Saturday, 2 December 2006

John-Boy Key: "I'm like the Inland Revenue"

The Herald's Michelle Hewitson extracted this from John-Boy Key this morning:
"I'm like the Inland Revenue," said John-Boy. "Firm but fair."
What a fuckwit.

UPDATE: Perhaps someone working in Rodney Hide's office could send the slimey, limp-dick fuckwit a copy of Rodney's book, 'The Power to Destroy' so he can see for himself how "firm but fair" his chosen alter ego really is.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National


"Recognition is bullshit."

I was struck by this quote from Casino Royale director Martin Campbell in this morning's Herald: Reflecting on the fact he has "slipped under the radar" as far as widespread recognition in his home country (New Zealand) and further afield, he says,
"Recognition is bullshit. It's the work that's important."
I was struck by that because that's precisely the reverse of how so many people see it, and because it was almost precisely the sentiment behind Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, in which, in a climactic scene, architect Howard Roark explains to a man who has lost his soul through the rewards of second-handedness and recognition-seeking:
"Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing. Your own action, not any object of your charity. I’ll be glad if people who need it find a better manner of living in a house I designed. But that’s not the motive of my work. Nor my reason. Nor my reward. My reward, my purpose, my life is the work itself. My work, done my way. Nothing else matters to me."
I feel sure Martin Campbell would agree. (And wouldn't Daniel Craig make an outstanding Howard Roark?)

RELATED: Films, Books, Objectivism

A weekend ramble

Another weekly ramble through the clippings from the Not PC off-cut desk
  • Cox and Forkum summarises what's fast becomin an obvious conclusion about Russia's ruler:

  • The stadium sage continues. And as it rumbles along, I was amused to note this comment at Philosophically Made/Red Bears, self-described as a blog by "NZ based bloggers of a leftwing persuasion": "Even though I hate to agree with ACT and the Libertarianz," said blogger STC, "at this point Carlaw Park looks like a pretty terrific option." I should point out that Libertarianz per se really have no view on Carlaw Park -- I do however, and I still affirm that Carlaw Park is a terrific option, particularly for what a stadium there could do for the city, but that's a personal view (I confess, I do like a good stadium), and I've been beaten about the head by my Libz colleagues for daring to say so. The Waterfront - Philosophically Made

  • Joel Schwartz has a whole host of climate science resources at his website, including his latest, a slideshow conference presentation [pdf]. Climate Change: Science, Policy, Politics - Joel Schwartz [PDF]

  • The War On Drugs debate continued here the other day with the discussion over Milton Friedmans' Iron Law on Prohibition, stated by Richard Cowan in this way, "The more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the prohibited substance becomes" -- or as I put it in the post under debate, 'More Prohibition, Worse Drugs.'
    Commenters argued that unlike us "pie in the sky" legalisers they lived in "the real world," and as good prohibitionists they were still keen to make laws for other people. It's worth having a look at how alcohol prohibition worked to see how prohibition does actually work in the real world instead of in the fetid fantasies of prohibitionists. How did alcohol prohibition work in the real world? A: Bloody poorly. And the Iron Law of Prohibition was clearly in effect; see the graph below for example which shows how consumption of toxic bathtub liquors -- the more potent alcohol -- flourished, exactly as you'd expect.
  • Total Expenditure on Distilled Spirits as a Percentage of Total Alcohol Sales (1890-1960)
    If you didn't already know the years in which the fooolishness of alcohol prohibition was in effect, then you can seeit clearly enough from the graph. Unsurprisingly, since the onset of prohibition did more than anything ever before to give piles of cash to violent criminals, these were also years in which murder experiences enormous growth. Pictured below is the US homicide rate from 1910-1944:
    If you really do want to be informed about the disaster of prohibition rather than being guilty of interviewing the inside of your own skull, then just below are some good links to check out. And if you don't wish to be informed, then butt the hell out of the argument, and leave other people the hell alone:
    - Alcohol Prohibition was a Failure - Prof. Mark Thornton, Cato Institute
    - The Re-legalization of Drugs - Tibor Machan & Mark Thornton, FEE
    - How Prohibition Makes Any Drug More Dangerous - Drug Policy Forum of Texas
    - Lessons of History. Lesson 8: Crack - Efficacy Online
    The more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the drugs. If a dealer can smuggle only one suitcase full of drugs ... which would he be carrying - marijuana, coca leaves, cocaine, or crack? He gets more dollars for the bulk if he carries more potent drugs...
    - How the Narcs Created Crack - Richard Cowan, National Review
    Be good to conclude here with a line from the conclusion of Penn & Tellers's 'Bullshit' episode on the War on Drugs: "I don't do drugs, but it's your right to do so if you wish. Just stay the fuck away from my house."

  • Physics and induction -- the science and the method of science that go together like coffee and eggs. Induction itself is the science that provides the foundation for all genuine universal knowledge, yet is still the subject of much misunderstanding: Just how do we form general, universal conclusions from particular observations? What methods must we follow to be confident our conclusions are sound?
    Lisa Van Damme from the Van Damme Academy explains first how physics can be (and is) taught in an inductive fashion at her Academy.
    "My students, she says, "have the extreme good fortune of being taught physics by David Harriman, a scholar of physics who is currently writing a book on the influence of philosophy on the history of physics. With his vast knowledge of physics and pedagogy, Mr. Harriman designed a new, and very effective method of teaching physics."
    You can read about it in her article at CapMag: Physics by Induction: The Genius of Learning Science the Proper Way. And on the Objectivist front, work continues by physicist David Harriman and philosopher Leonard Peikoff on their much-awaited book, Induction in Physics and Philosophy. Meanwhile, however, you can listen to a three-minute sample of a 2003 lecture series by Leonard Peikoff: Induction in Physics and Philosophy available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore and, if you're keen, buy the lectures, a fourteen-CD set [and if you do, I'd love to borrow it :-) ].
    These historic lectures present, for the first time, the solution to the problem of induction—and thereby complete, in every essential respect, the validation of reason.

    Peikoff begins by identifying the axioms of induction and the method of establishing their objectivity, including the role of measurement-omission. This enables him to make clear the parallels between concept-formation and generalization-formation, and leads him to discover the real distinction between induction and deduction.

    Peikoff goes on to discuss the methods used in science to prove non-axiomatic generalizations and advanced theories. He stresses, with many examples (from Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell and others), the roles of experimentation and of mathematics.

