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Thursday 16 May 2019

Why I am retiring from political blogging

Readers of this blog (and there are a few of you as even with not posting for over a month I still got over 1200 hits in the last 30 days) will have noticed a decline in frequency (but not quality) of my posts over the last few months.

Mostly that is because after moving back to Wellington and taking up a new job my time for blogging has lessened considerably but also, lurking in the background, were other reasons and after time and now taking on an ongoing role at work which does not afford the time to blog (as my last role in Christchurch was frenetic bursts of work followed by gaps of downtime with little to do) I think I can retire from blogging (if only until a reason to start again presents itself).

So, as a form of coda on my last three plus years blogging about mostly politics in NZ it seems appropriate to list my reasons for retirement but also to do a quick stock-take of both blogging and politics in NZ between when I started hammering away at a keyboard in the name of trust, justice and the Kiwi way and today.

Reasons for retiring from Blogging

1) Work, work, work, work

In my old role in Christchurch I covered a significant part of the South Island as part of my work (either behind the wheel or via plane) and in between drove a desk in the name of routine paperwork. This afforded significant periods of time where my days were either free to think about ideas for a blog post, do the research and on occasion, even write the things.

Contrast that to my new role where I no longer travel regularly as part of my role (although I do travel still) and have a daily mix of projects, plans and management responsibilities to discharge and a lot less time to be furthering my blogging career.

The new role pays more and required a move back to Wellington (caffeine fueled beltway paradise city that it is) and was an opportunity that was too good to be missed, as it was allowing me near total freedom and control to do what I wanted in the scope of my work, so it was one of those job offers that are too good to turn down.

I remain firmly embedded in the regulatory/security nexus that compromises that sector of government mostly sited in Thorndon but now doing what I specialize in rather than just what pays the bills.

2) The revolution we expected never happened

Remember the heady days of the post 2017 election when we were thinking that Labour was finally going to make amends for the great betrayal of 84 and put this country on the path to the better place we always wanted to be?

Well I have news for you sunshine but our accidental princess of a leader in Jacinda Ardern has clearly signaled that not only will there be no amends on Labours part because Labour is little more than National-lite in form but that with the fiasco of Kiwibuild and the Shane Jones memorial slush fund they could not even fix the problems of Aotearoa if they wanted to.

So as I warned a few years back our coalition government has changed the facade but the ovens are still rolling as they did under National and there have only been a few cosmetic changes to the failing edifice that is New Zealand with lashing of feel good rhetoric to try and plaster of the gaping cracks of growing poverty, housing issues, immigration, water, tourism and the enviroment just to name a few.

I got into blogging in an attempt to get people talking about changing governemnt in 2017 because living under National for another term was such a depressing prospect but now that National is out of power and The Coalition government is little more than a grubby re-run of National I find myself checkmated politically by the realization that NZ politics is not just a zero-sum game its also just zero-sum. Nothing is going to change when we cant get housing sorted or a fair tax system or when all the things that were promised (both implicitly and explicitly) have not been delivered.

All of which leads us to...

3) Jacinda is the new John

Jacinda Ardern is to Labour what John Key was to the National party: a false charasmatic leader who has become not only the face of the party but the sole reason it exists in government.

And just as Pike River and the Christchurch Earthquakes cemented Key in place so to has the 2019 Mosque shootings in Christchurch boosted Jacinda (and by extension Labour) to a new political high and ensured that they will win the next election.

Also the fact that National under Simon Bridges continues to suck at levels not seen since the grim days of 2002 when Bill (the living corpse) English is not helping things. As it is today I'm all for Judith Collins as leader because at least National could stop pretending it cares and just be the evil vehicle for the ultra rich and the Chinese Government it really is rather than this "we are all real Kiwis" rubbish.

Jacinda has an instinctive appeal to the Left just as Key did to the Right and her popularity is such that, like Key, she has become the sole pillar of this governments existence. And just as the hideous effort of supporting a bunch of useless yahoos drained Key and drove him to finaly collapse in agony and bail 12 months out from the 2017 election so to will carrying not only the collective waste that is Labour but also NZ First and the Greens will suck Jacinda dry until even her own charisma will be destroyed by sheer weight of a government that is ideologically compromised and bereft of ideas.

At least Key was entertaining to blog about as he almost seemed to relishing tweaking the tail (or should that be the pigtails) of the media and the collective Left. Jacinda Ardern on the other hand comes across as little more than a compassionate conservative who has decided that Labour actually living up to what its name promises is not going to pay off her mortgage and as such its Third Way politics for all until the inevitable backlash ensues.

So blogging is not going to offer any solace as it would be little more than cataloging the decent of the Titanic while strapped to a deckchair on a perilously inclined deck and I have better things to do with what free time I now have.

But all is not lost...

4) FukYoo Politix still lives!

I really never liked the term populism to describe the political mood in both NZ and around the world and instead gave it my own term because this never seemed like a populist uprising and more just a sullen, dare I say passive aggressive, means of screwing with the status quo while Rome burns down around them.

While the past generation struggles with its own wasteful and selfish legacy (that's you you Boomer assholes) and the current generation (thats you X'ers and Millennial's) are mostly empty theatrics, PC gibberish and aggressively making sure they get theirs, at the expense of all others, the coming generation (the one that decided protesting climate change was more important than a day at school) is still 10 to 20 years away from getting their hands on the levers of power and unlike the previous generations clearly realize that climate change (and commitment to real change) is not just political sloganeering (I'm looking at you John/Jacinda Ardern and National-lite) but a matter of survival.

This generation will make changes and it wont fit with our comfortable notions of 20th century living, aggressive global capitalism or our sad refusal to rock the boat because we cant see that what we sought to destroy in World War Two and the Cold War is now the norm (I'm looking at you China, Russia and even the US) but will simply do what needs to be done because politics based on rising sea levels will be a lot more simpler and direct than anything Jacinda Key is promising with her false lure of internationalism and fighting fascism.

But their time is not yet, and like Disco going underground in 1979 to re-emerge 10 years later as House Music, so too will I bide my time from my secret lair beneath the Earths Crust (actually Newlands in Wellington but close enough) always watching and waiting for the right time to re-emerge and join the party that is the new wave of politix around the year 2030.

The sea levels should be high enough by then that Simon Bridges will have to commute to his job (that being some sort of Lionel Hutz style lawyer somewhere in the great swamp that will then compromise Tauranga) and people will no longer be able to lie in the face of reality lapping at their doorsteps.

So, in summation

Blogging for the last three years has been a lot of fun but its time to quit while ahead, or at least not embroiled in some scandal or burnt out by just reporting the same old shit but with different rainbow sprinkles.

Highlights include being right most of the time, even when it was going against the accepted grain (such as predicting Donald Trumps triumphs as President, the Rise of Jacainda (when no one else was), the downfall of National and the fact that Jin Yang was a spy and China is the main threat). My secret? Not being beholden to one party or political ideal but just being myself and trusting my gut.

