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For Bobby Sands – Irish Dissident who died under Thatcher

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“There is no such thing as society ” – Thatcher, 1988

“There is no such thing as Thatcher” – Society, 2013.

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Face TV listings Wednesday 10th April

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AM
7.30 McLaughlin Group
8.00 In Focus
8.45 Classic serial
9.00 Bloomberg
10.00 World Stories
10.30 To The Contrary
11.00 euronews

PM
12.00pm Pacific Viewpoint
12.30 Voice of Islam TV
1.30 euronews
2.00 NHK Newsline
2.30 Korean news
3.00 German news
3.30 French news
4.00 Dutch news
4.30 Imagine-nation
5.00 Euromaxx
5.30 DW Journal
6.00 Aljazeera News
7.00 Schools Inc.
7.15 Shift
7.30 Know Your Rights
8.00 Great Australian Doorstep
8.30 No Limits
9.00 Australia News
9.30 The World of Coffee
10.00 The Darren Sanders Show [PG]
10.30 PBS News Hour
11.30 Planet Un-earth [PG]

Face TV broadcasts on Sky 89 & Auckland UHF

Face TV Twitter
Face TV Facebook

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The Ding Dong Lounge, 26 Wyndham St, Central City

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The Ding Dong Lounge

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The Daily Blog Watch Tuesday 9 April

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Today’s Daily Blog Watch Round-Up of matters that have attracted the attention, assessments, and articulations of this country’s leading bloggers…

NZ Left Blogosphere

On Forest & Bird’s blog, DOC heading for breakdown: a letter to Nick Smith,  Tanya Coles writes a public letter to remind Dr Nick Smith of the 1995 Cave Creek tragedy and pleads not to cut back on DoC’s staff. Tanya likens cuts to DoC’s staffing as “taking as much risk with our future as hitting the highway with no seatbelt”.

If we remember, the Cave Creek tragedy occurred after cuts to DoC’s budget…

It appears that  History is set  to repeat. Will people lose their lives again? Or will we see endangered species quietly vanish into extinction? Such is the legacy of National governments…

Gordon Campbell writes On Criminalising Protest, and Christchurch Cathedral Options, and describes the pettiness of National Minister, Simon Bridges in further criminalising New Zealanders who protest on the open seas.

This government is turning into a nasty, vindictive, autocratic regime – there’s no other way to interpret a law change that will see protesters turfed into jail or given hefty fines. This is not about “safety”, this is about making life easier for oil corporations.

Gordon reminds us that the Nats have done this before; changed the law to accomodate business interests; think, Hobbit.

Isn’t the centre-right supposed to be the champion of such freedoms – or is it only interested in freedom that comes with a corporate cost/benefit analysis attached?”

On global warming blogsite, Hot Topic, Gareth warns us that serial climate-change denier and general loony-tunes, “Lord” Monckton is in NZ telling lies on radio, and threatening academics and journalists. Personally, if a ’cause’ has to rely on a batshit-crazy character like “Lord” Monckton – then that speaks volumes about the cause itself.

Personally, I like climate-change deniers. They will be the ones to buy your beach-front property when the waters are lapping at your front door. Treasure them – especially the ones with money.

Idiot/Savant has been a busy chappy on No Right Turn,

In Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, Maia also refers to to passing of  Thatcher in Dear Left, This is a Great and Glorious Day – Don’t Fuck it Up. No tears here, either.

On Maui Street, Imposing the market on Maori land takes aim at Chris Finlayson and pakeha neo-paternalism regarding “the appointment of an external manager to “administer and develop” underutilised land where the owners are disengaged or unable to be located”.

Screw that.

If I’m overseas for a year or more and I come home to finding a government-appointed “External Manager” sitting in my lounge guzzling  my ‘Crown Royal‘ and watching my ‘Dr Who‘ and ‘James Bond’‘  DVDs – I would not be a Happy Camper. In fact,  I’d be reaching for a piece of four-by-two to reinforce my property rights.