    Diana Hsieh at Noodle Food has a summary of the course (albeit brief, and albeit at third-hand) and the subsequent discussion proved fruitful. And Objectivist Ron Pisaturo takes issue with some of Peikoff's views in his own take on induction: Ron Pisaturo: A Theory of Knowledge.

  • "Public misunderstanding of basic economic principles leaves us easy prey to political quacks, charlatans and assorted hustlers," explains Walter Williams in What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity.
  • And finally (well, nearly), Walter Williams takes a brief look at the nonsense of so-called "racial diversity," which he argues flourishes at the expense of genuine intellectual diversity.

    There are some ideas so ludicrous and mischievous that only an academic would take them seriously. One of them is diversity. Think about it. Are you for or against diversity? When's the last time you said to yourself, "I'd better have a little more diversity in my life"? ...When academics call for diversity, they're really talking about racial preferences for particular groups of people, mainly blacks.
    The price, he argues, is steep. Racial Diversity at the Expense of Intellectual Diversity - Walter Williams, Capitalism Magazine.

  • And on the subject of focussing too much on race and so-called "cultural identity," I can't go past an observation made by philosopher Tibor Machan, himself an immigrant from Hungary to the US.
    When, more recently, it began to be fashionable to stress one’s ethnic or cultural or racial identity, I was puzzled. To start with, what kind of identity is it that one acquires by accident? So, I was born in Budapest and heard a lot of gypsy music, ate paprika csirke and palacsinta. And, yes, I liked these things and still do. But how significant a part of me is there in that? My idea from early on was that what’s important about one’s identity is what one contributes to it oneself.
    Who one is shouldn’t be a matter of happenstance but of purposive action. I liked to read and think about philosophy and religion, so if someone wanted to know who I was, I’d tell them about that. Or, in a less serious vein, about things I liked to do such as traveling and playing tennis.Some collage of these aspects of my life, of the things over which I have had some say, some choice, seems to me to make me who I am— not so much how tall I am or where I was born.
    As I got to hear more and more about ethnic and racial pride, I was even more puzzled. How can someone be proud of being, say, Caucasian or black or gay or Asian? What had
    one to do with such things? Perhaps one might be glad of being tall or of having lived among other members of one’s ethnic group if, indeed, this had amounted to a good experience.
    And one could certainly refuse to be ashamed of being black or white or whatever one could not help being.
    Even more, one might feel some affinity with others who were being picked on for attributes one shared with them and be willing, even, to unite with them to resist such treatment.
    But proud? Doesn’t pride require some worthy achievement from oneself?
    In my neighborhood newspaper, there is someone who writes mainly about Hispanics, and in nearly every column Hispanics are urged to feel special for being Hispanic. Why so? What is special about that? Doesn’t feeling special for being Hispanic or Hungarian American or black or tall suggest that others aren’t as special and worthy of feeling similarly about themselves? I have never liked the idea of a chosen people because it suggests that the universe or God picks some to be inherently, undeservedly superior to others.
    When I am told, “Hey there are some other people from Hungary you must meet,” I respond, “Why exactly? Do they play tennis, love philosophy, or like the blues?” The idea of ethnic or cultural pride, it seems to me, suggests something close to an insidious form of prejudice.
    Without having done anything worthwhile whatsoever one gets to be satisfied for belonging to a group. Just whom is one kidding anyway?
    Beautifully put, which is the reason I post it here at such length. It's been nagging me for some time to put it out for you lot to consider. You can read the whole column in PDF form at the link below, where it appears as part of an online copy of Tibor's recent book of his columns, Neither Left nor Right that the Hoover Institute has made available online (which is rather annoying since I paid good money for my copy). The column quoted above, 'Never Mind One's Cultural "Identity",' appears on page 23 of the section 'Sex and Politics in America.' [PDF]


RELATED: Stadium, Global Warming, Science, Objectivism, Philosophy, Victimless Crimes, Law, Racism, Books, Economics

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Friday, 1 December 2006

Beer O'Clock: News from the Limburg front

Real beer talk this week from Real Beer's Stu.

Rumours of Limburg’s demise have been partially exaggerated (and not, this time, by Nicky Hager). Media reports and beer forums have had New Zealand craft-beer lovers in a spin; with the news that Chris O’Leary’s award-winning Hastings brewery was sold.

Although the Limburg Brewery has indeed been sold, the Limburg range of beer – Hopsmacker, Czechmate, Witbier, Porter and IPA – is marketed under a different company and is still being contract brewed by Steam Brewing in Auckland. They will still be available at a supermarket near you. This has both positive and negative aspects…

The positives of the move are numerous and, economically, surely outweigh the negatives: the beer is still being brewed; it is being brewed by NZ’s most award-winning brewer (Luke Nicholas); in a more cost effective brewery; and, Auckland will almost certainly be a better location from which to distribute the beer (meaning it is more likely to arrive fresh to our lips).

The negative: we are about to lose one of the few breweries in New Zealand with a very distinct “house” character. Like Cooper’s in Australia, though with a much shorter history, Limburg is one of the few breweries to really show off its yeast on the palate (the beer equivalent of wearing your heart on your sleeve). The orange and spice yeast notes, that I enjoy in each of the Hastings-brewed beers - even when they are slightly out of character, absolutely reek of the passion that has made Limburg so recognisable. That yeast character and, of course, “Hopsmacker” (one of the most inspired names in marketing history, surely) were synonymous with Limburg.

One beer that will really miss the unique character is the Limburg Porter. Released earlier this year, the porter shows off the usual biscuit and toast characters of New Zealand dark ales but with beautiful yeast roundness of rich fruit and spice that is so rare in our usually clean tasting Kiwi craft ales. It also comes in a lovely, man-sized, 640ml bottle that will quite likely be dropped with the new brewing contract. Get it now, before the last of the Hastings-brewed bottles disappear, and match it with crusty bread and sweet nutty cheese (or a rich and dark Indian curry).

Tonight I raise my glass of Limburg Porter filled glass to Chris O’Leary – champion of the New Zealand craft beer industry.

Cheers Chris, slainte mhath, best wishes from all serious beer fans.

Other beery good news:
SOBA -- the Society of Beer Advocates -- New Zealand's leading beer consumer group, is now officially incorporated and promoting good beer near you. See the website for news and details of supporting sponsors (Limburg are amongst them). Perhaps it’s time for you to SOBA up and join the revolution, where taste triumphs over brand.

Cheers, Stu

LINKS: Cooper’s house character Limburg SOBA sponsors RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere


Free Radical 73: The Assault on Free Speech

The new Free Radical is out today!! The Free Radical with the free speech cover, and the inside word on the latest threats to free speech and freedom in New Zealand and around the world is out now, and in shops and letterboxes from Monday.

