Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Letter

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    This article has a great timeline on Mr Woodhouse’s ongoing battle with sequential reality:

    So that's a barefaced lie, then.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Doubt it, but Espiner seems to be salivating :) And TV3 are speculating on the speculating whilst Gower is traipsing around with Key and Tova O’Brian (?) is trying to look important.

    I questioned Duncan Garner about this when he spoke at the last Wintec Press Club. Quite a few gallery journalists get very excited by the sight of a wounded beast -- but will often wave through the foibles of politicians they perceive as being strong and popular.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I questioned Duncan Garner about this when he spoke at the last Wintec Press Club. Quite a few gallery journalists get very excited by the sight of a wounded beast

    Politics is a bloodsport, and everyone wants to be in on the kill

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Politics is a bloodsport, and everyone wants to be in on the kill

    Hence your own initial reaction to the letter surfacing (“Cunliffe is toast”)?
    I think it’s too strong to label this even as an example of Cunliffe being vague or careless. Gods only know there are more than enough examples of that when he has to explain his policy positions – but this is not one of those cases.. It’s – as you say – an “innocent” letter, sent as part of routine electorate office business, 11 years ago. Meanwhile, Key gets a free media pass every time he can’t remember what he knew about actual deals mere weeks later…

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to linger,

    Hence your own initial reaction to the letter surfacing (“Cunliffe is toast”)?

    Not really. I saw it as cementing his long-term trend of failure. Whether its toast now or toast after the election doesn't change the outcome.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Henry Barnard, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    none of this excuses Cunliffe or Labour’s muppetry

    Muppetry? Really? Not remembering a letter you signed off on (probably with a very cursory reading) 11 years ago? Your standards must be awfully high.

    Palmerston North • Since Aug 2013 • 65 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Its not all bad that he has had to go on morning report, to explain his situation this mourning. I thought he came across sounding solid. I didn’t say authentic, but solid like he knows how to make decisions. Which is good enough to distinguish him from that nice Prime minister. Whom I have heard described as a pillow that assumes the shape of the last person that sat on him.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to linger,

    but this is not one of those cases.. It’s – as you say – an “innocent” letter, sent as part of routine electorate office business, 11 years ago. Meanwhile, Key gets a free media pass every time he can’t remember what he knew about actual deals mere weeks later…

    That has been the modus operandi since Cunliffe took office as Labours Leader. The media have continuously suggested he's not fit for the job, the public believe that if Trev is anti ,half of the party wont support Cunliffe Labour. I'd like to think it's hard to get 34 people in one room that all get along but 34 people in one room representing Labour might care enough about constituents to try, combined, to save us from John Key USA CORP.
    I know Labour have been hounding National because what they have always been getting away with this bullshit that they espouse to be governance.The reality is they are either greedy or muppets. Neither helps all of us.
    Labour ain't perfect but they are not disrespectful. Fields may have deserved jail time but instead I would have fined him big time and set the Thai guy on his way to reward for bringing to light, bullshit not acceptable in NZ.I really feel Labour don't have policies that set out to hurt others. National will, if it doesn't suit their demographic. That's why they will never change my mind, They have hurt too many already. They always do.I don't trust a Party on what they do. It's what they don't do.
    Rant Over

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Henry Barnard,

    Muppetry? Really? Not remembering a letter you signed off on (probably with a very cursory reading) 11 years ago? Your standards must be awfully high.

    Yeah, my standards for politicians are just as high as those they’re happy to impose on immigrants, the self-employed and small business owners and absofuckingloutely everyone who claims a benefit. Try saying “I just forgot, get the fuck over it” to the IRD or WINZ and don't hold your breath waiting for a sympathetic hearing. If politicians and political parties want to play that game, I can’t stop them. But they really shouldn’t be surprised when they’re viewed with cynicism and contempt.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Wait, Craig.... 11 years ago an immigration agent contacts David Cunliffe's electorate office looking for assistance finding out how long Donghua Liu can expect to wait for a decision on his visa/residence application. A letter is typed up and signed. Cunliffe is asked about his dealings with Liu and remembers nothing. The letter surfaces. So far as anybody can tell it really is just the standard type of thing electorate MPs offices do. It could be interpreted as advocating for Liu, but such an interpretation requires a bit of effort and more emphasis put on the introduction than the body of the letter. There is no evidence of any further or deeper contact between Cunliffe and Liu (well, not yet). And you're trying to compare the pickle Cunliffe has found himself in with what? Tax evasion? Benefit fraud?