Also, I often enjoyed my words and phrases being plagiarized by other bloggers and on several occasions journalists (you know who you are). They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and they are right.

There have been a few downsides but mostly they were minor compared to the fun of taking the mickey out of politicians and the press while adding in the odd post about other things in life.

I am also beholden to those who commented as while few in number you brought color and variety to the blog and kept me honest, even when being a pain in my ass, and for that I appreciate your feedback, sarcasm, trolling and just taking the time to say what you thought. Don't stop, just keep on in someone else comments section as free speech is only free when you exercise it.

Then there is the political press which has been a schizophrenic mix of really good reporting and abysmally pedestrian BS but even here I can sense that the love affair with our new government is over and the knives will be out in force.

Already Stuff has been turning out a string of excellent articles and opinion pieces (mostly under new and hungrier reporters) while the older hands seem stunned that they no longer can dispense the wisdom (I'm looking at you Tracy Watkins and Co) and flail around jurnolistically like penguins slowly sinking into a tar pit.

The blogging space also has changed and I wish my fellow bloggers well in their endeavors, I read all your work even when I disagree with it 100%, you are the fifth estate and you are the future, keep it up!

I may drop the odd post from time to time if the situation demands it but with Jacinda now slowly making sure betrayal feels good while easing us down the road to SFA I have better things to do with my time (such as after 35 years of martial arts I am going to try something different like Yoga and see how that turns out and get back to completing my record collection) until the time is right to get the band back together and make mucho dollars from the inevitable reunion tour (I'm looking at you At the Drive In and all the other bands who thought that selling out was the right thing to do).

Until then its up to you my little munchkins, the readers, to make your way, have fun while doing it and stay true to what you do (or else pay the price when you kids revolt against all that you stand for).



Sunday 24 March 2019

A certain disposition prevailing in the wind...

Its been over a week since the murder of 50 Kiwis in Christchurch and its taken me this long to feel comfortable to blog about it.

Yeah, I know, and besides with everyone else talking about it what was I going to add to the debate right when things were right there, right now? Probably not a lot.

Also, to be honest, I was not in the mood. I spent a chunk of Friday afternoon on the 15th messaging my daughter who was trapped in a closet in her school in Christchurch (as it was just across the park from the mosque there), dealing with a panicked teen who was worried about getting shot.

Suffice it to say feelings were high.

Then on the Saturday morning as I drove down hill past the local mosque where I live in Wellington there is a police officer with a automatic rifle standing outside of it, and there was one for most of the week.

Sunday I attend the vigil at the basis reserve and watch as it fills up to capacity and then some. While outside rather too smug looking young socialists, are pushing through the crowds and are pasting up "fight fascism" posters everywhere. The speeches inside reflect the shock, grief and some minor strains of anger at the situation but overall its clear that people have come together.

By Monday morning work is in chaos as more than a few people where I work have been pulled out to be part of the various crisis teams which have sprung up in sections of government. Several of my friends are pulling long shifts in PNHQ doing things and already there is the initial trickle of OIA requests, which will soon turn into a flood, all of them asking about "white supremacy".

In the media the name of the killer is now scrubbed from the narrative and copies of the his live streamed video and manifesto are being hunted down and erased. Articles are springing up discussing every aspect and detail of the situation but the tone is still one of shock but there is also a rising narrative of coming together and being stronger, of doing the exact opposite of what the killer wanted to happen.

As the days go back I slowly sink back into my work but I am now starting to see whats going on around me, the larger picture coming into focus and I like what I see because rather than spend all of this post talking about this tragedy and its consequences in minute detail I want to discuss the larger shift that happened in the last seven days by starting with the hour immediately preceding the attacks.

Friday 15 March, 12.00 Pm (approx)

Its a hot, late summer day and Q and I are sitting on the steps of the Court of Appeal watching the large crowd of school children filling the lawn of Parliament as we eat our lunch.

Overall the mood of the protesters is one that only young people can truly have, there is a palpable mood of doing something "naughty" mixed in with with a righteous generational anger at what they see as an issue ignored and its reflected on the placards of the protesters who are streaming past us.

School uniforms mixed in with face paint, cell phones and clusters of youth, some clutching coffees from the local coffee container up the street, are making themselves heard in the most positive of ways.

Q and I cant hear the people speaking to the crowd very well but its clear from the cheers and, on occasion, boos where the speakers are going. Over the roar of the crickets and traffic I catch certain phrases and words but its obvious that the politicians that are speaking in front of the crowd are not really getting it. Speeches go on to long, and at one point I can hear James Shaw telling the crowd about the "big concrete building" behind him and I am reminded of the large age gap between Shaw and most in the crowd (and myself) and realize that its two different political words coming face to face and having little in common. Shaw being a career politician with policy and polls to worry about and the protesting youth just wanting something to be done before they have to swim to school.

Then as things head towards One Pm the crowds start to filter away, even as the politicians continue to blather, as the protesters loose interest. They did not take the day off school, getting away from teachers and adults in general, raise the flag of generational protest to end up in front of Parliament being spoken to by a bunch of MPs as if they were back in school!

I'm thrilled by what I am seeing, from on the steps of the Appeal Court, lunch now eaten and just enjoying the whiffs of the carnival mood that has been emanating from the kids as they now head out of and away from parliament.

Its highly symbolic, they did not come to the seat of government to ask, they came to tell, they came (as they did across NZ) not as supplicants but with a message; "we are the future, not you. This is our issue now. You failed to deal with it, now its our turn!".

For me, I am watching the future come to life right before my eyes and my own faded idealism about wanting to make the world a better place feels invigorated by this youthful display of piss and vinegar, and its clear that if my own generation, now holding the levers of power, does not gets it act together then the next generation will remove them and do it themselves.

Q, slightly more jaded than I, is not so enthusiastic and makes a joke about the failed Children's Crusade from the 13th century. I'm not amused and its one of the few times I chide him for his attitude. Its not "politics as we know it" I tell him, when was the last time he bunked school to protest, I ask him. I never did and neither did he (I did bunk a lot of school but not to protest. My own protesting only started when I was at university). A point he concedes as we part ways and head back to our respective places of work.

Friday 15 March, 3.00 Pm (approx)

My Daughter is messaging me on snapchat, sending me pictures of her feet as her and a friend huddle in a closet as their entire school in Christchurch is now in lock down. She is scared and upset but also calm, she just wants to go home.

She attended the protests in Christchurch earlier in the day and now is facing this. Rumors are swirling, battery life on her phone is running low and her link with the world is about to go dark. I tell her I love her and that things are in hand, she just has to sit tight and she will be out of there soon and then sign off.

Two and a half hours later she messages me; its over, shes out and free to go home.