Is this government hell-bent on creating some kind of nasty autocratic regime? Because it sure seems to be headed this way. I thought this was the sort of State interference in our lives that the Nats condemned Labour for, as “nanny statism”?

No way should Maori let this pass. No. F*****g. Way.

On The Dim Post, Danyl writes that there’s been  Yet another leak Paula Rebstock won’t be investigating – the leak of Kitteridge’s report. And that leak appears to have come from the Ninth Floor. (No point in asking John Key about this – he won’t even remember assigning Rebecca Kitteridge to review the GCSB. Or remember the GCSB…)

The Jackal is incensed (as should we all be) at revelations that up to 85 New Zealanders have been spied on by the GCSB, and demands Ian Fletcher must resign. Jackal points out that Ian Fletcher  mis-led the country in February,

“It appears that Fletcher has referred three cases to the Inspector General knowing that there was no problem with them, while not referring the 85 other additional cases of illegal spying that he must have been aware of.”

Criminalising protestors; increased covert surveillance powers for Police; para-military raids on political activists… this country is going to the (police) dogs.

On The Standard today,

  • From our “WTF? Files”, Labour pays respect to Margaret Thatcher by David Shearer. No further comment needed other than those posted on that page.
  • Do we have The invisible commissioner? asks Anthony R0bins, who points out that Susan Devoy was nowhere to be seen when a Danish quasi-nazi derided a Maori powhiri, and was defended by  our own god-botherer/misogynist/homophobe-but-otherwise-nice-guy, Colin Craig. Ms Devoy studiously avoided media enquiries as to her thoughts on the matter. Most likely we’ll never see Devoy out in public again. A pity that Craig doesn’t follow suit…
  • True Blue Worker Hate –  Helen Kelly outlines impending changes to the Employment Relations Act, which will further erode workers’ rights. Key calls the change “minor adjustments”, though I suspect he may’ve been referring to setting his watch back for daylight saving… he just, well, y’know, forgot. But in all seriousness, Helen outlines what the Nats are intending to do, especially the most serious attack on collective bargaining since the Employment Contracts Act, where employers can walk away from negotiations.  As Chris Trotter wrote yesterday in The Conspirators, this is neo-liberalsm advancing yet further into our lives.

On The Daily Blog

Db – In  Everything about the GCSB is up for debate – including the closure of Waihopai, Keith Locke writes,

“…it is hard to accept that the GCSB unknowingly violated the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 when it simply and explicitly says the GCSB is only allowed to spy on foreigners. Kitteridge says the agency spied on 85 New Zealanders between April 2003 and September 2012.”

Damn right. And having read the actual law on this issue, what part of,

“Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person… who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.”

– is so f*****g hard to understand?? I mean, it’s spelt out in clear english that even John Key could comprehend (maybe). How do those twits at GCSB tie their shoelaces in the morning?

Db – And Martyn Bradbury asks the same question in So the GCSB has illegally spied on 85 NZers since 2003 – Key & Clark have questions to answer.

Db –  Martyn decides that  Margaret Thatcher deserves no tears in death – the Lady’s rot is now burning –  and with good  reason. Anyone who thinks that General Pinochet was an Ok Kind of Guy deserves very little mourning.

Db – Efeso Collins writes in Pasifika Education Plan – shifting responsibility  about changing vision statements and their effects on Pasifika students and families. This is a cautionary tale of how insidiously  little changes can have Big Consequences.

Db – This one could easily have been Blogpost of the Day (but it lost the coin-flip); The Tiny Homo: School Edition, where  Burnt Out Teacher, tells a lovely, warm story about kids. BoT says,

“From a very young age, kids are who they are. Some kids fit the most widely-accepted norm, and we cater very well for them. But some children, whether other people like it or not, are queer as.”

God, some of us adults could learn from these little folk. This is a Must Read blogpost. It’ll warm your heart (or coolant fluid if you’re an ACT borg).

