A moment of mis-truth?

Kim Dotcom dived into the Seth Rich issue, promising #GameChanger inteview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday. But Fox News retracted a story – see Fox retracts Seth Rich story – and on his Tuesday show Hannity said ““Out of respect for the family, I am not discussing this matter at this time.”

And suggestions have been raised about the possibility Dotom tried to manufacture some ‘truth’.

Washington Post: The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory

When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off.

Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C. police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery attempt.

According to experts and Rich’s family, the emailed invitation from welcome@mega.nz appeared to be an attempt to gain access to Rich’s email. Joel Rich, who maintains his late son’s Gmail account, did not click the link. Meanwhile, Dotcom was promising on Twitter to prove that the younger Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks — and Fox News host Sean Hannity was telling his 2.37 million Twitter followers to be ready for a revelation.

Hannity had invited Dotcom to appear on his show for what he said on Twitter would be a “#GameChanger” interview. The implication: that Dotcom would finally offer evidence of his claim that Rich had sent internal DNC documents to WikiLeaks before his death

But that hasn’t transpired.

All that began to unravel Tuesday afternoon, when Fox News retracted a story that had claimed the same Rich-WikiLeaks connection, telling readers that the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Dotcom wrote on his website that he would not speak further about his allegations.

The latest revelation — that a hacker from New Zealand may have been trying as recently as this week to hack into Rich’s email — offered fresh evidence that the conspiracy theory is false. Dotcom, it seemed, may have been willing to create a fake archive of emails from Rich to “prove” his role in the DNC hack.

Shades of 2014, when Dotcom’s ‘Moment of Truth’ show in the lead up to New Zealand’s general election fizzled when questions were raised about the authenticity of an email produced by Dotcom.

In a statement, Rich’s family told The Post that they wereinvestigating whether someone attempted to gain access to Rich’s email account. “We are outraged that certain individuals continue to try to use Seth’s name and memory to advance their political and ideological agendas,” they said. “We hope people will think twice the next time someone makes an outlandish claim to have discovered new evidence in this case.”

A family spokesman went further, criticizing Fox News for fanning the flames.

Dotcom’s story has ‘evolved’.

Dotcom did not respond to an emailed question about the Mega account, but his story about Rich has altered since some attention-grabbing tweets. On May 16, he mentioned Rich for the first time, after a follower asked what he thought of the conspiracy theory that Rich was tied to the release of thousands of internal DNC documents.

On May 19, Dotcom asked for Google to release the contents of Rich’s Gmail account, as well as two accounts that online sleuths had claimed belonged to him.

Later that day, Dotcom said that he was willing to “give written testimony with evidence” that Rich had passed the DNC documents to WikiLeaks.

That attracted the interest of Hannity, who had devoted several segments of his radio and TV show to the conspiracy theory. Dotcom then claimed that he would be able to reveal what he knew after talking to lawyers.

But in a Tuesday message that Dotcom posted on his website, he claimed only to know that “Seth Rich was involved” in the DNC hack, and that he would give his full statement after a “guarantee from Special Counsel [Robert S.] Mueller, on behalf of the United States, of safe passage from New Zealand to the United States and back.”

So it sounds like we won’t be getting a full statement. It’s unlikely the US will give Dotcom safe passage to allow him to grandstand on Fox’s Hannity show.

Dotcom is linked to Wikileaks.

WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange had persistently fed rumors of a connection with Rich without providing evidence. He has offered a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s killer, and he has used an interview with Dutch television, an interview with Hannity and several tweets to suggest that Rich’s case showed why WikiLeaks sources tread carefully. He has never explicitly said whether Rich was a source.

But Dotcom did.

The collapse of the story came only after a number of conservative voices drew attention to it. On Monday, Rush Limbaugh told listeners that Dotcom was “renowned” and “world famous,” with a story to tell.

“This story is now starting to get legs, that Seth Rich was murdered, it was a contract hire killing because he was leaking to WikiLeaks,” Limbaugh said.

On Tuesday, Hannity told his radio listeners that he would keep fighting to disprove “this Russia collusion narrative” and be proven right.