This Free Radical arrives as you make your plans for summer holidays, and it’s packed with good holiday reading – articles to shock, to enlighten, and to offer ammunition for the inevitable debates of the holiday season.
  • Bernard Darnton examines and attacks the Clark Government's assaults on free speech, highlighting how the exposure of the stolen election has brought the Clark Government’s totalitarian instincts into the foreground. Packed with Cabinet Ministers who once espoused the value of free speech for themselves, the Clark Government now routinely shuts down debate except on their terms. "With these threats, proposals and very real fines and incarcerations in the air, there is being created 'an atmosphere where criticising the government is becoming hazardous'.”
  • "Misleading, one-sided, exaggerating and wrong" -- that's the verdict on both Al Gore and the Stern Report on Climate Change. Free Radical 73 has all you need to gore Gore, and gang up on the Stern Gang. We have the definitive skeptics' guide to An Inconvenient Truth, George Reisman's take on why the Blair Government's Stern Report "could be environmentalism's swan song.," and more -- much, much more!
  • One pledge card ... slightly used ... Bernard Darnton sells a pledge card, one bidder at a time.
  • Turning illiteracy around -- find out about the reading warrior turning illiteracy around for troublesome non-readers.
  • The 'Third Way' of the left and the Neocon new right are two sides of the authoritarian middle, says Peter Cresswell. Find out more inside.
  • One whole half-century of green failure. The Free Radical centre-section has the goods.
  • 'Sustainability isn't sustainable, says Peter Cresswell.
  • Too little globalisation, and too little capitalism, says Johan Norberg.
  • Tax cuts are good for growth, explains Phil Rennie
All that, PLUS humour, insight, all your favourite columnists, and the Best of Beer in 2006!

Get your Free Radical now, and be ready for the summer holiday debating season.

The Free Radical -- out today, and in all the best shops from Monday. Don't miss out: Subscribe now.

(And don’t forget the perfect Christmas present for all your thinking friends: a Gift Subscription to The Free Radical. Just write 'GIFT' on your subscription, and include delivery details and your chosen message.)

Peter Cresswell

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Samizdata on Cameron on Key

Citizen Key, meet Citizen Cameron. David Cameron, that is, UK Tory leader, upon whom Neville Key has reportedly been modelling himself -- right down to the bicycle clips. Former NZ PM Mike Moore notes, '
I understand [Key] has studied the strategies of David Cameron, the new Conservative leader in Britain, who has the media and the Conservative Party in raptures when he exclaims, "I quite like trees." Cameron has even praised public servants and public health. UK Conservatives have set up policy commissions on all sorts of subjects and invited opponents, like Bob Geldof, to join. Hell, they even invited me to be a member.
"Broadminded" indeed. A mind so broad that anything may enter, however vacuous. It's instructive to see Cameron for what he is, and for that the UK libertarian Samizdata blog is the place. For those remaining libertarian-types in NZ's National Socialist Party, here's some Cameron-comments taken almost at random, including a brief account of his own first week as leader, this time last year, that you might find instructive:
David Cameron as Peter Sellers
Those of you who think Cameron is just being clever should go watch Peter Sellers in 'Being There' and realise that what you are mistaking for cleverness is in fact just emptiness.

Calling all Tory apologists
Again and again, when people here on Samizdata and elsewhere pointed out that there was nothing 'conservative' about 'Dave' Cameron, various Tory apologists kept saying "oh, but Dave does not really think those things!"...

I look forward to them now explaining how the Right Honourable Member for Witney can be making common cause for an authoritarian socialist like Polly Toynbee.

Perhaps the few remaining members of the dwindling faithful who voted for this jackass to be their leader should repent their ways and go join a real conservative party before 'Dave' does the 'full Toynbee' and backs the forcible suppression of all private education, confiscation of private wealth (oh, sorry, he's already decided to back that) and nationalisation of whole industries like dear Polly would like.

Cameron balks at even minor tokens of conviction
The utterly flaccid David Cameron has balked at even the token gesture of pulling his 'conservative' party out of the Euro-integrationist European People's Party in the European parliament. As withdrawal from the EPP would be little more than a minor token that did nothing beyond offer the tiniest of fig leaves to the now completely naked Euro-skeptic remnants within the Tory party, is anyone under any illusions now of his inclination to 'stand up for British interests' in dealing with the EU? ...having the Tories ditch the EPP (whose platform includes 'ever closer union') was one of the planks of his pitch to win the Tory Party leadership against David Davies.

David Cameron - irony free zone (Sept., '06)
The media are going all out to boost Mr David Cameron (the leader of the British Conservative party)... Mr Cameron himself (with the strong support of the Economist) is busy destroying (in the name of democracy) what little democracy there is in the Conservative party.

Why the British 'Conservative' Party is not a political party at all
For what a political party is supposed to be, one should turn to Edmund Burke (the man who is often cited as the founder of modern Conservatism), who produced the classic defence of political party - defending it from the charge that is was simply a 'faction', a despised term in the 18th century and before, of people out for power.

Edmund Burke argued that a political party, as opposed to a faction, was a group of people allied around a set of principles - i.e. they were interested in how government acted, not just in who got power...

Now it may be that the 'Conservative' party will one day become a political party, but I suspect that it will not be a Conservative one - as the forces of Mr Cameron seem stronger than those of his enemies (most of whom seem to lack the guts to even declare that they are his enemies). Indeed Conservatives are leaving the 'Conservative' party every day (it has lost a least 10% of its members over the last six months) - so if it does become a party (a group of people united around political principles, rather than just a corrupt alliance or faction of people out for the money and prestige of government office) it will be a Social Democrat one, like the Labour party or the Liberal Democrats.

When Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox clashed in the House of Commons over the French Revolution, Fox (with tears in his eyes) said that, whilst they differed, there was no "loss of friends" (i.e. they were still in the party). Burke at once got to his feet and said that there was indeed a loss of friends. He understood that people who hold fundamentally different political principles can not be in the same political party (if it is to be a political party at all).

It is time for those Conservative who remain in the 'Conservative' party to follow Burke's example.