DbSend In The Clown – by  Aaron Hawkins. About John Key. Hence the title. ’nuff said. (But have a read, anyway. It’s good!)

Blogpost of the Day

I thank Margaret Thatcher, writes  karol, of her personal time in London under the autocratic neo-liberal Thatcher regime. Karol writes concisely, and from the heart, of her experiences and what she saw. If we think two terms of John “Memory Loss” Key is bad enough, spare a thought for our British cuzzies who did it tough under three terms of Thatcher.

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The Rise of Margaret Thatcher and the Fall of Sunshine Desserts

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THE FALL AND RISE of Reginald Perrin a novel by the British writer, David Nobbs, was published in 1975. A year later it was adapted for television and became a BBC sitcom starring Leonard Rossiter. Three series of the wildly popular programme were produced, the last of them screening in 1979.

What made TFARORP so popular was its satirical portrayal of the lives of middle-class middle-managers in 1970s Britain. Perrin’s eccentric personality is the product of Britain’s thoroughly domesticated post-war capitalism. Life at Sunshine Desserts is so utterly devoid of challenge or meaning that to compensate Perrin loses himself in his own, increasingly bizarre, inner life. Eventually, he becomes so desperate that he “disappears” himself and returns, incognito, to Climthorpe as someone entirely new.

Interestingly, TFARORP ‘s run as a popular cultural artefact coincided almost exactly with the four years Margaret Thatcher spent as Leader of the British Opposition. She was elected to replace the hapless Conservative Party leader, Edward Heath, in 1975 and became Prime Minister in May of 1979.

No one hated the absurd and ineffectual Britain satirised by David Nobbs more fiercely than Margaret Thatcher. The Britain of nationalised railways that never ran on time; the Britain of shop-stewards, strikes and shoddy workmanship; the Britain run by pompous ignoramuses like “CJ” – Reggie Perrin’s insufferable boss.

Labour’s Britain.

Thatcher empathised with Britain’s Reginald Perrins because, in many ways she was one of them. A grocer’s daughter from Grantham: the intelligent, ambitious product of England’s abstemious and hard-working lower-middle-class.

Thatcher was always acutely aware of the distance separating her own from the other classes of Britain. Not for her the coarse collectivism and strong-armed solidarity of the British working-class. Nor was she ever much impressed by the snobbish gentility of the professional middle class. For inherited wealth and the aristocratic illusions it fostered she had nothing but contempt. The qualities Thatcher most respected were hard work and enterprise. As far as she was concerned it wasn’t the meek, but the industrious, who should inherit the earth.

Like Perrin, Thatcher wanted a new beginning. But for her personal re-invention was not enough; resurrection needed to be on a national scale. The ridiculous Britain of Sunshine Desserts, with its union-dominated shop-floor, it’s incompetent CEO and its grossly under-utilised and poorly rewarded middle managers would have to fall. So that, in its place, a new, striving, energetic, innovative, productive and above all, disciplined, Britain – could rise.

And discipline came only from the market. Thatcher was, after all, a grocer’s daughter. Buying and selling was a skill individuals either possessed, and prospered; or lacked, and fell into the black hole of poverty.

Thatcher’s world contained only two categories: market-literate wheat and market-illiterate chaff. And the best way to sort them out was to toss them up into the air over and over again until the chaff was carried away by the wind and only the wheat remained.

It is fitting that TFARORP came to an end in 1979. Nobbs’s characters had mocked Labour’s Britain and made fun its many shortcomings. But the humour was always affectionate and forgiving – a celebration of the Heath Robinson implausibility of so many British institutions.

In Thatcher’s eyes, however, that was the problem. She despised her compatriots’ almost infinite capacity to “make do” with what they were given. The nation had fallen into bad habits. The British people had forgotten they once inhabited a place called “Great” Britain. Tragically, seduced by Labour’s socialists, they’d rejected their glorious past – and had chosen, instead, the expensive comforters of the character-sapping Welfare State.