By now the media is swirling with stories and after reading a  few I pack it in. I'm not going to learn anything there. I studied terrorism and counterinsurgency for my Masters, spent five years dealing with that and related risks at Immigration and I already know what I have seen. With the exception of the 50 souls killed and the others wounded on this day the remaining details are almost irrelevant. Terrorism has finally come to NZ.

But unlike the US and other nations in the wake of their own terrorist attacks, where fear, anger and decent into the bottomless hole that is national self doubt that those attacks brought on, New Zealand has come together and in one clear voice said no to the message behind these acts, said no to racism and its various subcategories and instead simple taken action to deal with the matter and enable those who need to grieve to grieve and those who need to heal to heal and started doing what needs to be done to to deal with the problem.

The attacks in Christchurch are horrific and will not be easily forgotten but I'm proud of this country for the way its come together to deal with this, say no to the message the killer was hoping to promote.

I'm also proud at the youth of this country who shortly before the attacks were making their voice felt in the most positive of ways and showing that there is a reason to hope for a better future because they are have plans how to make it.

The killer wanted to divide but their is little fertile ground in Aotearoa for what he was saying and its clear that the time of people who have such messages (be they overt or coded) is over. The paradigm has shifted and the mood of this country with it.

A week later, laws removing the weapons used from public life have been enacted and every effort has been made to heal and support. We will not be launching any punitive invasions of Australia in retaliation for whats happened nor closing our borders but instead, like Gallipoli, have experienced one of those moments in a nations life which help to define and test its national character and we have not been found wanting.

Its deeply and sadly ironic that March 15th should have contained two of the most defining moments in this generation yet perhaps in a cosmic sense that's how needed to happen. To be honest though I would have preferred if people had not been shot for this to have come to pass.

National character is important and as I saw at the Basin reserve, the national character of this country is one of many colors and creeds, of many peoples but of one nation, of Muslims, Pakeha, Maori, Asian and many others but we all spoke with one single voice and I like this multi ethnic, tolerant yet strong society I see before me.

I love you New Zealand.

Kia Kaha.

NOTE: The title of this post is taken from the lyrics of the Jamiroquai song Emergency on Planet Earth.

Sunday 3 March 2019

All hail the gentle revolution! #MeToo

This one is for you Anon.

Lets start this post by getting the elephant in the room out of the way by making it clear that I am a man.

Shock and horror I know but being a man does not mean that I have not supported the #MeToo moment, in NZ or worldwide, but have in fact been down with it.

Also, in the past some on this blog have called me a "sexist" for comments made about Paula Bennett but the extent of their arguments extended to calling me a "sexist' and that was it, no actual evidence or discussion but just labeling me as if that was enough to do.

And I raise this here because being critical of a person (a single individual), be it their dress sense, their politics, their lifestyle, religion or whatever does not mean that its appropriate to attach some sort of "ism" or "ist" based label as a badge denoting that that view can be expanded to cover an entire sex, race or species when its just comments about a single individual.

Whats that got to do with the price of milk in Mongolia? Well a lot actually.

See, the #MeToo movement is part of the longer running struggle for women's rights and equality  as well as a larger shift in the ability of the public to discuss things like sexual abuse without feeling shame or being pressured into silence and the very visible outpouring in the wake of #MeToo in NZ has shown that behind the wall of silence the pressure had been building up because for all the legal enactment of women's rights (and for LGBTQ community as well) the social follow through has been slow in coming.

Its been nearly 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, which are generally considered as the start of the modern fight for Gay rights and over 120 years since women got the right to vote in NZ yet its been clear that despite having had several female PMs, many female MPs and business leaders (and its great to see criminal and traitor Jenny Shipley breaking though the glass ceiling by showing that women can be held just as liable as men for extremely dodgy criminal dealings) and so on and so forth men still seem to be ruling the roost, or more correctly the framework is in place for "equality between the sexes and genders" but the culture has not shifted fully and hence why #MeToo flared up in late 2016 and became a widespread rallying call to shift that culture.

And I call this the "gentle revolution" not in reference to the female sex or anything like that but because as revolutions go its been completely bloodless (well almost bloodless).

Most revolutions will see at least someone put up against the wall and shot (usually literally but occasionally metaphorically) but this revolution has occurred without any of that happening.

Yes some careers have been flushed down the gurgler but in an age where the Catholic Church now appears to be organized and run purely for the benefit of pedophiles and  sexual abuse is still a major issue it was clear that having a law was not enough and that some actual change at ground level (read an actual revolution) was still needed.

And its a revolution that was predicted almost 50 years ago by Germaine Greer in the Female Eunch and hoped for Simone De Beauviour 70 years ago in her book The Second Sex (and with Naomi's Woolf's The Beauty Myth in the 90s) but sadly not able to metamorph at the time but finally kicked off with the #MeToo movement and the ongoing social agitation of what has been called Third Wave Feminism.

However that does not mean that I am down with all that has gone on in this "revolution" and I maintain a stance similar to that of Camille Paglia (in her book Sexual Personae and her general thought and theory) in that just because you are a feminist does not put you above criticism, give you an invincible moral shield (based on your sex/gender) which protects you from all criticism or that sex and sexuality is not just an abstract social construct but something also rooted in biology and as such there are some immutable aspects of sex and sexuality which cant just be ignored or overridden by blind ideology and group chanting.

One of the m ore valid criticism often leveled at feminism is that it seems to have been enacted and empowered mostly for and by rich white women (and I get the irony of the four feminist authors cited above being such) and that the spoils of the revolution have not been shared equally which is why the legal enactments of the past have not been matched by the broader cultural shift.

The counter argument is that the current beneficiaries of Feminism (the rich, the white and academic) have merely been the revolutionary vanguard and that such benefits will "trickle down" in time to the rest as such things just take time, so stop moaning about it.

I'm not so convinced about that as that argument has been used before in the often blind and monolithic theories about class, used by socialists (also often rich, white and academic, as well as male), which always just seem to say that they are leading the debate and only they have the knowledge and foresight to lead people to the glorious revolutionary utopia that awaits just around the corner if only they would buy a copy of their book.

And we have seen that in NZ with the most prominent aspect of #MeToo being in the legal profession. Strange that this bastion of wealthy, well paid individuals should be the only area of NZ where sexism is so rampant that they had to organize protests while other heavily female professions* (such as teachers and midwives) are striking for better pay and working conditions.

Which is not to say that there is not sexism in those professions (I used to be a teacher) but that the priority for the profession is elsewhere and while sexism does exist I have seen it go both ways, (because women can be sexist too) but fixing the problem of overwork and underpay takes precedence.

But without the theory there is no practice, at least no with any direction, so the need for the above female theorists is there but it does expose the oft uncomfortable dynamic at work.

Still it took a twitter hashtag to kick off what I think has been the best thing for sexual relationships since sliced bread in that without the cultural shift all that legislation and law was going to be nothing more than words with a few elite individuals benefiting while change elsewhere was not enacted.