David Cameron's interesting start (Dec., '05)
David Cameron, newly elected leader of the Tories, has got off to a wonderful start, as I am sure readers will agree. He has signed up Sir Bob "give us yer fokkin' money" Geldof to advise on world poverty; Zak Goldsmith, the environmentalist, has been also approached to advise on how to save the planet, and in a recent masterstroke, Oliver Letwin, a Tory MP, opined that the Tories should be concerned with redistributing wealth. Splendid. I am sure the sort of voters who deserted the Conservatives in 1997 and failed to return will be thrilled at this embrace of what looks like a sort of social democratic touchy-feely product by the Wonder Boy of Notting Hill. Or again, they may not.

All that remains is for Cameron to steal Labour's old Clause Four promising nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Then on to victory!

Meanwhile, Tim Worstall is similarly underwhelmed by Cameron.

It's all so dreadfully familiar already, isn't it.

I leave you with this thought from Mathew d'Ancona of the Sunday Torygraph, an admirer of Cameron: "Without Blair, the Cameron phenomenon would be impossible to imagine. Who would have thought that the Tories would make the environment their core issue, lead the campaign against NHS cuts, promise to hug a hoodie? Last week, a senior Labour strategist said to me that he was concerned his party might lose votes on the Left to Mr Cameron..."

The italics are mine. That this is cited as something of which Cameron may be proud is perhaps more instructive of conservatism in the wild than anything else.

New Zealand now has its own David Cameron. Empty, vacuous, vacillating, telegenic and fighting for the terrain of the political left.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-UK, Politics-National



I have to confess I have no idea what the hell is going on in Fiji.

But that puts me in good company. No one else seems to either.

Neville Key: Black is white

The headline from Newstalk ZB declares Key denies watering down Nat policies. Let's check Neville's denial against his last few days of speech-making, shall we:
  • National Party leader John Key says there will be no nuclear powered ships entering New Zealand's harbours as long as he leads the party and he accepts the ANZUS treaty is dead... "For as long as I am the leader of the National Party the nuclear-free legislation will remain intact." The policy would now include no reference to a referendum.
  • "I firmly believe in climate change and always have..." " is obvious to anyone who cares to look that all of us...have taken too long to put the protection of our environment at the forefront of our thinking. That needs to change. In the National Party we have taken steps to do this, and we will be taking more steps."
  • "There will always be a social welfare system in New Zealand because you can measure a society by how it looks after its most vulnerable...."
  • "...the National leader said he still supports the abolition of the Maori seats in Parliament, but believes the timetable needs to be reviewed."
But Mr Key is adamant he is not watering down the policies of former leader Don Brash. He says he is the new leader of the party and is simply putting his stamp on the role as would be expected...
Is he stupid, or does he think we are? (Yes Virginia, that is a rhetorical question.)

Watch out Helen, that's Neville Key outflanking you on the left.

Thursday, 30 November 2006


With Christmas and the next Free Radical magazine both nearly upon us, the semi-official 'Not PC'/Free Radical /'Darnton V Clark' Xmas barbecue is imminent: this Friday, December 1, and you're invited.
Details here.

Peters for PM (Fiji)

The news from the Kiwi Herald is that fresh from the magnificent achievement of getting Fiji's two most powerful men to sit in the same room for two hours, Winston Peters is now set to govern Fiji himself, "avoiding a coup and leaving the door open for Major Ron Mark to take control of the NZ First Party." The Herald (Kiwi) has the news.

LINK: Peters to govern Fiji - Kiwi Herald

RELATED: Humour, Politics-Winston_First

Head east, young Don.

Where to now for Don Brash? 'Get thee to East Coast Bays' is the message from Liberty Scott, posed as an idea for Rodney Hide:
Invite Don Brash to join ACT, to stand in 2008 as East Coast Bays candidate against McCully, and to be finance spokesman and deputy leader. It will be your best ever chance to revitalise ACT, now that the Nats are on the slow train to their comfort zone of platitudes and status quo politics.
There's more than one way for The Don to make finance minister, and more than one way to cannibalise the Nats.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Politics-ACT


Telecom mugged

I've been interested to see some of the self-seeking justifications for breaking into and breaking up Telecom's private property.

No one but an idiot or a cabinet minister would expect to see businessmen or women making a long-term investment in infrastructure when theft of such an investment is imminent, or the breakup of that investment is on the cards. In Australia for example, Telstra's CEO Sol Trujillo resisted being forced to grant access to Telstra's proposed $3 billion broadband fibre network to its competitors, and indeed has resisted making the investment. Says The Economist:
Worried that giving rivals a free ride would undermine his profits, Mr Trujillo is threatening not to lay the fibre
Good for him. Says Trujillo. “Those who risk capital to earn returns shouldn't have to subsidise those that don't.” Quite right.

But what about the many and various economic advantages of such a network? The fact is, if you want those advantages you need that sort of investment, and you'll only get it if government's keep their hands off -- government intervention such as has happened with Telecom is chilling for investment, not an encouragement, and not just for investment in telecommunications. The investment effect of this dismembering will be felt further afield than just the pocket books of Telecom shareholders.

If you think the breakup of Telecom is all good and will deliver you everything you might wish for, then reflect on the words of Thomas Jefferson: that "the government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away again."

UPDATE: Liberty Scott has some background on how Telecom came to this, and the alternatives to political dismembering: Telecom - the Left Has Won

LINKS: Telstra shrugs - Not PC (May, 2006)

RELATED: Telecom, Property_Rights, Politics-NZ

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I've been listening all week to Nicky Hager telling us we have a "right to know" what was in Don Brash's emails, that the theft of these emails is in "the public interest," and how he has no regrets about publishing a book filled with someone else's mail. A book published as the result of theft.

According to Hager, if "the public interest" demands it, then anyone's private mail should be available to bottom-sniffers like himself to cherrypick and pull together into whatever story he can try and make from it all.

Now, Hager insists the emails weren't stolen (at least not by him), but refuses to give the name of the person who did, um, borrow this stuff. Don't we, by Hager's own reasoning then, have " a right to know" who the bottom-sniffer's muckraker is? Isn't the name of this thief and the means by which these private communications liberated a matter of"public interest" so we may judge for ourselves the context and provenance of the mails? In short, don't we have a right to the contents of Hager's own inbox, however unedifying the contents might be?

The answer, of course, is that we have no such right, any more than Hager had any right to publish a book based on receipt of private communications.

And here's something else Hager might like to think about: the story of the News of the World 'journalist' currently in the dock in London for intercepting and publishing private communications. Clive Goodman (right), who intercepted the calls of royals, MPs and celebrities, has been told by the judge that he faces jail time. Hager meantime has been led to believe by our own complicit media that he faces a best-seller.


