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The dirty truth of Charter Schools



To no-one’s surprise the Ombudsman has found that John Banks, the ‘official’ champion of charter schools (yeah, right – another story), had withheld information without valid reason, including:

‘Charter schools would get money for set up costs and property funding that their private-sector backers would be able to keep if a school folded.’

Excuse me? Overseas corporates will get paid to set up regimes to enable them to take profits from New Zealand children? Risk free and taxpayer funded? Warner Bros deal, with added extras? Heard of the Robertson Foundation?

“The Robertson Foundation is one of the new breed of so-called ‘philanthrocapitalists’, private sector investment funds and trusts that view charity not as altruistic giving, but as just another  business investment opportunity to influence government policy and the delivery of public education. And, to do so by lobbying behind closed doors, completely outside the democratic process.’ (John Minto)

Ring any bells for you?

However the underlying issue isn’t so much as charter schools and shady deals, but the government’s overall education agenda.

There is no problem with New Zealand education, other than those imposed by politicians and the unseen influences behind them.

There wasn’t any problem with New Zealand education in 1987 either, but then, as now, problems were created – a standard disaster capitalism technique, through using or creating a ‘crisis’ to justify privatisation.

National standards have been, and still are, the government’s trump card in justifying ‘reform.’

It is vital to their agenda that these standards are manipulated to show two things: New Zealand schools have been failing to lift ‘achievement’ and that National’s policies since 2009 have started to address this.

Over the last few months a disturbing trend has become apparent. In order to explain this, it is first necessary to review the national standards processes that are in presently in place – apologies if the next section gets technical.

Readers may not be aware that back in 1999, the then Minister of Education, Nick Smith, had signaled, in a never-to-be forgotten and truly mind boggling rant at the NZEI Annual Meeting, that national testing would be developed should National win the 1999 election. Seems a mother he met at the local market had complained about not knowing how her kids were doing at school…

Since National lost the election, we were spared the testing regime, only for a variation to reappear in 2009. Same agenda, different delivery.

This variation chose to establish ‘national standards’ of achievement in literacy and numeracy for all public school children commencing from the end of the first three years of schooling, and for each level from year 4 onwards. It is has never been explained why these have been deemed as not necessary for private schools and now charter schools.

The very short time frame for the development of national standards, combined with their dubious educational value, resulted in considerable fall out in the Ministry of Education. This led to the departures of many of the key people behind the development of the New Zealand Curriculum, and, presumably, their replacement by more compliant staff.

Recent news about problems within the Ministry is not surprising. Guess there’s a price to pay for demanding adherence to politically imposed and educationally suspect policies.

Given the decision not to test children, the government chose to require all classroom teachers to ‘assess’ each child’s achievement against relevant standards using their ‘overall teacher judgement,’ (OTJ) based on evidence collected over the year, and comparing this with published exemplars – a very time consuming process. This process was not based on research evidence and has resulted in ‘square peg in round hole’ syndrome that has left New Zealand and international assessment experts rather bemused.

This syndrome has resulted in two predictable problems:

Problem number one: teachers are required to use their judgement (a necessarily subjective process) to rate each child’s achievement for reporting purposes.

This leaves us to the conundrum that teachers have to use a subjective judgement to get an objective outcome.

Problem number two: Since teacher judgements are subjective, then it is necessary for there to be a moderation process, so teachers of similarly aged children in the same school establish some level of consistency with their judgements. Several meetings needed.

So far, so good, and in fact these kind of moderation processes have been used in schools for many years, although not overburdened by sheer volume of national standards.

But….. while teachers of similar class levels can relatively easily moderate judgements, there also has to be moderation with teachers of older and younger classes, so that there is internal consistency throughout the school. More meetings.

Whew, after many meetings, reviewing judgements in reading, writing and mathematics, each school should now be satisfied that the national standards rankings for all children are ‘accurate.’

Not so fast – how can each school be certain that their internal rankings are consistent with neighboring schools? Or with schools across the country, in city or rural areas? The impossibility of nationally moderated should be obvious to all but the ideologically blind.

Or is this the case? Are these ideologues really blind to the problems?

How have schools tended to cope with the challenges, both with workload, and with moderation?