That was going to change.

Because, as things turned out, the laughter prompted by TFARORP had always possessed a bitter edge. Millions of Britain’s upwardly-mobile, lower-middle-class, middle-managers shared Thatcher’s impatience with both the born-to-rule complacency of their superiors and the dangerously inflated expectations of their inferiors.

At the gates of the Eighties, the Conservative Party’s first female leader found herself joined by an angry army of feral Reggie Perrins.

They just couldn’t wait to burn their own, unbearable, personal versions of Sunshine Desserts right down to the ground – and erect in their place a Britain fit for the heroine of middle-managers everywhere to live in.

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Proverbs you won’t read on Whaleoil

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“Those who are wealthy love the law, those who are poor are oppressed by the laws.”

Radical Proverbs

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Everything about the GCSB is up for debate – including the closure of Waihopai

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1984The Rebecca Kitteridge report on the Government Communications Security Bureau, summarized in the Dominion Post this morning, justifies the criticism of the agency made by concerned citizens (including me) over the years.

Kitteridge points to a woefully inadequate level of oversight by part-time Inspectors-General of Intelligence and Security – and by extension a dereliction of duty by Prime Ministers (as Ministers in Charge) and the statutory Intelligence and Security Committee in the Parliament.

Lack of much oversight, combined with super-secrecy around what each employee is doing, is a recipe for incompetence, as I have said in the past [See my NZ Herald OpEd].

However, it is hard to accept that the GCSB unknowingly violated the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 when it simply and explicitly says the GCSB is only allowed to spy on foreigners. Kitteridge says the agency spied on 85 New Zealanders between April 2003 and September 2012.

Surely, the GCSB doesn’t think we are simple enough to buy the line that their interceptions were legal because they were spying on the 85 New Zealanders on behalf of the Security Intelligence Service (which is legally able to spy on New Zealanders). This is the justification provided by a former GCSB director, Sir Bruce Ferguson, who claims the GCSB spying on New Zealanders, on behalf of the SIS, was even signed off by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security!

The other type of spying on New Zealanders the GCSB deemed legal was when it concerned “metadata” such as the numbers a target New Zealander phoned, as displayed on their phone bill. This was deemed to be ok for the GCSB because “metadata” was not defined as a “communication”. This distinction does not wash legally. Sections 7 (Objective of the Bureau) and Section 8 (Function of the Bureau) of the GCSB Act 2003 make it absolutely clear that the GCSB is only gathering “foreign intelligence” which is defined earlier in the Act as “information about the capabilities, intentions and activities of a foreign organisation or a foreign person.”

It would also be useful to know the range of interceptions the GCSB was engaged in. Presumably they weren’t telephone interceptions, because the SIS and the Police have their own well-established arrangements with the telecommunications companies to intercept phone calls, generally with a warrant.

Probably the GCSB was providing help to gather information from people’s computers (including hacking) or to intercept email messages, because it is an area where the GCSB may have a more sophisticated capability.

Or perhaps the GCSB was using the Echelon (or Five Eyes) intelligence system, of which the Waihopai satellite communications interception station is a part, to gather information on some of those targeted by the SIS.

We deserve to be told more about all this. And there needs to be a real discussion about the purpose of the GCSB’s main asset, the Waihopai spy station, and whether we need it. In this respect it was good to read , for the first time, “scrap Waihopai” being put forward as a serious option by the editors of the Dominion Post. The second to last paragraph in this morning’s editorial reads: “The choices for the Government are simple – establish a system of oversight that provides greater assurance than simply GCSB directors, inspectors-general of intelligence and security and prime ministers saying ‘trust me’, or scrap Waihopai.”

