Seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis

A silly headline but a useful article from NZ Herald: Medical marijuana: Is NZ dazed and confused?

A conservative lobby group is seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis for chronic pain relief.

Kat Le Brun, by her own admission, is a “grumpy” Christian student teacher from Nelson, and Jacinta, a tiger mother with a quickfire voice.

What do they have in common? Pain. Not bang-your-thumb-with-a-hammer pain, but the sort of pain that lasts as long as you do.

Chronic pain.

Many people suffer from chronic pain and legal pain relief products are not always effective – and can be addictive, like  morphine.

“I believe we have to focus on the medical at this stage. It might be selfish but it’s all getting muddled up. We need to look at one issue. This is too much for the politicians to deal with.”

This conflation of medical marijuana and general legalisation may be one reason why New Zealand seems stuck, while our neighbours and allies are moving quite fast.

Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states of the United States, half the country.

In Australia, Victoria and ACT are preparing to join the party.

Ross Bell from the NZ Drug Foundation says after all these years railing against the evils of marijuana our Government is in a bit of a quandary.

“They think they are the drug warriors. Medical marijuana is confusing them, ‘we should do something but we don’t know what’. Something’s not computing. They don’t know what to do to meet the needs of the 75 per cent.”

New Zealand is certainly lagging behind the US and Australia on enabling the legal use of medicinal cannabis products.

Like Kat, Nichola’s tried marijuana and finds it transformative.

“It works and it’s a crime that it’s not available to us,” says Nichola. But just like Kat she refuses to turn herself into a criminal.

“I have quite strong values. I don’t want to blur the lines.”

In the blurry world of right and wrong all these women have had more experience with hard drugs than any of the dodgiest-looking characters on the protest.

Tramadol, OxyContin, morphine. You name it. Nichola is even taking heroin substitute methadone. She longs for medical marijuana to be legal.

“That’d be incredible. I’d be burning all my drugs my methadone and fentanyl patches.”

Patient frustration at the fringe nature of the movement has birthed a new conservative pressure group.

The co-ordinator is Kat’s husband Shane Le Brun.

“It’s been a long journey. Before my wife was injured we chucked flatmates out for drug use once upon a time. Now the tables have turned,” says the former soldier and National Party voter.

It’s called MCANZ. Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand.

They are trying to normalise the health benefits only of cannabis products.

A report to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman obtained under an Official information request says “there is a lack of robust clinical data and evidence of patient benefit”.

Kat, Nichola and Jacinta’s daughter have carried out their own personal trials and believe it works for chronic pain. For them anyway.

Not a cure or anything but a great alternative to opiates.

“It means pain relief that doesn’t affect me in a bad way,” says Kat. “A natural solution without all these massive side effects.”

With one in five kiwi adults suffering from chronic pain, Shane believes there are thousands out there who could benefit from medical marijuana.

But he’s careful not to suggest that it’s a panacea.

“At one end conservatives say it gives you schizophrenia and is so addictive and horrible. Then you’ve got those who say it will cure all ills and you never need another drug again. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

Getting New Zealand to catch up with that middle is a challenge given the current Government’s unwillingness to change the law.

Revelations that Martin Crowe and Paul Holmes used marijuana to mitigate the effects of chemotherapy has no doubt bolstered public opinion in New Zealand.

Since 2003 the number of people in favour of medical marijuana has doubled.

“We have people like Sir Paul Holmes using it in his dying days,” says Shane.

“You don’t have to be a hardcore lefty for that to strike a chord.”

Helen Kelly is another high profile user of medicinal cannabis, the difference being she is going public while she is still alive (albeit dying).

Shane agrees there’s a lot of compassionate cultivation going on.

“Some people will just grow and do it on the sly to self-medicate.”

But as Ross Bell warns, if you are treating kids with seizures you probably don’t want just anyone boiling up cannabis oil, you probably do want pharmaceuticals.

MCANZ is supportive of Rose Renton’s work, but as a conservative charity can’t support home-growing.

“As the only patient-led group playing within the rules we hope to be taken a little more seriously. All we care about is getting medicine into patients hands and getting rid of the background noise.”

To that end MCANZ is trying to make two cannabis-based medicines from a Canadian company called Tilray available for patients.

But there are hoops.

First they have to be assessed by the Ministry of Health, then personally signed off by Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.

The MCANZ applications are expected to land on Dunne’s desk in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, Kat and Shane are contemplating a second baby.

They hope medical marijuana might be available by the time it arrives. Their first child was born addicted to narcotics because of all the painkillers Kat had been prescribed.

