Saturday, 7 March 2009

Barack O’Prompter [updated]

PrompterPres The Obamessiah has a new title. He's now President Teleprompter.  "Yes, even the New York Times is saying he's addicted,” notes Jack Wheeler, who reckons he can't give a speech or make the simplest announcement without it.  There's even a website now:

UPDATE: The magisterial Thomas Sowell has more serious criticisms of the Messiah.  “What he proposes under the guise of change has been tried for more than two decades between the two world wars, and it failed –- disastrously! -- and helped to bring on the Second World War.” [Hat tip Jason Q]

Friday, 6 March 2009

Not PC’s week, to 6 March

How was your week, customers?  Here at NOT PC the weather has been fine, if variable; the wind has been firm, but gusty; and the debate has been vitriolic, and frequently misguided.  The most well-read post over the last seven days was … drum roll please … a ‘debate’ about children holding signs, which got folk  more incensed than what those children were holding signs.  Galt save us!

So the most well-read posts this week were, in order:

Thanks for reading NOT PC.  It would have been awful lonely if none of you had showed up.

Cheers, Peter Cresswell

Good news from the Western Front

  • :Let’s have a Global New Deal!
  • Hail Comrade Obama:

Beer O’Clock: A dinner-party top ten

image002 While awaiting the return of our fearless beer pioneers Neil and Stu to the hallowed territory that is Beer O’Clock, your correspondent PC has cast his eye abroad, and between making libations of Guinness and (this afternoon) Kilkenny to the great god Bacchus has uncovered an Anglo-centric top ten of beers that might ensure you  take a beer or six to your next dinner party instead that treacherous grape.

You might call it your dinner-party top ten, if you can track down a friendly bottle store.

Read 10 of the best beers.

Sexual ethics

I’m just overhearing a discussion on Leighton  Smith’s radio show that encompasses teenage vaccines, teenage sex, and the importance of being a virgin at marriage.

Most of the callers, not to mention the host, seem to have the lemon-sucking idea that abstinence is some sort of moral virtue; that sex outside marriage is wrong: that non-married persons must avoid promiscuous sex because the act of sex is bad – an idea derived largely from bogus religious morality, and promoted by Puritans everywhere.


I’d like to contrast that with Objectivist morality, which suggests that one shouldn’t be promiscuous because sex is so good.

I’d like to point you to a good discussion of Ayn Rand’s view of monogamy.  And I’d like to point you to a good Objectivist fisking of the idea of virginity.  So I will:

Nimbys 3, Ellis 20.

marc_ellis_posed_2 On the occasion of magnate Marc Ellis and his four surfing buddies being so graciously granted permission to build a cafe at Piha on their own land, we have been sent a copy of an email from one Charles A. Nimby to purse-lipped wowser Sandra Coney, who heroically and almost single-handedly delayed the project for three years.

Date: Mar 3, 2009 2:41 PM
Subject: Not in my backyard!

Dear Sandy,

    This Environment Court decision is just so typical of the new mood sweeping across our country - one of optimism, hope and a culture where hard work and success are celebrated.
    It is deplorable. 
    Bring back mediocrity, antagonism and envy.
    Fronted by Ellis, a man who has achieved far too much in his short life already and brought nothing but humour and happiness to New Zealanders around the country, and supported by 4 others who have far too many friends, make the most out of life, and have a hunger to make a difference - this venture is a disgrace. 
    Heaven forbid, given their past history and positive attitudes they may even make a prosperous success of this venture, bring joy and charm to Piha and even employ some motivated people who would be much better off getting handouts subsidised by earnest rich pricks like these chaps.
    Guys like them get all the breaks - and it's just not fair.  Good job they have had to battle through a ridiculously long, pointless and expensive court case.
    I wish the site had been gifted to the highly competent ARC, who would keep it looking shabby, desolate, gloomy and lugubrious. This country needs more misery and boredom.
    With a half empty glass I salute you,

Charles A. Nimby.