And the revolution has benefited not just women but men and others also as its part of a larger culture of openness and acknowledgement (via things like Alison Mau's #MeTooNZ or Mike King and John Kirwin talking about mental health) which is all part of shining the light of openness and transparency on what were once dark areas of humanity which dare not be discussed.

Have I liked all of whats gone on, as I said before, no I have not but you cant make an omelette without breaking some eggs and you cant have a sexual revolution without some revolutionary justice being dished up piping hot because revolutions occur exactly because the normal means of justice and law have broken down so once the new norms are bedded in they will get drawn into normal legal practice.

For now expect more peoples tribunals via public accusation and more than a tinge of unsubstantiated hot scandal because all law is based on the authority of violence and while the threat of violence being waved about here is less physical than emotional and reputational its still going to be the violence of having ones life and career exploded in the media and social media for all and sundry to see.

Still there are some fish hooks with this because there is a reason why we have courts, juries and the idea of innocent until proven guilty and the frenzy of accusation around #MeToo is not always been used for altruistic purposes and without actual evidence there is always going to be ambiguity, doubt and a mob mentality.

Which leads us to identity politics and victim culture which has ridden in on the coat tails of #MeToo and feminism and is in part a reflection of the break down of the institution of the nation state and traditional politics in the age of globalization , as well a christian based western culture (for both the good and bad its done), and introduced micro societies and techno savagery (both my own terms) as a world where social relations are atomized into groupings of race, sex, gender, identity and a host of classifications like games, comics, music and subculture and where people have access to advanced technology like digital media, the internet and mobile (and always on) devices yet do not have the slightest idea of how this technology actually works (in essence making it the same as magic).

And that's probably where I draw the line because while #MeToo promises to level the playing field identity politics and victim culture intend to chop it up, fence it off and create a space that fosters permanent revolution and not an inclusive society of tolerance and understanding but one where revenge and utu are part of the plan, if not all of the plan!

An example of this is the breakdown of the Auckland Pride Parade over issues which, on the face of it, looked like a shift away from wanting to be part of the community to wanting to have their own community (enacting their own micro-community) and where extremism is an acceptable behavior set and justified no matter what**.

And I get the arguments made by those that voted to end the parade in its current form but was it worth destroying the whole parade over Police involvement, yet only to be subject to the irony or having a march protected by Police and where the ideological blinkers go on to the reality that yes fighting for tolerance is a good thing but that when you fight intolerance with MORE intolerance you don't get a better situation, you boil it down to a numbers game and in the end they have more numbers than you!

But again, in the main, #MeToo has been a good thing and as with all omelettes some eggs etc etc etc.

New Zealand, overal is rather tolerant society, but with some rather dark streaks running through it to be sure but the push for change in the underlying culture brought about by #MeToo has be for the most a good thing but that remains to be qualified by the new, and better, society that will emerge as the cultural shift is enacted.

Also more than a few of those riding on the coattails of #MeToo have the stench of those who have never lived outside of their own cultural context (ie never lived overseas or in a country which is a lot less tolerant of things like gender roles, sexuality and such) and as such have more in common with those feminists in the ivory tower than those women outside.

If #MeToo is the harbinger of nothing more than reversing the sexual polarity (ie women on top***) then its doomed to fail if not be beaten back by a counter revolution which is currently just the beleaguered and minor extremism found in the rearguard of toxic masculinity but if that label is hijacked to be used as the new label for all men and masculinity by extremists with revenge on their agenda then expect more than just men to oppose its imposition, expect society as a whole.

The dynamic here is simple, if you create a moral economy of "being offended" and "cultural repression" as your currency then expect those positions to be used by everyone and anyone as a moral position based on "being offended" has little substance and having an Actus Rea without the Mens Rea is a subjective hell from which few can escape because, like any good meme, you cant control it once its been released into the wilds of public discourse or general culture.

But, on the other hand, if #MeToo is a long over due cleansing of the cultural pallet without the the decent into messy but necessary revolutionary anarchy being enshrined as the new and "permanent" revolution for the sake of revolution then the long hoped for equality among the sexes, and yes genders, can and will be achieved, in a future where its everyone wears those unisex jump suits like in all 70s Science fiction TV shows.

But maybe that's just me (the jumpsuit thing I mean).

As a male I am in support of #MeToo but that does not mean I am in support of scrapping the good things about being a male because there are masculine values which are good and I reject the idea that opening a door for a women is just the gateway to a whole swamp of toxic masculinity, especially when there are still plenty of women that both like and expect such behavior and when civility and kindness are still common virtues.

However, by saying that the general argument runs that I am showing "unconscious bias" and am in fact harboring all sorts of bias based on my actions, behaviors and values. Its a tempting and delicious argument to be sure, and it does exists but using it as some sort of test to benchmark how tolerant one is, is fraught with more problems than solutions.

Still that has not stopped people using it but more than some of those people are using it as a trojan horse stuffed full to bursting point with their own agendas rather than using it to address the actual issues. And while not an indicative example, I once had a "debate" (I put the little squiggles around it because politeness is a virtue) with an ardent feminist who was basing her position on the point that science and rationality were male constructs and therefore served no purpose for women or general society. Not a norm I know but a fair indicator of how far out some of the positions can get.

Nor am I against the idea of women as leaders or being in charge, If I take issue with our current female PM its not due to her sex but her politics and her behavior etc, and the same goes for my disdain for MPs like Paula Bennett.

As an individual I was raised by my Grandmother until the age of five (who was a stern but fair women who gave me much of my values and ideals and who also taught me to read before I started school) and who I have an un-payable debt to for looking after me when no one else would.

I have also had female bosses and leaders/managers and some were good and some were not but my opinion of them never had to do with the fact that they had ovaries but whether they were actually competent or not at their jobs which might just be more of that "male orientated construct" talking but who if so #myrealityisstrongerthanyours.

In some situations I prefer male company to that of female and sometimes vice versa but I think that the generational shift is further along than people think as I found out a few years back when my downstairs neighbors got a new female flatmate who was as much a geek as I was, had the same interest in comics and video games as I and showed that the shift of these areas from being once male only preserves was shifting so that ones gender no longer mattered and what did matter was the fact that there was a common language and interest. And I was down with that*4.

But, and there is always a "but" with me, that does not prevent me from saying that I think all plans the revolution are making are the best (back to Camille Paglia's position) or that I will go along with the current vogue for cheap ideology, chanting slogans or the now fashionable rush to be offended by anything which does not toe the increasingly strict sexual/gender/whatever party line espoused by extremists who get off on nothing more than revolution as a moral crutch for their intellectual, social and emotional failings (ie joker-politics or just wanting to watch the world burn).

Revolutions (like jihads and fashion trends) have their own energy, and like fires tend to only burn out when they run out of fuel, sometimes to be sparked back into life again but eventually ceasing and leaving behind the ashes from which something new (and hopefully beautiful) may grow.

