – and life will go on

Emotions often run high in Parliament, but love is not usually among them.

However, on Wednesday night, love was in the air in the debating chamber that usually plays host to conflict.

It came in the words of MPs voting for Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill, and from couples holding hands in the packed public gallery.

Hugs, flowers and even a surprisingly tuneful mass version of Pokarekare Ana from the gallery added to the mood.

In the end the controversial Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill passed with a polite, at times, humorous debate.

Taking the final step is logical and has carried on a long New Zealand tradition of being at the forefront of social change, from universal suffrage and state welfare.

Southland Times – In good conscience

When Parliament passed Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill on Wednesday night, it was a conscience vote worthy of the description.

The bill succeeded, as it deserved to, because it reflects the view – the gradually changed view – of a nation which recognises a crusty piece of old-style discrimination when it sees it.

It is a nation once repelled by homosexuality, but now far more uncomfortable with the morality, or perhaps just the meanness, of deeming that the inclusion of our family, friends or selves in committed same-sex relationships would debase the state of marriage.

Because why? Inappropriateness? Unworthiness? Unholiness? Most members of Parliament, if they went down that line of thinking at all, turned from it.

The debate was strikingly different from the thundering rancour during the 1986 homosexual law reform debate, and perceptibly more respectful of each other’s sincerity than in the civil union debate in 2004.

The great majority of the speakers on Wednesday were thoughtful and sincere. Both sides should recognise that.

Mixed marriage equality editorials

Editorial reaction to the passing of marriage equality bill has been mixed – it’s worth guessing that editorial writers will often be from older age groups.

Dominion Post was in favour – Bill gives equal opportunity for all

Before 9.30pm on Wednesday, a heterosexual couple who wanted to spend the rest of their lives together had three options. They could live as de-facto husband and wife, as many do, they could enter into a civil union or they could get married.

The passing two nights ago of Labour MP Louisa Wall’s bill allowing same-sex marriage has not altered those choices for heterosexual couples. Nor has it undermined or devalued the relationship status of those already married and those who will marry in the future.

It has merely extended to gay and transgender couples all the options that are available to straight couples.

All that has changed is that same-sex couples who love each other and who want to spend their lives together are no longer excluded by law from making the ultimate commitment purely because of their sexual orientation.

Waikato Times quoted several people in favour of the bill including Maurice Williamson and Lynda Topp but didn’t seem to share the gay mood in The sun will still rise

How well the vote mirrored public opinion is hard to gauge. One recent poll showed public opposition to same-sex marriage had grown significantly since Ms Wall’s bill came before Parliament. This shift in sentiment was not necessarily caused by scaremongering by the bill’s opponents, as its champions maintained. Opponents nevertheless were still outnumbered by supporters and young people overwhelmingly favoured it.

Some opposition was rooted in homophobia. Some was based on strongly held religious beliefs. Some people simply didn’t see the need for change, because civil unions went far enough in recognising same-sex relationships.

Former National MP Marilyn Waring wasn’t altogether in a celebratory mood, however, and condemned MPs who intended voting against the bill as cowards.

She will be aware that the rights of the opponents of same-sex marriage would be corroded, no matter how disagreeably they reason their stance, if Parliamentarians could not represent them. She will be aware, too, of the paradox in displaying intolerance of intolerance.

Manawatu Standard is positive despite their title – Prophecies of doom are overstated

The sanctity of marriage and even society itself will not be undermined or torn asunder. In fact, both will be strengthened by spreading even further underlying messages of hard work and togetherness implicit in the community’s official recognition of a couple, and by bringing gays further under the umbrella of conformity.

Even the churches could benefit, if they see the opportunity to spread their own message to a wider audience.

And maybe they too will find the sky hasn’t fallen.

ODT is more against the change – Same-sex marriage

For many social conservatives, notably those of fundamental or traditional religious beliefs, marriage was, is and should be a commitment between a man and a woman. The two genders are complementary and it is only through their union that children can be made naturally.

This important institution, upon which a healthy community is built, is being weakened, even debased. Further, why should gays try to co-opt ”marriage” when gay couples have virtually all the same rights through civil union legislation? That union signals couple status through specific vows and at a ceremony.