Are you Going John Galt? [update 2]

Are you Going John Galt?  I ask, because as The Reign of The Obamessiah kicks in, more and more Americans are going on strike, and “Going John Galt.”  Explains Michelle Malkin, who characterises it as ‘Going Galt’: America's Wealth Producers Vs. Wealth Redistributors,

rockefeller2-200x300    Enough. In a word, that is the message of disgusted taxpayers fed up with the confiscatory policies of both parties in Washington. George Bush pre-socialized the economy with billion-dollar bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Barack Obama is pouring billions more down those sinkholes. It isn't just the camel's back that's broken. His neck and four legs have all snapped, too…
    Enough. Last Friday, thousands of Americans turned out to protest reckless government spending in the pork-laden stimulus package, the earmark-clogged budget bill, the massive mortgage-entitlement program and taxpayer-funded corporate rescues… The ‘Tea Party’ participants held homemade signs that said it all: "Your mortgage is not my problem"; "Liberty: All the stimulus we need"; "No taxation without deliberation."     
    While they take to the streets [in protest] politically, untold numbers of America's wealth 22185producers are going on strike financially. Dr. Helen Smith, a Tennessee forensic psychologist and political blogger, dubbed the phenomenon "Going Galt" last fall. It's a reference to the famed Ayn Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged," in which protagonist John Galt leads the entrepreneurial class to cease productive activities in order to starve the government of revenue. (Not incidentally, Rand's novel sales are up and John Galt references punctuated many of the Tea Party demonstrations.)

For those who’ve not yet read Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the John Galt reference is to a near-mythical character who symbolises resistance to a collapsing statist culture.  (If I say any more, I’ll spoil it for you.)

Now pay attention: these people who are appropriated the symbol of John Galt are not, for the most part, Objectivists.  They simply understand the power of the John Galt character as symbol of their resistance.  As Robert Tracinscki explains excitedly, we’re seeing cultural change before our eyes in the visceral reaction to the tipping point of Barack’s Big Government, and the reaching for symbols in that struggle:

    Can you believe it? I've been toiling in the Objectivist cause for a little more than two decades, and I have never seen this before. Objectivists are not driving this new cultural reference to Ayn Rand's work and ideas. It has been taken up by people outside of the Objectivist movement who in many cases have only a vague knowledge of her writings, who have independently appropriated our symbols and ideas to explain what they see going on in the world around them.
This is a watershed moment for Ayn Rand's influence on the culture.

Tracinscki identifies the first public appearance of the Going John Galt movement as this ABC story, which “found and talked to some of the upper-middle-class individuals who Obama expects to pay for his socialist utopia, and the reporter finds that many of them still believe that they earned their wealth and are not eager to work for the benefit of government bureaucrats and welfare-state freeloaders.”

"Upper-Income Taxpayers Look for Ways to Sidestep Obama Tax-Hike Plan," 
Emily Friedman, ABC News, March 2
    President Barack Obama's tax proposal—which promises to increase taxes for those families with incomes of $250,000 or more—has some Americans brainstorming ways to decrease their pay in an attempt to avoid paying higher taxes on every dollar they earn over the quarter million dollar mark.
    A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law…. "We have to find a way out where we can make just what we need to just under the line so we can benefit from Obama's tax plan," she added. "Why kill yourself working if you're going to give it all away to people who aren't working as hard?"…
    Obama's budget proposal calls for $989 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years, most of which will be earned from increased taxes on individuals who make more than $200,000 and from families who make more than $250,000.
    The expiration of the Bush administration's tax cuts at the end of 2010 would garner an estimated $338 billion, $179 billion would come from reducing the size of some itemized deductions, such as mortgage interest and charitable donations, for higher-income taxpayers, and $118 billion would be brought in from a hike in the capital gains tax. The remaining $353 billion would come from taxes on businesses….
    Dr. Sharon Poczatek, who runs her own dental practice in Boulder, Colo., said that she too is trying to figure out ways to get out of paying the taxes proposed in Obama's plan….
    "The motivation for a lot of people like me—dentists, entrepreneurs, lawyers—is that the more you work the more money you make," said Poczatek. "But if I'm going to be working just to give it back to the government—it's de-motivating and demoralizing."…
    "Those who are going to be taxed more are obviously going to complain but I think they may miss the point," said Lisa Rotenstein, the chair of the Harvard Healthcare Policy Group at the Institute of Politics. "This could have broader implications for the American economy as a whole improved health care means a healthier workforce that is more productive," said Rotenstein….
    "I'd like these people to know that we pay a lot of taxes, and have been paying a lot of taxes through the past administration," said Pcozatek. "We make a lot of money, it's true, but we also already pay a lot of taxes," she said.
     "So maybe we got a little bit successful but we worked very hard," she said. "It's taken us over 30 years and it didn't happen overnight. Every day is a lot of work.
    "We're working for it and we're still overtaxed."

