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Teflon Man No More

19 September 2014 3 comments

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teflon man

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On 26 August, as Nicky Hager’s expose on New Zealand’s right wing politics hit public consciousness and confirmed our worst fears, I wrote,

“Dirty Politics” has achieved more than simply revealing  unwholesome machinations between National party apparatchiks, ministers, and halfway-insane right-wing bloggers. The book has explained the nature of Key’s seemingly “Teflon” nature. The secret is revealed; the mystery is stripped away; and now, when Key is confronted by a media pack, the brown smelly stuff is sticking to him.

Two days later, I repeated my belief that Key’s seemingly air-of-invulnerability had been swept away;

The Teflon Man is no more. He has been terminally weakened by his own ‘kryptonite’ – truth.

My perception of Key’s new status as just another garden-variety politician has been born out by this extraordinary exchange between TV3’s Lisa Owen, and our soon-to-be replaced Prime Minister;

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Lisa owen - john key - TV3 - The Nation - election 2014

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Until 7.05, the rather routine discussion between Owen and Key centers around National’s options to govern, post election. Coalition options and minority government are discussed, and Key confidently handles each scenario thrown at him by the host.

At 7.05, however, matters take a turn for the worst for Key when Lisa Owen raised the subject of child poverty and asked Key,

“One of the big issues this election has been child poverty. And you have said, just last year, you said ‘we are proud of the government’s record  tackling child poverty. Do you stand by that?”

Key replied,

“I absolutely I do.”

At Owen’s further questioning, Key responded by saying that he was proud of his government’s track record in dealing with child poverty.

Owen then lobbed this “grenade” at him, namely a quote from John Key himself, reported  in the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 September.

  “Our opponents say more children are living in poverty than when we came into office. And that’s probably right.”

This frank admission runs counter to every line uttered by Key, Paula Bennett, other National ministers, right wing commentators and bloggers, et al. In fact, with four simple words, Key has effectively demolished his own government’s insistence that child poverty has been reducing over the last six years. Crosby Textor’s spin doctors must have collectively moaned in despair when they read that comment.
From this point on, Key squirmed uncomfortably as he tried to wriggle out from this admission to the Sydney Morning Herald – including at one point revealing his frustration by  blurting out (@ 9.15),
“Lisa, don’t be silly!”
Owen persisted challenging Key as he tried to wiggle out of his SMH comments – but she would have none of it.
For possibly the first time since Stephen Sackur interviewed Key on Hard Talk in May, 2011, this was a moment when our Prime Minister faced serious hard questioning and was not allowed to wriggle his way out with nonsensical, glib answers.

Since Nicky Hager’s revelations and the sacking of Judith Collins, Key’s preternatural teflon-shield has been stripped away. He is now just another politician, and if by some miracle he successfully leads the next government post 20 September, he will find  his interactions with journalists becoming harder and harder.

It may not be what he says that lowers his esteem in the public eye. It will be the way he says it.

Lisa Owen was simply the first.

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References

TV3:  John Key – Minority government possible

Sydney Morning Herald: The Key factor

Youtube-BBC:  John Key on Hardtalk (Part 2)

Previous related blogposts

The Rise and Fall of John Key – who will be the next Leader of the National Party?

“Dirty Politics” – the fall-out continues


 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 September 2014

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It’s official: ACT’s Jamie Whyte is several-sandwiches-and-a-salad short of a picnic

19 September 2014 3 comments

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mad ACT tea party

 

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There aren’t very many times I agree wholeheartedly with our Dear Leader – but on this occassion I believe he spoke for those 99% of New Zealanders for whom common sense is as natural as breathing air.

ACT – with it’s long line of loopy leaders and coterie of strange MPs – has a record for saying and doing things that can best be described as “unwise” (in a Judith Collins sense of the word) – or just down-right Full Moon Barking Mad to be bluntly honest.

Case in point;

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Election 2014 - Act policy a 'recipe for disaster' - Key

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Whyte’s comments were further reported;

Dr Whyte said he had no view on what weapons shopkeepers should arm themselves with but believed firearms were appropriate, “if they felt that there was sufficient threat”.

Full. Moon. Barking. Mad.

When Whyte offered his views on incest on the blog,  “The Ruminator“, ACT’s opponants (and there are plenty of them); the MSM, and blogosphere reacted with disbelief, derision and exasperation.