“What my son went through because of the medication … For two weeks he had to go through withdrawals. I would not wish that on anyone. That’s what opiates do.”

What is currently available legally has major drawbacks, generally and compared to cannabis products.

They are sharing this personal story in the hope the decision makers will listen.

“They should come and sit with us and see what goes on with our families on a daily basis,” says Shane.

“There’s so much suffering our people go through. All behind closed doors. The only way is to open it up.”

Seeking support for new, cheaper medicinal cannabis seems the sensible, logical, relatively safe and compassionate way to go.

Are we a country of casual racists?

Apparently claims have been made that we are a country of casual racists because of something one person said on a ‘reality’ TV show. Mass blaming because of one comment seems ridiculous, but Heather du Plessis-Allen has written a column about it.

NZH: Give the prejudice test a go

Now seems an opportune time to test your bigotry, given claims that The Real Housewives of Auckland proves we’re a country of casual racists.

I don’t think a comment by one attention seeking housewife from Auckland has got anything to do with me.

In the latest – and most dramatic – episode, housewife Julia Sloane – who is white – refers to another housewife – who is not white – as a boat n*****.

Things go understandably awry.

There is crying, yelling and a champagne glass used as a projectile.

Call me cynical, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the term, that I would have thought was rarely used in New Zealand, was staged to stir up publicity. Isn’t that how those programs work? Yeah, I’m prejudiced against programs like that.

It’s a surprise anyone still uses the n-word this side of the millennium. It’s the second-most offensive word in New Zealand and has been for at least 17 years, according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

But, it’s a little hysterical to claim this is proof New Zealand is populated by a horde of casual racists who treat other ethnicities with the kind of cavalier disregard suggested by a phrase like casual racism.

I don’t know whether the mass blaming was done hysterically or not but it’s both stupid and it’s offensive to me.

Still, the event has given us a good chance to have a hunt around the attic of our attitudes and toss out a few we don’t need anymore. This is, after all, week two of a debate about racism in New Zealand.

Last week we questioned whether Nikolas Delegat – the son of winemaker Jim Delegat – received a seemingly light sentence for assaulting a policewoman because he was white. We also asked why white first-time offenders are twice as likely as Maori offenders to be let off with only a pre-charge warning.

In the same week, I met a woman in a regional city who twice referred to Maori men as “boy”, in one case in the presence of the man in question, who looked like he’d seen about 40 more summers than your average boy.

Terms like “boy” are at worst loaded with connotations of slavery and oppression and at best patronising.

There is certainly quite a bit of racism and racist attitudes in New Zealand, but there is also quite a bit of blaming everyone for the sins of some.

So, perhaps now is the time to spring clean ourselves of our racist attitudes.

Give the prejudice test a go.

She is referring to what is claimed to be a simple test, but I don’t know how well it applies to New Zealand.

But you can try it and see if you are a casual racist or not.

It looks like you are supposed to read the disclaimer, click on agree and then then choose the Race option.

 

City survey – housing

The latest ‘best city’ survey – see Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’ – howed that surprisingly low numbers of people thought their city had a poor or very poor quality of life, ranging from 2% in Dunedin and Wellington to 4% in Auckland and Christchurch.

There were both unsurprising and surprising responses on one of the big issues (going by media coverage) – housing.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

While four in five urban Kiwis say they have a good quality of life, less than half consider their housing situation to be affordable.

Housing was one of the main reasons cited by people who said they had a poor quality of life, along with financial anxiety, poor health, and bad job prospects.

Unsurprisingly, Aucklanders were the worst hit, with just 41 per cent considering their housing situation affordable, less than the 42 per cent who said it was unaffordable.

That’s still an even split – probably not much different to the split between house owners and renters.

Those in Dunedin were the most likely to find their housing situation affordable, at 69 per cent.

People at the lower end of the financial scale will always find it difficult to afford housing, whether renting or owning.

It’s still possible to find houses in Dunedin for under $200k and $300k can by some fairly good properties.

Despite these housing issues life satisfaction remained quite high. Research leader David Stuart of the Wellington City Council was somewhat surprised by this.

“It’s a bit of a surprise that you can be facing pressure in one area in your life but still have other things that are working really well for you,” Stuart said.

“Housing is a driver of quality of life, but the strongest driver was a category of responses that would fit more into emotional and physical health.”

Sure many of us may like bigger flasher houses in nice quiet neighbourhoods with great views and handy to everything, but most people can get by with housing, whether renting or owning.