BTW, if you are going Galt, then Helen Smith would like to talk to you at Pyjamas TV.

And I’d like to watch.

UPDATE 1: Oswald Bastable reminds me that the JGALT numberplate is still available, in NZ at least.

UPDATE 2: This excerpt from Atlas Shrugged lays out the moral issue at stake here.  As Paul Hsieh points out in the context of the Tea Parties, it is the morality behind ‘Going John Galt’ that people need to grasp. “Protesters must couple their outrage at bailouts with a positive vision of a properly limited government,” he says.

And Robert Tracinscki points out “we will need more than just a political rebellion against the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress. We will need to engage in an ideological struggle, a battle of ideas. Columnist Monica Crowley named it best early last week when she called for a "21st century Boston Tea Party" and said that we needed a "second American revolution of ideas," "of getting back to the ideals of limited government, of constitutional parameters on government power, of individual liberty, and of the free market."

People ‘Going John Galt’ are getting it emotionally – these words below are part of what they now need to give voice to those emotions, an excerpt called elsewhere ‘The Martyrdom of the Industrialists.’  They appear in the context of a conversation between a self-made steel producer seriously hampered by a government seemingly intent on his destruction, Henry Rearden, and a ‘rebel’ who wants to give words to Rearden’s own frustrations:

     "You take pride in setting no limit to your endurance, Mr. Rearden, because you think that you are doing right. What if you aren't? What if you're placing your virtue in the service of evil and letting it become a tool for the destruction of everything you love, respect and admire? Why don't you uphold your own code of values among men as you do among iron smelters? You who won't allow once per cent of impurity into an alloy of metal - what have you allowed into your moral code?
"You, who would not submit to the hardships of nature, but set out to conquer it and placed it in the service of your joy and your comfort - to what have you submitted at the hands of men? You, who know from your work that one bears punishment only for being wrong - what have you been willing to bear and for what reason?
    “All your life, you have heard yourself denounced, not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues. You have been hated, not for your mistakes, but for your achievements. You have been scorned for all those qualities of character which are your highest pride. You have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity. You have been called antisocial for the vision that made you venture upon undiscovered roads. You have been called ruthless for the strength and self-discipline of your drive to your purpose. You have been called greedy for the magnificence of your power to create wealth. You, who've expanded an inconceivable flow of energy, have been called a parasite. You, who've created abundance where there had been nothing but wastelands and helpless, starving men before you, have been called a robber. You, who've kept them all alive, have been called an exploiter. You, the purest and more moral man among them, have been sneered at as a 'vulgar materialist.' Have you stopped to ask them: by what right? - by what code? - by what standard? No, you have borne it all and kept silent. You bowed to their code and you never upheld your own. You knew what exacting morality was needed to produce a single metal nail, but you let them brand you as immoral. You knew that man needs the strictest code of values to deal with nature, but you left the deadliest weapon in the hands of your enemies, a weapon you never suspected or understood.
    Their moral code is their weapon.
    Ask yourself what it is that a code of moral values does to a man's life, and why he can't exist without it, and what happens to him if he accepts the wrong standard, by which the evil is the good. Shall I tell you why you're drawn to me, even though you think you ought to damn me? It's because I'm the first man who has given you what the whole world owes you and what you should have demanded of all men before you dealt with them: a moral sanction. . .
