Posts by Tom Semmens

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  • Hard News: But seriously, drug policy,

    A friend of mine was at an event last week where he reckoned the lavatory cubicles were heaving with groups of people all of whom (by the sound of it) were insulfating what he presumed were anti-hayfever medications. So while cannabis reform is all fine and dandy, what about other drugs in widespread use due to our growing invisible trade with South America? Or is it drug reform, singular, and only pertaining to pot, as far as it can currently get here in NZ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Privacy and the Public Interest,

    So when you go to a political meeting, and look around, the question isn’t who they appear to be supporting, but who isn’t there.

    The collapse of mass membership political parties and the damage to our democracy that accompanied the Rogernomics betrayal by our political class in the 1980s and 90s has never really been repaired. MMP has in some ways made that damage permanent by creating elite cadre parties where it is not in the interests of a narrow class of professional politicians to encourage mass participation in politics, lest they lose control of the party machinery that controls party list and the MP selection process.

    Cynicism, the fact that the two main parties have for thirty years had a consensus to maintain a deeply divisive neo-liberal economic model that has created an entrenched reactionary class that controls much of the media, and a deliberate program aimed at the atomisation of society and the annihilation of alternative centres of ideas and political organisation have all contributed to a hollowing out of our democracy where we are in real danger of elections becoming a grostesque charade.

    My personal view is what the public are looking for - and what needs to occur as a precursor to real economic reform - is a political party with the vision to promise a real program of democratic and civic renewal, for example:

    Political reform: Term limits. Ban all donations to political parties. Introduce state funding based on a dollar sum per party member. Make voting compulsory. Make election day a fixed date - the first Wednesday 1095 days after the return of the writs and make it a paid public holiday like Xmas.

    - Devolution: Give local government the ability to levy some types of taxes and hand over to them some government functions like housing and social welfare (Whanu Ora for everyone!). Create a new class of "community juries" that are compulsory, empanelled from local voters at a suburban level and sit every Saturday and Sunday in a local hall. They won't have the power to imprison, but they will hear summary offenses that occurred in their neighbourhood.

    Citizen responsibility: Introduce a graduated community services tax, rebatable upon the completion of, say, 200 hours of voluntary work per year. Earn 160K PA and to busy to volunteer? Then your tax rate just went up. Civics training in schools.

    Fourth estate: Increase funding to state media like RNZ, and completely reform TVNZ. Introduce strong anti-trust laws and force the break up of SKY TV and the media duopoloy. Ban foreign ownership of NZ media.

    The likes of Slater and Farrar and the PR men are a bacillus that fester in a political open wound because democracy is to sick to fight their infection off. We need to apply some democratic penicillin to heal the wound.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Privacy and the Public Interest,

    The Herald is in fine Tory form this (saturday mornin) John Armstrong has produced one of his more blatant pieces of one-eyed opinionating, claiming Labour are the living dead.

    Armstrong operates a ridiculous double standard when it comes to the level of accountability he holds Labour compared to National. Nary a peep from the gasping old bastard on the fiscal responsibility of the the sudden emergence of tax cuts, but a forensic analysis of a slip up in the details of Labour’s CGT and a gleeful dispatch to the cemetery as soon as he thinks decent.

    Less than 48 hours after the “Dirty Politics” revelations started to die down, ZB are using Farrar and Slater as a primary source for their lead political story and TV3 were back to using John Key as a commentator on IMP party policy. My Mum used to say rich Tories never gave the poor anything, if you want something from them you don’t ask – you take it.

    The same applies to the right wing corporate media. They won’t change until the left gets into power and make them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics, in reply to steven crawford,

    How is that being kept so far away from public discourse?

    Because the media would rather lead the 6pm news with the soccer-trip pranks of posh schoolgirls.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    It’s amazing how sometimes I feel like I am living on a totally different planet to my peers.

    Several of my peers who supported National have changed their vote over the dirty politics scandal. But out in the low information hinterland, the “deep framing” is absolute. Hager is nothing but a dirty trouble making communist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    Charmless, smarmy, witless, utterly untrustworthy. But to his supporters he’s _their_ charmless, smarmy, witless liar and you’d have to pry him from their cold, dead hands.

    Spot on. John Key doesn’t have to be charming, witty or trustworthy. He just has to be “one of us”. So what if John Key corruptly used the SIS to discredit Goff. At least the economy is doing well, and he is normal with a wife and kids “like us”. And did you see how while his urban liberal critics smugly talk about their diverse food culture in Mt Eden and Kingsland, Key has a BBQ with Prince William, just “like us?"

