A silly ACT

David Seymour getting desperate for attention?

Stuff – Below the Beltway: The ups and downs of the political week

DOWN

David Seymour – The ACT leader is going to be on Dancing With The Stars. He needs to find 15 hours a week to train, which will no doubt cut into the time he has for his Epsom constituents. Also, the show didn’t work out so well for the last ACT leader who took part – Rodney Hide dropped his dance partner during a lift.

Rodney Hide did a stint embarassing himself like that. Publicity stunts via ‘reality TV” are lame at best and likely to do an MP’s credibility more harm than good.

This will open Seymour to ridicule, and it has already started. The Standard:

Seymour’s decision shows his commitment to New Zealand politics. And what a poodle party ACT is.

It’s worse than posing for Vogue, because it drags out the exposure for weeks.

Different views and racism at The Standard

Some interesting discussions and reactions about racism at The Standard, triggered by the debate over Donald Trump’s shithole comments.

Yesterday Bill posted Two Faced Liberalism.

Anyone want to lay out what the essential difference might be between picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants and picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants?

What’s the difference at play in preferring “skilled” migrants over supposedly “unskilled” ones or Norwegian migrants over Haitian ones; moneyed ones over poor ones? Liberals might argue that the former and latter are nuanced and better targeting for economic exploitation than the middle one. And some might point out that the middle is informed by racism while the former and latter aren’t. But then, that last point is just to argue that some forms of discrimination are okay while others aren’t.

Anyone inclined to get on a high horse over Trump splabbing shit about preferring Norwegian migration to Haitian migration should, surely, get all fired up over preferring those who might be considered economically exploitable to those who might be considered economic liabilities. It’s the same shit afterall – born of discrimination.

And while we’re here, Haiti is a shit-hole. Would you live there? Or would you want to bring up a family there? I wouldn’t.

I don’t really know much about current Haiti, but it’s home for over 10 million people. Perhaps many of them wouldn’t be fussed about living in New Zealand.

To slam Trump for his bullshit as though it’s such a terrible thing to refer to a place as a shit-hole (who hasn’t referred to some place as a shit-hole?) and ignore why Haiti and other places on Trump’s list are “places polite society would never refer to in that way”, isn’t just facile – it’s the height of cold fucking hypocrisy.

You give a shit about Haiti and the people living there? Do you? Really!? Or is indulging in a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like, on the basis they’d never (apparently) refer to a place with predominantly black or brown populations by way of Trump’s uncouth terminology – is that all that matters?

Actually one of the latest ‘clarifications’ is that while Trump was critical of Haiti in relation to US immigration he didn’t refer to that country as a shithole (he referred to others as such though).

There was limited reaction to that post at The Standard, but Matthew Whitehead commented:

If Haiti is a shithole, Bill, it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

It’s really unjust to agree that a developing country like Haiti a is shithole just because it’s been colonized, and is still having wealth transferred out of it, by overseas interests. I would have expected better of you. It’s also very dismissive of the fact that people like you and I might actually have things we could learn from people in Haiti.

I would actually argue that all the types of migration restrictions you mention are informed by discrimination, but okay. I agree there is an inconsistency to thinking skilled migration is fine and opposing the rhetoric of white supremacy, although it isn’t a direct inconsistency that everyone finds easy and obvious because it’s an argument that relies on statistics, not direct inference.

And yes, I actually do give a shit about countries that are less well-off than New Zealand, like Haiti, or Samoa, and have previously given both time (and I don’t mean by spreading “awareness,” lol) and money to help make the situation just a little bit better.

Bill replied:

…it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

Well, yes. Did you bother reading the link before commenting? The link that comes after You want racism? Read Johnathan M. Katz’s opinion piece… and before There are very specific and traceable reasons as to why Haiti, El Salvador and however many African states might be referred to as ‘shit-holes’. And every single one traces back to liberal capitalism.

I also provided a “get out” clause for anyone who might have felt the urge to get all defensive, but it seems you missed it Matthew. I made no assumption about whether any individual reader of this post has sailed on by the historical colonial context of Haiti and other countries or not. I asked if a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like was taking precedence to giving a shit. Ample room right there for a simple “no”. 😉

There was some discussion on Twitter:

Removing a post would have been a drastic way to deal with it, and would likely have caused a split at The Standard. Instead Presland wisely chose to do a posy of his own providing some different views – Racist dog whistling

We may think that we now live in more enlightened times where the scourge of racism is finally being dealt to and racist behaviour by politicians is no longer considered acceptable.

But recent events suggest to me that racist memes are still being used by the calculating to stir up political support from the bewildered.