“I will do the mainstream media’s job like I have for most of my career,” Hannity said. “All you in the liberal media, I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

But…

…on the Tuesday night episode of Hannity’s show — the one that conspiracy theorists hoped would showcase the “game-changer” interview with Dotcom — Hannity said he had exchanged letters which Rich’s family and would not discuss the story.

“Out of respect for the family, I am not discussing this matter at this time,” Hannity said. “But to the extent of my ability I am not going to stop trying to find the truth.”

In the meantime he could stop promoting fake truth.

Assad, Russia claim chemical attack was fabricated

President Assad of Syria claims that the chemical attack that is alleged to have killed more than 80 civilians, received widespread media coverage and international condemnation, and the US used to justify their missile attack on a Syrian Air Force base, was fabricated.

RNZ: Syria chemical attack ‘fabricated’ – Assad

In an exclusive video interview with AFP news agency, he said “there was no order to make any attack”.

Mr Assad told AFP that the Syrian government had given up its chemical arsenal in 2013, adding “even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them”.

Mr Assad accused the West of making up events in Khan Sheikhoun so it had an excuse to carry out missile strikes on the government’s Shayrat airbase, which took place a few days after the alleged attack.

“It’s stage one, the play [they staged] that we saw on social network and TVs, then propaganda and then stage two, the military attack,” he said, questioning the authenticity of the video footage.

He also said Khan Sheikhoun, in Syria’s north-western Idlib province, had no strategic value and was not currently a battle front. “This story is not convincing by any means,” he told AFP.

Mr Assad told AFP that he would only allow an “impartial” investigation, involving “unbiased countries… to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes”.

That is despite international claims that the attack was real.

The US, UK and France reacted angrily on Wednesday after Russia, Syria’s key ally, vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council – the eighth time it has done so over the Syrian conflict.

Western allies have said there is compelling evidence that the Syrian government was behind what happened in Khan Sheikhoun.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday it was “highly likely” the Assad regime was behind the attack.

Turkey, which treated many of the wounded, said it has “concrete evidence” Sarin was used.

Turkey and the UK said tests showed Sarin or a Sarin-like substance was used in Khan Sheikhoun, which would be the first time since 2013 that a prohibited chemical had been used on such a scale.

Now Russia has come in to the debate on Syria’s side.

Bloomberg: Russia Says Evidence Growing Syria Chemical Attack Was Staged

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a chemical-weapons attack in Syria that provoked U.S. missile strikes on the Middle Eastern country may have been orchestrated.

“There’s growing evidence that this was staged,” Lavrov said at a Moscow news conference with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts on Friday. Publications including in the U.S. and the U.K. have highlighted “many inconsistencies” in the version of events in Syria’s Idlib province that was used to justify the American airstrikes, he said.

The U.S. hasn’t shown evidence that Assad was responsible for the April 4 attack in Idlib, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where Putin was attending a collective-defense meeting of former Soviet republics.

The U.S. “is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people,” according to a four-page document published by officials in Washington on Tuesday that contained evidence including satellite images, reports from the scene and details of exposure gathered from victims.

Russia says Syrian forces struck a building where terrorists kept the internationally banned chemical. The U.S. says it has images proving the bomb left a crater in a road rather than hitting a building.

Russia, Iran and Syria want an independent investigation and those opposed to the call “don’t have a clear conscience,” Lavrov said. Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an inquiry into the suspected sarin-gas attack that killed dozens of people.

All countries will be playing to their domestic audiences to an extent.

‘Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.’ (Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 1758)

“The first casualty when war comes is truth” – purported to have been said in 1918 by US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson but not recorded.

‘When war is declared, truth is the first casualty’. (Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime, 1928).

Trump’s disregard for words – and truth

Gezza: “From The Guardian. Worth quoting in full:”


Donald Trump’s disregard for words – and truth – is finally catching up with him

“The bizarre allegations did not come courtesy of Vladimir Putin. Their source was not a mayhem-spreading autocrat eager to drive a wedge between firm democratic allies. No, they came directly from the White House itself.