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So the GCSB has illegally spied on 85 NZers since 2003 – Key & Clark have questions to answer

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1984 Was Not an Instruction Manual

So after the Prime Minister’s childhood school chum Ian Fletcher told NZ that Kim Dotcom was the only NZer illegally spied upon, it turns out that the GCS bloody B has actually illegally spied on 85 NZers since 2003 for the SIS.

Perhaps I am expecting too much from a Spy Chief who was shoulder tapped by his mate and who helped put together the false case for Britain to go to war with Iraq, but when he told us that the GCSB had not illegally spied on any other NZer than Kim Dotcom, shouldn’t he have told the truth?

Why is our spy agency illegally spying on NZers? Why didn’t Helen Clark and John Key demand answers? Did the spy agency lie to our Prime Ministers? Who are these NZers who have been spied upon illegally? What has happened to the information gleaned from that illegal spying? Will those 85 be contacted and offered compensation and an assurance that information will be destroyed?

Who the bloody hell is accountable for this?

The GCSB has VERY clear legislation that says they can’t spy on NZers, yet they have done it 85 times!

I will not accept Key simply attacking the media for asking these questions.

Is the appointment of the PMs mate completely inappropriate now we know the agency is out of control?

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Margaret Thatcher deserves no tears in death – the Lady’s rot is now burning

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When a figure of injustice dies, those who loved the injustice rally quickly to start screaming for respect in death and begin building the mythology that the injustice was righteous.

We saw it here with the death of Paul Holmes and the need to hold the petty bigotry he so enabled as the benchmark of broadcasting respectability.

Let’s be clear – Thatcher deserves no tears in death, she deserves contempt.

Margaret Thatcher was a neoliberal enemy of the people – pretending she deserves respect at her passing is dangerous myth making.

Other than destroying the working class in Britain, Thatcher helped cause the first Gulf War, passionately supported the 2003 re-invasion, She denounced Nelson Mandela and the ANC as a “terrorist”, and supported dictators like Pinochet, Saddam Hussein & General Suharto.

If there’s a hell, she deserves to be there

Let’s hope all the Iron Lady stood for will now rust.

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Pasifika Education Plan – shifting responsibility

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After a month of community consultation throughout the country, I was excited – perhaps relieved – to be attending the launch of the Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017. From memory it’s the government’s sixth Plan giving an overarching strategy on how to raise educational achievement for Pasifika learners in New Zealand. On this cold night in October last year I politely put to one side my utter disgust that the Ministry of Education only afforded one single month to seek consultation from the country’s quarter of a million Pasifika people, to read the findings of what our people had to say.

Admittedly at the time of the consultation, I was an employee of the Ministry, having noted on numerous occasions my dissatisfaction at the hurried nature of the consultation, but I’ve quickly learned that although many of us where white collars to work these days, we’re just professionally dressed ‘factory hands’. I started at the Ministry and was won to the vision of the Plan, which was our bible so to speak. Its vision resonated with me because it was about addressing issues with the education system, in order to achieve increased achievement for Pasifika. “The education system must work for Pasifika so they gain the knowledge and skills necessary to do well for themselves, their communities, Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific region and the world.” (2009-2012). I saw this as an admission that there were serious flaws with the system that were perpetuating the same monocultural, educational outcomes. Here, was a genuine opportunity to address the issues relating to students’ prior knowledge recognition in the classroom, culturally responsive pedagogy, inclusive teacher interactions, language medium of exchange and more in a system that was failing Pasifika young people.

To my astonishment, the vision for the new Plan had changed. “Five out of five Pasifika learners participating, engaging and achieving in education, secure in their identities, languages and cultures and contributing fully to Aotearoa New Zealand’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing.” Whilst this vision may sound similar to the earlier one, it’s significantly different. This vision puts the onus back on the learner, as if the system and those upholding it are equal and pure – befitting of a neoliberal and postcolonial theory of education. Seve-Williams (2010) provides a detailed analysis of shifting the blame onto the student whilst diverting attention from a flawed system. Current and popular public discourse leads us to believe that the system (or market) is without bias, so the blame of underachievement rests on students because it’s their responsibility to ‘learn’. Some of the issues I noted earlier such as culturally responsive pedagogy, inclusive teacher interactions, and recognition of students’ prior knowledge, point to systemic failures in education that students – many of whom are Pasifika – have to ‘wear’ in life. The effects on their communities are enormous.