A classic example of race baiting has occurred recently in Australia.  Victoria, which currently has a State Labor government, has an election later on in the year.  Clearly the Liberals would love to win back power.  So the Turnbull Government has made a big thing about gangs of young Africans causing problems in Melbourne and how Melbournians are afraid to go out at night.  Peter Dutton, whose level of odiousness almost matches that of Trump, has front footed the attack.  And things have been egged on by Rupert Murdoch owned papers.

Dutton chose to use the right wing playbook.  He attacked the Andrews Government for appointing “weak” judges and suggested that the non existing law and order problem was all because of liberals (small l).

But just when you thought that no politician could sink lower than Dutton Donald Trump describes most of the developing countries as Shithole.  Put aside his misogynist views, his lack of understanding, his overt belligerence, his anti environmental crusade, his attack on the poor and support for the rich and the threat he poses to world peace these comments should result in his removal from office.  In a properly functioning democracy …

But this is a weakness of the democratic system.  Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time.  That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem.

It’s not just been a political tool of the right in New Zealand, with Winston Peters pushing dog whistle racism boundaries regularly, and Labour’s disaster over Chinese sounding name mis-analysis a couple of years ago.

Claims of racism from the left in an attempt to shut down discussion are not uncommon either, as the exchange on Twitter shows.

This is valid and healthy discussion to have here, so good on The Standard for providing a forum for diverse views rather than trying to squash discussion.

Some emotive and interesting comments on that second post. Shona:

My daughter had a knife held to her throat and was threatened with death while a Sudanese 16 year old youth groped her in Central Melbourne during daylight work hours, while she was carrying our her job. i have NO SYMPATHY for these assholes. The aggression against the Sudanese is because of their fucked up religious views of women amongst other things.

And no those views are not to be tolerated in a modern society.They do not give a rats arse about western values. And no Australia and NZ do not need these fucking people . Now out will come all the dearly deluded members of NZ’s oh so tolerant left telling me what a racist I am. I am an atheist and an old fashioned working class feminist . Fuck these people we don’t need em!

A feminist racist? It sounds like she has good reason to be angry, but her target appears to be too broad.

Gristle responded:

A cousin of mine was raped at knife point in the South of USA by a couple of whites.

Am I now meant to think that all white Americans are like that due to their race, nationality, religion? I mean look at the fundamentalist, racist, sexists, class hating people in the USA. (And that includes so many in power.)

“Fuck these people we don’t need them(?)”

Fender:

And my son was stabbed fourteen times by a NZ born white crohn’s disease sufferer who was unemployed and is now in jail. I’m unaware of any religious or misogynist views held by this asshole but obviously he’s from a group that is also not needed in this country (using your logic).

These are isolated personal experiences so it’s fair to cut them some slack if over-reacting.

But we hope that our politicians, and politicians in leadership positions such as Peters and Trump, should have more consideration for a bigger picture than appeasing their own base of racists supporters.

NZ views on Trump versus Bannon

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Trump vs Bannon

So of Trump’s two campaign chairs, one is indicted for money laundering and the other he now labels as mad. What does that say about the judgement of the person who hired them?

David Garrett:

Trump is one seriously unhinged unit…If you allow yourself to think about it, it’s terrifying that this guy’s hand is on the nuclear button at the same time an equally unhinged unit in North Korea has his hand on another nuclear button.

Surely 2018 will be the year the world is closest to a nuclear conflict since the height of the cold war? Doesn’t bear thinking about…

MickySavage at The Standard: Duck and Cover

Makes you wonder if the nuclear button tweet was an attempt at diversion.

And Trump has lost his cool with Bannon.

Whale Oil may have a bit of a dilemma over the Trump-Bannon split. They were still championing Trump yesterday:

Bannon’s Breitbart may now be a front runner. WO have modeled themselves on Bannon/Breitbart,  and I suspect someone may have fancied themselves as a Bannon-like PM maker, but now Trump has dumped on Bannon (not posted about at WO) that may cause some flip flopping between champions, trying to ignore the bust up.

 

Lorde and Israel

A singer has removed a gig from their schedule. In the circumstances I have concerns about the use of social media pressure to coerce, but this is just the entertainment industry and the bottom line is financial, and that’s likely to be the reason for the change.

But some seem to think it’s a big deal.

The Standard:

Kiwiblog:

It’s fair to question why Lorde has singled out Israel, but why single out Russia as a comparison? Activists in the world could probably argue against every venue if so inclined.

Tough talk from a dirty gutless flake? WO should know all about financial compromises and imperatives.