    Now, I was reading Rob Ford has a good chance of being re-elected mayor of Toronto. In other words, the Toronto suburbs hate the ’the downtown liberal elite’ so much that they would rather re-elect a buffoon and a criminal drug addict than let the inner city elite have a victory. John Key is our Rob Ford. And like Rob Ford John Key is the measure by which we can begin to gauge just how much provincial and suburban New Zealand hate the people whom Rob Ford and his supporters hate most — ’the urban liberal elite’. Key might be Visionless and inarticulate, but at least he is a regular guy who sticks in the craw of all those queers and liberals and femininazis.

    John Keys personal popularity is the product of the progressive left’s disastrous twenty year experiment of combining acceptance of the neo-liberal economic status quo with an urban liberal sense of cultural snobbery. This politics of place – sentiments of resentment, exclusion, and social isolation felt by provincial and suburban New Zealanders of varied backgrounds towards the inner city urban elite status quo – is the reason for Key’s successful appeal to “middle New Zealand”.

    Like Ford’s various Toronto scandals, the dirty politics scandal may flake off enough support for the progressive “left” to tack together a shaky majority. But the fruits of happenstance shouldn’t deflect from the real lesson for the left. The lesson the left must learn from John Key and his popularity is that its primary political vehicle (the Labour party) cannot simply be a party of left leaning urban liberals. It also has to be a party with a leader and policies that appeal to those in the provinces and outer suburbs who feel excluded from the fruits of economic growth and threatened by cultural change.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    Dragging Franks into the shit means it won’t just be ADLS looking at its members…

    It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.


    Idiot/Savant spells it out for the taxpayer in terms of the revelations about David Bain:

    So, just to make that clear, the Justice Minister used a blogger to smear someone when she was considering their case for compensation for a miscarriage of justice. Which would seem to be a textbook case of bias and predetermination, and to hand Bain his judicial review on a plate. If you don't think Bain deserves compensation, you might want to get angry at Collins about that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    I hope an incoming government wouldn’t be so stupid as to engage in blatant political utu that compromises the basic editorial independence of public broadcasters

    Graham Bell frequently appears on the panel, and is introduced as what he is – a retired ex-police detective who hosted a popular crime reality TV show. As it turns out, Graham Bell has views you’d largely expect an aging white male ex-cop to have. I have no problem with that, his cards are on the table and knowing what I know of his background, I find some of what he has to say the wisdom of age and experience, some of it the prejudice of age and experience and some of it born from pure Pakeha social conservatism.

    John Bishop is a neo-liberal (ex?)ACT party member, a PR flack and chairman of the astro-turf taxpayers union. As it turns out, he has views you’d largely expect from an aging white male right winger. I would have no problem with that, if his cards were also on the table.

    I don’t regard it as “utu” to expect high standards of transparency and disclosure from our public broadcaster. I don't think it is "utu" for an experienced public broadcaster like Jim Mora to be reminded of his obligation to ensure his listeners are in full possession of relevant information regarding those offering opinions on his panel, particularly when they are currently active in a high profile right wing ginger group like the Taxpayers Union and we are in an election campaign. If Jim Mora doesn’t like being reminded of these common sense and basic ethical standards for a brodcaster, I am sure he can find a slot for himself on ZB or Radio Live.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    It’s rare for RNZ to be accused of being right-wing…

    That isn't really my point. Rather, that Jim Mora allows people with hidden agendas to appear on his panel as if they are disinterested observers, and his little lies on this matter has turned out to be the thin of the wedge in what has become a general decline in ethical standards in the media. From failing to acknowledge John Bishop as a hard right activist it is a ethically lazy short step to using Farrar and Slater as a news source, and we now know that leads directly to collusion and collaboration with National's two tier PR agenda.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Dirty Politics,

    Meanwhile, John Bishop - ACToid, PR flack and chairman of the right wing astro-turf taxpayers union is on Mora's show as a panelist, where he gets to sound off with right wing talking points on politics. The taxpayers union has form in the dirty politics scandal -

    “[Jordan Williams] sent [a piece quoting his own NZTU attack on Labour] to Slater, saying, ‘Just emailed you a blog post (assuming you’re no fan of David Clark). I’m happy to do more over the break if you’re wanting them.’ Slater replied, ‘Sure, chuck them thru.’ The post appeared under Cameron Slater’s name a couple of hours later.”

    Now, I don't care if John Bishop is on the panel if everyone is up-front about who they are and their politics. But Mora's on-going refusal to do so with his panel guests - in an election campaign no less - is disgraceful, and the sort of nod nod wink wink enabling of sneaky right wing political agendas that ends up with the complicit cooperation with Slater that has got the Herald's journalists into trouble.

    Jim Mora seems to think he can get away with business as usual. I hope an incoming government cleans up his shows casual little lies in the general wash up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

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