UPDATE: How do you think Hager would look in court if one or others of the owners of Hager's stolen communications were to take him there?

LINKS: Goodman pleads guilty - Guardian

Politics-NZ, Politics-UK, Politics-National


Yahara Boat Club - Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright's Yahara Boat House, for the University of Wisconsin. Designed in 1905, ground for its construction was finally broken just this year, in September 2006!

The project has a website, and a twelve-minute video (try to ignore the ultra-cheesy soundtrack).

RELATED: Architecture

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Wednesday, 29 November 2006

"What defeat?"

From a Sixty Minutes interview with US General John Abizaid (right), the four-star commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East (transcript here; video here), comes this excerpt.
INTERVIEWER: "We hear very little about the victory in Iraq these days. We hear a lot about how to manage the defeat. And a lot of…"
GENERAL ABIZAID: "What defeat?"
INTERVIEWER: "How we minimize…"

GENERAL ABIZAID: "That's your word. You talk to our commanders in the field – they don't believe that they've been defeated. Defeat is your word, not my word. Can Iraq stabilize? Yes, Iraq could stabilize."
"We hear..."? Who from.

LINKS: An annotated transcript of the whole interview is here: Gen. Abizid on stabilizing Iraq - CBS, 60 Minutes
A video of the interview is here: "Manage the defeat" - Powerline
[Hat tip Major Scarlet]

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics-World, War


The stadium, solved!

Dunedin architects have been working feverishly to come up with what they say is THE solution to the stadium problem.

Here it is:RELATED: Stadium, Humour

Sexism, "discourse about gender" and "negotiated masculinity"

More 'useful' academic research revealed in the Herald today. Story here. Waikato University School of Education sociologist Toni Bruce has been conducting research on (in her words) "the intersection of sport and the media - analysing both the content of the media and how media workers (sports writers, TV commentators) understand their roles."

Recent research by Bruce includes papers on 'Modern and Postmodern Discourses in Media Coverage of the Commonwealth Games,' 'Indigenous Logic in the AFL,' a barrel of laughs by all accounts, and 'Interrogating the Intersections of Nationalism and Gender in Media Coverage of International Sports Spectacles' -- the last was reported to be walking off the shelves in the Waikato University Sociology Library.

Her latest research topic? Marc Ellis and the TV show Sportscafe.
Overall, our analysis revealed that Sportscafe constructed a discourse about gender that privileged new lad masculinity and reinforced the marginalisation of women, while masking its messages in boyish humour.
Wow. You can sure see why she gets the big bread. She also noted that "sexualisation" was a prevalent theme on Sportscafe, with "regular sexual innuendo and sarcastic references to sexual prowess (or lack thereof)," and recorded her male students who played soccer saying they had to "negotiate their sense of masculinity because they were not taken seriously because they choose not to play rugby." Poor lambs.

Do you think it just possible that New Zealand might have too many sociologists chasing too few valid research topics?

To the right is a photograph of a young woman.

LINKS: New lads, or old sexists? - NZ Herald

Nonsense, Sexism

Why we need chains

I've been meaning to respond, however briefly, to Idiot/Savant's post on the lessons of Nicky Hager's book: Why we need transparency.

People donated money to a political party. Big deal? Hager thinks so. Hager refers to pots of money "reportedly promised" to National in meetings, letters and emails before the 2005 election -- and frankly neither I nor Idiot/Savant nor Hager have any idea whether any of this money or any of those promises were anything more than hot air -- and from that money proffered by business donors, I/S and Hager and others draw the conclusion that the money was spent (or at least promised) to buy policies. I/S quotes Hager:
When National MPs oppose measures to control smoking or gambling, or to allow greater subsidies for or advertising of pharmaceuticals, the public has every right to know whether those interests have been giving the party money.
We need, concludes I/S, "an end to money laundering and anonymous donations."

Do we? I take a different view.

In the present context governments "redistribute" upwards of forty-five percent of the country's GDP, and vote on legislation that at the stroke of a pen can help one company (Fletcher Building, Slingshot, Air New Zealand) and devastate another (Telecom, Origin Pacific, Air New Zealand). That's a lot of potential winners and losers, an awful lot of favours to deliver, and a lot of motivation for a lot of controls, subsidies, and legislation to be "bought off."

As PJ O'Rourke famously observed, "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."

So do we need controls on party donations? NO! We need controls on legislators being able to control buying and selling. Controls on Governments who use their office to buy elections. We don't need controls on whom people may donate to (that's their business): We need controls on what those donations can buy. In short: We need controls on the legislators, and on legislation!!

In my view, people may donate money to whomever and to whichever political party they like, but what can be done by those political parties in the way of delivering policies should be severely and constitutionally circumscribed. You see, as long as politicians can deliver absolutely anything (as they can presently), then -- rules or no -- everything will be delivered, everything will be bought and sold, everything is potentially up for sale.

But as long as politicians are properly chained up, there would very few favours they would be able to deliver.

And that's my preference.

LINKS: Why we need transparency - No Right Turn (Idiot/Savant)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Constitution, Law, Darnton V Clark


Operational separation for Kiwiblog

The logic of argument has forced Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee to recommend a Bill for the forced breakup of David Farrar's Kiwiblog. "This is due," said the report, "to its monopoly position in the blogosphere."

The Committee was almost unanimous in endorsing, and improving the breakup. MPs from Labour, National, NZ First, Maori, United Future and the Green Party all agreed on the report, and are expected to vote 119-2 in favour of the bill.

"This is a no-brain," said one.

Said Labour's David Cunliffe in announcing the breakup, "There are many precedents for this type of regulatory action when a company with market power is required to provide competitors with access to its network or faces controls over the prices it can charge."

Effecting an early dismembering of the Kiwiblog empire, David Farrar was nonetheless ebullient. "This is quite right to my mind. A vertically integrated monopoly is that rare beast which should be regulated if competition is stymied. And the problem is that for over four years Kiwiblog has stymied effective competition. I got too cute at blocking effective competition, so the power of regulation became the only option. Kudos to the Minister (David Cunliffe) and the Select Committee Chair (Shane Jones) for getting the Bill to this point, and also to all the members of the select committee. These fine gentlemen (and woman) clearly have their eye on the bigger picture in a way I cannot."

At the time of writing, Kiwiblog Blogshares had gone through the floor. More details of this shock move at G-Man Inc.

David Farrar is 67.

LINK: Government to separate Kiwiblog - G-Man Inc.
Operational separation for Telecom - Kiwiblog (David Farrar)

RELATED: Humour, Telecom, Property_Rights, Politics-NZ

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Environmental scientists in the wild west

Cartoon by Nick Kim.