Some people really struggle with housing, probably quite a few in places like Auckland and Queenstown, but those problems are probably amplified somewhat by politicians with agendas and media seeking headlines.

They survey says that in most of the major cities in New Zealand from 1 in 25 to 1 in 50 people think that their city lifestyle is poor or very poor.

Most of us wouldn’t mind winning Lotto but I think most of us also have realistic expectations.

Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’

‘Best city’ surveys give a bit of an indication of what people think but there are many factors to consider, like family, work, weather, education, health and what you are familiar with.

The ‘Quality of Life’ project does a two yearly survey, and in the latest one Dunedin and Wellington have come out on top:

Overall quality of life – extremely good+very good:

  • Dunedin: 27+61=88%
  • Wellington: 28+59=87%
  • Porirua: 19+65=84%
  • Hutt: 22+60-82%
  • Hamilton: 18+64=82%
  • Auckland: 18+61=79%
  • Christchurch: 20+58=78%

Those are percentages based on city councils.

Obviously with a much bigger population Auckland numerically has many more people satisfied with their city, but also quite a few more who are dissatisfied, 4% of one and a half million people is 60,000 people, about half the population of Dunedin.

A notable omission of the major cities is Tauranga.

Overall quality of life – poor+extremely poor

 

  • Dunedin: 2+0=2%
  • Wellington: 2+0=2%
  • Porirua: 2+1=3%
  • Hutt: 3+0=3%
  • Hamilton: 2+1=3%
  • Auckland: 4+0=4%
  • Christchurch: 4+0=4%

Those are remarkably low levels of dissatisfaction with cities, especially considering Christchurch and it’s problems with earthquakes. However about 20% of Christchurch residents said they were stressed “always” or “most of the time”.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

Dunedin has pipped Wellington to become the best city in New Zealand to live in, according to a new survey.

 

Statistically Dunedin and Wellington are the same so ‘best’ is barely . However if you combine the greater Wellington cities which include Porirua and Hutt they drop a bit down the scale.

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin in the biennial Quality of Life Survey.

Those in Dunedin were also more likely to be physically active and less likely to be stressed than their urban counterparts.

The study questioned 7155 Kiwis across seven urban areas and two wider regions. Quality of life in general was relatively steady across the two previous surveys in 2014 and 2012.

The Stuff article covers a number of issues affecting people’s opinion s on their cities, such as stress, traffic and safety.

Wellingtonians were also the most welcoming to outsiders. About three quarters of the capital’s respondents said that New Zealand becoming home for people with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a better place to live in.

Aucklanders were the least welcoming, with just over half (52 per cent) saying diversity was a net positive and one in five saying it was a net negative.

It’s interesting that Auckland has by far the most immigrants and is the least tolerant of them, but ‘locals’ will be seeing huge changes to their city (or in many cases their adopted city).

I will post separately on what the survey found about housing.

NZ ‘climate snapshot’

Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett has praised New Zealand’s progress on addressing climate change.


Climate snapshot shows NZ’s progress

A report released today shows New Zealand is making good progress in tackling climate change and is focused on the next steps, Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett says.

‘New Zealand’s Action on Climate Change’, produced by the Ministry for the Environment, brings together information about the science, global momentum and domestic work to transition to a lower emissions future.

“Climate change is an incredibly important issue, but too many people find it complex or get put off by the politics,” Mrs Bennett says.

“This snapshot of the things we’ve done, are doing, and still need to do will help New Zealanders better understand how we can leave the planet a better place for future generations.

“From the central and local government’s investment and support, through to research, businesses, iwi and households, there is some really impressive work underway that can give New Zealanders confidence we are on a path to grow with fewer emissions.”

Released today to coincide with a United Nations event to encourage early ratification of the Paris climate change agreement, the snapshot will be updated regularly as New Zealand’s work programme progresses.

“I’d encourage all New Zealanders to take a look, think about what they’re already doing to preserve our stunning environment we’re all so proud of, and what else their family and workplace can do to reduce emissions,” Mrs Bennett says.

A copy of the climate snapshot is available here: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate-change/new-zealands-action-climate-change

Key: “Syria has become a byword for failure”

RNZ reports on John Key at the Security Council: Devastating Syria conflict ‘a byword for failure’

Prime Minister John Key has told the UN the conflict in Syria is a byword for failure and the international response has so far failed.

Mr Key chaired a heated Security Council session on Syria in which the US called for all planes to be grounded in key areas of the country to save the truce there, following an attack on an aid convoy.