But this may not be the end of it, as the other side of social media pressure plays it’s hand.

Blog moderation – musing and amusing

Blog moderation is difficult and relentless. You can never please all of the people all of the time, but the general aim is to please most of the people most of the time.

I’ve had a few challenges here, in particular a couple of years ago when there were deliberate attempts to disrupt and shut down the site. Now it usually just involves a bit of guidance in trying to balance free speech with stopping people from shutting down the speech of those they disagree with.

Before (and after) stating Your NZ I tried to stand up to crap at Kiwiblog, but I gradually lost interest as it was obvious that ongoing abuse and lies were going to be allowed to continue with little restraint. I deliberately broke a blog rule once to make a point, but it was probably fairly futile.

I commented occasionally commented at Whale and on one occasion challenged comments in a post and was banned, but that was during the mass purges in 2014 when a lot of people were being banned so it doesn’t mean much.

Russell Brown banned me from Public Address when I argued against the crowd who were claiming that Nicky Hager could do no wrong and had never been proved wrong – some of them kicked up a stink when I produced evidence they didn’t like.

I’ve had an interesting history at The Standard, where they (some regular commenters and some moderators) tend to run with double standards, being tough on some while giving others a virtual free rein (and free reign for a small number of bullies).

I am often accused of disrupting discussions there, and have been deliberately provocative in a gentle way for sure, but most of the disruption is in the nature of deliberate mob attacks with an aim to having me banned for disruption – with the disruptors usually acting with ongoing impunity.

One of the worst offenders at The Standard has been One Anonymous Bloke – who is  currently targeting Colonial Viper who has recently returned there from a long ban.

I pop in there occasionally to test the waters. As Robert pointed out, yesterday:

One Anonymous Bloke:

So your response to Bradbury’s argument is to attack Bradbury. It’s the same argument I’ve been making. Wilson “Security” has been offering hush money: this is a matter of public record.

If you think anonymous Ian is a credible source, that’s on you, not Martyn B.

Me:

“So your response to Bradbury’s argument is to attack Bradbury. It’s the same argument I’ve been making.”

Irony or admission? You attack far more than you argue.

“If you think anonymous Ian is a credible source…”

That’s pure hypocrisy.

[3 day ban for flaming. Even in Open Mike you have to make some attempt to debate the politics and not just have a go at someone you disapprove of – weka]

Ferocious flaming! Weka has admitted paying special attention to me, and she frequently allows far worse from others – in particular OAB. She seems to me to overly protect comment and commenters she agrees with and approves of while being draconian with others with opinions from a different political spectrum.

A couple of days earlier a moderate and occasional moderator Bill made a big statement.

This is a long moderation comment applying to a number of people who’ve commented on this thread

In “the policy” there is this…We encourage robust debate and we’re tolerant of dissenting views. But this site run for reasonably rational debate between dissenting viewpoints and we intend to keep it operating that way. What we’re not prepared to accept are pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others.

Obviously a number of people who frequent this site are Sino-phobic and/or racist. That’s life. And obviously those things are problematic as they most definitely exclude others when they form part of a comment or, more subtly, when they are the fuel sitting behind comments.

A pack mentality that revolves around getting a commenter to respond or react in a way that will bring a ban down on their head isn’t necessarily fuelled by those things – but then, it doesn’t need to be for it to fall foul of site policy..

So this thread’s got an example of a pack mentality that’s played out to its conclusion. Wei – a new commentator mind – has picked up a one month ban for submitting, absolutely and without a doubt, “less than flash” comments in response to ongoing needling and provocation. In the following incomplete – think “indicative” – run-down of stuff, I’ve disregarded the blatant Sino-phobia and racism that was marking some comments.

Anyway. Let me begin by offering a message of congratulation to those commentators who succeeded in their efforts to be seeing the back of Wei. We have so many Chinese voices – or in this case I suspect it would be more accurate to refer to Maoist perspectives – on this site, that I’m sure one less will make no perceptible difference to the breadth and diversity of the place.

Some of you should come down to Dunedin. We can walk down George Street or Princes Street and I can point out for you the Maoists and the Leninists, the Trots and the anarchists (both lifestylers and social). Or maybe you’d be more interested in the communists or autonomous Marxists? The anarcha fems perhaps? Nah. I guess not.

It seems (in the worlds of some hereabouts at least) that divergent political views can only be the result of (in this case) Chinese State Agents or “putinbots” (Simonm comment 29.1.4 and off-spring comments by – Psycho Milt, Union city greens) and any commentator expressing views that diverge from those familiar to “the pack” belongs firmly in the throw-away file, derisively labelled somethng along the lines of “you lot” (exkiwiforces comment ).