So all hail the Gentle Revolution, long may it last.

*-because female lawyers are the majority in NZ now.
**-because such an argument has been made before that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice etc etc and look how well that always works out
***-Yes, pun fully intended
*4-What I was not down with was that she could beat me at every and any drinking game ever conceived and lead to one particularly bad night where I got thrashed at cards, drank an entire bottle of cheap Irish Cream, half a dozen beers and one bottle of wine and passed out dead drunk on my kitchen floor with my feet resting in the open, and now rapidly warming refrigerator.

Sunday 24 February 2019

No Better Place to Die: Reframing the CGT debate

Who brings a knife to a gun fight?

In a week where the public had two different flavors of hysteria to choose from (that being China or the CGT) it was disappointing, yet expected, to see the debate rise and fall on such simple terms that statements from quisling traitors like Simon Bridges, and many of the useful idiots in the media, were nothing above the kind of statements found in the average comments section online with Bridges calling it a "kick in the guts" for middle NZ.

Still, its expected to see Simon playing the fear card because at this point he might as well with his credibility as leader shot and the party trying to figure out how to remove him without treading the same doom-laden path as Labour once did.

But Bridges, like a drowning man, has clutched at the first thing that came his way and he probably feels like the CGT is the perfect vessel to keep himself, and his leadership hopes, afloat until election 2020 but such is his mind now that going all out with frothing fear mongering statements in the media, sorta like Donald J Trump with his comments about Mexicans being "criminals and rapists", is treading a dangerous path.

"Yes, its true, the CGT is going to climb in your bedroom window one night, tie and gag you before raping your hard earned capital gains while you watch in mute, bug eyed horror, at the unfolding terror of all that retirement income being stripped away from you until you have nothing left and your forced to live in some dingy rest home (possibly owned by some ex All Blacks) for the rest of your miserable life."*

Its a shocking thought I know but that's the power of fear and its the nightmare that only a well paid mouth piece, like Simon (or Fox News) could spin with a straight face but in the age of FukYoo Politix Simon probably thinks this is his Orewa Speech moment where he taps directly into the twitching nerves of "middle NZ" and rides the shuddering spasm all the way into the Beehive.

Funny thing about fear though, is that its an irrational impulse and not one subject to much control, specially in the minds of the public, so Bridges might have started something but there is no guarantee that he will remain in charge once the fear machine gets rolling.

Today NZ has a growing wealth disparity, with simple things like a home becoming more and more out of reach for "Middle NZ" and people living in cars or being housed in motels as emergency accommodation and with no prospect of things getting better Simon hoping to tap into their sentiments is like skydiving without a parachute.

But whats done is done and lets not dwell on it for too long because Bridges is clearly consumed with his own fears, that of not being leader for much longer, so like a headless chicken running around screaming the sky is falling, Simon is clearly externalizing his own deep seated fears rather than making any rational debate.

However, while its fun to point at laugh as Simon has (pardon my French) merde son pantalon de grand garcon, the CGT is a genuine attempt to address the issues of growing inequality in NZ and deserves a better level of debate than the one its getting.

Maybe its not the best way to fix things, but that's a debate for another day, whats important here is if you asked most Kiwis if they wanted NZ to have a growing inequality and gap between the rich and the poor, and with the majority being the poor, they would say "hell no!"

So far so simple but if you pressed a bit further and asked what they themselves would do about it, like say pay more tax, or loose their home, few, if any would agree to it. And thats the fear that Simon is hoping to tap into by phrasing the debate in such scary (and misleading) terms.

However, as the gap gets bigger and bigger and more people start piling up on the loosing side of the inequality equation, start to see no real increase in wages and, horror of horrors, the value of their homes decrease (its happening in Oz, will happen in China soon and is going to happen here) fear is going to drive people to vote for the biggest, craziest, person who will promise to end their fears and dish out a healthy dose of retribution to the thieving assholes who stole their future (read the Rich and National).

So question time darlings: do you think Simon Bridges will be the one that people are going to trust to quench their fears when the skeletal hand of poverty, homelessness and starvation reaches out for them?

If you said yes then good on you for being an honest, if misguided, National Party supporter (or at least the part that still likes Simon Bridges) but the chances of Bridges being able to ride the Chaos Tiger into office when the PMs job is up for grabs is down to single digits (just like his poll ratings) so watch your back Simon.

While if you said no well done for not being fooled by his lies but shame on you for still framing the debate at the level of fearmongering.

Inequality in NZ will either be fixed or it will grow and when things get crunchy nobody is going to be trusting Simon Bridges to lead them out of the maze when he is the one of the criminal cyphers that lead them in.

However, on the flip-side of things, Jacinda Ardern and Labour are going to have to make a decision about whether to do what some are calling political suicide or asking if "this a hill worth dying on?"

The answer to that question is yes, yes it is.

To be fair, the CGT was never going to be an easy sell and calling it something more palatable like the Simon Bridges Rich Asshole Tax would probably go a long way to soothing the public's pulsating fear glands, as most of the public in NZ (including most National supporters) do not consider themselves to be "rich assholes" so if posed as such most would happily get behind seeing those "poncy bastards" suffer.

And if you want a fairer NZ then you may not want a CGT but call it by any other name and you would be behind it 100%, you know you would. Its either that or you come up with some actionable suggestions for rolling back the growing sludge of poverty and inequality in NZ.

What you don't have any suggestions? How surprising! Somehow I did not think you would but thats ok because in the end the answer is simple: Tax the Rich! Make them pay their fair share!

And thats just what the CGT is once you scrape the maggots of fear (helpfully sprinkled by Simon Bridges) away. The CGT will be a step towards equality. It might not fix everything but its a start and it will do so by taking from the rich and giving to everyone else.

Meanwhile, as for that "hill" question the answer is in the title of this post because if Labour doesn't go though with it then predictions of electoral defeat gloated about by China Spokesperson and part time National party MP Judith Collins, may just come true as after Labour fell back on hills like Kiwibuild and Budget "responsibility" there are not many hills left to stand on. Just the flat open plains of mismanagement, muddling and mediocrity where their is no moral high ground and Labour can easily be outflanked on issues.

But if it comes down to Labour going into battle but being back-stabbed by Winston Peters at the critical moment then so be it as that would likely not save them anyway if caught in the path of the runaway, blood spattered, combine harvester that is fear.

Because what got them [Labour] elected in the first place was an unspoken promise to fix things like inequality, to make NZ a better place (as trite as that can sometimes sound), and the ongoing worry of National doing noting (and promising nothing) but more of the same inequality enhancing policies mixed in with abject outburst of fear which will eventually be the trigger that truly unleashes the FukYoo beast on NZ politics.