Many/most have fallen back to pre-existing tests, developed for diagnostic, not ranking purposes, but which do provide a basis for national comparisons.

STAR (Supplementary Test of Achievement in Reading) was developed by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) over a decade ago, and has recently been upgraded.

Another test, e-asTTle (electronic – assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning – an acronym that helps explain dazed looks in teachers’ eyes) is more recent, and provides for online assessment of reading, writing and mathematics.

Future articles will explore the implications of online assessment and link this to some very worrying developments in USA.

The third test, still widely used, is one familiar to many who have long left primary schooling – the Progressive Achievement Tests (P.A.T.).

This now means that a national test program is developing by default as schools strive to be as accurate and fair as possible with the assessments of all children’s achievement, and as an inevitable response to workload issues. Teachers don’t have time to spend hours on OTJs and moderation meetings, preferring to put their efforts into planning and teaching. Fair enough.

There’s a very big BUT here. Towards the end of 2012 schools found that their students’ nationally benchmarked scores on these tests had mysteriously jumped, so that the bulk of children were now achieving relevant national standards. A principal of a lower decile school has suddenly found that the majority of his school’s pupils were now at the national standards in reading according to STAR results.

Two possible reasons for this: the first being that all schools had now become extremely effective due to the benefits of national standards, while the second, for the more cynical ones amongst us, is that something untoward had happened to the tests.

And this has turned out to be the case. The way test scores are normed has been changed for both STAR and e-assTTle, so that children are now shown as achieving at a higher level. Instant fix.

This then will reflect on school’s national standards results that are submitted to the Ministry of Education, and then published in league tables by the media.

This year’s results will be submitted to the ministry in early 2014, will be available to the media some months before the election and will inevitably be compared to previous years’ results. Surprise, surprise, national standards results will show that New Zealand schools are now much more effective at raising achievement, just time for the election campaign.

Is that rat starting to smell yet? There’s an even bigger and nastier rat in the cupboard – the subject of the next article.

Naturally, the Ministry of Education are ‘now aware’ of the issue (even though their fingerprints are all over the test revisions) and will investigate, following on from an article in the Listener, which in itself was based on inside information from educational commentator Kelvin Smythe: Article on e-asTTle and STAR coming up in Listener

To conclude, a couple of quotes from Kelvin:

‘The politicians want to free up the tests so certain actions by the review office or by the Wellington bureaucrats can move the results up or down for advantage in the election cycle.’


“This is the Novopay of testing: old reliables (for instance, PAT) have been distorted by the high stakes’ national standards environment; and now we have this colossal mess up with two widely used literacy markers, and Parata calls this ‘quality data’. We had quality data, now we have the rubbish.”


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The Right has a new media voice




Fairfax Media has a  ” new columnist for the Waikato Times” (see:  Bill denies kids what they need). Narelle Hensen’s first piece appeared in the Waikato Times on 18 March, followed five days later by another piece, Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers.  (Note: Ms Hensen has previously written and worked  under her maiden name; Narelle Suisted, for the Auckland publication, “Auckland Now“, and TV3’s “The Nation“.)

Her first column-piece was a thinly-disguised, homophobic lecturing against gays, lesbians, marriage equality, and their fitness (or lack thereof) as parents.

The second was a nasty little smear against the unemployed.

(This blogger is waiting for her next target. Solo-mums? Maori? There are plenty of minorities available.)

What Fairfax hasn’t disclosed is that Ms Hensen also worked as a Communications Officer for the right-wing think-tank, Maxim Institute (see: Wikipedia Maxim Institute). The Maxim Institute is virulently opposed to marriage equality, as outlined in their submission to Parliament  on the Marriage Amendment Bill (see:  Submission to the MarriageMaxim Institute).

It appears that the right-wing in this country have a new voice in the msm (mainstream media).

In her first article,  Bill denies kids what they need, Ms Hensen railed against marriage equality.  She used children as her weapon-of-choice, and started of with this bizarre statement,

“Most of us, no doubt, would agree, and would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad. But that is what the Marriage Amendment Bill will require of some kids in generations to come. That is why I don’t support the bill.”