And of course, that file must find its way to the bin.

So circle and close in. Egg each other on and ignore or sidestep rational debate. Maybe start up with false accusations (exkiwiforces comment 28.1) and/or groundless appeals for moderation (Venezia comment 28), or just spring board from those points. Then goad, ridicule, belittle and jab in the hope of eliciting the inevitable bannable comment…and if that comment doesn’t come, then just keep going. Rinse and repeat if necessary (aster comment 29.1.5 / Union city greens comment 32) And if eventually something comes up but slips past moderation, then grab it, swallow it whole and keep regurgitating it because, well obviously it’s so damned offensive to you that you must repeat it again and again and again.

Hell. You can even get into frothing condemnation over “the target” committing an innocent enough faux pas in their choice of terminology if you want – every little bit helps.

Of course. Given that it’s against site policy to indulge in such shit, it’s probably not a good idea. And strutting your stuff after “mission accomplished” like (as martymars appropriately describes it) “puffed up roosters walking round cock a doodle dooing” – yeah -that’s definitely not a good idea.

OAB couldn’t resist strutting their stuff yesterday, protected from a right of reply:

I’ll always attack your beige drivel Peter. The mods here are alert to pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others, so if you think they’re doing a poor job I suggest you take it up with them.

When I assert a fact I provide supporting links, so I’m not a source of anything. Reference to “anonymous Ian”, by the way, is a clue that he’s as credible as I am: which is to say, not credible at all without supporting material.

Have a lovely day 😈

OAB frequently attacks and lies with no supporting material (and has a right of reply here if they wish).

There’s an interesting discussion following Bill’s warning. My name came up – RedLogix:

As I indicated in the back-end, I’ve raised this issue of ‘piling on’, or ‘mobbing’ a commenter a number of times in the past and received no support at all. So in this respect I fully welcome this new moderating guideline.

The trick will of course be to apply it in an even-handed manner. It was always my expectation that moderators should focus on behaviour and remain agnostic about the politics.

And yes PG was gang bullied quite mercilessly on many occasions, but to my recollection he never retaliated. But it really is a highly subjective decision as to whether someone is simply ‘airing their opinions’ or ‘indulging in irksome derailing’.

Some there, like OAB, are not subjective, they simply attack peopler they don’t want commenting, for whatever reason.

Weka also commented:

As someone who has been in many, many conversations that PG has been in and who in the past year has also moderated him, I think the issue is one of patterns of behaviour that disrupt the thread or the community. In PG’s case, observing that over years makes the patterns of behaviour obvious. Sometimes it’s derailing, but not always.

She selectively ignores patterns of behaviour of some with an obvious intent to disrupt threads, and willingly or unwittingly gets played by those who disrupt and blame, but no moderator is perfect.

PG has been given a lot of latitude here…

She probably believes that. I deserved the wee break she gave me yesterday. If she was consistent The Standard would be better for it, but I don’t expect much change.

It’s a hard job being the perfect moderator.

The ‘largest party’ argument

Although The Standard has just lost stalwart author Anthony Robins they have gained another, Matthew Whitehead, who has previously commented there and has had the occasional guest post. While he is openly a Green supporter he will provide some good input at The Standard.

His first post is an intteresting Critiquing A Modest National Party Proposal

I’m going to be focusing on the suggestion, floating around National Party supporters on social media, that the largest party (“plurality winner” is the technical term for being largest without necessarily winning a majority) after an election should have some enshrined constitutional right at the first shot to form the government offered to them by the Governor General.

The obvious first thing to discuss here is that such an arrangement would favour National forming the government except in the most Labour-slanted circumstances, as right-wing votes tend to be much more concentrated towards the largest party when they feel like National is doing well, making them the most significant beneficiaries of the “come back to mother-ship” effect that both of the two largest parties benefited from this election.

Under the current mix of parties it may favour National but that situation may change. Obviously Labour were the biggest party when they were able to form the Government in 1999, 2002 and 2005.

Given that it is almost exclusively National supporters suggesting this change, we should probably fall back on the principle of electoral reform’s purpose not being to outright advantage any particular party, and count this as a strike against the idea.

That’s silly. Of course National supporters will be dwelling on why they lost power and the process that led to Winston peters decision to go with Labour, while Labour, NZ First and Green supporters are more likely to be rejoicing and looking forward to the new term. That’s not a good reason to “count this as a strike against the idea”.