On Thursday, in a surreal news briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer amplified on the president’s claim that his predecessor in the Oval Office had wiretapped the phones of then-candidate Trump. Reading from statements made by a commentator on Fox News, Spicer claimed that Obama “didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ’’ – the Government Communications Headquarters, the British intelligence agency.

The response from Britain has been a tad more vehement than what we’ve come to expect from our friends across the pond. “Complete garbage … rubbish,” said the former chairman of the British Parliament’s intelligence committee. “Nonsense … utterly ridiculous,” declared the GCHQ.

And while the White House, in effort to smooth deeply ruffled British feathers, has agreed not repeat the president’s scandalous claim, the president himself has assumed a characteristically more defiant stance. “We said nothing,” Trump insisted this afternoon at a joint White House news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.”

Anyone familiar with Trump will recognize this tactic. It is the same sleazy dodge he employed during the primaries in peddling a photo allegedly showing Ted Cruz’s father in the company of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Don’t ask me, ask the National Enquirer.

Incredibly, Trump has never had to pay a political price for his malign speech, shameless evasions and legion lies. To the contrary. By treating words as potent and weightless – potent, as tools to skewer opponents; and weightless, without lasting consequence – he greased his way to a spectacular political rise.

Until now. In the past three days, in the worlds of law and diplomacy, the president has been confronted with the consequences of his inflammatory speech. On Wednesday, Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order blocking the administration’s revamped travel ban.

In concluding that the revised travel ban was “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion,” Judge Watson did a shocking thing – he took the president at his word. Having heard the president call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Judge Watson did not accept the revised order’s quiet assurance that it “was not motivated by animus toward any religion.” Apparently a federal court will not let Trump unsay his earlier characterizations of the travel ban with the alacrity that Breitbart lets him unsay his touting of the birther myth.

The British are now trying to teach Trump a similar hard lesson. But Trump is a stubborn or dull pupil. In refusing to utter a word of regret, much less apology, he is sticking to his tried and true script. Apologies are recognitions of mistake and Trump by his own lights commits none.

And yet whether he acknowledges it or not, his words are costing him – not with his core supporters or his minions in the media, but with the coordinate branches of government and abroad.

The director of the FBI has dismissed the charges against Obama as false. The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have said they have seen nothing to suggest that Mr. Trump’s claim is true. And Friday, Representative Tom Cole, a prominent Republican congressman, described Trump’s accusation as “reckless,” adding, “I think President Obama is owed an apology.”

Again – we shouldn’t hold our breath. But nor should President Trump in the expectation that this will all go away. A president prone to conspiracy theories makes wild claims that turn members of his own government against him. It has the making of a blockbuster political thriller. One we just happen to be living.”

 

Courage doesn’t seem to win elections

Courage doesn’t seem to win elections.

Or is it that courageous leaders don’t even try and become politicians, so we are left with pandering political strategies?

Jonathan Milne also writes about political lying in the Sunday Star Times: Our leaders need some steel in the backbone, not just in their roads and building projects

But for the the New Zealand public, the question remains: are we willing to turn a blind eye to untruths in the Beehive and council chambers?

Regardless of how they may rationalise the means to the end, lying is not a legitimate political strategy; it is the recourse of those who lack the courage to tell the truth.

But it seems to be an increasingly common political strategy – political strategists don’t think that courage wins elections.

‘Pandering’ to the majority does have an element of democracy to it.

But real leadership sometimes requires courage, and with it strong leadership. People tend to actually like strength in a leader, as long as it is generally for the greater good.

Strong leadership should go hand in hand with the courage to tell the truth, at least the truth as the leader sees it. If that’s a plausible ‘truth’ surely voters will reward it?

But alas. Trying looking for the strong truthful leaders in the current crop of politicians (and candidates for mayoralties).

Turei telling the truth as she saw it

Audrey Young writes that their can be harsh political lessons in telling the truth, and she thinks that Metiria Turei has been taught one, in Harsh lessons about telling truth in politics

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was telling the truth as she saw it, that in order to improve affordability of housing, house prices needed to fall by up to 50 per cent. She didn’t say they needed to fall fast. In fact she said they needed to fall gradually to prevent a crash.

But she didn’t think it through and Labour was smeared with it, less than two months into the memorandum of understanding between the two parties.