Surely, that is sufficient without muscling in on marriage?

Even though society is changing, even though liberalism triumphed on this occasion, the genuine and thoughtful beliefs of those opposed to change should be respected. Conservative reactions to declines in the morality, standards and safety in a complex and, at times, nasty modern world are understandable. There will, indeed, be times when holding fast to traditional views and laws are the appropriate reaction.

Taranaki Daily News has a “Modern Maiden” opinion – May we move on in love

One of the best things that will come from the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill is that the arguments will stop and the nastiness will cease.

I’m glad to have it carved in stone and written into the law, not only for the obvious and most important reason of equality, but also so people will eventually stop voicing their hateful views.

As an openly bisexual woman there has not been a week gone by since the bill was pulled from the ballot that I have not had to listen to somebody telling me exactly why it shouldn’t be made into law, and why it is wrong to even want it to.

The people who have shared their sometimes hurtful views with me have been friends, men at the bar who I had known for less than an hour, and even a couple of members of my family.

The bill has now passed, and for reasons of equality and civil rights I am over the moon, but I can’t shift this feeling of relief.

I am relieved because now the saga is over. There will be no more debating, no national marches and no more personal harassment.

The hurtful conversations should eventually stop and we can get on with trying to love one another again.

I am pretty sure that love was meant to be the focus of the bill in the first place, and I guess that’s what made it hard to understand where all this hatred came from.

The time has come. The bill has passed. May we move on in love.

 

National’s asset sales

Yesterday’s NZ Herald editorial suggests that National should be able to proceed with it’s Mixed Ownership Model sale of shares in power State Owned Enterprises.

Editorial: Sales stalled long enough by water case

Treaty has no business in company ownership

Assets that generate hydro or geothermal electricity are unquestionably in the government sphere. Privatisation, whether full or partial, is a debate between different views of the public interest. It is not a Treaty issue. Iwi and hapu that can establish customary rights to part of a river or a geothermal reservoir may deserve recompense from users of the resource, but those rights would apply whether the users are private companies, state-owned enterprise or the hybrid now proposed.

Government under the Treaty can surely decide what to do with assets it has built. A year of discussion has been enough.

The comments (and their ‘Like’ counters) indicate there is still a lot of opposition to this. Although it’s difficult to judge the numbers the ‘Likes’ of anti-asset sale comments run at about 75% compared to pro sale comments.

(It’s impossible to know whether comment ‘Likes’ are indicative of general opinion,  or biased by deliberate campaigns to stoke one side or that one side of a debate are more likely to show their opinion).

The first two comments are typical:

Observer2

Privatisation has indeed been a debate between different views of the public interest. The result of this debate is plain.The minority mandate won by National at the last election provides no justification for disposing of such valuable state assets. An overwhelming majority of Kiwi’s do not want hydro and power sources built up over many decades sold or partially sold by this or any Government.

– 128 likes

South

Yes, a year is long enough and enough money has been wasted over court cases etc. Get on with the sales and get some money to spend on more important things.

– 41 likes

And the last comment on the front page, while more extreme, is ‘liked’ exactly the same as the first.

Adam

This treasonous act against generations of taxpayers, stealing critical infrastructure currently owned by all citizens, for the sole purpose of further enriching the privileged elite, must be stopped by any means necessary, even if we have to enlist a taniwha.

– 128 likes

That probably just shows that if people are ‘voting’ against the sales don’t care about the level of rhetoric used.

As is normal with NZH comments the numbers supporting subsequent pages drop off considerably, and the ration is closer to 66% against, 33% for.

And a third page comment seems to

Mike

Actually most polling of the issue suggests around 60% do not want to sell.

Mike’s 4 ‘likes’ are similar to most levels of support on the third page.

What this doesn’t compare is opinion on the editorial comment itself, which has no comparable ‘like’ (or dislike) option.

All this shows that the asset sale debate is going to continue this year, with the final step in an attempt by some Maori to stop the sales via the courts, the Government proceeding with a share float or two, and the petition driven by Greens and Labour maybe making a statement, albeit futilely.