    "You're guilty of a great sin, Mr. Rearden, much guiltier than they tell you, but not in the way they preach. The worst guilt is to accept an undeserved guilt - and that is what you have been doing all your life. You have been paying blackmail, not for your vices, but for your virtues. You have been willing to carry the load of an unearned punishment - and to let it grow heavier the greater the virtues you practiced. But your virtues were those which keep men alive. Your own moral code - the one you lived by, but never stated, acknowledged or defended - was the code that preserves man's existence. If you were punished for it, what was the nature of those who punished you? Yours was the code of life. What, then, is theirs? What standard of values lies at its root? What is its ultimate purpose? Do you think that what you're facing is merely a conspiracy to seize your wealth? You, who know the source of wealth, should know it's much more and much worse than that.
    Did you ask me to name man's motive power? Man's motive power is his moral code. Ask yourself where their code is leading you and what it offers you as your final goal. A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, is to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that be build the furnace, besides. By their own statement, it is they who need you and have nothing to offer you in return. By their own statement, you must support them because they cannot survive without you. Consider the obscenity of offering their impotence and their need - their need of you - as a justification for your torture. Are you willing to accept it? Do you care to purchase - at the price of your great endurance, at the price of your agony - the satisfaction of the needs of your own destroyers? . . .
    "If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders - what would you tell him to do?"
    "I... don't know. What... could he do? What would you tell him?"
    "To shrug."

That’s precisely what so many producers are doing now as they slowly wake up to the nature of their enemy, and it’s glorious to watch.

John Banks sticks his hand in your pocket

John Banks made an election promise two years ago that Auckland ratepayers would not have to stump up for the Rugby World Cup.

John Banks has just announced this morning the imposition of a $23-per-head charge on ratepayers specifically for the Rugby World Cup.

So much for election promises.

But it's important, says Banks (who I still like to call the Minister for Rhyming Slang). It's "for the collective good," he says. 

What’s that?  The collective good, you say?  But the idea of a "collective good" is a non-existent concept.  It's an anti-concept: one that wipes out a real concept, i.e., individual good. 

You see, 'good' requires a valuer: good has meaning only as a value to someone: it pertains only to an individual valuer.  I can only have meaning in that context: what’s valuable to an individual, by their own independent judgement. 

So what "collective good" really means then is that someone -- a community "leader," a politician, a busybody – has decided that “the community” is going to play for their choices.  For their values. And if you don’t stump up, they’ll be getting out the big stick.

It’s not about “the good.”  It’s about politics.  If individual ratepayers valued the Rugby World Cup enough, they would stump up voluntarily to make up whatever shortfall is identified.  The fact that Banks is having to use force betrays the fact that they don’t.

It’s not even about economics. 

Banks says that the $23-per-head charge on ratepayers is an “investment.”  An investment. 

Let’s think about that for a moment.  Investment is a subset of productive expenditure.  An  investment can be defined as “productive expenditure for goods and services which make productive sales.”  

How does’ Banks’s pseudo-investment fit that bill?

In the unlikely event that the money was to be recouped, then that might conceivably be an investment.  But even then it wouldn’t be ratepayers who recouped the “investment,” but Auckland businesses – and since Auckland businessmen seeking to make a profit on such an “investment” are manifestly not queuing up either to stump up voluntarily, then we can easily see their own evaluation of  the prospects of such a profit; they have demonstrably already dismissed the idea that such an outlay would be recouped.