Did I read that right? She condemns the Marriage Amendment Bill because  a child “would find it difficult to decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad” ?!

Why would marriage equality demand that of children now? And in what way would that be different to divorce as it is presently?

As most of us are perfectly aware, it is the Family Courts that determine access to children – not the concept of marriage equality.  I doubt if Ms Hensen could point to any aspect of the Marriage Amendment Bill that would demand that a child has to “decide which of our parents to give up for another mum or dad”.

She offers another justification to oppose marriage equality,

“That means some kids will be denied the right to either a mother or a father, while their peers, by luck of birth, will be allowed both.”

Really? And what about the thousands of children who already have only one parent? What about the thousands of heterosexual couples who have separated and their children are “denied the right to either a mother or a father”? Or one has died through illness or accident – that’s real bad luck!

And just why is it “luck” to have heterosexual parents as opposed to gay or lesbian parents? The implication being that having gay/lesbian parents is “bad luck”. Perhaps being born to a mixed-race couple is also “bad luck” for a child? Or born to parents, one of whom might have a disability?


racism cartoon


Not to mention the bad luck of being born to right wing parents…


If a child is ‘lucky’, it is that they have a stable family, with love, attention, set boundaries, support, respect, nutritious food, warmth, good housing, access to education; healthcare,  etc.  The gender/orientation of parents and caregivers doesn’t really seem to factor as a life-giving necessity.

Indeed, Ms Hensen seemed eager to dismiss love as a trivial matter not worthy of consideration,

Of course, a lot of people argue the Marriage Amendment Bill is about love, and equality. But love or equality for who? These terms sound great, and they capture our emotions, but taking a moment to think about them makes us realise that in practice, they demand compromise from someone – either gay couples who must compromise the right to raise children, or children, who must compromise the right to have both a mum and a dad.”

It is unclear why gay (or straight) couples need to “compromise” – except in Ms Hensen’s mind where, for some reason, having gay or lesbian parents is a lesser option than heterosexual parents. Is  love a transaction that “demands a compromise”? She doesn’t explain what she basis that idea on.

What a strange world that Ms Hensen inhabits.


Ms Hensen referred to a particular group to justify her prejudices,

That is why the group Homovox started in France. It consists of homosexual couples who disagree with same-sex marriage, and same-sex adoption. As one contributor says: “The law should seek what is best for a child, and that is to have a mother and a father“.”

It took only a few clicks and poking around on a Search Engine to find out a little more about “Homovox“.

For one thing, it is not a LGBT organisation at all. It’s a front group set up by the Catholic Church, as GAYNZ reported on their website,

When is an LGBT organisation not an LGBT organisation? When it has been established by an antigay French conservative Catholic to make it seem as if there is “French LGBT” opposition to marriage equality. Thus it is with France’s  “Homovox”, allegedly a “French” gay organisation of  “LGBT” marriage equality opponents. However, on his website, Joe. My. God’s commenters uncovered who was actually behind the website, which turned out to be someone from the French Catholic Right. To  be more precise:

[redacted information]

A google search of Maillard Jean-Baptiste turned up this:


He appears to be an anti-gay French Catholic.


Doing some more research on these guys–they are all Catholics, some are ex-gay, most are right-wingers, and some can’t be found online.

None of these men–an no women–give their full names, where they work, and the man who claims to be the mayor of a “village” doesn’t actually name his village. 

Source: “Homovox” Exposed

It seems that the Catholic Church in France has copied the tactics of the Unification Church and Scientologists, who also  employ front-organisations as  smoke-screens to the parent-church.

Did Ms Hensen know this? If  she didn’t, she’s not much of a journalist.

If she was aware of the true nature of “Homovox” – and chose not to disclose it – then she has an agenda of her own. And the presentation (or lack) of facts is not part of it.

Ms Hensen is not above claiming  statistics to back up her prejudices,

“Of course, there are those who argue it is better to bring up a child in a loving homosexual relationship than it is for them to be raised in an antagonistic heterosexual relationship. But if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair. And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union, the statistics paint a very clear picture.”

– but tellingly, she refuses to disclose any such statistics for the reader. So much for her comment that “if we are going to make comparisons, they must be fair”.

