Molyneux also talks up war

Stefan Molyneux has left New Zealand, grizzling on the way out.

Did he think he should be given VIP treatment and be able to bypass security? Not a very classy whine from Molyneux.

While he was still here he said some outlandish things. Like the business of war talk.

Newshub: Stefan Molyneux warns ‘war is coming’, asks for likes, shares and money

Mr Molyneux has now taken to YouTube, uploading a 12-minute video which oscillates between decrying the “demonic mob” that got their show cancelled, and asking for supporters to “like, subscribe and share” – and give him money.

“We lost a venue. Hundreds and hundreds of people who had come a long way and were very passionate to hear this conversation, to engage in what Lauren and I were going to discuss, we lost the venue and that’s costly. It’s very expensive, and I need your help”.

“I would really, really appreciate it.”

Both an attention seeker and a money seeker.

He said the funding is necessary for him to keep speaking out against the “encroaching mob and horde of mindless violence the left seems to want to unleash on the failing remnants of civilisation”.

He was relatively restrained in media interviews while in New Zealand. He tried to provoke reactions here, which successfully attracted opposition and media attention, but via Youtube he shows how dangerous he could be if he got more than fringe support.

Without more money, Mr Molyneux fears “self-contempt, self-hatred and possibly incarceration or death itself”, because “that’s what happens when the left gains power”.

He then took a shot at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who at the weekend said Kiwis were “hostile” to Mr Molyneux’s views.

“The Prime Minister was the head of a youth socialist organisation not a decade ago, so that’s what you get.”

That’s a bit pathetic.

Mr Molyneux says unless “free speech” is kept alive, “we are going to end up with bayonets pointed at each other’s hearts”.

“I am trying with all of my might and all of my rhetoric and all of my energy and efforts to stop the war that is coming. This feral escalation of abuse and violence and threats and deplatforming is going to escalate into war. History is very clear on this point.

“I don’t know if the left knows how much it’s going to escalate, I don’t know if they want it, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I’m telling you, it’s coming.”

He seems to be trying hard to make a left-right war come.

While general populations seem to be less and less aligned to left or right politics people on the fringes are having to go to extremes to get attention.

There is a risk, because if a few on the fringes turn to violence it could get very nasty.

It’s ironic that Molyneux is trying to talk up the sort of problems he claims he is warning against.

If a Muslim radical came to New Zealand (or spoke to New Zealand via Youtube) with language anything like what Molyneux is using the sort of person supporting Molyneux would be up in arms, metaphorically at least.

Molyneux’s visit has raised some important issues about free speech.

Through his speech, especially his orchestrated self edited speech via Youtube, he has shown how dangerous he could be if he managed to raise a rabble. Fortunately his Kiwi experience didn’t rise to much. I doubt he will be back. Good riddance to him.

Attempts to bring ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’ here

Donald Trump is following the example of a tirade of tyrants with his ongoing attacks on non compliant US media as ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’. Attempts are being made to bring these sorts of insidious assaults to new Zealand.

From Facebook:

No automatic alt text available.

Far from the real truth

I think this is quite unfair on New Zealand media. There is plenty to criticise them about – especially things like their growing obsession with trivia and click bait, reducing numbers of journalists, rushing the ‘news’ under online pressure, and their picking of winners and losers in politics.

But I don’t think they can fairly be accused of deliberately assaulting the truth. Most journalists do their best in high pressure jobs to be accurate and balanced.

New Zealand has reasonable complaints systems (too slow, but as good as could probably be expected) that help hold our media to account.

Fortunately there is unlikely to be a popular anti-media movement in New Zealand. When ‘fake news’ is promoted on Whale Oil – like First and second place for fake NZ news go to… – the declining number of people who take any notice of that site will note more irony than reality, given WO’s record of unbalanced activism while claiming to be a brave new version of media.

The fact is that most ‘fake news’ is circulated and promoted by anonymous sources acting in the shadows of the Internet as deliberate attempts to mislead and misinform.

Newsroom (March 2018): Fact or fiction? Behind the rise of fake news

Like it or not – and most of us don’t – we’ve become embroiled in a murky “fake news” propaganda conflict aimed at controlling our opinions and our choices.

It’s most prevalent in our social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter.

Broadly speaking, fake news is the dissemination of falsehoods disguised as truth.

A producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes programme, Michael Radutzky, defines it more specifically as “stories that are provably false, have enormous traction in culture, and are consumed by millions of people”. In other words, fake news creates a misinformed public, fostering societal pressure on politicians to enact policies against the public interest.

It can also undermine the legitimacy of “real” news stories.

That is often it’s aim – and seems to be a clear aim of Trump.

Adding to this problem is a general 21st Century decline in journalistic standards that has weakened the ability of news outlets to subject their information sources to effective scrutiny.

With this in mind, Snopes founder David Mikkelson warns that fake news is “a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon which encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone”.

So it adds to growing problems with news coverage.

One of the teenagers in Veles, named Goran, told the BBC how he got involved.

He started by plagiarising stories from right-wing American sites and posting them on Facebook with sensationalist headlines. He paid Facebook to “boost” these posts, sharing them with a large US audience hungry for Trump stories.

When those people shared the stories and clicked on their “like” buttons, Goran began earning revenue from associated advertising. According to Goran, he pocketed 1800 Euros ($3000) in one month.

When questioned about the morality of his actions, Goran said, “Teenagers in our city don’t care how Americans vote – they are only satisfied that they make money and can buy expensive clothes and drinks”.

But the also recruit a lot of willing unpaid helpers who get sucked into their crap and give it credence. That’s perhaps the biggest worry.

It’s far better that an open democracy that values free speech has a diverse, imperfect media and not a compliant bunch of Government mouthpieces afraid to hold power to account.

Cannabis poll: high support for use, not for supply

The NZ Drug Foundation has just released the results of a cannabis poll, carried out from 2 July 2018 until 17 July 2018

Participants stated whether an activity should be illegal, decriminalised, or legal.

Growing and/or using cannabis for medical reasons if you have a terminal illness

  • 10% – illegal
  • 17%  – decriminalised.
  • 72%- legal

Growing and/or using cannabis for any medical reasons such as to alleviate pain

  • 13% – illegal
  • 17%  – decriminalised.
  • 70%- legal

So high support for use of cannabis for medical reasons.

Growing a small amount of cannabis for personal use

  • 38% – illegal
  • 29%  – decriminalised
  • 32%- legal

Possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use

  • 31% – illegal
  • 32%  – decriminalised
  • 35%- legal

More wanting to keep it illegal for personal (recreational) use but still about two thirds in support for legal change.

Growing a small amount of cannabis for giving or selling to your friends

  • 69% – illegal
  • 18%  – decriminalised
  • 12%- legal

Selling cannabis from a store

  • 60% – illegal
  • 9%  – decriminalised.
  • 29%- legal

Here there is much higher support for staying illegal for ways of getting cannabis apart from growing your own.

Source: NZ Herald Cannabis issues poll

The poll was conducted by Curia Market Research

943 respondents agreed to participate out of a random selection of 15,000 phone numbers nationwide

China response to Defence Policy Statement criticisms

A Strategic Defence Policy Statement released on Friday by Minister of Defence Ron Mark stated the threat it believes China poses to the international community.China has responded.

Stuff: China fires back at NZ, calls remarks on South China Sea and Pacific politics wrong

Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have often been careful not to specifically call out the country when talking about international tensions in the South China Sea, or over development spending in the Pacific.

But the defence statement explicitly listed what the Government saw as potential threats posed by China.

Mark’s paper said “both domestically and as a basis for international engagement, China holds views on human rights and freedom of information that stand in contrast to those that prevail in New Zealand”.

It went on to say “not all major powers’ aspirations can be shaped in accordance with the rules-based order, in the way that had been hoped until recently”.

On Friday, Mark said the statement would come as no surprise to China.

But on Monday, Peters said the Chinese Government had made clear its concern over the paper, both through its ambassador in Wellington and New Zealand’s ambassador in Beijing, but played down the significance of this.

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had “lodged stern representations with New Zealand on the wrong remarks it has made on China”.

“We urge New Zealand to view the relevant issue in an objective way, correct its wrong words and deeds and contribute more to the mutual trust and cooperation between our two countries,” she said.

The Global Times, one of the official newspapers of the Communist Party of China, says similar: Australia, New Zealand should avoid misrepresenting China’s role

While acknowledging China’s contributions to the international order, New Zealand accused China of having not “consistently adopted the governance and values championed by the order’s traditional leaders” in its Strategic Defense Policy Statement 2018. It also alleged that “China’s more confident assertion” of interests in Asia has “raised tensions” with neighboring countries.