So what of the change in vision statements? As an employee facilitating these community consultations, I vividly remember there being absolutely no questions on the vision. I recall parents and families talking about the aspirations they had for their children, a desire for bilingualism, the pride they experienced when a son or daughter completed NCEA level 2 and graduation ceremonies that were overwhelming. Those are the discussions that I recall vividly. But changing the vision statement? That was never on the agenda.

Wearing failure in life isn’t nice – in fact it’s painful. And obviously the government couldn’t handle the failure label, so cunningly gave it back to Pasifika learners in 2013.

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For $200 000 per year, when will Susan Devoy have a position on race relations?

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Put aside the fact that Devoy’s appointment by Collins is a dog whistle to National’s lesser evolved voters.

Put aside the fact Devoy described the job of Race Relations as not complicated.

Put aside the fact that in her autobiography she said she wanted to play squash in South Africa but didn’t because it might damage her reputation.

Put aside the fact she wrote a column on Waitangi Day that showed the sort of intellectual curiosity of a Fox News host.

Put all that aside, what the bloody hell is she actually doing for her $200 000 per year?

White pride march in Christchurch, the Race Relations Commissioner has no opinion.

Renaming the North and South Islands by their Maori names, the Race Relations Commissioner has no opinion.

Visiting Danish MP makes racist comments on Maori welcomes, the Race Relations Commissioner has no opinion.

What are we paying Susan Devoy for? With a real unemployment number in the double figures, how can this slacker get away with effectively not actually doing any work?

Devoy is an embarrassment of an appointment whose constant silence on issues of race only highlights the humiliation and shame she brings the office.

The only pakeha ‘sick of all the Susan Devoy bashing’ are the same ones who share her willfully narrow view of race relations.

She is a bigot magnet.

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Send In The Clown

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543792_10151578885472359_2030120855_nMy entering into the state education system in 1989 roughly coincided with the departure of the Education Minister as leader of the Labour Party, and thus as Prime Minister. I had been a troublesome child at kindergarten, but I had no idea word had reached such a height that the Principal’s Principal had put all other work on hold in anticipation. It was pretty bleak on the 9th Floor for a decade after that. Following David Lange we had Palmer The Ill Prepared, Moore The Month-Or-Two, Bolger The Backwater and Shipley The Stern. Who could forget Jim from Te Kuiti’s cultural chameleon routine, taking on the accents of whichever foreign dignitary he happened to be speaking to? At least three sizzling eggs on the ‘How Embarrassment?’ scale every time. The first two mentioned served terms so insignificant as to barely count, and Shipley’s Bolger Backstabbery was rewarded with an imploding New Zealand First caucus and inevitable electoral defeat in her first election as party leader.

All the mediocrity, severity and facepalmery of that list feel like they were from a different time. Even as I type this, I look in disbelief at the fact that the last of them were still in office by the time I had finished 5th Form (Year 11). Sure, there are a couple of things going on here. First, I’m not getting any younger, but second – and I would argue more importantly – between then and now we were served by a Prime Minister who revered and respected the role she had been elected to play. There was plenty about the 5th Labour Government I disagreed with, slavish commitment to ‘Free Trade’ neo-liberalism and their handling of certain Maori issues in particular, and I never gave my party vote to any of the parties in it. That aside, for nine years we had our leader at home, and representative abroad, who seemed to take the job seriously.