CGT is not quite Brexit for NZ in its scope but the choice is just as stark and if Labour looses then it was a brave last stand of the idea that Aotearoa can have a fair and equal society where the rich can be rich but not at the expense of the everyone else. Because if no CGT then what else is there?

Still Simon is going to continue his squawks of fear but the louder he squawks the more clearer it is that he is in the pay of those wealthy few who don't want to pay their fair share, who dont want to see NZ prosper because it means they would get less than they greedily have now. However if Simon wants to sell his soul to the devil and whore his backside to China for dollars thats his business but the very clear subtext of his message is "screw you guys I got mine, sorry about yours!"

If it was me I would simply declare a national emergency, have anyone over a certain income threshold taken away in buses to be housed in rat hole motels before being brought before a hastily convened "tax court" which would summarily strip them of ALL their wealth as punishment for their capital gains and then send them on their way, to sleep in the back of a crappy rusted out car.

So its probably a good thing that I am not in charge but that's because I don't speak for the today, I speak for the tomorrow, or more correctly the tomorrow of FukYoo Politix where Simon got his way, rode the fear into the PMs seat and then did nothing while NZ continued to rot away and then it got so bad that people stopped voting for the sane or even the reasonable, fled to the margins, and elected their own populist demagogue who promised to end the fear by their own "10 point plan"** to fix things.

Or even worse they stopped voting and just sought to change things by hanging a few of the rich or rioting in the street (a popular pastime in France now) because it became clear that no government would do anything so f**k it lets have a riot!

See, I can play the fear card as well and its much bigger and nastier than Simon's.

This is why Simon Bridges summoning fear in the popular mind is not a smart move, its an incredibly short term and very risky strategy that will do nothing but buy him some time to save his own ass but doom the country to more, and worse, of the same inequality issues that we have now.

Thanks Simon, thanks a bunch!

If Labour was to push the CGT, fail on the issue and either loose the next election or win and then muddle on doing little else then its a hard to decide which is the worse option but most people would rather they fought the good fight (rather than just trying to save their own political careers) as its an issue which is worth fighting, and politically, dying for.

*-Hypothetical statement from Simon Bridges.
**-Just Google "10 point plan" and see how many people have had one.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Standing up to China: The real reason National is tanking and Labour is up in the polls

Ok you primitive screwheads listen up!

So its political poll time again and holy hells bells look at those results, really look at them and tell me what you see.

Yes thats right Labour up, National Down, the Greens slipping and NZ First plunging into well below the 5% threshold in what looks suspiciously like what happened two months before the last general election when Jacinda Ardern blitzkreiged the opposition via the polls and then later on at the polling booth.

And lets put the mechanics of these movements aside for the moment and take a look at how this has been reported in the media or more importantly how this is being reacted to in the media.

Firstly we have Stuff which delivers the bad news via Henry Cooke in rather succinct and factual terms while noting the steaming pile of issues that Kiwibuild and the Karel Sroubek scandal were BUT without directly drawing the obvious conclusion that despite these two very damaging situations Labour has come out the other side with a jump in polling.

Then we have Tracy Watkins, also of Stuff, delivering a rather tepid opinion piece which tantalizingly hints at what may actually be going on behind the scenes but ends up with a lot of overly dramatic sentences or questions which state the obvious (such as "is it time for National to panic?") without really delivering any of the juicy analysis promised.

Meanwhile over at the NZ Herald "political commentator" Bryce Edwards does his usual plagiarist cut and paste job of other peoples work in his latest political roundup which is just sooooo lazy that I genuinely wonder why the Herald employs him and why he does not just make a list of links he wants us to read rather than desperately trying to add value to them by clumsily inserting his usual summary of things.

For Kiffloms sake Bryce, I have heard you speak on Radio NZ and its clear you have both a brain and opinions so why cant you just put these tedious lists to bed and tell us what you actually think, sheesh!

Then there is Audrey Young, also of the NZ Herald, doing just that by stating that its way too early for the knives to come out for Bridges. Well at least its her own opinion and not just a five minute list making exercise which makes its all the more a pity that shes completely and utterly wrong! Not only are the knives out they have been out for months but are held in "stasis" by a certain factor we will get into soon.

So lets check out the blogsphere shall we, perhaps there is more wisdom to be had there.

Over at National party supporting Kiwiblog, David Farrar, is, expectedly, talking things down and doing damage control by explaining this away as some sort of summer "bump" in polling because the PM was out at Davos and saying he will be "more interested in the next poll" but pausing just long enough to not the potential exit of both NZ First and the Greens in the next election based on the current polls.

Well at least its more analysis than the mainstream media but David is just being disingenuous by making it out that Kiwis cared about Jacinda headlining at Davos to be the real reason for the jump Labour has made (and the related decline of National) because this poll is also coming out in the period of the afore mentioned Sroubek and Kiwibuild muck-ups so you would think pressing issues more close to home would negate any temporary spin from mingling with the globalist elite for a few days.

Meanwhile no mention either way over at Norightturn but with the end of the Saudi Sheep Deal, climate change and NZ's open government being rated as marginal perhaps dear old Idiot Savant has other things to report on, maybe, maybe not, but its absence is noted. However as this is one of the better political blogs out there I am prepared to let it pass this time.

But aha, whats this I spy, its the Pundits Tim Watkin noting that the whole thing was "inevitable" and describing Judith Collins as the "complicating factor". Really Tim? Really? But Tim speaks some truth when he notes that its "a long way till the next election" but like all the other examples here there is almost no real analysis of whats gone on and playing the "its inevitable" card is the journalistic equivalent of Deus Ex Machina.

The sun coming up is inevitable, death and taxes are inevitable and given your half baked attempt at describing whats gone on as "inevitable" so is my opinion of your post as a "lazy hack job" inevitable, and you can quote me on that.

And finally over at The Daily Blog we get Martyn Bradburys usual take on things which given his political views, is that view is Bridges is a "dead man walking" which is not new and I could have told him that in October last year with my Dead Party Walking post.

But even Martyn, who can usually be relied upon to make schadenfreude entertaining rounds, out his post with the usual warnings about Judith Collins like she is the political boogeyman and how "right-wing pundits will pray this is rouge" with "rouge" being the polls result and not Collins going bezerek in a cabinet meeting.

Yet even in the Fifth Estate the takeaway on this poll result is way off and while mindful of my previous wisdom about political polls I think its time to set the record straight on why here and now after over 12 months of consistent polling, consistent rumblings of leadership challenges and things like Jamie-Lee Ross that only now is National getting hit in the one thing that has previously been unassailable and was its bedrock of both party discipline and future fortune: Nationals (some say magical) 46% party polling.

And just over a year ago I was pointing out that sooner or later that 46% was going to slip in my series of posts about rehabilitating the National Party but no one was listening then so just for once I am going to say "I told you so" because, unlike Tim Watkins saying saying its inevitable after the fact (easy thing to do Tim), I was saying it was inevitable 12 months ago when there was absolutely no indication that it would drop and in fact was defying all expectations in the post election enviroment.