Opening the meeting, Mr Key said the Syrian civil war the most devastating conflict of the 21st century and no other other issue more urgently demanded the attention of world leaders.

The conflict had created security threats that reach well beyond Syria’s borders and after more than five years of violence, Syria had become a byword for failure.

“Failure of the parties and their supporters to put peace, and the lives of innocent people ahead of self-interest and zero-sum politics. Failure to respond to the crisis early to prevent this tragedy. And a collective political failure, including by this Council, to do what must be done to end the conflict.

The problem was not a lack of direction, he said, as the pathway for ending this conflict was set out by the Security Council last December but the timetable for implementing them was never carried out.

“Today we all need to commit to restoring the cessation of hostilities, delivering aid to those who need it, and restarting political talks.

“Last week’s arrangement between US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov represents the best hope we have seen in some time.

“We encourage Russia and the US to show sustained leadership and not let this opportunity slip away.”

The next few days would be critical in restoring the cessation of hostilities and getting humanitarian aid flowing, he said. “We urge the Syrian parties to abide by the arrangement. This Council should unite to back those efforts.”

But the US and Russia followed looking as though a solution in Syria may be as difficult to achieve as ever.

Lavrov called for an independent investigation into the convoy attack, and said all parties needed to take simultaneous steps to stop the war.

Kerry said the future of Syria was “hanging by a thread”. He said Monday’s attack, which killed 20 civilians, had raised profound doubt over whether Russia and the Syrian government would live up to terms of the ceasefire deal.

Moscow has denied being involved. An impassioned Mr Kerry faced off with Lavrov saying the bombing of the aid convoy raised “profound doubt whether Russia and the Assad regime can or will live up to” ceasefire obligations. Listening to Mr Lavrov made him feel like he was living in a “parallel universe”, Mr Kerry said.

Parallel universes:

  • The aims and ideals of the Security Council
  • What the Security Council achieves

Key tried hard but it was probably as effective as humming in a hurricane.

A five year hurricane of violence continues to devastate Syria and destabilise the world.

And what about ‘Aotearoa’?

Following on from A constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand? – what about also having a serious conversation about the name of our country?

I don’t like what seems to be happening, change by stealth. Our country is currently called ‘New Zealand’ and I don’t think it should be referred to as ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’ – yet at least.

We should discuss it openly and decide whether we want to continue to be known as New Zealand, or if we should revert to the indigenous version, Aotearoa.

I’d be quite happy for and supportive of a change to Aotearoa, but it should be decided, not imposed by creeping imposition.

‘New Zealand’ isn’t even the first European name for our country.

In 1642 Abel Tasman named it Staten Landt.

In 1645 Dutch cartographers renamed it Nova Zeelandia.

Over a century later James Cook anglicised it to New Zealand.

‘Aotearoa’ has also evolved as a name.It originally referred to the North Island but gradually became used for and accepted as a name for the whole country.

The common translation is ‘land of the long white cloud’ but ‘long bright world’ or ‘land of abiding day’ are also possibilities.

It can depend on how the word is broken down.

  • Aotea: a cloudy-white or blue-grey variety of greenstone resembling white clouds
    or:
    Aotea: canoe that brought Turi and his people from Hawaiki, eventually arriving in Taranaki where they intermarried with the tangata whenua tribes
  • Roa: long time, length, length of time, delay

Alternately:

  • Ao: world, globe, global
    or
    Ao: bright
    or
    Ao: earth
    or
    Ao: day, daytime – as opposed to night
    or
    Ao: cloud
  • Tea: white, clear, transparent
  • Roa: long time, length, length of time, delay

So there is plenty of scope there.

Roa is also the name for the great spotted kiwi, Apteryx haastii, but ‘land of the transparent kiwi’ is probably not a goer.

I like playing with language but that’s really a diversion.

Regardless of what it was originally intended to mean ‘Aotearoa’ is widely accepted as one name for our country. I’d be quite happy if it became our sole name and ‘New Zealand’ drifted off into a part of our history.

But I expect that woukld be a bit contentious.

 

Prince Charles on Somme tribute to NZ troops

Thanks for these links Missy.

Prince Charles, dressed for the first time publicly in New Zealand Army Field Marshal uniform, paid tribute to New Zealand troops when he spoke during a commemorative service at Caterpillar Valley Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Longueval.