Which means that what the Minister for Rhyming Slang is applying here is a uniquely political concept of investment: which is “unproductive expenditure for economic white elephants which only make sense to a politician. “

In other words, you’ll be helping to pay for John Banks’s re-election campaign – which he undoubtedly intends to run off the back of a Rugby World Cup vibe.

Which means this is just another example of how bad thinking (in this case, the non-existent concept of "collective good") leads to bad politics: you paying for something you don’t want.

It’s not common sense at all: it’s politics – as RWC 2011 has been since Auckland won it.

Blushing – Terry Miura


I really like the depth, the three dimensionality, that the artist gets in this small (20x10”) plein-air painting.  And I do like pieces that exaggerate the proportions (in this case vertically) and then really use that, as this piece does. [Hat tip Michael Newberry].  Check out Terry’s other work here at his home page.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Cuba, Cats & Cullen


 DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S – A weekly commentary on some of this week’s news items by Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath . . .

  • Wairarapa Powers World-First Web Shop – Unfortunately, online electricity broker Powershop - who use Masterton as the base for its call centre - have used imagery of international terrorist and mass murderer Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara to promote its product. Guevara once said if the [Cuban] missiles had remained, his government would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York. He was also a bloodthirsty sociopathic killer, who delighted in executing his political opponents in front of their families; he once dispatched a 14 year old boy, who refused to kneel before Guevara, by shooting him in the back of the neck. Powershop join the other useful idiots with their Che T-shirts and tattoos in denial about the true character of their hero.
  • Lugar Report Gives Momentum To Anti-Embargo Push – Senior Republican Party senator Richard Lugar has called for a fresh look at the American trade embargo imposed on Cuba by the Kennedy administration. I personally support the notion of free trade, and believe the U.S. should allow its producers to trade with Cuba. Free trade tends to promote peace, as nations don’t tend to pick fights with their major trading partners.
  • Farmers’ Prescription For The Jobs Summit – While they got some things right, too many of the suggestions from Federated Farmers involved asking the government to shove its nose into areas where it has no right to be. Good points were the calls for avoidance of job subsidies and protectionism; and support for the 90-day probation period for new employees in small businesses. Bad points included advocating minor tinkering with the Emissions Trading Scheme instead of its outright abolition; and forcing taxpayers to fund rural ‘infrastructure’, broadband, research and development, and agricultural training centres. Overall, too much entrenchment of Nanny in the farming sector for my liking.
  • Cullen Plans To Become Treaty Settlement Negotiator – The arrogant little weasel has given Bill English his worthless train set to play with, while he (Cullen) jumps from one gravy train onto the next one. Anyone who opposes ‘inside trading’ will surely be upset about Cullen, as a former Treaty Negotiations Minister, wanting to work for one of the various tribes trying to milk yet more money from taxpayers who weren’t around when the real and alleged infringements of the Treaty took place, and whose ancestors may not have been here at the time either.
  • Terror Tenants Told To Get Out – Vermin such as the Salt family in West Auckland, and gang associates and their families from Pomare in Lower Hutt are being told to sling their hooks and find accommodation in the private sector. Poor darlings - hopefully no private landlord will take them on as tenants, and they will end up on the doorstep of the parents who raised the little sociopaths in the first place - justice indeed, as the chickens literally come home to roost. Meantime, a bouquet to Housing NZ for showing some spine and kicking these bums right out of their comfort zone, and hopefully away from the innocent neighbours they have repeatedly terrorized and assaulted.
  • Gig Review: The Stray Cats At The Power Station – The world’s premiere rockabilly combo played the final concert on their Australasian jaunt last night in Auckland. Having bought their vinyl records in the 1980s, it was a thrill to see them live on their farewell tour. Brian, Lee and Jim – you were superb. Thanks for the memories. 

See y’all next week!  Dr Richard McGrath

The Paradox of Thrift: “Wrong” [updated]

Why, in the current crisis, are governments so keen to promote spending?  What’s the theory behind all the giveaways and the shopping subsidies?  It’s based on something Keynes called the Paradox of Thrift, and like most of his nostrums it’s wrong, wrong, wrong

Bernard Hickey investigates the Paradox of Thrift in this four-minute video, and finds its wrong -- which means saving more makes sense and government handouts don’t make sense.