RELATED: Environment, Cartoons, Humour, Science

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Who's the face of Telecom theft now?

So with Annette Presley gone, who is the Face of Theft for this latest raid on Telecom? David Farrar, who's lapping up this Cabinet-level sortie into the nation's boardrooms? David Cunliffe, the smug bastard holding the gun? Or all 119 MPs who on the back of a Select Committee recommendation to "split" Telecom today have signalled they will vote to further dismember the private property of Telecom shareholders, confirming the loss of one-third of Telecom's value in just six months.

This is an outrageous assault on private property rights.

Says the report of the Finance & Expenditure Select Committee in recommending this change: "There are many precedents for this type of regulatory action..."

Yes, there are. In Venezuela.

LINKS: 3-way split for Telecom recommended - NBR
ACT: The only party to support property rights - Scoop
Annette Presley: The face of theft - Not PC (May, 2006)

RELATED: Telecom, Property_Rights,Politics-NZ

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More prohibition, worse drugs: Friedman's "Iron Law of Prohibition"

Johann Hari from London's Independent newspaper is surprised that ten days after Milton Friedman's death he's been eulogised for his monetarism, praised for his proselytising on small government and buried with his errors, but few have raised the "one issue [on which] Friedman applied the forensic brilliance of his brain to a deserving purpose. Over forty years," notes Hari, "he offered the most devastating slap-downs of the “war on drugs” ever written."
He once told Bill Bennett, Bush Snr’s drugs tsar, “You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favour are a major source of the evils you deplore.”

Friedman proved, for example, that prohibition changes the way people use drugs, making many people use stronger, more dangerous variants than they would in a legal market. During alcohol prohibition, moonshine eclipsed beer; during drug prohibition, crack is eclipsing coke. He called his rule explaining this curious historical fact “the Iron Law of Prohibition”: the harder the police crack down on a substance, the more concentrated the substance will become.

Why? If you run a bootleg bar in Prohibition-era Chicago and you are going to make a gallon of alcoholic drink, you could make a gallon of beer, which one person can drink and constitutes one sale – or you can make a gallon of pucheen, which is so strong it takes thirty people to drink it and constitutes thirty sales. Prohibition encourages you produce and provide the stronger, more harmful drink. If you are a drug dealer in Hackney, you can use the kilo of cocaine you own to sell to casual coke users who will snort it and come back a month later – or you can microwave it into crack, which is far more addictive, and you will have your customer coming back for more in a few hours. Prohibition encourages you to produce and provide the more harmful drug.

For Friedman, the solution was stark: take drugs back from criminals and hand them to doctors, pharmacists, and off-licenses. Legalize. Chronic drug use will be a problem whatever we do, but adding a vast layer of criminality, making the drugs more toxic, and squandering £20bn on enforcing prohibition that could be spent on prescription and rehab, only exacerbates the problem. “Drugs are a tragedy for addicts,” he said. “But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike.”
Read on here for more. Challenge yourself.

LINKS: The one reason I will miss Milton Friedman - Johann Hari, Independent
Milton Friedman dies - Not PC (Nov 17)

RELATED: Victimless Crimes, Cartoon

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New Prisoner?

News for Prisoner fans like myself:
BBC NEWS: Remake for cult show The Prisoner
Patrick McGoohan played Prisoner Number 6 in the original Cult TV series The Prisoner is to be remade into a six-part series for Sky One, the broadcaster has confirmed. Director of programmes Richard Woolfe promised a "thrilling reinvention" of the drama about an ex-secret agent trapped in an isolated village.

Too early however to tell if this is good news. Like all fans of these TV shows, we remember with horror the Avengers film... In the meantime, click to hear this important message from that first series:

"I will not make any deals with you... I've resigned... I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own."

LINK: Remake for cult show The Prisoner [Hat tip Robin T]
The Unmutual. A Website dedicated to the 1960s TV series The Prisoner
The Prisoner for a new generation - Jennie Fiddes, The Unmutual website
Message from The Prisoner - Movie Sound Clips [audio]



Eden Park

Q 1: Given that the bid for the 2011 Rugby World Cup was made on the basis of sub-$100 million temporary stands, and all they have on the table now is a half-a-billion Rolls Royce, do you think the Eden Park Trust Board just saw their chance at piles of your money and went for it?

Q 2: Do you think they'll get it?

Q 3: Do you think they should get it?

RELATED: Model T or Rolls Royce - Brian Rudman, NZ Herald

LINKS: Politics-NZ, Auckland, Stadium


Bullshit Bingo with Key, later today

Watching John Key talk last night on both Close Up and Campbell (with the same lines wheeled out on Larry Williams radio show last night and on Breakfast TV this morning), a friend observed, "He talks a lot, but he says very little."

It's true, isn't it.

How much actual substance do you expect from his "Values Speech" today? Liberty Scott has a list of nine points of substance that he and I would both like to see in that speech, all of which actually mean something, and which taken together would actually "move the country forward" -- one of which, one law for all, Key has already said he's abandoning.

And Scott has another set of nine points ... well, nine nice-sounding empty phrases really ... phraes that, if used, will lose his interest altogether. These, I fear, have much more chance of being wheeled out. Feel-good nothings like, "Government needs to listen (and I'm a good listener)" "Government needs to be smarter" (and just look at me), "social responsibility" (who would want to be thought irresponsible?), and of course something about "families" appearing in the same sentence as "I believe in ..."

Expect more of the froth, and far less (about nine fewer appearances) from the list of substance. In fact, why not try a game of Bullshit Bingo. Score a 'Line' when you hear all of "reaching out," "inclusive," "multicultural," "tolerance," "moving forward," "forward-thinking," "unity," and "I believe..." -- and if you hear all that and "State house" then it's time to yell out "Bingo!" or perhaps "Bullshit!" since that's what you'll have been listening to.

And when he says once again (as he undoubtedly will) that he believes in "inclusiveness" and "tolerance," then bear in mind where he voted on the "litmus test" votes on Civil Unions, legalising prostitution and keeping the drinking age at eighteen.

He voted against.

UPDATE 1: Oh yes, the Herald's John Armstrong has his own ten points. I scored 'Line' by the second time he'd advised Key to "reach out." And once again Armstrong is getting advice from his own typewriter, this time when he advises Key to sack Brash now. "He is too scary to middle New Zealand to be let loose in health, education, social development, housing, accident compensation or state-owned enterprises," says Dumb John. "Too scary" is a pretty odd thing to say about someone for whom "middle New Zealand" voted in droves just one year ago, and supported in even greater proportions in recent polls.