Daily Mail: Prince Charles speaks of his hopes for a future ‘free of conflict’ as he pays tribute to New Zealand troops killed in the Battle of the Somme

 

  • The Prince of Wales spoke today at a service in Longueval, France
  • It is the first time he has worn the New Zealand Army Field Marshal uniform, having been appointed last year
  • New Zealand suffered a casualty rate of 60 per cent in the bloody battle
  • The Prince said the sacrifices should be remembered ‘with pride and humilty’ 

The Prince of Wales spoke of his hope for a ‘future free from intolerance and conflict’ at a service to remember troops from New Zealand who were killed during the Battle of the Somme.

Prince Charles, who is Field Marshal of the New Zealand Army, praised the ‘boundless courage and tenacity’ of soldiers at a service in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the brutal conflict.

He said the soldiers’ sacrifices should be remembered with ‘pride and humility’.

Prince Charles spoke during a commemorative service at Caterpillar Valley Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Longueval.

Today marks 100 years since the New Zealand infantry ‘went over the top’ in the bloody battle.

An estimated 6,000 New Zealanders fought that day, with around 600 killed and 1,200 wounded or missing.

The Prince said: ‘Standing in this peaceful scene today it is hard to imagine that a century ago this was an infernal, blasted wasteland, which my predecessor as Prince of Wales, my great-uncle Edward, described as “the nearest approach to hell imaginable”.’

He spoke of the sacrifice made by Pakeha and Maori soldiers in the battle, and told how New Zealand suffered a casualty rate of nearly 60 per cent.

He said: ‘Measured against the enormity of this suffering and sacrifice, our presence here today may seem small and insignificant.

‘Yet we gather with pride and humility to remember the service of all who fell or were injured here.’

Also at…

The Telegraph:  Prince of Wales dons New Zealand field marshal uniform for Somme commemoration

Military Times (AP): Prince Charles pays tribute to thousands of New Zealanders killed in World War I

NZ Herald: Somme centenary: Updates from the New Zealand commemorations in France

New Zealand Defence Force musicians perform ‘A Day In Battle’, composed specifically for the sunset ceremony at the Battle of the Somme centenary:

 

What happened to NZ after marriage equality?

aftermarriageequality

Post-truth, or the diss-information age

‘Post-truth’ is a term that has come to some prominence. It’s a lie – or more accurately, a lot of deliberate lies told by politicians.

The heralded age of information seems to have morphed into the disinformation age, or alternately the diss-information age.

From Art of the lie at The Economist – “Politicians have always lied. Does it matter if they leave the truth behind entirely?”

CONSIDER how far Donald Trump is estranged from fact.

Mr Trump is the leading exponent of “post-truth” politics—a reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact. His brazenness is not punished, but taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power. And he is not alone.

Winston Peters stands out as a long time maker of assertions that “feel true”but have scant basis in fact, or that he has no evidence for, or that he doesn’t provide any evidence of.

Most of the time Peters gets away with it, aided and abetted by an often willing media and sufficient gullible voters to keep him in Parliament. Sometimes it backlashes on Peters, for example when Tauranga voters rejected him in 2005 – although NZ First was still in a position to decide that Labour and not National or the Greens would be in Government with them.

And in 2008 when Peters tried to take the Tauranga electorate back and lost to Simon Bridges by 11,742 votes, and NZ First failed to make the threshold getting just 4.07% of the votes.

But Peters came back in 2011 and is now widely expected to again dictate which parties will govern after next year’s election. His bull continues, with a brazenness that is not punished, but is taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power.

Stacey Kirk shows that Peters is far from alone in New Zealand with brazen bullshit in Personal prejudices the fuel of a political post-truth era

There’s dealing in grey, and then there’s dealing in unashamed drivel. 

The latter is becoming the norm, though thankfully not on a Trumpian scale – just yet. 

Dipping their toes into the post-truth waters however, New Zealand’s politicians are trying the mantle on for size, seeing how flows and gaining surety in it as they walk. They’re dissembling through their teeth and embarrassingly, a significant group of New Zealanders are lapping it up. 

Kirk lists some examples:

  • Government politicians claim income inequality had not worsened, contrary to official reports from both MSD and Statistics NZ.
  • Finance Minister Bill English was forced to admit he used incorrect figures to veto an extension to paid parental leave, despite the correct figures being written in the veto certificate he himself tabled.
  • Education Minister Hekia Parata was caught out making up an official body, to support changes around special needs education when she claimed she had the support of the “Special Education Association”. What association was that?  “All those who are involved in the delivery of special education with whom I have had these discussions”.
  • NZ First MP and anti-1080 campaigner Richard Prosser claimed cats, rats, and native birds had “coexisted” for more than 200 years, yet accused the Government’s “Predator Free by 2050” of being based on “unsubstantiated” science.
  • Trade Minister Todd McClay was publicly rebuked by his own Prime Minister for being economical with the truth, over what was known about fears of Chinese trade retaliation.
  • Auckland Mayoral candidate John Palino has claimed iwi leaders were holding building consent-seekers to ransom for $50k a pop.