Disregarding the political carelessness of her comments, they also breached the agreement because Labour was not warned in advance that Turei was going to posit such a controversial policy. Andrew Little and John Key seized on them.

You can hear it already: A Green-Labour Government says house values must fall. It is a gift that National will return to no matter what qualification the Greens put around it and no matter how much Labour seeks to distance itself from it.

Little needed to distance himself quickly from the Green policy. The only thing scarier than the prospect of falling house values for a home-owner is a politician with a plan for falling house values – and Labour cannot be associated with that plan.

But it appears to have been a carefully planned announcement by Turei.

The Greens promote themselves as a party of principle and courage.

Turei was attempting to meet the challenge of former National leader Don Brash who told me three weeks ago that politicians of the left and right were terrified of saying house prices had to fall.

She later described her own comments in terms of political courage.

Somebody has to be “brave enough” to talk about cutting house prices so a rational conversation about how to do it could begin.

But…

Turei may have told the truth as she saw it but for someone who has been a party leader for seven years, it was careless and damaging to her party and to Labour.

Stacey Kirk: Labour and the Greens fall out over whether house prices should be cut in half

Just two months later the Greens have thrown a grenade at their cosy little home.

More precisely, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei announced (debatably on the hoof) that her party supported slashing house prices in half to fix the crisis.

Labour leader Andrew Little was never going to agree to this – he’s spent the last however many months repeating the word “stabilisation” like it’s going out of fashion.

To add salt to the wound, the first Little heard of the Greens’ plan to drop house prices to about three or four times the average household income, was when media started calling him asking for his thoughts.

Turei’s random announcement is a serious breach of the MOU – there’s no two ways about it.

What possessed the Greens to put a wedge between the two just as the Opposition was making some headway is anyone’s guess.

LabourGreenSplit

How ‘on-the-hoof’ was Turei’s announcement?

At Dim-Post, on the Notes towards a Red Queen hypothesis of New Zealand politics thread, a claim was repeated that everything the greens decide on has to be agreed to by the membership:

RJL:

The Greens are driven by their membership, so for the Greens to move to the right, their membership would need to utterly change. That is, not going to happen.

But Ximenes responded:

Strange that none of the Greens I know knew anything about the latest policy on driving down house prices. Did that ever go before the Policy section or was it just made up on the hoof? At the latest branch meeting not a single person was aware of the policy.

Turei made it sound like it was a party proposal – Greens want 50% house price drop:

“The Green Party is putting together a plan for how to reduce house prices responsibly and gradually, and that will include making sure people who’ve recently taken out big mortgages to buy a home are safe and secure.

“Nobody, including the Green Party, wants to see the housing market crash and equally nobody thinks the current situation can go on like this.

“Our plan for more affordable housing will include building more houses, a capital gains tax (excluding the family home), and restricting non-resident foreign buyers,” Mrs Turei said.

But she went further on RNZ, clearly saying that Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced by up to 50 percent over a period of time to make the market affordable again.

Andrew Little and Labour weren’t aware of this Green target, and Little strongly reiterated opposition to any drop in house values.

It appears some of the Green membership was unaware.

Was James Shaw in the Turei loop, or did she decide to go it alone?

She may have been telling the truth as she saw it, but perhaps it wasn’t the Green truth, and it certainly wasn’t the whole truth in respect of the Labour/Green MoU.

The truth is Turei made it look like a Misunderstanding of Unity.

 

The truth, the whole truth

The truth is something a lot of politicians seem to have some difficulty with, especially the whole truth (except for a few politicians who seem to have no difficulty promoting mistruths).

Trade Minister Todd McClay learnt a lesson this week about what can happen about not being up front with the truth.

Audrey Young: Harsh lessons about telling truth in politics

Two politicians found themselves in trouble this week, one for not telling the truth, and the other for telling the truth.

Both were damaging.

Todd McClay’s failure to tell the truth reflects badly on him as Trade Negotiations Minister rather than his party. He has held that job for only six months but he has been a minister for three years.