…it’s simply a constraint on freedom of association for minor parties. It goes against democratic principles and constrains political speech to have our head of state direct coalition talks, and it rules out parallel talks which are simply more efficient and leave the country waiting less time.

It’s not necessarily restraining small parties from associating. It could be a simple guide to beginning negotiations.

It would have been useful for the Greens to officially rule out dealing with National up front in the recent process. But perhaps all parties should make it clear before the election what they would consider to properly inform voters.

It might not be a bad idea for parties to agree to some fair norms around coalition talks and Parliamentary reforms, but I think that’s a discussion that needs to be had on a more consensus basis between our four largest parties.

Why just between our four largest parties? That doesn’t sound very democratic. It should involve all parties in Parliament, any parties not in Parliament that wish to have a say, and the public.

If Greens had missed making the threshold I doubt that Whitehead would be suggesting “a more consensus basis between our three largest parties”.

Overall failing on every major point, this idea seems to be a non-starter, and is instead perhaps intended as just another front for National to attack MMP on, after it has tried and failed twice to defeat it at the ballot box- if they succeed in getting the measure through, they slow down and make coalition talks far less popular.

Questioning whether our current way of doing MMP could be improved is an important democratic process. Dissing it as “just another front for National to attack MMP” could be described as just another front to attack an idea Whitehead doesn’t favour.

They need to instead move on and accept that they can’t rely on strong plurality results to govern without eating up the electorate-based parties that support them, and perhaps even consider splitting into multiple parties themselves for more differentiated campaigning, as National has always been an informal coalition of urban right-wing liberals, right-wing conservatives, and a significant rural support base of many ideological flavours, and arguably could earn more of the Party vote under MMP by campaigning separately to each group.

But that might require them modernizing, an idea which is always deeply unpopular with the National Party, who still have no direct democratic impact on important decisions like electing leaders.

“An idea which is always deeply unpopular with the National Party” – that’s a ridiculous claim and hints at Green arrogance. It’s possible for parties to modernise without being just like the Greens. It would be alarming if parties didn’t modernise in their own ways.

A party in power for none years is always going to tend towards sticking to what succeeded, as long as it works.

I’m sure if Steven Joyce remains he will modernise his campaign strategies, but he is unlikely to favour a modern kamikaze attempt to outmanoeuvre their MoU partner party leading into the campaign, like Metiria Turei and the Greens did. They came close to not being one of the largest parties in Parliament.

Whitehead will no doubt be happy with the outcome of the election and how that came about. But the situation could be quite different after the next election, as it has been after each of our eight MMP elections. It could be the Greens that fall apart as a small party in Government.

Considering whether we can do our democracy better should be encouraged, not blown away because what is being suggested wouldn’t have suited your favoured party’s current situation.

We have just seen a situation where three parties stood back, allowing one small party dictate how negotiations would be conducted, and putting themselves in a position where they made the key decision and the key announcement.

Surely there is a better way of doing things, the public tends to not like tails calling the shots while the dogs cower.

We don’t need hard and fast rules, but if we had accepted guidelines (arrived at by consensus of course) for how post-election negotiations and decisions are made I think the public and the media would be happier with the process of forming a government.

Assassination comments on Kiwiblog

I’m going to go in to bat for both David Farrar and lprent here regarding the challenges of moderating blogs.

Note in advance: I have chosen to include unacceptable language in the following post to demonstrate what has happened. The comments have been seen and circulated widely and are still public on other sites. Inciting, promoting or encouraging political violence of any type is totally unacceptable here on Your NZ, as it should be in New Zealand generally.

Controversy was sparked by a comment at Kiwiblog on Saturday morning when ‘rightoverlabour’ posted a comment saying:

I believe in eliminating terrorism. Winston is a political and economic terrorist. He has held the country to ransom, and is obfuscating on everything. His assassination would not be something I would shed a tear over. I have time for Jacinda, and the greens (even though I oppose most of their policies), as they have been open and transparent. But Winston is a despicable, narcissistic individual. Emperor Nero comes to mind as a close comparison. Sometimes the elimination of a clear and present danger is a neccesity for the survival of a reasonable society. Assassination may be a step too far, but a society has to protect itself from these types of individual gaining power. Ask the Russians, Germans, North Koreans.

I don’t think this is a threat to assassinate, but it clearly suggests and probably encourages considering it as a political act. As such it is clearly a silly, and a very irresponsible thing to say on a public forum. It deserves condemnation.

A warning was posted in response: “be careful inciting assassination is a crime”.