    Well, I suppose if Person A is trying to wriggle out of prosecution for not paying tax on $20,000 of income earned last year by pointing out that Person B seemed to acquire an extra $200 that could perhaps be taxable income 11 years ago, the comparison might hold a little water. Otherwise, I'm just going to sit here struggling to figure out what, precisely, Cunliffe has done wrong and why the Press Gallery seems to have collectively completely lost all sense of proportion.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    It seems to me that this is a fairly standard move from the Karl Rove playbook. Attack your enemy’s strengths, and where possible, engage in tu quoque arguments and false equivalences to drown out your opponent’s signal. But I do wonder if the actions of National’s loyal defenders in the media do betray some measure of creeping anxiety about Key and the phenomenon of the “brain fade.” This counterattack on Cunliffe reflects Labour’s recent success in generating a fledgling media narrative about National’s dishonesty. Using standard tu quoque techniques, National are essentially projecting their own history of dishonesty back onto Cunliffe, making him bear the consequences of the kinds of moral failures they themselves have been accused of.

    But there’s something else going on here, too. Key is currently untouchable (apparently), so Cunliffe can only play the role of whipping boy. But the more Cunliffe is whipped for what are essentially Key’s faults, the more it becomes apparent that people (perhaps even media people) really are disturbed by Key’s history of obfuscation and what it suggests about the nature of National’s dealings with China. At the moment, this anxiety can only be displaced onto the weaker party (Labour) because National seems to be in an unassailable position and mainstream commentators are basically moral cowards. But the anxiety is still palpable nonetheless.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Johnny Canuck, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    The whole 36-hour media-led clusterfuck speaks to an excess of punditry, and a severe shortage of journalism.

    Vancouver BC • Since Feb 2013 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    the nature of National’s dealings with China.

    With a few businesspeople, if you don't mind. Yes, Donghua Liu is Chinese, as are the people behind Oravida, but they're hardly representative of the entire country.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's interesting reading the Herald's Saturday pundits.

    Fran O'Sullivan seems almost horrified by the whole affair and urges Cunliffe to dismiss the idea of resignation:

    Similarly, the resignation calls Cunliffe faced after the Herald broke the story that the Labour leader had signed off a letter on behalf of Liu bordered on risible.

    That letter was clearly a pro forma note written by his staffers. There was no element of special pleading. It's no wonder he had forgotten it. It should not have sparked a Gotcha call from political journalists.

    John Roughan praises Cunliffe:

    David Cunliffe is no slouch. I admired his refusal to apologise for the Donghua Liu letter this week. He had no need to do so - forgetting a routine letter written 11 years ago and failing to find a record of it is perfectly understandable. His repeated denials that he had even known or helped Liu was forgiveable.

    It was delicious irony after Cunliffe had made the most of Maurice Williamson's letter to the police on behalf of the same business immigrant and political donor, but no more than that.

    Many a politician, including Key, would have apologised and got out of it. Not Cunliffe. It is rare in politics and public relations these days to see somebody stand his ground.

    John Armstrong continues to fulminate, confusingly. He says both that a leadership challenge was the "obvious question" and implies that such "speculation" was "far-fetched", in the same column.

    And in the news pages, Savage finally gets Liu on record, confirming the $15,000 he paid for a book signed by Helen Clark in 2007.

    Labour's inability to find any record of this substantial donation seems of greater concern than Cunliffe's office failing to find the Liu letter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    And Donghua Liu rises to Rick Barker's challenge. He says he gave "equally to Governments of both colours", and:

    "Any political donations have always been given in good faith without any expectation. It is over to the politicians to make any appropriate declarations," Liu said in a statement.

    "However, because I've built relationships with politicians, made donations, because it's election year and, dare I say, because I'm Chinese, I suppose I've been an easy target for some to gain some political mileage and score some points."

    I'm not sure I agree with his comments on immigration policy - there is much to be fixed, but I'm unconvinced it's the investor visas that need fixing - and there is a bit much "woe is me" - there is plenty to cast doubt on whether he meets the good character requirements of his visa. But still, he does make some good points.

    And Fran O'Sullivan weighs in with the first sensible opinion piece on this topic I've seen in the Herald:

    Similarly, the resignation calls Cunliffe faced after the Herald broke the story that the Labour leader had signed off a letter on behalf of Liu bordered on risible.

    That letter was clearly a pro forma note written by his staffers. There was no element of special pleading. It's no wonder he had forgotten it. It should not have sparked a Gotcha call from political journalists.

    [......]

    But it would reach the heights of delusion to equate this episode with the obvious transgressions that cost Maurice Williamson his ministerial role when he called police on Liu's behalf, and should have cost Judith Collins her place in the Cabinet when she overstepped the line in the Oravida saga.