Oh, how we took that as a given back then! My Prime Minister was smarter than me and not ashamed to show and that was great because I want the Prime Minister to be smarter than me! I sure as hell wasn’t capable of setting domestic setting agendas and foreign policy platforms so best to defer to someone qualified. This is how people choose their plumbers, their surgeons, their mechanics. They recognise the job is beyond them, and find someone who has a track record of professional practice and hire them. Somehow, for a sizable portion of the population, this logic doesn’t hold when it comes to politicians. There, they’re looking for the person best suited as a guest at a backyard barbeque. The Fall Of Helengrad was due to a multitude of factors, but the framing of the 2008 election was clear; it was Populists vs Pointy Heads, and John Key and his pack of sizzlers became the 5th National Government.

Your old mate, John Key. Off-the-cuff, self-deprecating, playing the part of One Of The Boys for photo ops and friendly media faces. The desperation to fit in – a social version of Bolger’s vernacular foibles perhaps – sees the same man mincing down the catwalk at a Rugby World Cup event that would later mock rural radio hosts for wearing “gay red shirts”. He’s the Prime Minister that brought us lusting after Liz Hurley, three way handshakes, jokes about Tuhoe cannibals and planking. He delivered one of the most painful Top Ten lists in Letterman history. What a larrikin!

Each time his fans would guffaw loudly around the hotplate, and his critics would explode with impotent rage in their online echo chambers (myself included). Meanwhile, in the Beehive, he’s been quietly dismantling the state one welfare cheque, one state owned asset, one check or balance at a time. But that doesn’t raise any eyebrows at the barbie. They’re still arguing over how hot Liz Hurley is, and if they get anywhere close to the meat of the real agenda, just tell them three generations of dope smoking dole bludgers are living in million dollar state house up in Auckland. That’ll keep them busy for a while.

That’s been the way it’s been for more than four years now. The neighbours over the fence haven’t really stepped in and told them to shut up as well as they might have, but in their defence they have written to the local paper quite a few times, only to find out that the editor they were addressing was just a stones throw away, gobbling down another one of John’s famous snags. The other day though, after a hard day, Burn Your Bridges John came to visit and called them all knuckleheads, so they might not stop by so often any more.

I don’t agree with it, but I have no problems with believers in classical convervatism, neo-liberal fiscal theology and supply side economics being represented in our Parliament by politicians who think the same way. One of the Chicago School’s greatest paradoxes is that it is a pointy headed academic project that has been adopted and advocated for ever since by the very people that deplore this kind of intellectual exceptionalism. What we are then left with is a legion of followers who know the equations, but not the proofs, and you can’t argue against the reasoning behind an idea with those who don’t know what that reasoning is or could be. There’s another side to this, too, and that’s that like any social group, Key’s fan club take their cues from their most influential member, which is him. By casting himself as a King in Court Jester’s clothing, the Prime Minister gives off pretty strong signals that politics isn’t a serious business, it’s all a bit of a laugh, and we shouldn’t take the work of our elected officials all that seriously. The smoke screen for his austerity measures thus becomes toxic, and chokes the oxygen out of what little reasoned debate we still have. I fear we’ll be trying to resuscitate long after he’s out on the Celebrity Golf Circuit.

The question that remains, then, is whether the wounds the Prime Minister inflicts on society with his austerity economics will heal faster than the wounds he inflicts on our political discourse with his embarrassing buffoonery. Neither will be easy, so the sooner the job is filled by someone who takes it seriously, the better off the people of Aotearoa will be.

2014 can’t come soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Colin Craig – better a bare bottomed native than a nakedly primitive arsehole

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This man is a gormless clown with all the charm of a school bus traffic accident

Bare bottom welcomes `should be optional’
Traditional Maori welcomes for visitors should be optional because not all of them are impressed by “a bare bottomed native making threatening gestures”, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says.

So Colin Craig is an apologist for racism as well as homophobia? Add misogyny, and that’s the holy trinity of bigotry.

Why Colin thinks it is acceptable to refer to traditional Maori welcome as ‘bare bottomed natives’ and use that insult to justify the racism of a visiting Danish MP is a little bit beyond me, but then again most of the crazy nonsense Colin Craig spews forth makes no sense to me whatsoever.