He mishandled a media story that floated the notion of a trade war by the Chinese Government with New Zealand in retaliation against a possible inquiry into Chinese steel imports. It turns out that he and his officials had had enough information since the end of May to cast doubt on it. But he gave the story legs by denials about the Government then two different admissions as to what he knew and when.

McClay gave answers to questions that may have been technically correct in terms of a Chinese Government trade war but were misleading in terms of what he actually knew about comments made by a Chinese importer.

The Opposition tried to paint the political failings of the minister into a story about the failure of the Government to take threats of a trade war seriously. But the facts did not support the claim. Key himself had been kept in the dark by McClay.

Being publicly castigated by the Prime Minister and forced to apologise will be a lasting blight on his career. If in doubt, tell the truth, the whole truth.

It certainly reflected poorly on McClay, and it also added some taint to National.

I don’t expect we will ever get many politicians prepared to tell the whole truth unless it benefits them, but telling a decent chunk of the truth, and not misleading or telling lies, should be an essential.

The truth is important, even though we can’t expect to always get the whole truth. Nothing but the truth should be a basic minimum of elected representatives.

Trumps speech and more lies

I think everyone knows that Donald Trump blatantly lies.  Some people don’t care and want him anyway, others care a lot and do want him anywhere near the White House.

I’ve mostly avoided his convention acceptance speech, it’s a highly orchestrated even and should be a carefully written teleprompted speech.

The Herald has Donald Trump’s full speech to the GOP convention (video)

Politico has the pre-leaked script: Full text: Donald Trump 2016 RNC draft speech transcript
(I have no idea whether the leak was ineptness or more orchestration).

And fact checkers have been quick off the mark: Eleven lies Donald Trump told in his Republican National Convention speech (only eleven?)

Despite promising “the truth, and nothing else” in his convention speech, Donald Trump presented the nation with a series of previously debunked claims – and some new ones – today.

He even brazenly lies about telling the truth. Unless he actually believes his own bullshit.

1. TRUMP: “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 per cent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.”

THE FACTS: A rollback? President Barack Obama has actually achieved some big increases in spending for state and local law enforcement, including billions in grants provided through the 2009 stimulus.

2. TRUMP: “The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015. They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.”

THE FACTS: The pace of releasing immigrants is driven not by the Obama administration, but by a court ruling. A federal judge ruled last year that the government couldn’t hold parents and children in jail for more than 20 days. Trump is right that the number in this budget year has already exceeded last year’s total. But it’s down from 2014.

3. TRUMP: “When a secretary of state illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence – I know that corruption has reached a level like never before.”

THE FACTS: Clinton’s use of a private server to store her emails was not illegal under federal law. Her actions were not established as a crime. FBI Director James Comey declined to refer the case for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department, instead accusing Clinton of extreme carelessness. As for Trump’s claim that Clinton faces no consequence, that may be true in a legal sense. But the matter has been a distraction to her campaign and fed into public perceptions that she can’t be trusted.

4. TRUMP: “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 per cent compared to this point last year.”

THE FACTS: Not according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police fatalities daily. The group found that the number of police officers who died as of July 20 is up just slightly this year, at 67, compared with 62 through the same period last year. And overall, police are statistically safer on America’s streets now than at any time in recent decades.

5. TRUMP: “My opponent has called for a radical 550 per cent increase in Syrian (refugees). … She proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from. I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people.”

THE FACTS: Trump persists in making the bogus claim that the US doesn’t screen refugees. The administration both screens them and knows where they are from. The Department of Homeland Security leads the process, which involves rigorous background checks. Processing of a refugee can take 18 months to two years, and usually longer for those coming from Syria. Refugees are also subject to in-person interviews and fingerprint and other biometric screening.

6. TRUMP: “Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when President Obama took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely. … President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing.”

THE FACTS: Trump is playing with numbers to make the economy look worse than it actually is. The sluggish recovery over the past seven years has been frustrating. But with unemployment at 4.9 per cent, the situation isn’t as bleak as he suggests.

Trump’s figure of 14 million who’ve stopped working since Obama took office comes from the Labor Department’s measure of people not in the workforce. It’s misleading for three reasons: The US population has increased in that time; the country has aged and people have retired; and younger people are staying in school longer for college and advanced degrees, so they’re not in the labor force, either.