Even the ‘clean’ Greens indulge in blatant bull.

  • More children will suffer under a re-elected National government because it’s “in denial” over the reality of child poverty in New Zealand, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.
  • “The New Zealand Government makes all sorts of promises on the international stage in relation to children’s rights, but when it comes to policy at every stage they fail our kids,” also from Turei.

And these sorts of assertions are taken as evidence by many of the willingness of the Greens to stand up for the poor kids.

There is a problem with bald faced bull, in New Zealand at least – the US has major problems, not just potentially with Trump, but also with Clinton (both Bill and Hillary) and it’s politics in general.

Greens have solid and loyal followers who think John Key doesn’t care about or hates kids, but they seem to have hit a ceiling of support.

Labour’s assertions that they finally have a leader who can look Prime Ministerial seem to have a limited gullible audience too.

But Peters seems to be on a roll, with NZ First polling far better at this stage of a term than they have for yonks.

Yet the masses fall into line based on what “feels” like it might be true. 

And I get it, voting is an emotional experience as much as it is logical. Even the most well-researched voters can’t block out that gut-feeling when they’re faced with a ballot paper – the option that they feel is the right one.

Many Americans (and some Kiwis) are convinced that Trump is ‘the right one’. And it seems a growing number of New Zealand voters are buying Winston’s bull and bluster.

That politicians deal in lies is not new. What is, is the way the truth has become secondary to reaffirming people’s latent prejudices. 

Pandering to prejudices and entrenched misconceptions is not new either (Peters has done it for decades) but it seems to be growing.

Politicians lie, media do call them out on it, but they double down and repeat. Why? Because they’re not trying to convince anyone that requires it of anything. They’re consolidating a mob – Us vs Them.

Yes, they are pandering to mob mentality. But do the media call them out on it? Sometimes, but they are also guilty of feeding it. That’s how Trump got within a whisker of the White House.

And here Key and his Ministers and their PR teams play the media. Peters is an expert at extracting maximum bang for his bull from the media. The Greens are hardly held to account by the media.

The only party that is failing with the media and the gullible voters is Labour. Are they the worst liars – or the worst at lying?

This is a two-sided game, and this kind of politics only works if people are buying it.

New Zealanders have a right to expect evidence and be given information that can and should be used at the ballot box, next year. 

For that to happen, we all need to check our own biases first.

A lie is only effective if you fall for it.

This could be as true for media as it is for voters.

PR churn is a major problem. Giving bullshit from politicians the headline, not always holding them to account, giving counter claims secondary exposure, giving politicians the opportunity to keep repeating their misleading and false assertions – this is a problem accentuated by the Internet, where clicks are the revenue makers.

Social media, with many more ways of lying and a myriad of competitors for eyeballs and eardrums, has just made an old problem worse.

Forums for debate are largely ineffective. Try arguing about socialism or climate change or Islam or any of a wide range of topics, and you will find that most participants start with entrenched views regardless of the facts and are more likely to end up with their views reinforced rather than challenged.

We must stop using fossil fuels or the planet is doomed. When Muslims get to 5% of the population a country is doomed. If people with different languages or customs or religions emigrate our country is doomed.

If these sorts of assertions are repeated often enough – and there are parties and lobby groups and activists who go to great lengths to keep repeating assertions to try and make them stick – then there are significant numbers of people who will believe them, regardless of the facts.

Post-truth, lies, unsubstantiated assertions, smearing hit jobs, none of these a re new but  they seem to be becoming more prominent and powerful.

Post-truth is a lie. A lot of what politicians and media perpetuate are lies, or untruthful claims, and assertions, or smears. Or a mixture of bullshit.

The only thing I’m not sure about is how much is deliberate lying, and how much is ignorance of people who actually believe their own lies.

The age of the Internet, the information age, seems to amplify the worst and seems to have become the disinformation age.

And where negative attack politics seems to rule, or at least try and rule, the diss-information age, where false information is deliberately used to attack, smear and discredit.

Are we doomed?