But lets get to the real question about why it has dropped now.

Conventional wisdom is that its been that gosh-darned Jamie-Lee Ross and his damaging effect on National party polling and moral.

However that makes no sense because the previous Colmar Brunton poll showed absolutely no change to that magical 46% and that was taken right in the eye of the storm that was Ross saga and with the public having full view of the buildup of things in the months before so explaining this away due to Jamie-Lee Ross is just idiotic.

But there is a connection to Jamie-Lee Ross and National getting mugged in its polling and that is the revelation that National MP Sarah Dowie was the person telling Ross to kill himself via text which has not gone down well with the public despite a cabal of certain female National MPs, staffers and some in the media trying to paint her as the victim in the piece while Ross got characterized as the rapist in waiting.

As I have said in previous posts its takes two to tango but Dowie, in an age where that kind of behavior is absolutely not acceptable, went well beyond the fold.

With things like #meetoo and the review on bullying and harassment in parliament Dowie gets exposed as just as bad as any misogynistic male MP who thought that their position or name made them safe and as such its rather fitting that she not only get investigated by the Police but if found to be the sender of that text (and we all know it was her but let the system do its job) then she be cast out of parliament because if it had been Ross (or any other male MP doing such a thing) they would have been gone as of yesterday and the public views on the matter reflected that.

So some splinters of the Jamie-Lee Ross saga have done some damage here but it was always minor and in the end Bridges exercised some degree of damage control, even if only after the fact, by not talking about Ross any further but it was certain parties in the media who sought to paint this in a rather jaundiced light (as described above) that made the backlash there what it was. But still this was not what brought National down.

What about things like the Kiwibuild saga toppling over spectacularly in the early new year or the rancid stink from the Karel Sroubrek scandal that left Labour, Jacinda and Ian Lees-Galloway looking like a king sized hypocrites; shouldn't have those things had some effect in leveling out the poll result?

Well yes they should have and they probably did but when in the context of National selling citizenship to right-wing billionaire Peter Theil and its nurturing of the toxic and cancerous Housing Hernia one foreign drug dealer and a flawed but honest attempt to fix said hernia fall very rapidly into perspective as minor moments rather than deliberate and dishonest politics.

Thus we come to the real reason that National is down in the polls, or more correctly, Labour is up: Standing up to China.

Sure National scare-mongered it up as much as they could but in the end the current government saying no to Huawei for the 5G deal was the right thing to do and Simon Bridges going on TV to moan that New Zealands relationship to a country that is not free, democratic, jails it citizens for no reason, censors their internet, will risk war for its own stupid pride and will happily turn back an Air New Zealand flight due to accidentally mentioning Taiwan is not going to wash.

And that's it, that's the reason why after so long and so much Labour is finally up in the polls; because it made the most ethical decision so far of this government AND followed it through with action. If Labour could do this for things like tax, housing and all the rest Kraff knows where it and National would be polling but I cant imagine that National would be above the mid 20s.

National has been in China's pocket for so long (as Chinese spy Jin Yang is still a member of the party) that National probably don't even realize how distasteful being seen as a quisling is but Ross's recording of Bridges talking treason/sedition on behalf of China is one of the great scandals that the media just don't have the stones to investigate but the public no longer remain comfortable with China as our largest trading partner and using its size and leverage to undermine our democracy though it infiltration of politics both here and abroad.

Thus with National out of government China is no longer getting a free ride and that means that we may still trade with them but we wont be offering up our backsides for China's pleasure.

Something to note also here is that this was not some side effect of Jacindamania, the PM tried to stay well out of it and in the end it fell on Andrew Little, the GCSB and the Five Eyes relationship to see this through and for a public that had been desperately waiting for the government to fire on something and hit a six this was the first time it did since the first 90 days and look what happened.

Supporting this is the minimal movement in preferred PM polling (with Jacinda and Judith slightly up and Simon slightly down) showing that the movement in the party polling is not related to personality politics but rather it was solely an issue which drove this change.

Of course Judith Collins is now polling Higher than Simon Bridges and Bridges definitely has something to worry about but when has he not had to worry about his position as leader. As I have stated before its the toughest job in politics so unless he was harnessing personal mojo like Jacinda Ardern or John Key he was never going to be stroking it big all over the electorate in the preferred PM stakes.

All of this means that while Judith is polling higher she has not dethroned Bridges, yet, but she has out evolved him and that means no slick PR is going to take Simon any higher than he has been and his stock is now falling.

Also that "stasis" effect we have around who will be next leader of National in relation to jolly Judith Collins is due to the high degree of doubt around not only Bridges as being the man for the job but also Collins being the woman for the job (despite her repeated protestations that she does not want it: Your fooling nobody Judith!).

Bridges may not yet have the toxic cast that Bill English had roughly one year ago but as I mentioned late last last year the warranty on his time as leader "has expired" and that view came after I spent an evening speaking with moderate/centrist young Nats and listening to their views on who should be leader.

Short answer to the long question: They don't know who should lead but they sure as heck know it shouldn't be Bridges or Collins.

Nor should it be Paula Bennett, as her recent demotion to drugs "spokesperson" and subsequent beating by Chloe Swarbrick live on national TV showed that Bennett's limited intellect and long history of hypocrisy make her unsuitable to even be deputy leader let alone as some sort of vocal mouthpiece on an issue such as drug reform.

In fact if there is a moral to this story for National it was they should have taken my advice last year ago when I said that for Bridges to succeed as leader he needed to get rid of retched golems like Bennett, Brownlee, Smith and Collins (the remainders of the Gang of Five) and remake the upper party to his own design by letting some younger blood in.

And what a difference that would have made if only Jamie-Lee Ross would have been prevented from going bezerk by giving him the position promised to him by Bridges rather than to corpulent bully-boy Gerry Brownlee.

But its too late now and it does not matter if its Bridges or Collins at the helm of the ship as all Labour has to do is use their position as the government of the day to make a few more things real and you can watch that 41% slide into the 30s and down into the 20s to that place National was in before John Key seduced the party.

So thats the real reason why the poll results are what they are but there is no need to thank me. I do this because I care.


Thursday 31 January 2019

Aces High: Chloe Swarbrick guns down Paula Bennett in a drug fueled argument live on national TV!

"I don't want to know who you use, as long as they're not complete muppets." - Hatchet Harry in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

In all the made-up controversy about Jamie-Lee Ross and whats her name last week many people may not have noticed that the first shots were fired in the debate over cannabis reform when Chloe Swarbrick, Green Party drug reform spokesperson, hammered National Party mouthpiece, former hash-house waitress and dole bludger Paula Bennett, for her wishy-washy stance on the issue while both were being interviewed on Breakfast TV.