On national debt, economists say a more meaningful measure than dollars is the share of the overall economy taken up by the debt. By that measure, the debt rose 36 per cent under Obama (rather than doubling). That’s roughly the same as what occurred under Republican President George W. Bush.

The Hispanic population has risen since Obama while the poverty rate has fallen.

7. TRUMP: “After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the entire world. Libya is in ruins, and our ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos. Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis now threatens the West. … This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

THE FACTS: It’s an exaggeration to suggest Clinton, or any secretary of state, is to blame for the widespread instability and violence across the Middle East.

Clinton worked to impose sanctions that helped coax Tehran to a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers last year, a deal in which Iran rolled back its nuclear program to get relief from sanctions that were choking its economy.

She did not start the war in Libya.

Clinton had no role in military decisions made during the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

On Iraq, Clinton as a senator voted in 2002 to grant President George W. Bush authority to invade Iraq, but has since said it was a “mistake”.

8. TRUMP: “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”

THE FACTS: Trump continues to repeat this inaccuracy. The US tax burden is actually the fourth lowest among the 34 developed and large emerging-market economies that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Taxes made up 26 per cent of the total U.S. economy in 2014, according to the OECD. That’s far below Sweden’s tax burden of 42.7 per cent, Britain’s 32.6 per cent or Germany’s 36.1 per cent. Only three OECD members had a lower figure than the US: Chile, South Korea and Mexico.

9. TRUMP: “My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton has not proposed any revocation of the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. She does support a ban on certain military-style weapons, similar to the law President Bill Clinton signed in the 1990s. That ban expired after 10 years and was not renewed. Clinton also backs an expansion of existing criminal background checks to apply to weapons sales at gun shows. The checks now apply mainly to sales by federally licensed gun dealers.

But when one of the most powerful jobs in the world is at stake why worry about telling the truth?

Greens support Catton on truth and traitors

The Green Party has confirmed on Facebook their support for Eleanor Catton’s fairly extreme crticism of New Zealand and our politicians.

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand on Facebook:

We were grateful to have Eleanor Catton‘s support during the election campaign, and we fully support her right to speak freely about the Government’s priorities without being shouted down or called a ‘traitor’ by media commentators.

Comments supported this, for example:

Some people from the Right can’t handle the truth about their selfish economic policies that create such huge social and environmental problems. No confidence in National’s NZ Inc policies that are destroying our country

In effect call ‘the Right’ traitors to the country and the planet.

The only traitor to this country is John Key who has sold us all down the river.

Someone does accuse Key of being a traitor.

How about we start by getting rid of that treasonous Shonkey?? That would be a good start. Then we could begin to address the fricken mess he’s dropped the %99 in.

And another.

We need more people like her that are not afraid to speak up and speak the truth…its just a shame our upper echelons in Parliament lack this ability except to pimp out their own personal agenda.

So Greens speak “the truth” and critics shout down.

I think it shows that characters of many, who, can’t accept a comment as a call for a civil discussion on how to make things better for the country.

You don’t make a call for civil discussion with an extreme criticism, and then complain about the reaction.

Eleanor Catton’s comments about the government are right on, and a bit of introspection would not go amiss.

I wonder if Green supporters will try some introspection.

There were a few alternate opinions, like:

Loony left trougher – happy to have all the freedoms capitalism & tax-payer funds allow to write a few books, then kicks the gift horse in the mouth (slight mod). Traitor is a bit strong: more like high functioning professional trougher with no loyalty!

An a response:

Sorry Pete, I forgot women weren’t allowed to have opinions…

Trying the sexist putdown.

There have been extreme reactions against Catton, notably Sean Plunket.

But the extreme claims against Key and the Government and the refusal to accept there can be any reasonable alternative to their own extreme ‘truth’ makes the Green narrative as insidious as it’s opposites in it’s own way.

The ultimate irony from the Greens on Twitter, retweeted by Metiria Turia.

Yes, but labeling someone a traitor for expressing an opinion is an attempt to shut down their free speech

Extreme criticism will attract at times extreme reactions. Free speech works both ways.