The Washington-led international policy pattern has gradually turned out to be inadaptable to today’s development. Worse still, Washington, unwilling to accept China’s rise, has been working to drive a wedge between China and Asia-Pacific countries, further destabilizing the region. As a result, China has been seeking every opportunity to cooperate with regional countries for fairer orders.

It would be a strategic mistake if the security pact is clinched to target China. To begin with, China has risen to the second largest economy in the world. Its economic might is being gradually transformed into a locomotive for regional cooperation.

A hint of a warning in trade, which is always a factor in international relations. New Zealand has a growing reliance on trade with China.

More importantly, China’s role in the South Pacific is actually welcomed by a majority of countries there. China has emerged as a major donor in the South Pacific, including in Forum countries Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, instilling momentum to the region’s development. China provided $1.8 billion in aid and loans to South Pacific nations between 2006 and 2016, according to media reports.

That’s a lot of aid, far more than New Zealand (or Australia) could give.

How to share the developmental dividends of China’s rise is a subject that the international community should ponder on. China’s emergence is an irreversible trend, and any attempt to contain the country’s growth runs contrary to the trend of the times.

Instead of being overly cautious about China’s rise, Australia and New Zealand should avoid misleading the region on China’s role, and other regional countries should be clear about the consequences of being misled. The region will only suffer more losses from containing China.

Dealing with China is a tricky balance.

Ardern and peters have to deal with diplomacy and consider trade far more than Mark who is more removed from the overall realities of international relationships in his defence role.

The Molyneux-Southern Australasian speaking tour

The speaking event involving Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern was quickly canned in Auckland after mayor Phil Goff decided that he not only didn’t want to listen to the two Canadians, but he also didn’t want anyone else listening to them at council owned venues.

But it looks like the Australian leg of the tour is still on – with tickets ranging between $79 and $749  – the top price for ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity to break bread at an intimate function prior to the main event that evening with not one but two of the most influential Alt Media personalities of our generation’.  I’d never heard of them so don’t know how influential they are.

The tour blurb at Axiomatic Events:

“Australia is at a crossroads…”

Axiomatic is proud to bring Alt Media commentators and conservative activists STEFAN MOLYNEUX & LAUREN SOUTHERN to Australia and New Zealand in 2018 for a free speech evening of stories, opinions, inspiration and Q&A.

Stefan Molyneux is the host of Freedomain Radio, the largest and most popular philosophy show in the world, with half a billion views, downloads and book sales. He is an in-demand public speaker, best-selling author and incisive interviewer. Stefan Molyneux has hosted many public intellectuals and debates on his show, from Noam Chomsky to Jordan Peterson.

Rejecting left/right political clichés, Stefan Molyneux builds rational arguments from first principles, combining a respect for self-ownership with the morality of the non-aggression principle to build a truly peaceful vision for humanity’s future. From peaceful parenting to politics, from objective ethics to emotions, Stefan Molyneux brings the clarity and passion of philosophy to a wide variety of personal, political and social challenges.

Lauren Southern is a Canadian journalist, political activist, documentary filmmaker and best selling author. She is well known for her commentary on feminism, free speech, and immigration.  Whether it’s the riots in Berkeley, Slut Walk in LA, Black Lives Matter uprising in Milwaukee, and most recently the farm murders in South Africa.

In 2015 Lauren ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in the Canadian federal election. Soon after, she was hired by Rebel Media, where she worked until March 2017. Since then, she has been working independently through her YouTube channel which has over a half million followers. Known for her fearless reporting, she  tackles stories that the mainstream media refuses to cover.  She is a lover of freedom and hedgehogs.

Tickets:

  • $79 general admission to “hear speeches by world leading commentators and justice activists”
  • $99 early admission (a few minutes early to get better seats)
  • $199 meet & greet ‘strictly limited to 40 people at each event for half an hour backstage access prior to the show’
  • $499 VIP meet & greet “10 people will get to spend an extra 15 minutes in the Meet & Greet, plus get a swag of personally signed, awesome merchandise”
  • $749 dinner and early admission “opportunity to break bread at an intimate function prior to the main event that evening with not one but two of the most influential Alt Media personalities of our generation”

I wouldn’t be surprised if ticket sales were a factor in the quick cancellation of the Auckland event.

But if you really want to listen to them live you can book tickets for Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney or Brisbane for later this month.