We are, I guess, expected to take her word that such statistics exist? Perhaps they are held by her former employers at Maxim Institute – an organisation known for it’s  hostility toward gays and lesbians having full equal rights.

The point of that last paragraph, I suggest to the reader, is to undermine any notion that having loving parents who care for children should not  be judged on the basis of  sexual orientation. Note her reference,

“And when you compare a loving, heterosexual marriage with a loving homosexual union…”

What about comparing a dysfunctional heterosexual household with a loving gay/lesbian household? God knows there are plenty of the former. Our newspapers are full of stories where children, infants, babies were mercilessly ill-treated until their fragile bodies could no longer cope with dad’s punches whilst mum looked on, or vice versa.

The parents of Delcelia Witika were good, solid, heterosexuals who engaged in  Maxim Institute-approved,  heterosexual, sex. Then they killed their little girl.

I submit to Ms Hensen, that at such a point in a brutalised child’s life, they are not really  going to give a damn if the wearer of  steel-capped boots kicking their heads to pieces,  is heterosexual or not.

Ms Hensen’s says,

It is often very difficult to decide whose rights win, which is why there are so many court cases, and indeed courts, all about human rights. But when it comes to adults’ rights conflicting with the rights of children, most of us would agree that children should come first.”

Except when good parents are gay or lesbian, right, Ms Hensen?




Ms Hensens next article on  job seekers, was nothing less than a hate-fest on one of society’s minorities; the unemployed. (See: Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers)

Her entire article was dedicated to a simple premise; that  job seekers in this country are unemployable, with anti-social personalities and severe behavioural flaws consisting of;

Failing drug tests
Physicality when told to leave site
Not turning up for interview
Smoking throughout interview
Chewing gum throughout interview
No CV prepared
CVs full of basic spelling mistakes”

Her column  mercilessly depicted the unemployed as unfit for employment. One of her commentators even questioned their right to be citizens.

She quoted anecdote after anecdote of unemployed people with allegedly poor personal habits and poor work ethics – though she gave few details what the jobs were or any other specifics.

Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern chief executive, Kim Campbell, referred to New Zealand’s  unemployed as  being “the dregs” –  a theme typical  of Ms Hensen’s piece.

Dave Connell, vice-president of the New Zealand Contractors Federation and managing director of Connell Construction, was somewhat more subdued in his criticisms,

“We have dealt with absenteeism, drunkenness, drugs . . . We are persevering for three to six weeks sometimes.”

As a damning propaganda piece, with the purpose of vilifying the unemployed, it was masterfully done.

Other than that, though, one has to ask the question; what the hell was the point of it? What possible purpose did it serve? Because it sure as hell didn’t shed much light on the subject.

I have an idea.

Up till now, the unemployed have been painted as lazy, boozing,  and unwilling to go out and find work.

That myth has been well and truly dispelled with stories of thousands of unemployed queuing for a few jobs. Just recently, on 12 March, ‘Campbell Live’ did a series of stories of hundreds of workers lining up for just seven jobs at an Auckland factory (see: Sign of the times: hundreds queue for 7 jobs)

Or any of these stories of job seekers outnumbering vacancies,

10 applicants for every one shelf-stocking job

Applicants queue for 20 jobs at new KFC store

2700 applicants for 150 jobs

Demand Strong for New Jobs Up for Grabs in Glenfield

Jobseekers flood a new Hamilton call centre

1200 applicants for 200 supermarket jobs

Ms Hensen could not write a credible story desparaging the unemployed as “lazy”.  In these times of high unemployment, the public no longer accepts that generalisation. In fact, most people probably know someone who has lost their job, or, fresh our of school or University, cannot land a job, and has been turned down application after application.

So, for  Ms Hensen that avenue was closed off.

Instead, in the best tradition of right wingers who blame the victims of  this country’s on-going recessionary fall-out, she attacked and desparaged the quality of job seekers.

Repeating  anecdotal stories, without any supporting  context to offer a deeper understanding, she wrote a piece that painted job seekers as poorly educated; drug addicts; inarticulate – even chewing gum!