If Colin is really the voice of Conservative NZ, then Conservative NZ are a pack of petty bigots who wrap their ignorance up in a ribbon of fanatical intolerance.

In the war on prejudice, Colin is on the side of the book burners. This man is the reason we need to properly fund public education and stop women from smoking and drinking during pregnancy.

NZ needs this fool to enter politics like it needs a malignant tumor.

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Love Doc Day!

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love doc day April 11th

 

Here’s a nice thing you can do…

 

DOC is staffed by hard-working dedicated professionals who are passionate about conservation and protecting our environment and all the wonderful unique things to be found in it.

 

This Government is short-sighted and do not appreciate the importance of what they do.

 

But we all do.

 

So to show DOC that kiwis are still behind them, on Thursday, we’re showing our love.

 

Here is a list of ways you could do this:

-dedicate a facebook status

-dedicate a tweet

-tell a family member/friend/person on the bus/lady that makes your coffee/guy you buy your paper off that DOC is wonderful and that they should show their love too

-bake a cake for your local office

-bake cookies for your local office

-send them flowers

-send them balloons

-write DOC a poem

-draw them a picture

-get your adorable kids to draw them a picture

-write a letter to the editor

-leave a comment here about why DOC is awesome

-share this blog with people who will also want to show DOC some love

 

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Review: Cloud 9

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If you like plays, you need to see this play. If you don’t like plays, you need to see this play even more.

 

Cloud 9 by Good Company is fresh and meaty. It will shock you and make you laugh, it will make you think, it will make you want to read the play so you can suck the juicy thought marrows from it after your meaty play feast.

 

Cloud 9 is a play written by Caryl Churchill in the Brechtian tradition, which means it’s political and demonstrative. Characters introduce themselves, there is cross dressing and actors swap parts part way though. This is all to break down the fourth wall. They are not recreating reality, they are sending a message. And what a message. Themes of gender, sexuality, colonialism and the power dynamics implicit in all of those are very prominent. Brechtian theatre can be heavy and a bit dull but can also be contemporised really well and this is a great example of that.

 

The first half of the play is set in colonial Africa. Men are brave, women are pretty, the son is told off for playing with dolls by his father. There’s adultery, (much repressed) homosexuality, and the hypocrisy that inevitably arises. The play was written in the late 1970s and after the first act, members of our group wondered if maybe the themes were a bit outdated. Not that they aren’t still relevant, but that it was laid on so thick that one got the impression that when written, this was a new and controversial and maybe it was all a bit obvious now.

 

However, the second half turned that on it’s head. The characters are 25 years older but it’s set 100 odd years in the future. As it was originally written in the late 70s, it’s been brought forward an extra 3 decades. I actually wish I’d seen it in the context of the late 70s because I think it would have blown many minds with its transgressive powers. There is divorce, one night stands, and even an incestuous polyamorous triad. The contrast shows us how far we’ve come but by no means encourages us to rest on our laurels. There is a sweet justice seeing the uptight patriarchal father from the first act play a young girl in the second. But more importantly, the second act serves to add depth and complexity to that themes and ideas introduced in the first.

 

Cloud 9 is long. 3 hours long. But I was engrossed the whole way, trying to capture moments in my mind. This was also certainly helped by the acting which was great. A particular mention must go to Steven Anthony-Maxwell who played and exceptionally delicate and beautiful Betty in the first act and had us all wondering whether he was on wheels because he moved so smoothly.

 

There is live music composed specially by Alex Taylor who is there with others performing it live. The set is simple and elegant and whoever thought to put down fresh lawn… a beautiful touch. I wanted to lie on it.

 

All said, this was an epic (literally) undertaking and I take my hat off to director Sam Shore and his team for pulling of such an impressive feat.

The Basement Theatre, 8.00pm nightly until April 13th. Tickets here.
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