Personally, I took it as the musings of an “philosopher-intellectual” who had spent way too much time isolated in dusty University halls and had only recently returned to Planet Earth to mingle with us mere humans.  Kind of akin to a left-wing Labour candidate musing out loud about enforced re-nationalisation of all privatised state assets,  or their National counterpart musing out loud about banning all trade unions. Definitely  stuff not meant for public consumption and best kept to one-self.

Except it appears that the incest gaffe was not an isolated incident, and Jamie Whyte’s insane suggestion to allow store owners to “bear arms”  now  confirms his reputation as someone whose grip on reality is questionable.

It was left up to the Prime Minister, New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores chairman, Roger Bull, and others, to inject some sanity into this American Gothic nightmare scenario that an ostensibly  sober Jamie Whyte was casually promoting as a new way of life.

Key pointed out the obvious;

“The reason I think it’s a bad idea is that firstly you’d be putting weapons in the hands of people that are not trained.

Those weapons could be used [against] the very shopkeepers themselves. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

And Roger Bull said matter-of-factly;

“Our policy has always been if there’s a robbery, you comply with the instructions of the person and you do not try to do anything quick or sudden because you don’t know the mental state [of the offender].

You comply and get them out of the way as quick as possible.”

Let me illustrate the type of  wacky-doodle idea that Whyte is flirting with.

Soon after the September 11 attacks, more than one individual – exhibiting a decidedly  dubious capacity for logic – suggested on several internet fora, that passengers be allowed  to carry guns on flights, to protect against further terrorist attacks.

Yeah. Because gunfights on aircraft flying at high altitudes, is just such an amazingly good idea! Add to the scenario of gun-packing passengers,  growing incidences of  alcohol-fuelled high-altititude  high-jinks, and the threat of hijacking becomes the least of our worries.

Take the same concept of people feeling threatened by random, high-profile crimes from 10,000 metres, and relocate it to West Auckland, and the only difference is the absence of the likelihood of explosive decompression when bullets miss their intended targets.

There is a disturbing bizarre pattern to Whyte’s pattern of “thinking”. Whether it is simplistic notions of removing the Resource Management Act or Three Strikes for burglary, his “solutions” are predicated on a naive, almost  black and white world-view, that is reminiscent of an adolescent who has yet  to come to terms with the complexities of society. Generally, pre-adolescent teenagers, when faced with pressing social issues and problems, will  arrive at simplistic, knee-jerk “solutions” based on little more than their own limited life-experiences.

For a supposedly mature, well-educated, worldly individual to express similar naive beliefs suggests that Whyte’s own intellectual development has been ‘arrested’ at some point in his youth and has not progressed to understanding that the world around him is a vastly  complex, messy, inter-twined mass of human threads. Tug on one thread, and there is no telling where that pressure will be exerted.

It does not take a genius to figure out what is wrong with the picture of allowing store owners to keep firearms for “self defence”.

Aside from how such weapons would be stored – under the counter? Easily stolen or picked up by kids. Locked away – then not much use to a store owner facing a robbery situation.

Or a gunfight in a store with other customers present – who else would be injured or killed?

Whyte obviously has not thought the issue through to it’s ultimate, deadly conclusion.  And if he has, and if he is simply exploiting the tragedy of  murdered shop-keepers for political gain to win votes – what does that make him?

I would be hard-pressed to work out which is worse; a parliamentary aspirant with a stupid idea that would most likely end up killing more innocent people?

Or a parliamentary aspirant with an idea that is exploitative of other people’s grief , just to win votes?

Even the right-wing, lock’em-up-throw-away-the-key, Sensible Sentencing spokesperson, Ruth Money, opposed “a crazy increase of firearms behind every counter“.

When even the so-called “Sensible Sentencing” recognise a patently lunatic proposal, you just know it’s a step too far into Wacky-doodle Land

Perhaps Whyte should have stuck with legalising  incest. After all, what’s the worst that can result from incest? Idiot people with idiot ideas?

 

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References

NZ Herald:  Act policy a ‘recipe for disaster’ – Key

The Ruminator: Mr Ryght: An interview with ACT leader: Jamie Whyte

Previous related blogposts

ACT leader, Jamie Whyte, refutes cliched stereotype of solo-mothers?

Letter to the Editor: A great business opportunity, courtesy of ACT

And this is why we call them Right Wing Nut Jobs


 

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 September 2014

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Letters to the Editor – Spies, Lies, Five Eyes, and other matters on a Sunday afternoon

19 September 2014 Leave a comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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Sharing a few thoughts and observations with newspaper editors around the country…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the Editor

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
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Our esteemed Prime Minister refers to visiting Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, as “Dotcom’s little henchman”.