As a hatchet job, it  certainly perpetuated negative stereotypes about the unemployed. It also reinforced the unacknowledged class structure that has been developing in this country for the last 30 years; the unemployed are “riff raff, beneath our contempt; and not worthy of being treated as our equals”.

As a “dog whistle” it attracted 321 comments (as at the time of this blogpost being written) – many of which were little more than ill-informed, offensive, stereotyping.

Ms Hensen might care to reflect on the irrational hatred expressed by those who supported her story. Is that the readership she is pandering to?

It also showed of some of Ms Hensen’s sources as less than ideal unemployers, with barely concealed prejudices.

But even if Ms Hensen’s poisonous polemic was 100% accurate, reflecting an unvarnished reality – employers and government have only themselves to blame.

How many times have trade unionists, economists,  and leftwing commentators warned employers and government that if New Zealand continued to drive down wages – as National has been doing with it’s labour law “reforms” – what did they think would happen?

On 1 April, the minimum wage will rise by 25 cents to $13.75 per hour. In Australia the rate is NZ$19.96 an hour, though wages are usually higher than that.

On 1 May, young people 16 to 19 will also have a new youth rate, that will be 80% of the minimum wage. That’s $11 per hour. How will young New Zealanders react to what is effectively a wage-cut?

And employers are whinging their heads off that the best and brightest are buggering off to Aussie?

The reality, though, is more prosaic. People want work. The unemployment benefiit ($204.96/wk/net) is not sufficient to live on. Many looking for work will be University graduates. Others will be poorly educated. But they all want a job.

Perhaps the real purpose of Ms Hensen’s  article – dressed up as a “news story” –  was designed to serve as propaganda in a  prelude to relaxing immigration laws and allow immigrant workers to flood the country? By creating a new urban myth that unemployed New Zealanders are “dregs”, it gives National the excuse to bring in labour from overseas. Cheap labour. Workers who will not kick up a fuss about exploitation; lax safety practices; and abuse.

The abuse of workers on Foreign Charter Vessels fishing within our EEZ waters gives an idea what might be  our future (see previous related blogpost:  A Slave By Any Other Name).

I suspect Ms Hensen is not finished with excoriating minorities in this country. Her poison pen is poised. It’s only a matter of who is next in her sights. And what her agenda is.

What a waste of intellect.





Linked In: Maxim Institute Media and Communications Officer at Maxim Institute/Narelle Hensen

Bill denies kids what they need (18 March 2013)

Dole queues long but bosses can’t get workers (23 March 2013)

“Homovox” Exposed.

Other blogs

The Jackal: National’s Campaign of Disinformation



= fs =

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The Liberal Agenda 25th-31st March


There is plenty going on this week to get your brain juices a-flowin’ and your party feet a-tappin’….


‘Giving Our Kids A Home For Life’ is a public meeting being held by Holly Walker MP and Metiria Turei MP on Monday Night. They’ll be talking housing policy and explaining the Greens’ ‘Home for Life’ Package.


There is a series of public consultation meetings happening on the proposed changes to the RMA. In Auckland on Monday, there is a public meeting from 12.00-2.00pm and then a hui from 3.00-5.00pm. Both are at the Ellerslie Event Centre.


Also on Monday, The Central Auckland Labour Hub is hosting Rod Oram. He’ll be talking about the manufacturing sector and providing some thoughts on what we need to be doing to turn things around. If you’re interested you need to register here.


Paul Rishworth is delivering a lecture on Tuesday night about Same Sex Marriage and Religious Exemptions. Rishworth delivered the Law Society’s Submission to the Select Committee and is a bit of a BORA pro so this will be a very interesting talk to listen to.


Eva Strangelove, NZ born international Burlesque star is in a Texan hospital after contracting Strep Pneumonia. Her medical bill are going through the roof and her friends around the world are chipping in. Save our Strangelove is a fundraiser on this Friday 29th March. A $15 ticket gets you performances from 3 bands and 6 Burlesque artists which is excellent value AND you’re helping out someone in a nightmarish situation.


It’s the Waiheke Jazz Festival this weekend and it is a super line-up. My personal picks are Iva Lamkum who is on at the Good Friday Groove and Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes who are playing the Saturday Night Supper Club.


