Monday, September 15, 2014

The Politics of Jesus - Monday 15 September 2014

UPDATE: Underwhelmed by tonight's Moment of Truth event, sponsored by Dotcon, I see no need to change anything written below!

Here we go ... a few days till the election closes at 7 pm on 20 September (yes, voting is already open).

Today is the day when Kim Dotcon wheels the real Glenn Greenwald out to an audience, with a hologramic Julian Assange in attendance to reveal (likely) evidence that our 'five eyes' GCSB communications' agency has conducted 'mass surveillance' of NZ citizens.

Alongside thinking about how many crooks will be in attendance at this meeting tomorrow night, you might like to read our John Key's diplomatic and nuanced description of Greenwald's role at Dotcon's side here.

Frankly, I see Dotcon, Assange, Greenwald triumverate as an unholy and dangerous alliance. Their view of 'freedom' seems to involve reckless disregard for the real danger to freedom of permitting terrorism to reign unchecked without appropriate surveillance of electronic communications. Their view of properly elected officials such as prime ministers, to be treated as targets to be taken down in the name of their distorted version of the future of the world, shows callous disregard for the importance of their role at the helm of state security.

As guardians of state security they need to balance keeping secrets with leading democratic nations. Obviously they are going from time to time to be forced - by the free press and free politicians - to make statements which either run the risk of blurring the truth or may even involve outright lies. As best I can understand, prime ministers from either side of the centre are pressed into this unenviable position.

Rather than hound them from office when some kind of proof (or 'proof', tonight?) is found of lying, should we not ask what curtailment of freedom we are willing to endure in the cause of continuing freedom.

We might also ask whether we like living in NZ with the GCSB or we would prefer to live in Russia with the KGB (cf the triumverate's mutual friend Edward Snowden's new abode) or in Saudi Arabia with their religious police or, pace Mr Assange, in Ecuador with its interesting approach to politics.

The good news is that it seems that most Kiwis are blessed with profound discernment and recognise that the GCSB is on the side of the NZ people rather than against them.

Otherwise, as we head into the final straight, the 'politics of Jesus' is in play for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. The central issues of the election remain the issues enumerated last Monday which lie at the core of each of the four parties I consider worth paying attention to.

(In no particular order of preference)

"National: personal responsibility

Labour: fairness

Greens: clean, sustainable environment

Maori: self-determination for Maori in accordance with Treaty of Waitangi."

Reasons for not voting for the parties associated with these issues abound (see discussion here last week about the Green's abortion policy). But if we vote then we will be making an assessment that the calculation of positives versus negatives has a positive sum.

May God help us as we choose ...


All politicians on the left who have climbed into John Key and National because of Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics are going to regret their hasty zeal. First, because the election noise about this book has all but drowned out the left's attempt to focus on the issues of unfairness in our society. (In this last week Dotcon's games will do the same). Secondly, because, despite protestations that the publication was solely driven by 'public interest', the one sidedness of the book's revelations means it is a piece of leftwing propaganda, biased towards non-revelation of the left's issues re public trust and accountability. Propaganda always had a grain of truth and describing the book thus is not to deny what is true in it. But its bias makes it fair game to those rightwingers keen to play Hager at his own game. He has left open the possibility of the sanctimoniousness, if not hypocrisy of politicians on the left being exposed at an opportune time. That exposure has already begun (as I read around the 'net). Thirdly, because if a National-led government wins this election it will win a fourth term (which I believe is John Key's ambition since by doing so he will equal Keith Holyoake's great achievement of the 1960s). That win will be predicated on National's ability to survive an onslaught of mud-slinging being a demonstration of the mind and mood of the populace. Besides which, they will learn some lessons from this election. Slater will not be on Key's speed dial list!


To finish, one of the best Tweets I have ever come across, tweeted after Saturday night's amazing AB win over the Springboks: if you need to know who 'Richie' is, then you may be an overseas reader!

What has that got to do with politics? Well, if Richie was running for Prime Minister we wouldn't be having half the shenanigans we are having. Dirty Politics would have a whole new meaning ... more mud on your shorts than mud on your blogs :)


Jean said...

Very good Peter!! I prefer that kind of dirt... and yes again, who wants to be so blinded by personal attacks each election we get blindsided from the real issues.

Caleb said...

But, Jean, Hager's book was precisely calling out National's two-part "play the man, not the ball" strategy of (a) John Key's smiling selfie-ing relaxed face (b) dirty attack politics instead of policy, and calling for us to return to clean evidence-based politics focused on the real issues.