Mr Key knows a thing about “henchmen”. Rightwing bloggers Cameron Slater and David Farrar spring to mind.

After all, Key admitted to being in regular contact with Slater, and ex-Minister Judith Collins fed the extremist blogger personal details of civil servants (and god knows who else).

What was that about “henchmen”, Mr Key?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Listener
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John Key claims that visiting internationally acclaimed, pulitizer-prize winning,  investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, is on Kim Dotcom’s payroll;

“Let’s understand what’s going on here. Kim Dotcom is paying Glenn Greenwald to come to New Zealand a week before an election and he’s trying to influence New Zealanders…”

Aside from the fact that Mr Greenwald rejects Key’s allegations outright – how would the Prime Minister know?

Has he or the GCSB been spying on Mr Greenwald?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Otago Daily Times

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It’s disappointing to see the number of National Party supporters who so casually dismiss the growing power of the State to spy on us; collect data on our communications; and – as Jason Ede, Judith Collins, and Paula Bennett showed – to mis-use our personal information for political ends.

For many John Key supporters, the phrase “nothing to hide” rolls easily of their keyboards as they post their naive views on various on-line fora.

The irony is that many of them then sign off with an anonymous pseudonym.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Waikato Times <editor@waikatotimes.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Waikato Times
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Our esteemed Prime Minister has employed the threat of “terrorists” in the past to frighten New Zealanders into accepting increased GCSB surveillance on our society.

The latest fear-threat is “cyber attacks” from off-shore, saying,

“Last weekend, Spark was brought to its knees because some people clicked on malware which brought the network down. Cyber risk is exponentially rising. This is about protecting secrets rather than getting secrets.”

Key has doggedly likened the GCSB to “a Norton anti-virus at a high level”, saying it works against malware.

I have anti-spyware and anti-malware on my computer, and (as far as I know), it’s function does not include spying on my activities, communications, movements, or contacts with other people.

Since when does malware protection demand surveillance over the entire population?

And why does he think we are gullible enough to believe it?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: The Press <letters@press.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
The Press

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Esteemed Prime Minister, John Key has contemptuosly dismissed pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald’s claims of mass surveillance by the GCSB. He insists,

“There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB and there never has been. Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

Are we to take Mr Key at his solemn word?

Is this the same solemn word where he recently dismissed another investigative journalist’s claims;

“Mr Hager’s making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct.”

And,

“At the end of the day we’re five weeks out from an election, people can see that Nicky Hager’s made a whole lot of things up in his book, (they) can see he can’t back a lot of them up. People can see this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

Seventeen days after the launch of “Dirty Politics” , Judith Collins was forced to resign from her ministerial portfolios.

Whenever an investigative journalist uncovers something unpleasant about Mr Key’s government it always seems to be the Prime Minister who comes off second best.

 

Why is that, I wonder?

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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national-we-will-give-you-honest-government

 

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Southland Times <editor@stl.co.nz>
date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Southland Times
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Tribal politics appears to be a prime motivating reason for National supporters to be casually dismissive of concerns that the GCSB has been conducting mass surveillance and our esteemed Prime Minister has been less than upfront with the New Zealand public.

Key’s dogged dismissiveness of investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, reminds me of the PM’s equally dogged dismissiveness of Nickey Hager “Dirty Politics” expose, where Key categorically stated,

“Mr Hager’s making claims he can’t back up and they’re not factually correct…  At the end of the day we’re five weeks out from an election, people can see that Nicky Hager’s made a whole lot of things up in his book, (they) can see he can’t back a lot of them up. People can see this is a smear campaign by Nicky Hager.”

And yet, Hager’s expose resulted in the sacking/resignation of one minister and a current Inquiry into how the SIS released sensitive information to rightwing blogger and National Party activist, Cameron Slater.

In case National supporters are still dismissive of Glenn Greenwald’s revelations, they might care to ponder the fact that governments change. The same surveillance used by a National-led government can be conducted equally by a left-wing government against it’s right-wing opponants.

I suspect that may motivate National supporters to suddenly sit up and take a closer interest in these matters.

-Frank Macskasy

[address & phone number supplied]

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That should give Dear Leader’s media spin doctors a few issues to deal with.

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References

Radio NZ: Revelations could cause ‘diplomatic blowback’

NZ Herald: He’s Dotcom’s little henchman: PM attacks journalist’s spy claims

NZ Herald: The GCSB does not conduct mass surveillance on Kiwis – Key

 


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dear-leader-is-watching

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 September 2014

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