US-China trade war heats up

World trade is increasingly at risk as the US-China trade war kicks in and heats up.

Reuters: Trump’s $500 billion trade threat makes China’s already battered investors shiver

Six months of wrangling over trade tariffs with the United States has wiped out about a fifth of China’s stock market value and driven its currency down sharply. But those moves may have just been a downpayment on what is yet to come.

Shanghai’s benchmark share index .SSEC is down roughly 22 percent since January, when U.S. President Donald Trump’s first trade tariffs on solar panels were announced. It has fallen 9 percent since June 19, when Trump outlined his plans to tax a lot more Chinese imports than he initially proposed.

Tariffs on the first batch of $34 billion worth of Chinese imports kicked in on Friday. Beijing said it had no choice but to respond in kind by taxing a similar amount of U.S. goods coming into China. U.S. tariffs on another $16 billion of Chinese goods are due to go into effect in two weeks, Trump said on Thursday.

But Trump also raised the temperature much further by telling reporters that after the initial $50 billion of goods has been targeted with tariffs, Washington could add another $500 billion.

With Beijing indicating it will respond with tariffs on more U.S. imports or other corresponding actions of its own, the specter of a full-blown trade war risks sinking China’s markets deeper into bear territory.

This could get very ugly, and New Zealand could easily be affected.

NZH: How US-China trade war could affect NZ

With a trade war brewing between two of the world’s biggest economies, China is more likely to be prepared to agree to more favourable terms in the upgrade of its Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand.

Short-term there is potentially some upside for New Zealand if producers here can replace some of the American products in China.

This is where our FTA talks can help, to position these short-term opportunities as long-term realities. And the Chinese may be appreciative if we show good faith, which we have done in the past.

If we show good faith to China in a trade war Trump may not view us very favourably.

Trade Minister David Parker…acknowledged the proposed e-commerce chapter in the upgraded FTA is of particular importance to New Zealand.

It’s a difficult issue as the Government is moving to reform our GST rules on online shopping, which is likely to act as a barrier to expanded e-commerce.

Imagine what headaches it could bring to Kiwi exporters if China introduces a similar rule and New Zealand exporters are required to register for VAT in China?

There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in the international trade arena at the moment. I don’t think anyone can know how it will pan out.

Foreign investors buy $2.1b of NZ assets in five months, but…

It pays to read past the headline and opening paragraph.

Newstalk ZB (NZH) report: Foreign investors snap up $2.1b of NZ assets in five months

Foreigners got consent to buy $2.1 billion of New Zealand assets classed as rural, sensitive or worth $100m-plus in the first five months of the year.

But this is ‘a sharp decline’.

The Overseas Investment Office has just released its list of decisions made between January and May, and the figures show a sharp decline from the $4.6b recorded over the same period last year.

And:

It’s also worth noting that New Zealand has survived and thrived on foreign investment for two hundred years.

How good are New Zealand firearms controls?

In the wake of the Maryland newspaper office shooting there are inevitable issues raised about how well controlled firearms are in New Zealand. From my own experience what happens here is just about as comprehensive as I think I could be while still allowing legitimate ownership and use. And it’s getting tougher.

While the US suffers from a succession of mass shootings, and their liberal gun laws seem entrenched by politicians financed by the rich and powerful NRA lobby, fortunately multi-death shooting tragedies are relatively rare here in New Zealand.

First, for comparison, here are horrific statistics from the US from the Gun Violence Archive:

  • 2018 (to date, half a year) shooting deaths 7,078, mass shooting deaths: 154
  • 2017 total deaths 15,631, mass shooting deaths 346
  • 2016 total deaths 15,104, mass shooting deaths 382
  • 2015 total deaths 13,532, mass shooting deaths 335
  • 2014 total deaths 12,556, mass shooting deaths 270

That looks like a surge in deaths in recent years. The population of the US is about 325 million.

The New Zealand population is about 4.8 million, so about 1.5% of the US population. Shooting deaths here per year from 1994-2014 averaged 8 (total murders range between about 60-80).

There was a spike in shooting homicides latev last century but it has dropped and leveled off just a bit above historic averages.

aaaaaa.PNG

Trend in rates of homicide and firearm-armed homicide per 10,000 population, and in firearm ownership per capita, 1961 – 2009 – source SSANZ

So things seem to have been brought reasonably under control. I don’t have stats on what proportion of firearms used in homicides were illegally owned.