Even despite criticising National's complicity in Dirty Politics, JK's weak response to it, verbal "I am my office" gymnastics, and failure to hold ministers to account (which, by the way, all also matters) and Greenwald's revelations ... hmmm, this is a long sentence... Even despite all that, the parties of the left-of-NZ First have focused far, far more on policy than National this campaign, and in fact for years now.
I've blogged on this.

Oh, and Peter, if you're resorting to "at least it's not Russia" you really are grasping at straws to defend National.

Caleb said...

Anyway, despite the fact that it's unfair to call something "one-sided" simply because its chosen focus wasn't the same as yours (Did you insist on him focusing on National's bad genetic engineering record too in 2002?), the vital question is of course: What is this activity by Labour etc that is supposedly just as bad as Slater et al's attack politics?

(Another question is: Even if it is one-sided, how does that excuse National's weak response to it all? Nothing they've said or done indicates any real regret - just a regret they got caught)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
To be clear on the GCSB matters, I am defending the right of the NZ Prime Minister, of either the centre-left or the centre right, whether Helen Clark or John Key or David Cunliffe, to lead the work of our security agencies in a manner which enables this country to be as safe as possible with the minimum infringement of personal freedom and privacy as reasonable. As I best understand how Helen Clark conducted her role as minister for security and intelligence, she was often in the predicament John Key is currently in. My support for John Key on this matter would be no different if it were a Labour PM. We do not need zealots for so called 'freedom' like Snowden and Gruenwald telling us what to do and where to get off as self-appointed colonial masters, even less when Gruenwald's trip is being paid for by criminal Dotcon.

If you would like a compulsory period of exile in Moscow under the regime of Putin, who definitely has henchmen helping him, please let us know!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb,
Hager has tried to stand on some moral high ground as being a-political in his targets. To an extent this is so re his previous hit on Clark/Labour counterbalanced by his hit on Key/National.

But the present book's essential thesis is that National's political leaders cannot be trusted. I do not think it is my one-sidedness when I ask if he deliberately omitted to tell us what he knew (as he must have known from the whole collection of Slater's emails) of the lack of trustworthiness of the alternative government-in-waiting.

Or perhaps he is just a money-making grubby journalist who is waiting for a Labour govt to come in so he can then take them down one-sidedly in 2017?

Caleb said...

So your answer to my italicised question is that even though you can't name it, there MUST be stuff just as bad on Labour out there (there's that middle-ground fallacy coming through again), and you assume it was found in Slater's e-mails, but that Hager one-sidedly refused to release it?

Don't you know enough about Slater to know that any dirt on Labour contained in Slater's emails has already well and truly been aired and hyped on Slater's blog (and the juiciest also on those of his henchmen - Farrar, NZ Herald etc)?

If someone (internationally respected journalist or not) had alleged with zero evidence that National people and their aligned bloggers were doing what Hager has revealed they've been doing, you would have said it was an extraordinary claim to make without any evidence and should be disregarded until evidence is produced. But you're now essentially alleging that the same things are happening on the other side of the aisle, with zero evidence. You really need to sort out that middle-ground fallacy.

Caleb said...

(And once again: even if all you allege about our most internationally respected journalist is true, how does that excuse Key and National's limp-wristed, dishonest, wriggly and self-interested response to Hager's revelations? By impugning Hager's character you're playing the man not the ball, even if you're right)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
Keep up!
Yesterday Slater aired what he has been hinting at for a few weeks, and which he has said is contained in emails almost certainly part of Hager's trove.
What he has aired concerns trustworthiness 'on the other side of the aisle.'
I am not attempting to equate one sides bad dealings with the other sides bad dealings, but if there are bad dealings on both sides, and Hager knew about that (highly probable but, agreed, not proven) then I think as an 'investigative journalist' we might have expected fair dibs across both sides.

Incidentally, National's henchmen have played their 'black ops' badly, a price has been paid (Collins is gone, apparently no one in the law profession is sorry) and if JK takes my advice (or his successor!) they will stay well clear of Slater and Whaleoil.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
I am not excusing National's response to the book. I said ages before she got the sack that Collins should be sacked. Key and co mishandled the publication and underestimated its importance (though the left have overestimated its importance!)

But I am questioning whether we have the full extent of Hager's motivations in the public arena. If he knew of 'dirty politics' on the other side of the political aisle and refrained from investing his reputation and skill as an investigative journalist then he has shown a bias in regards to the 'man' relative to the 'ball.'

Can he put his hand on his heart and say he has no interest in bringing the Key led government down, just a 'pure' interest in publishing matters of interest to the public?