‘rightoverlabour’ replied to that:

Hmm, I’m not inciting it as such, just wouldn’t care if it happened. However eliminating terrorism is not a crime. I suppose it depends on how one defines terrorism. I am happy to retract the post if it is breach of the rules etc, (in which case, DPF delete it) but when does freedom of speech come in?

The problem is that even if there was no intent to incite it could possible do exactly that, so the risk must take precedence over ‘free speech’.

This cause a stir in social media and was seen as an example of the bad right and dirty politics and a sign of vicious attacks on the incoming government, amongst other things. More on that soon.

Some time later yesterday, over a day later and after it had been well publicised elsewhere, David Farrar moderated the comments:

I believe in [deleted by DPF for advocating murder and Strike 1. Do not do again]

And:

Hmm, I’m not inciting it as such, just wouldn’t care if it happened. However, eliminating terrorism is not a crime. I suppose it depends on how one defines terrorism. I am quite happy to retract the post if it is in breach of rules etc, ( in which case, DPF delete it) but then where does freedom of speech come in?

Now I give DPF the benefit of doubt here, I think he would likely have deleted the comments with a warning as soon as he found out about them. Blogs can’t be moderated 24/7, especially on holiday weekends and DPF has a baby in the family. Blogs rely on others alerting moderators them when someone steps over the line.

When concerns were raised ‘rightoverlabour’ should have contacted DPF to alert him to his comments. Others should have also done this.

As previously mentioned, these comments spread around social media and were strongly criticised for obvious reasons. They deserved condemnation. However some of the reaction was itself over the top.

A post on this appeared at The Standard mid-Sunday: Kiwibloggers discuss assassination of “terrorist” Winston Peters

There were comments in response that made unsubstantiated assertions – this is normal and allowed at TS in some situations, in contrast they demand proof and links of just about anything I post there, but that’s another story.

Brendan posted:

I hope someone contacts the police. I also hope the new government use their resources to stamp out this vitriol and disturbing behaviour.

Political disagreement is fine. Calling people names (rather than criticism of a person’s actions) is not productive, but still fine. But sanctioning violence (life-threatening violence) because you disagree with somebody’s position has no place in a peaceful democracy like ours. I’m embarrassed these people exist in New Zealand.

Embarrassing and at times disgraceful behaviour are fairly common at both Kiwiblog and The Standard. In my opinion Kiwiblog is not monitored closely enough and moderation can be lax – at one stage I deliberately broke the rules there to highlight a recidivist liar who frequently repeatedly attacked and defamed people, but I doubt it made much if any difference to ongoing behaviour there.

Kiwi blog and Whaleoil might be the haven for National’s minions, but it’s a breeding ground for New Zealand’s own far-right hate trolls. Never, ever have I seen anyone here at The Standard advocate or sanction the use of violence against political opponents.

I have, however it has usually been dealt with appropriately.

This is sick, and it’s a right-wing problem, not a left-wing problem (well not here in New Zealand), that’s inherent to the anti-democratic mind-set they espouse.

An interesting moderator response:

[lprent: It isn’t just a right-wing problem. It gets moderated out here pretty fast and long bans are often issued. Partly because most advocation of violence are offences against some of NZ’s laws, but mostly because it adds absolutely nothing to any national debate, robust or polite. Which is pretty clear when you read the sewer where the moderation is sporadic, lackadaisical and professionally inept. Even Whaleoil is better these days. ]

I pretty much agree with that. There is a real problem at Kiwiblog that I think sets it part from any other site in the way abusive and harassing behaviour isn’t controlled – it’s often out of control, and it has been for as long as I have been an observer (7-8 years).

But any site can have idiots letting loose. As happened later in that same Standard thread in two comments by ‘millsy’ (who has a history of over the line comments):

OK. if they want to kill WP, then perhaps [deleted]

They will probably be looking at about 10-20 years in Paremoremo. But seeing as they think its a 5-star luxury hotel with silver service, should be all good.

[lprent: Suggestions of illegal acts is actually a crime. Could you calm the fuck down before I have to make you? ]

And:

Oh, we have only just begun, Ian. We have only just begun, The Second October Revolution has taken place, You have lost all right to complain when you have made the choice to poison your communities water supply to ensure a boost in your profit margin. As far as I’m concerned, you deserve everything you get.

[lprent: You really need to read moderator warnings. Implied threats are still threats. Banned for two weeks. ]

That was last night, and it appears that lprent was on to it quickly. I expect he would have been aware of risks and would have been keeping a closer eye on things.

So on two blogs irresponsible and possibly illegal and certainly a poor show for the forums they were posted on were moderated appropriately, albeit slowly on Kiwiblog.