    And off-topic but relevant, John Key clearly has a very high opinion of his fellow Kiwis, or:

    There is a pattern in all of the things New Zealanders are "not interested in" - they are all potentially damaging to National.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Johnny Canuck,

    The whole 36-hour media-led clusterfuck speaks to an excess of punditry, and a severe shortage of journalism.

    Well, we could talk about Peter Jackson and his star on Hollywood or john Keys’ foreign policy and our navy moving to prime real estate.For once Fran's is almost objective
    But more importantly, because apparently we NZers just don’t care it’s this guy who deserves 2 pics in Harold today.
    Ha Ha! Snappity snap. Fran got all our attention :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Labour’s inability to find any record of this substantial donation seems of greater concern than Cunliffe’s office failing to find the Liu letter.

    There are ways that it may be hidden. Elections info

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    Attack your enemy’s strengths, and where possible, engage in tu quoque arguments and false equivalences to drown out your opponent’s signal.

    Yes, this is why negative campaigning doesn't really work. However much gains Labour made from the mud sticking to Collins, Williamson, etc, there's very little chance of staying clean in a mud-fight. And when it comes to "wrongdoing", there is always very little genuine perspective. Partisans from each side will point out the horrible enormity of whatever happened, and people come away with a "well OK multiple murder is certainly worse than a single one, but they're still both murderers" kind of reasoning.

    Of course you have to do the mudslinging, but it should not be your strength. It's usually going to end up a tie. But when it comes to comparing policy, people really can make a clear distinction in their minds of which one they prefer. That should be the "strength". And if you get attacked on it, you defend it, and attack theirs. In that battle, the stronger one does actually look stronger.

    Put another way, if the difference between National and Labour comes down to which one is less crooked regarding donations from Chinese businessmen, then I don't want either one of them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    then I don't want either one of them

    hence low turnouts like last time

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    this is why negative campaigning doesn't really work

    oh but it does

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sacha,

    oh but it does

    Especially if it is done subtly and regularly.
    For most of the time National has been in power they have fed the memes, Labour left wing looneys, Crazy, nutty tree hugging Greens. old and dithering NZFirst with Whacko Winston.
    Every Question time, they have used the flimsiest excuse to mock and deride rather than have to admit their agenda.
    So the people of New Zealand have been subjected to a continuous barrage of negativity from the start, we have been lied to for so long we are becoming immune to truth.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    And when it comes to “wrongdoing”, there is always very little genuine perspective. Partisans from each side will point out the horrible enormity of whatever happened, and people come away with a “well OK multiple murder is certainly worse than a single one, but they’re still both murderers” kind of reasoning.

    I think it is correct to bring to the public’s attention of any wrongdoing (if you like ,"mudslinging”). All politicians should be accountable but it’s another thing to be dishonest to score points. For example, Williamson and Collins were found to have feathered their own nests and used taxpayer funds and lie to the public. That’s wrong. That’s abuse of power. Cunliffe signed a letter doing his job as a member of Parliament in his electorate office because of an enquiry by an agent representing Donghua Liu. Seems pretty standard practice to me and that is not dishonest to the taxpayer so one side is wrong and t’other seems to be doing their job.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The latest Prime Ministerial brainfade, on NZ's previously unheralded full reintegration into Five Eyes:

    Spokesman Brian Hale said reintegration happened after talks between our Five Eyes partners - the US, Australia, Canada and Britain - on the basis that it was believed to be "in the best interest of their nation and their group".

    Prime Minister John Key said he could not recall any such change since National took office.

    "I don't know exactly what they are referring to.

    "My understanding of it is that even through the challenging times of the relationship post the anti-nuclear legislation, New Zealand continued to be an active member of Five Eyes."

    Asked to confirm whether his Government had ever made a decision to actively rejoin Five Eyes, Key responded: "I don't think that's right, but I remember there were some vague things . . . "

    He then said he would check.

    "If they are increasingly sharing more, then that's news to me but they would know that more than I would."

    Dude. You're the Prime Minister and the Minister with responsibility for the GCSB. Could you please stop pretending you can't remember anything at all?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    And off-topic but relevant, John Key clearly has a very high opinion of his fellow Kiwis, or:

    TL;DR: A milder form of Sir Joh's "don't you worry about that!"

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    A milder form of Sir Joh’s “don’t you worry about that!”

    Heh. Only yesterday Key reminded me of Sir Joh's description of dealing with the media as "feeding the chooks".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

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