So how well regulated is firearm ownership and use in New Zealand? It is well controlled and increasingly so.

Police details online: Standard New Zealand firearms licence

Someone will arrange to visit you. They will interview you and check your firearms security arrangements. They will arrange to interview your referees.

One referee must be your spouse or next of kin, the other must be someone who is over 20 years old and not related to you

You will have difficulty being deemed ‘fit and proper’ to possess or use firearms if you have:

  • a history of violence
  • repeated involvement with drugs
  • been irresponsible with alcohol
  • a personal or social relationship with people deemed to be unsuitable to be given access to firearms
  • indicated an intent to use a firearm for self-defence.

Firearms storage
You will need to show that firearms will be stored in the manner set out in the Arms Regulations – if you can’t, you may not get a licence or your current one will be revoked. All licence holders must install security at their home, even if they don’t actually have any firearms.

And I know from people who have experienced a visit recently that all these things are covered comprehensively, as well as being cross checked with referees:

This is more comprehensive than in the past.

And it is going to take more for a person to get a firearms licence, with practical training required from tomorrow.

Police gearing up for new firearms safety training for first time licence applicants

From 1 July firearms safety training is changing.

Police has been working with the firearms community to improve safety outcomes by delivering an enhanced firearms safety training programme for first-time firearms licence applicants.

“Much like the process for obtaining a driver licence, first-time applicants will need to pass a theory test and undergo practical training to obtain a firearms licence,” says Acting Superintendent Mike McIlraith.

“For many years the current theory-only programme has provided new firearms users with a solid start. But over recent years Police and the firearms community identified the opportunity to build on this and provide first-time applicants with a practical hands-on component to complement the theoretical.”

The theory test is a computer-based multi-choice test which will be delivered by Police using the same system used for computerised driver licence theory tests.

Applicants must pass the theory test before they can attend the firearms practical training course.

The practical course and training on safe-handling of firearms will be delivered by firearms instructors from the Mountain Safety Council across the country.

The firearms theory test and practical training require applicants to show that they have a strong understanding of the Arms Code and how to stay safe with firearms.

“As pleased as Police is to deliver the new firearms safety programme, new firearms users will still need to gain experience using firearms safely in a variety of settings.

So while many people own firearms in New Zealand it is comparatively safe here compared to the US, and getting and retaining a firearms licence is being carefully and comprehensively vetted.

 

Political tribalism worsening in USA, less so in NZ

Donald Trump has had a polarising effect on US politics – and in some respects that’s a deliberate tactic. How bad is the political divide in the US?

We have some of it here in New Zealand, especially in social media like Twitter, Facebook and on some political blogs, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad across the population.

Yale professor Amy Chua says (in NZ Listener) Political tribalism is getting worse in the US

Chua is one of the most-talked-about writers in the disunited states of America.

Speaking from her home in New Haven, Connecticut, where her day job is as a professor at Yale Law School, she reels off the list of countries that have been sites of US debacles abroad: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela. It’s a grim roll call, but maybe, from such abject lows, there is nowhere to go but up.

Tribalism, she says, is now so pronounced in the US that, no matter what someone says, their opponents will argue the opposite of a position that, just a few years ago, they would have supported.

Actually when Trump is involved we see a bit of that here on Your NZ.

“I worry because, if you look back five or 10 years, there was more overlap, things were more settled and in fact the people who now oppose Trump were even proposing some similar things.”

If Hillary Clinton had become President, or it had been former President Barack Obama who had helped bring the US and South Korea to the cusp of a possible peace breakthrough with North Korea, “I think the press coverage would be very different”.

I’m not sure about that. Clinton wasn’t a petulant provocative bully like Trump, but she was also quite polarising, and there are still signs of tribal views on her (including here). But the problems haven’t just started with trump.

In it’s forays abroad, the US has been, and remains, spectacularly naive, Chua believes. There are compelling examples in her book: after a US-led coalition toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya in 2011, President Obama declared that, “one thing is clear … the future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people … it will be Libyans who build their new nation”. But, writes Chua, the term “Libyans” covers peoples of about 140 different tribes and, far from coming together to build their new nation, “the country began a slow descent into fragmentation and eventually a bloody civil war”. By 2016, a US general had labelled it a failed state.

Obama later said that “failing to plan for the day after” in Libya was probably the worst mistake of his presidency. But Chua says the case is one in a string of examples of America’s failure to understand and heed the destructive potential of the group instinct in other countries.