It is bloody hard moderating a blog. Most people are fine most of the time, but with relatively free speech forums people sometimes say stupid and irresponsible things, and sometimes people deliberately try to put blogs at risk – there was a spate of that here two years ago, which is eventually like to prove costly for some of those involved.

After Dirty Politics went public three years ago DPF said he seriously considered shutting Kiwiblog down, but decided to keep it going. He will have ongoing risks allowing a feral element to continue commenting there largely uncontrolled.

Anthony Robins just announced today that he is ending his stint as one of the most respected bloggers active at The Standard. He was the mainstay of The standard through the campaign, and they are likely to miss him a lot. I can criticise some of what he claims, even in his valedictory, but as far as I have seen (which is a lot) Anthony has always stayed away from dirty attack politics, he has always come across to me as a decent guy.

But I can fully understand why Anthony has chosen to move on. It can be a time consuming and at times demoralising task, especially when you try to keep standards others choose to shit in your nest.

As we shift from a Government of nine years to a completely different combination of parties there is likely to be upheaval on blogs and across social media – there are already signs of tension and conflict from both sides. Some are sour about the result, some are very defensive about any criticism of the incoming government or the parties who have formed it.

I think blog moderators will need be vigilant about bad reactions, change directions of attack, and also alert to the potential of deliberate sabotage. Small things can easily blow up into major scandals or arguments.

I think it’s sad, but in enabling and encouraging political debate it also gives the immature and the uncontrollable a means to mess things up.

All I can do is ask those contributing via comments here to keep things decent and fair – robust criticism is fine, but aim at issues and policies and actions of politicians, and keep the personal shit kicking out of it. Please.

Spitting out pieces of their broken luck

Like a number of party activists on blogs Anthony Robins has been busy at The Standard over the last couple of weeks trying to promote Labour’s chances of getting into government, and trying to trash National.

A recent attempt: Nats – lousy at government – “brilliant” at opposition

National have been a lousy government. They have enriched the rich and impoverished the poor. They have inflated a housing bubble and done nothing for the homeless. They have let the environment degrade and made a mockery of our global warming commitments. They have let social institutions degrade, along with practical services like health and education. They have engaged in dirty politics in blatant lies. And for what?

A common refrain from the left – exaggerated generalities.

What will they be remembered for? Oh they “got us through the financial crisis” – yeah just like every other country on the planet (and it was our slowest ever recovery from a recession).

This diss is very lame. New Zealand is acknowledged to have done very well at weathering and recovering from the GFC, and our economy is now in a relatively healthy state compared to most countries.

They “got us through the Christchurch earthquakes” – yeah ask some people who live in Christchurch about that.

There’s no doubt that many people in Christchurch have had a tough time since the earthquakes, and there is more to sort out yet.

What National are “brilliant” at is opposition. They poll and focus group relentlessly, they have heaps of money, they attack like rabid rats in a sack. They have essentially spent the last nine years running opposition against Labour. They have been very successful at this, witness Labour’s long poll doldrums, and the fact that most of the “reasons” for those doldrums are memes of the Nats making.

Robins is really trying to blame National for Labour’s poor performance and their revolving door leadership over the past nine years.

When I say “brilliant” at opposition, the quote marks are because it’s only brilliant if you accept that tactics like dirty politics and outright lies are acceptable, that the ends of power justify any means. That way lies political madness.

All politicians have difficulty avoiding lying, and National is not the only party that has resorted to dirty politics.

Aside from disgruntled opposition activists I think National is regarded to have governed reasonably well over the last nine years, although of course there have been stuff ups, failures and some sleeping at the wheel, especially over housing and health.

I think National’s 9 years compares fairly favourably to an also successful 9 years of government led by Labour’s Helen Clark. There will always be justified criticisms of any Government, but New Zealand has been led and governed relatively well and successfully so far this century.

Robins is unlikely to have any influence on the current negotiations. He is preaching to a protected niche who are already convinced that National is evil and hopeless.

That’s been happening at The Standard over the last nine years, and it’s an approach to political activism that hasn’t helped Labour’s case (or more recently and increasingly the Green’s case) for improving their credibility or gaining support.

I think it’s noteable that Labour’s recovery and rapid rise under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership is due to her positive approach to politics. She has actually commended Bill English’s stewardship of the Finance portfolio, and she has acknowledged the relative success and strength of the New Zealand economy.

Robins and The Standard seems stuck in old school negative politics. If they stopped sounding so bitter, looked at the positives, and looked at ways of doing better they would get onside with the Ardern approach to politics and would help improve left wing credibility and respect.