However, given that for all Key's talk of "unity" and his joy in a"united caucus" he hasn't yet and doesn't expect to talk to Brash any time soon ("sometime in the next forty-eight hours"), it would seem Brash is already getting the "You're not welcome" signs.

UPDATE 2: Here's "a further embellishment" to the bingo game, courtesy of David Slack:
Take a drink every time you hear John say anything Helen wouldn't. So much of this is motherhood and apple pie, I think you'll have plenty left in the fridge at the end of the game.
And I think he's likely right.

UPDATE 3: Key's "Values" Speech online now at Scoop. [Click the link to read]

** So how did I do at Bingo? I lost:
  • "unity" - zero occurences
  • "tolerance"/"tolerant" - zero
  • "reaching out" - zero
  • "inclusive" - zero
  • "multicultural" - zero [of course there is this: "we should celebrate the cultural, religious and ethnic differences we all bring to New Zealand."]
  • "moving forward" - zero
  • "forward-thinking" - zero
  • "I believe" - three
  • "State house" - one
** Scott did better. He hoped for:
  • "National’s principles" - one appearance, but perhaps a major one:

    "What you can be assured of is that our policies will always be measured against our core principles. Let me be also clear that I make no excuses for saying those polices will be harvested from wherever we see the best results being achieved.

    I am interested in what works, and not what should, or could, or might work in theory."

  • "Private property rights" - no sign
  • "Personal freedom"- one appearance
  • "One law for all" - "one standard of citizenship"?
  • "Less government is better" - "the appropriate role for the government is in the background, not in the foreground"
  • "More choice in education" - Nothing. But he did mention some problems with zoning last night, and fixing the "underclass" today.
  • "There should be less tax" - Nothing
  • "Dependency on the state is not a virtue" - Not exactly
  • "Law and order is a vital role of government" - Half a mark
** How about Scott's 'Bullshit Bingo' score, the things he hoped would not make an appearance:
  • "Government needs to be smarter" - "I am interested in what works, and not what should, or could, or might work in theory..."
  • "Government needs to listen" - zero references
  • "environment" - four references
  • "families" appeared three times, once in the same sentence as "Personal freedom, individual responsibility, [and] a competitive economy..."
  • "Government needs to help the innovators, creators and employment producers by providing funding…" - nothing
  • "More money for health and education" - nope
  • "Corporate social responsibility" - nope
  • "Inclusiveness" - no sign today
  • "Climate change is the biggest challenge in our time" -
    " one with any awareness of the world can be ignorant of [global warming]... all of us, across the political spectrum, with the exception perhaps of the Greens, have taken too long to put the protection of our environment at the forefront of our thinking. That needs to change. In the National Party we have taken steps to do this, and we will be taking more steps."
    And those steps do not feature property-rights based solutions.
So, about even, wouldn't you say?

** And David Slack's Bingo entry, ie. "Take a drink every time you hear John say anything Helen wouldn't. So much of this is motherhood and apple pie, I think you'll have plenty left in the fridge at the end of the game."

-->NUMBER OF DRINKS TAKEN: One small sip. That quiet sip might just be the clincher.

"There is much, much more to come," says Key. You can say that again. Do we now "know what John Key really stands for" as he promised? No, we don't. Unless that is what he stands for, in which case the answer is "whatever works."

But he did write the whole speech himself.

UPDATE 4: Three useful summaries of the Key Speech:
  1. Ross Elliot at SOLO, Meet the New Boss: "Today, John Key gave his first speech as National Party leader, and it was as bad as I thought it would be. Filled with nothing but bland, soporific pragmatism and third-way, warm 'n' fuzzy, political code-speak, Key's speech says nothing and adds up to nothing. It does, however, reveal everything... Al Gore could have given Key's speech during his 2004 presidential campaign. In fact, I think he did."
  2. David Slack at Public Address, I Have Aspirations Going Forward: "For the most part, though, specifics are not to be found, and this is unfortunate for an aspiring Prime Minister, because it tends to dull the lustre of his vision. In the absence of something to latch on to, you have the appearance of floundering, or, possibly, courting the job for its own sake." Hacking through the Key flannel, David has a quiz to see if you can tell Key's speech from Helen Clark's most recent conference speech.
  3. And even Michael Cullen: Key All Style, No Substance: "The speech tells us what he is not. He is not Don Brash. It doesn't tell us what he is... "Mr Key has yet to demonstrate any substance despite having spent much of the last four years thinking about being the leader of the National Party."
Can you disagree?

LINKS: John Key - excite me - Liberty Scott
Bullshit Bingo - Not PC

Politics-NZ, Politics-National

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NEW SITE - An Artist's Voice: A Radical Perspective

Introducing a New Website, from artist Michael Newberry. Here is part of his statement for it:

An Artist's Voice: A Radical Perspective

The Carrot and The Stick

What motivates you to be the best that you can be? For me, it is the carrot and the stick. By visualizing the best results of my skills and the disasters of my worst attributes, the process somehow manages to kick my butt in gear to correct my mistakes and light a white-hot fire underneath me to relish my best.

Many of you have read the Mini-Tutorials, which show the wonderful ways artists create and solve art problems. Now, I would like to introduce you to my more polemical side, A Radical Perspective. It's a new website on aesthetic commentary.

A Radical Perspective

In the A Radical Perspective, I also link to artists, architects, designers, and philosophers, who are also personal friends of mine. These individuals, in their creations, are making fresh insights and brilliant aesthetic contributions to our culture.

Critic's Credo
Finally, here is my critic's credo taken from A Radical Perspective:

The joy of creation is one of the great gifts of human ability. It is not easy and it is not automatic: there can be many painful twists and turns, and many mistakes made. Yet when it works--when all the complex building blocks come together to express something meaningful--it transports the soul.

Good criticism is about identifying what works and what doesn't. All critics have a perspective and an agenda. Mine is radical: I believe in uncompromising and innovative methods, fundamentals, and art that values human existence.

From that perspective, I hope you will enjoy it when I take off my gloves and engage my more polemical nature.

Enjoy life and art,

Michael Newberry
November 25th, 2006

Monday, 27 November 2006

Dream Team? Or Blancmange.

I castigated the Herald last week for a front page full of crap. John Armstrong is back there today with more of the same.