This weekend is Easter! What does that mean? The Easter Show!!! Go get high on candy candyfloss, ride the rides till you feel queazy and try to win an oversized stuffed animal


Nominations are now open for Amnesty International’s 4th Human Rights Defender Award. If you know someone in NZ or the Pacific Region who you think is deserving of the award, nominate them by 5.00pm Friday 5th April. The award ceremony will be held on Saturday 4th May.


There is another Asset Sales Protest on Saturday 27th April. That’s a while away obviously but will give you time to share share share so we can try and get as many people along as possible.


Happy Easterweek!!!

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Prehistoric Googling



Prehistoric Googling

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Successful Parenting


succesful parenting

Successful Parenting

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The reality of buying power shares


the reality of power shares

The reality of buying power shares

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How the news media really work


how news media work

How the news media really work

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The righteous drone strike


The righteus drone strike

The righteous drone strike

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Short film on Bradley Manning


Short film on Bradley Manning

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Face TV listings Monday 25th March


face small

7.00 Aljazeera News
8.00 In Focus
8.45 Classic serial
9.00 Bloomberg
10.00 Popxport/Kino
10.30 Wellbeing A-Z
11.00 euronews

12.00pm Let’s Talk
12.30 T News
1.00 TV Chile 24 Horas
1.30 euronews
2.00 NHK Newsline
2.30 Korean news
3.00 Dutch news
3.30 French news
4.00 German news
4.30 J-Melo
5.00 Euromaxx
5.30 DW Journal
6.00 Aljazeera News
7.00 In Conversation
7.30 Treasures of the World
7.45 Gay Talk TV [PG]
8.00 Eat, Play & Stay
8.30 Outside the Square [PG]
9.00 Australia News
9.30 Classic Film Club: No Kidding (1961) [PG]
11.00 Monoliths
11.30 Hitchcock season: The Lady Vanishes (1938) [AO]

Face TV broadcasts on Sky 89 & Auckland UHF

Face TV Twitter
Face TV Facebook

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Now all Israel has to apologize for is its brutal occupation


israel-palestine map

Israel PM apologises for flotilla deaths
Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he “expressed apology” to Turkey for any error that led to the death of nine Turkish nationals in 2010 in the Gaza flotilla incident.

Netanyahu also said on Friday that Israel has also agreed to compensate the families of the victims

Don’t you love the language? Expressing an apology for any ‘error’ that led to the death of nine activists? Like it was some sort of weapons malfunction, that it wasn’t the murder of 9 people in international waters, it was just a miscommunication between Israeli bullets and the skulls of the Turkish activists they shot.

It’s lovely that Israel have apologized for murdering 9 activists in open water, now all apartheid Israel has to do is apologize for its illegal, immoral, brutal, despicable, unacceptable, violent, degrading, awful, humiliating, sadistic, corrupt, debauched, depraved, dishonest, impure, indecent, nefarious, obscene, shameless, sinful, unclean, unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked and wrong occupation of Palestinian land and we should be just about even. Well, after Israel immediately withdraws from all occupied land and pays several bullion in compensation.

Then, we’d be just about sorted for all the ‘errors’ that have led to the deaths and despair of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

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This isn’t ‘white pride’, it’s immature neo-Nazism



Let’s be honest shall we? This isn’t ‘white pride’, it’s immature neo-Nazism. If it goose steps like a fascist, it’s a fascist.

The attempt by Kyle and his sad bunch of merry men to sell this as some sort of cultural response by the poor down trodden white race is more hysterically funny than concerning.

Dressing up in SS inspired pajamas and sulking about whitey not getting his is the sort of tired delusions of people in desperate need of a joint.

I’ve never seen candidates more in need of medicinal cannabis in my entire life. Poor old Christchurch, putting up with earthquakes is one thing, putting up with immature neo-Nazis is another.

Good on those who stood up to these bully’s and counter protested this embarrassing racism.

Kyle and his ilk are proof of what happens when you underfund public education, let’s use their ignorance as examples of what we don’t want to produce from our schools.

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Proverbs you won’t read on Whaleoil


“A friend who always takes you shopping will eventually make you broke.”