But don’t just take my word for it go watch the clip and see for yourself a serious piece of foreshadowing of the upcoming national debate about legalizing the sweet leaf because if Bennett is going to remain Nationals spokesperson (wait let me put that in quotation marks) “spokesperson” for drug reform then two things are immediately apparent:
  1. Paula Bennett has no idea what she is talking about, and 
  2. Simon Bridges move of Bennett to the “new” portfolio of drug reform was similar to John Key sending Gerry Brownlee to Defense; ie to get the dead wood out of sight where it can’t do any damage
Well a fat doobies lot of good that did as Bennett's appearance with some bottle blonde talking head on morning TV came across from the start as world championship level political gibberish as she mush mouthed her way though the intro with a pasted-on smile while waffling factually ambiguous dialog that used as many words as possible to say as little as possible.

And Swarbrick knew it.

Bennett used two sentences to state the obvious by telling the viewers already knew; that there was a referendum on the matter, that it was binding and that it was a “big move for the country” which is absolute rubbish when half the country is likely to be smoking the stuff.

But its that third sentence that slid out of Bennett’s mouth which shows where Nationals debate plan is going and that Paula had been heavily coached to vomit out a set of talking points by saying that she wanted “all of the arguments out on the table” and that people “are looking at the evidence” before uttering the kind of line that no “spokesperson” should ever utter and that spin doctors dread when she almost proudly stated that she “did not have all the answers” but she would like them before she voted.

After that it was all downhill and I won’t bore the readers with a play by play but it’s worth watching to see Bennett fielding softball style questions from the peroxide talking head and then carefully regurgitating the kind of moralistic platitudes which were just a hare short of simply screeching “wont somebody please think of the children!” if only to remember why watching political debate via breakfast television is a bad idea.

But its there at about the 1.50 mark when Bennet’s yap stopped and Swarbricks attack started.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not rooting for Swarbrick, the Greens or cannabis reform but right from her opening line you could tell something was going to happen when she [Swarbrick] said she wished she was in the studio so she could shake Paula’s hand, which is an incredibly queer thing for a politician to say about or to another politician, let alone a normal human being because you only ever say that you want to shake a person’s hand when you:
  1. Genuinely want to shake their hand (and then immediately proceed to do so), or
  2. Are taking the piss out of them with a backhanded compliment
And I don’t think that Swarbrick would ever want to touch Bennett let alone maintain some kind of skin contact for the time needed to shake her hand, but I digress.

After that the whole interview played itself out like this: 
  • Bennett mouths some sort of feeble cliché-ridden platitude, and
  • Swarbrick exposes Bennett as nothing but an empty head dispensing other people’s grotesque thoughts and lies with reason, logic and facts
It was like watching Rafael Nadal playing a French open grand slam match against a wheelchair bound, mentally disabled, cripple child as every single stupid statement that Bennett oozed out of her perpetually grinning mouth was blasted back at her with terrible force and just a touch of patronizing voice tone to make clear that Swarbrick knew that Bennett was nothing more than an empty, thoughtless vessel doing evil work.

Bennett going into the debate probably thought she would just repeat what her brain coach had made her say 15 or 20 times while waiting in the Green Room before going on and hey presto her work as drug reform spokesperson would be done for the day.

Well it didn’t play out like that and the contrast between the old, tired and corrupted Bennett and the young, hungry and astute Swarbrick was hideously obvious.

You would almost think that Swarbrick knew in advance what Bennett was going to say given her responses but what I think is more likely is that Swarbrick has a brain and did her homework while Bennett did not do her homework and was left with nothing to say but more of the same talk about getting a “balanced argument” which in political terms means muddying the water just enough to sow confusion and doubt in the minds of voters so that the old political instincts kick back in and they vote along party lines rather than on their own personal preference.

And on an issue like drug reform this kind of disingenuous approach is needed because its an issue that is not politically partisan as its not just Green Party members which buy a tinnie, roll a doob, get the munchies and macramé their ass into the sofa but around half of the country (or more) so trying to enforce the party line would not work.

Not that Paula did not try by cramming in some tough talking, anti-crime comments which would have sounded good coming from the mouth of Judith Collins but from Bennett just sounded like the kind of emergency talking point you pull out of your sweaty ass when the debate has gone south and you know your lost but don’t want to look like you just got kicked around like a pair of cheap women’s shoes.

And this is where the comparison between Bennett, an aged long-time recipient of state welfare and free education turned political hypocrite and mindless cog in the National Party machine, and Swarbrick, a young, astute businesswoman turned politician showed most clearly.

Nothing Bennett said sound like an original thought while Swarbrick always seemed one (well actually several) steps ahead and the whole agonizing nine-minute segment ended with Swarbricks final coup-de-grace statement that labelled Bennett’s behavior a “cynical political move”, again delivered in that slightly patronizing Epsom Grammar tone of voice, while Paula’s face went from Resting to Seething in under three seconds.

Now we all know that all politics is essentially a “cynical move” but when it comes to two sides intellectually duking it out over an issue such as cannabis people tend to go with the side that makes the most sense and Bennett, with her essentially pointless middle ground mush, did not make sense and this is why Swarbrick labeling her position cynical did make sense and resonated.

The Green party has kept a low profile after its beating at the last election and James Shaw (now looking more and more like a middle tier Bond villain in both face and dress) has done nothing to show any leadership but if Swarbrick can keep on this path, she could easily out Jacinda Jacinda and be the first ever Green PM; she was that good!

Her performance alone was not enough for me to forgive the Greens and vote for them again but it was enough to make me reconsider the doomed course that Shaw has steered the party with its disastrous decent into social activism and identity politics but only if Swarbrick can get Shaw’s hand off the steering wheel.

However its painfully clear that Bennett is on the way out politically and Swarbrick is on the way up.

Bennett, in her "new" role as drug reform "spokesperson", is being put out to pasture, just like Brownlee and Mcully were before while Swarbrick is obviously keen to make some political capital by tearing strips off the back of  an easy target  that the aging political neanderthal Paula Bennett is.

Also as Bennett is part of the Gang of Five (Brownlee, Smith, Collins, Joyce and Bennett) so her legacy is little more than a walking, talking reminder of why we currently have Jacinda Ardern as PM as Bennett has never been more than a political brown-shirt for National and as such is subject to the same fate as all stooges and lackeys when regime change occurs.

Political antics aside, my own personal thoughts on cannabis reform is that unless the drug is regulated in the same way that gambling is in NZ (ie the money raised from it* only goes back to the community) and that the discussion about alcohol is brought into line with it then I would see it decriminalized but not legalized as if you can have big tobacco and big booze you can have big marijuana (and their attendant health and social problems that these vested interests foster in the name of profits).

Final thought is that if Swarbrick can keep this up the debate will be over before its starts and its clear that Bennett has been sent on a suicide mission (by Simon Bridges no less) as the means to justify her sooner or later removal from the National party.

And I am cool with both things.

*-excepting casinos of course