"The logic" for Key choosing English is "inescapable," says Armstrong, whose opinion on this is presumably on the front page because it's thought to be wisdom. It's not. English as deputy is neither logical nor inescapable, despite what Armstrong might appear to think.

"[Key] needs English working for him rather than operating in isolation," advises Armstrong. Why? What skills or talents does English have that haven't already been examined and rejected overwhelmingly by both the electorate and his colleagues. Armstrong overstates both English's supporters, of which he has few, and his talents, of which he has even fewer -- and none of any quality.

Key needed English's support as deputy to avoid "the impression [on whom?] the caucus is highly factionalised." This is the sort of nonsense that Armstrong used to write about Brash, suggesting that Brash's strong views "factionalised" the caucus, and was thus A Bad Thing. But what's wrong with strong views and honest opposition? It's what happens when you actually have ideas. No problems now, since neither new leader Key nor new leader English have or can articulate a strong view or any ideas of any sort. Just mush.

But I digress.

"Had Brownlee won the vote for deputy] by a narrow margin," continues the Herald's front-page pundit, "[Key] would only have been weakened." How? If Brownlee's supporters are more numerous than English's (which by all accounts they are), then why wouldn't the factionalism created by these Nats be something to consider? And, frankly, how could Key possibly be weakened by side-lining or making opponents of the likes Nick Smith, Tony Ryall and the other dripping wet electoral liabilities known to be English supporters. The earlier those losers are side-lined, the better.

"An English victory," suggests Armstrong, would "[make] it appear he now had a deputy he did not want." But he doesn't want him. We know that. Key is only taking English for the same reasons of faux-solidarity that Armstrong espouses here -- but no one is fooled for a moment.

There are concerns about Key, notes Armstrong, who ignores the most important concern that he stand for nothing.

There are concerns about him "getting the front bench to weigh in behind his leadership," says Armstrong, and "his relative inexperience but abundant cockiness." "Getting English on board in an oversight capacity goes a long way to dispelling those concerns," says the sage of the front page. This is just nonsense, isn't it. That's a front bench that needs sacking not sucking up to, and English's "experience" is no more than a long history of failure and mush-peddling. Seeking "oversight" from such a man would be like seeking it from the current England rugby coach.

And here's the kicker for Armstrong as a pundit: "Another driver is English becoming deputy is Key's need to harness [English's] policy grunt in the crucial shadow finance portfolio... " Policy grunt"? From English? You can lay all English's "discussion papers" from end-to-end (and you could almost wallpaper a waterfront stadium with the pages full of bilge you will find there) but of either grunt or a conclusion in any of them there is none. Grunt? Oh, please! And to place English in that role is to exclude from it a man described by Professor James Allan this morning (correctly) as "probably the most economically literate political leader in the world."

This is not "logical," it is dumb.

The media are talking up English now in this fashion in the same way they talked him up before his own disastrous reign as leader, and it's quite simply because he's one of them in a way that Brash never was. Unlike both Key and English, Brash actually stood for something, and that he did and was prepared to stand up for it frightened his advisers, his caucus and his political opposition -- but it was something the public embraced in a way they never embraced the mush of English, or the muddled-speech of Shipley.

In the end, for me this is the chief concern I have about both English and Key and the leadership coup they've helped effect. They stand for nothing except "management," which is to leave open the question, "Management, to what end?"

Both English and Key have spent much time and energy undermining Brash, trying to roll Brash, or to have him rolled, all in order that one or other of them can be leader -- but now we must ask what did they actually want to be leader for?

It's clear enough that it wasn't to put in place their vision (they have none). It wasn't to have their party stand for something (they stand for nothing). It wasn't even that they had particular objections to Brash's policy prescriptions (only objections as to how "the public" might "perceive" those prescriptions).

No, they both wanted to be leader and did what they could to make it happen (including undermining their previous leader) for fairly simple reasons -- reasons enough to get Key out of his not-so-humble career in business, and to keep English in parliament after the electoral flogging he received in 2002 : They both want power. They both want their egos stroked. This is the next-to-top job and they want it, not for what they can do in the job, but for what the job can do for them.

Which leaves the question of where exactly this leadership duo will "lead" National, and the answer is that neither yet knows. Key will sense the way the wind is blowing -- along the lines, probably, of how he reacted to Al Gore's nonsense, of which Key said airily after Gore's Auckland lecture, "it pushed all my buttons" -- and English will write more vapid "discussion papers," and both will effect a stance when they need to, but both will grant their opponents the ability to set their political principles for them since neither have any of their own to repair to.

Consider: What is a leader for? Answer: to lead, not to follow. Did either English or Key want to become leader in order to advance particular policies and principles that they believe in; that would advance the specific goals they seek for the country; policies, principles and goals that they passionately believe would lead to an improvement for the country and the people in it? No, not at all. Instead, they seek the reverse. They will seek policies to advance goals (about which they will care little) in order only that they can espouse what they think will cement them in place as leaders. That's the extent of their commitment to policy (to say nothing, quite literally, of principle). They will not seek to lead policy debate, and so by default they will end up following it -- they will not be advocates, but straws in the wind.

It is not leadership they really want, it is just the leader's job. Just the power, but without a purpose. And we are back to the criticism made abundantly with National under English and Shipley before: that here is a party that will believe everything and stand for nothing; a party still in search of a political philosophy; a the same Blancmange party appearing again before us now, even as the man who took them to their highest place in the polls for years is being shown the door by the men who have coveted his job for so long.

The irony is that the public (by their polling) showed they were more than happy to accept the vision for the country put forward by Brash, and it was his caucus colleagues and press gallery cockroaches like Armstrong who sought to undermine the vision with the claims the public couldn't accept that vision when offered straight. Brash proved the pundits wrong, and to do that is simply unforgiveable.

No wonder Brash could never fit the National Party caucus, or meet the expectations of a press gallery full of Armstrongs. In the end he was simply never spineless enough to fit in.

UPDATE: Key has responded to claims today and over the weekend that no one knows what he stands for by promising to deliver a speech tomorrow that will do so, a "kind of 'Values' speech," he calls it. If his chat with Larry Williams this afternoon is any indication, expect words like the following to feature strongly -- "tolerant," "inclusive," "multicultural," "State house," "aspirational" -- and for us to be none the wiser afterwards.

But I'm happy to be proved wrong.

LINKS: Hager, Brash and Herald humbug - Not PC
Without Brash, New Zealand will suffer - James Allan, Australian
Key puts 'dream team' together - John Armstrong, NZ Herald

Politics-NZ, Politics-National

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