Radical Proverbs

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John Armstrong makes a Patrick Gower of himself



As the landline polls become more and more flawed as fewer and fewer NZers own them, those who rely on them to claim understanding of the public’s opinion become deeper and deeper entrenched in their myopic defense of them.

Earlier this month, Patrick Gower rushed headlong into a long list of justifications as to why John Key is so loved based on little else than his TV networks poll.

I pointed out how ridiculous his claims were because the very same poll he was relying on to make the assumptions that he did was one of the worst performing polls in the 2011 election…

In the month of the 2011 election, the 3 News/Reid Research poll took 3 polls over the 3 weeks leading up to the election. Remember, National gained 47.3%. In the first poll 3 News/Reid Research gave National 53.3%, in the second poll 3 News/Reid Research gave National 50.3% and in the 3rd poll 3 News/Reid Research gave National 50.8%. They were out by 6%, 3% and 3.5%. Their margin of error was 3.1%

…Gower’s 3 News/Reid Research poll is a joke, yet he was more than happy to create a vast set of conclusions pimping for Key’s popularity.

This is self-sourcing propaganda at its least perceptive and least detectable. No wonder 800 000 enrolled electors just didn’t bother voting last election. Spend 3 years endlessly telling NZers that over half the country love John Key and allow apathy to do the rest.

Sadly this self-deception isn’t limited to TV journalists. In John Armstrong’s recent column in the Weekend Herald, he makes a Patrick Gower of himself by doing the exact same thing based on the Herald-DigiPoll results claiming almost half the country love John Key.

Armstrong makes the same mistakes by assuming his assumptions are valid about why NZ loves John Key all based on the Herald-DigiPoll.

So how precise is the Herald-DigiPoll?

Remember when John Banks ran against Len Brown? Remember what an absolute landslide Len Brown won by? Remember how Banks was smashed from here to high heaven and given an electoral teeth kicking unseen in modern political times?

Remember that?

Well what did the Herald-DigiPoll have to say?

Poll shock: It’s neck and neck
Len Brown: 29.6 per cent
John Banks: 28.7 per cent

The race for the Super City mayoralty is going down to the wire – Manukau Mayor Len Brown and Auckland City Mayor John Banks are almost tied in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey.

COUGH, COUGH, SPLUTTER, SPLUTTER. Neck and neck was it? Armstrong, like Gower before him, isn’t divining oracle-like foresight, he is inadvertently replacing David Farrar as the Government’s online cheerleader and spin doctor.

I said of Gower that ‘he isn’t giving an educated opinion, he is white noise’. Armstrong similarly isn’t giving an informed thought, he is grey noise.

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Previewing TV3s ‘Vote Idol’



I am hoping TV3s new ‘Vote’ show that will slot into 3rd Degree’s timeslot lives up to the hype.

Think of it as a Current Affairs Idol. Guyon Espiner, Duncan Garner and Mariah Carey will judge the issues, text, interactive social media and a live studio audience will decide the outcome.

Some representative from Chapman Tripp will add authority.

It all sounds terribly charming.

I’m hoping for the best but after the disappointment of what Seven Sharp has done to the careers of Tim Wilson and Jesse Mulligan and 3rd Degree’s lack of burn I am prepared to be eye rolling my way through an hour of my life I won’t get back.

I suspect producer Tim Watkins’ hope after such a dull blaze of mediocrity at Q+A (I must start watching that show again now he’s left) is to get Russell Brown, Bryce Edwards, John Drinnan and Bill Ralston to all tweet mildly supportive twitter comments while it screens. I’m pretty certain Watkins has blacklisted me after I heavily criticized his and Espiner’s terrible coverage of the Te Tai Tokerau by-election and the unforgivable handing over of Jon Stephenson’s Metro article to Wayne Mapp before it came out, so I won’t be holding my breath for an invite.

What could be great about the show is what Matt McCarten insinuates in his column in the Herald today, that the arguments made by clever and passionate advocates may help change peoples opinions.

Seeing as the right really have no justification for the continuation of making the 1% richer and richer, it will be fun to watch their arguments drown.

I hope for the sake of current affairs in NZ that the Vote can lift the benchmark.

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