Greens want the right to criticise but try to shut down criticism of themselves and their own. Blind hypocrisy, convinced that their ‘truth’ is the only way and shouldn’t be questioned.

Goff fibbed again?

In trying to diminish his responsibility for leaking the Gwyn SIS report Phil Goff has highlighted a discrepancy between his and Andrew Little’s claims.

Goff fibbed to Radio New Zealand about not lying or he has put his leader Andrew Little in an embarrassing position – actually this is awkward for Little regardless.

This what he said to Radio NZ yesterday:

“I didn’t lie about it, but I didn’t pretend that I didn’t make the comments and I apologised for being in breach of her embargo. I should have honoured it to the letter.”

Goff off the hook over leak

And this is what Andrew Little was reported as saying in defence of Goff last month:

“He’s given me those assurances, I’m satisfied with that,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“He hasn’t given the report to anybody, he declined media interviews until the report was released at 10am yesterday, so I don’t know where they came from and I’m satisfied they didn’t come from Phil Goff.”

Goff: SIS report leak ‘perfectly appropriate’

Someone has not been truthful.

Goff had presumably have talked to Little about whether he had leaked or not and will have known that Little defended him. Emphasising now that “I didn’t lie about it, but I didn’t pretend that I didn’t make the comments” highlights the discreoancy between Goff’s and Little’s claims.

Goff has put Andrew Little in a very difficult position here. The time of year might reduce the spotlight but it’s not a good look for a new era for Labour’s caucus under Little’s leadership.

It also makes Inspector General Cheryl Gwyn letting Goff off look weak when he then appears to mislead with impunity.

UPDATE: I posted on this at The Standard and a typical response – they have launched into attacks on me with little attempt to contest the facts.

One thing they’re expert at is drawing attention to things they don’t like.

After a pile of petty dirt it probably won’t be long before they accuse me of disrupting the thread.

UPDATE2: Tracey calls it as it is

When it was confirmed yesterday by goffs apology, i rolled my eyes. Just as I did when I saw he has a SST column. Little needs to do a Key and get Goff to state NOW that he is NOT standing at the next election.

IMO, Little saying nothing yesterday, to my knowledge, leaves open the strong suggestion that Little knew about the leak and it was part of a strategy.

So, PG, I deplore dishonesty in our leaders, and every elected MP imo is supposed to be a leader. It undermines our democracy and the trust people have in our systems.

If I were Little I would have announced yesterday that Mr Goff is gone.

And:

Unless Little intends carrying on the awful tradition of planned leaking that some of our pollies indulge in, this was a chance to put his foot down.

It is unfathomable that Goff didnt know exactly what the media would do, sack him, show you have a genuine standard.

Cunliffe versus truth

From David Cunliffe Speech to 2013 Labour Party Conference – Building a future for all:

One for the rich and powerful, who don’t pay their fair share of tax because they have smart accountants to ensure they avoid it.

Families who pay tax on every dollar they earn, pick up the slack for the mega-rich and the foreign corporations who don’t.

Five years ago, John Key told New Zealanders, “wave goodbye to higher taxes, not your loved ones’’.

But he only meant it for the privileged few.

He gave massive tax cuts to the rich that they did not need while he put up GST on everyone.

Cunliffe is supposed to be intelligent and financially literate – if so this means he is telling deliberate distortions and lies.

The tax cuts “to the rich” were not massive. Damien Grant writes in NZ Herald:  Poverty isn’t fault of rich

Key to the inequality fantasy is that New Zealand is a neo-liberal rich-man’s paradise but the facts do not support this.

Bill English said the top 12 per cent of households, those earning over $150,000, pay over three-quarters of all tax. To balance this, half of all households take home less than $60,000 and pay $2.7 billion in tax; yet they receive $8.1 billion in transfer payments. Half the population are net beneficiaries.

The tax increases were partly balanced by the increase in GST which costs them more as the biggest spenders.

And GST increases were balanced for lower income earners with income tax cuts, and beneficiaries had compensating benefit increases.

Cunliffe is speaking to an audience which is receptive to his dishonesty. Time will tell whether enough voters buy his bull.