George W Bush’s rush into Iraq based on false claims of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ has turned into a mess across much of the Middle East – Iraq still has problems, Afghanistan looks as unfixable as ever, Iran tensions continue, the Israel-Palestine problem seems as intractable as ever, and there are civil wars raging in Syria and Yemen.

“In countries like these, it can be a catastrophic mistake to imagine that through democratic elections, people will suddenly rally around a national identity and overcome their pre-existing ethnic, religious, sectarian and tribal divides.

“On the contrary, in sharply divided societies, democracy often galvanises group conflict; political movements and parties coalesce around these more-primal identities. America has made this mistake over and over again.”

The US is not exactly a model democracy either – to the contrary it has major ongoing problems.

Trump’s victory discombobulated progressives, but Chua says it is time to abandon the expectation that the police will kick down the door of the White House and take the President away in handcuffs. So, Russia may have tried to meddle in the election, and Clinton won the popular vote. But a huge number of people voted for Trump.

Chua thinks that America’s cosmopolitan elites, Republican and Democrat, are horrified by a President who does not sound or act like they do. They have no idea what the rest of America thinks.

Urban, liberal, educated, mostly white Americans in coastal cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York – have very little understanding of the lives of working-class, less-privileged, white Americans in the rest of the country, Chua says.

“These two groups intermarry so rarely now that the difference between them is more like an ethnic divide. It’s more likely that a white person from Manhattan or Washington DC would marry a Nigerian American or a South Asian American from a comparable educational background – someone you met in law school, for example – than marry someone from Appalachia or Kentucky.”

The United States is a large and diverse country – in ways the equivalent of multiple countries.

New Zealand is much smaller – less populated than individual US cities and states – so has less regional division. There is a bit of an Auckland versus the rest divide but there is a lot of movement and interaction between the largest city and the rest of the country.

But we do have some immigration tensions, albeit milder than the US.

It is equally hard to talk about immigration in a country with 11 million illegal immigrants without being accused of being racist or xenophobic. “But it’s a fact that every nation should be able to control its borders and decide who should get in, how many, from where and what the rules are.

“It shouldn’t be incendiary and racist to suggest that maybe there’s a problem with illegal immigration. But if you were to say that on a Yale Law School campus, you would be instantly ostracised as being some conservative racist.”

But it can be incendiary and racist to imply whole groups immigrants as bad, as criminals, as negative job takers, like Trump does.

This mass denigration happens to an extent here too, as Labour found out with their Chinese sounding names debacle. And Winston Peters has long played that sort of derisory divisory card.

White Americans are heading towards becoming a minority, and a new pressure is arising, Chua says. Many people are wondering if America’s two-party political system can cope with society as it is, still operating a political system designed for a different era.

The US system of democracy keeps deteriorating, with no sign of it being modernised.

A change to MMP late last century helped change things for the better in New Zealand, but with a failure to adapt our system there are risks we are heading towards a virtual two party situation as smaller parties drop off the political landscape.

Chua on democracy:

“Americans tend to think of democracy as a unifying force. But under certain conditions, including inequality that tracks racial, ethnic or sectarian divides, democracy can actually ignite group conflict.”

Especially when you have a fire starter for president.

One of the positives with having Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister here is she is very different to Trump. We just have to hope that Winston hands back power to her after her maternity break, and in the meantime in her absence someone else in Labour steps up and rallies the rabble into a cohesive government.

If Ardern really wanted to be make a mark as a progressive leader she would tweak our MMP by dropping the failing threshold. That would stem the decline of MMP, and prevent us sinking into two party tribalism.

But there seems to be no chance of democratic reform in the US. The Trump storm is just a more extreme event in a gradually failing democracy.  As the continue on this course tribalism keeps deteriorating.

An awful anthem is the main problem

The New Zealand National Anthem that is always used now (as opposed to the first, foreign version) is a dirge with awful, inappropriate lyrics for a modern secular country.

Rattue is right (and that flag is a different problem).

Recent renditions of the anthem about something supposedly saving New Zealand have been awful in different ways. The mess-up mangle preceding the New Zealand-Great Britain league test in the weekend was given a lot of attention, but the sterile opera style versions at recent All Black-France tests have also been lacking in pride and passion.

The problem is that no political party or Government are likely to have the guts to get a decent anthem that we can sing and listen to with pride.