Spitting out pieces of their broken luck, oh, The Standard should get over that and like Ardern look at how they can build a better political environment.

Adding value is far more likely to end up in success, if not this term then put them in a strong position next term, than bashing and trashing.

(Line borrowed from Aqualung)

Blog responses to CB poll

It’s interesting to see blog responses to polls. With some it depends very much on the results.

Last night a Colmar Brunton poll showed a significant swing for National and against Labour.

Whale Oil tends to be slow reacting to news, especially news they don’t like. So far they have only one post on the poll, and it’s bizarre – Face of the Day:

Meet Gary Morgan.  The Man At The Top at Roy Morgan Research.  He may be, in the end, the most powerful influencer of how this election turned out.

That on it’s own is an odd claim.

Well, I think he should hide in his office for the day.  Even though I have no doubt there has not been anything shady going on, the end result is that the widely swinging poll, and specifically its timing, is hugely damaging to the Labour party.

That has to be the shoddiest bit of polling yet.   It wouldn’t surprise me if the left will accuse Roy Morgan of deliberately screwing with the election in favour of National.

The shoddiness is in the post.

That’s last night’s Colmar Brunton poll. Roy Morgan has nothing to do with it.

And it is dirty and devious to use ‘the left’ to imply a deliberately screwed poll.

Has ‘Whaleoil Staff’ really got confused between Roy Morgan and Colmar Brunton? Or is it deliberate confusion to attack the pollsters and the poll result?

Meanwhile The Standard is usually very quick to have posts on Labour friendly polls, but as is common last night’s poll has not appeared anywhere apart from in last night’s Daily Review 20/09/2017.

Instead Anthony Robins continues his posts attacking National:

Is NZ doomed to lying politics now?

Bill English and the Nats are now running firmly on a platform of lies – Gower calls them on this for a second time this week. Should the political left get down in the gutter too? Is NZ doomed to lying politics now?

Sounds defeatist.

Nats “discovered poverty last week” – and will forget it just as quickly

Ardern’s jab that English “discovered poverty last week” was the line of the debate. After the election National will forget it again just as quickly, if the record of the last nine years is anything to go by. Do you want to vote for that?

Why do Labour supporters put so much effort into attacking National at The Standard when they have a largely left wing audience.

The Standard (resident trolls and moderators) actively try to drive away anyone judged to be a National supporter. Even those in the centre, or non-aligned, or deemed to be not left enough get attacked and banned.

So they are hardly going to swing many votes away from National by attacking them.

And there is a stark contrast between Jacinda Ardern’s ‘relentlessly positive’ and The Standard’s ‘relentlessly negative’.

Note that there are some positive Green posts at The Standard these days but Green supporters are prominent in their negative attacks.

Blogs hard out on attack

Political blogs tend to cater for their own audiences much of the time, but in an election campaign tend to put a lot of effort into attacking the other lot. That’s certainly evident at this stage of the campaign.

Kiwiblog is run by David Farrar, who has close associations with National. He can be critical of National and praise other parties, but is mostly posting praise of national and attacks on others. Posts over the last day:

Farrar should be considering displaying an authorisation statement under the Electoral Act, something The Standard displays as a precaution. Recent posts there:

For some time the Standard posts have been promoting the Greens and attacking National, and have recently rediscovered their Labourness joining the Ardern adoration club.

Whale Oil has been noticeably anti-National and pro-Winston for months, but recently has been spreading attention across the spectrum, attacking Ardern and Labour, the Greens, TOP – pretty much anyone but NZ First.

The Daily Blog is a mess of messages. Authors are out in force trying to promote their favourite issues.

John Minto doesn’t see much hope in Who to vote for?

Voting involves a moral choice.

In a capitalist economy you either vote with capitalism’s winners or with the losers. With those who have used the system to enrich themselves at the expense of others or those forced to struggle at the margins.

After this election the new government will be dominated by either National or Labour – not the dramatic choice it should be because Labour brought only a tentative, watery policy mix to the election and capitulated on tax before the first vote was cast.

Labour by itself won’t make a significant difference. Ardern has addressed the desperate social situations of child poverty and homelessness with the usual hand wringing rather than policies.

Labour talks values but these are useless without policies to give them meaning.

The best hope for a half-way decent, policy-driven, progressive government comes with a strong Green Party in coalition with Labour.

Greens are the only option this election for left wing revolutionaries.

Anyone voting National this election has a personal moral deficit.

Trying to attract voters by shaming them? Negative political attack is the fall back option for political activists, and that is evident across the blogs.