Fancy that.

It might sound like Economics 101, but what Bernard’s trying to remedy is some of the Keynesian crap students are actually taught in 101.

UPDATE:  On the subject of Econ 101, CATO’s Clifford Thies looks at the evolution of this particular bad idea through the textbooks.  Read The Paradox of Thrift: RIP.

And Robert Murphy points out, contra Krugman, that just because we're in a situation like this, it doesn’t mean that normal economic rules don't apply.   Does "Depression Economics" Change the Rules? No, it doesn’t.  Foolishness is foolishness, whenever and wherever it occurs.

NOT PJ: Our Stories, Our Songs, Our Selves, God Help Us

‘C’ is for cultural cringe, says Bernard Darnton . . .

BernardDarnton Sesame Street is relentlessly American. Not that there’s anything wrong with being American. It’s just that, when you have children, you hope they’ll grow up speaking the same language as you.

Where I grew up having a biscuit after playing football on the pavement, thanks to the ubiquity of American television my children will probably grow up having a cookie after playing soccer on the sidewalk.

My mind is neurologically fixed to believe that the last letter of the alphabet is “zed” and no amount of trans-Pacific culture is going to rewire me. “Zed” will always sound better to me than “zee” – except during the party pill debate, when pronouncing BZP as “bee-zed-pee” marked one out as a cranky Jim-anderthal killjoy.

To prevent our children’s linguistic assimilation we have The Go Show. Come something-past-eight every morning three young adults, whose enthusiasms show varying degrees of authenticity, educate our youngsters in the Kiwi vernacular.

There’s the chubby blonde girl, the brunette sporty girl, and there’s the slightly bilingual chap who’s neither scary, posh nor ginger.

The show should be educational because it’s written with the help of Otago University’s Children’s Issues Centre (paper code CHIX, which would be about right) and, by golly, it’s dripping with education.

In a single episode yesterday we learnt not to burp at the table, to do up our seat belts, to get ourselves immunized against meningitis, and to sing a song about recycling in deaf sign language – virtuoso wetness and a daring stab at trilingualism.

Last Friday this show for preschoolers educated us about what happens when Mummy and Daddy don’t want to live in the same house any more. Gone are reading the clock and finding out how chocolate biscuits are made. These days we’re peering through the arched window to find out where divorces come from. It doesn’t matter that Jemima’s shagging “Big” Ted behind Humpty’s type-II-diabetes-prone back because they all still love you.

Relatives of mine divorced when I was about five and (so I’m told) I was quite upset. Every parental disagreement was translated by my child’s mind into a home-wrecking catastrophe. By nine o’clock on Friday morning, hundreds of parents across the country were fielding questions from children newly primed to expect familial disaster.

On Tuesday, a trio of The Go Show’s fake muppets found a plastic bag. By the commotion this caused I thought someone must have found half a dog turd in their rusks. There was much running around looking for an adult to fend off this mortal danger.

This is the world our children inhabit today. A parental break-up and subsequent tug-of-love is perfectly normal – a bit of a jape even, what with having two houses and all – but a supermarket bag is a source of blank terror.

The characters from Sesame Street are simply more likeable than their eerily-similar-looking, possibly-intellectual-property-rights-infringing, nauseatingly do-gooding New Zealand cousins. So they speak a different dialect. And they only get 96% of the alphabet right. So what?

They also import another American idea: the idea that if I don’t want to watch Sesame Street I don’t have to buy their videos. If I don’t want to watch The Go Show because it’s emetically preachy I still have to pay for it. Tena koe, New Zealand on Air. You’re awesome.

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

Name game

Didn’t get tagged, just pinched this minor foolishness from M&M.

Peter Cresswell
2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (father's middle name and the name of the person who tagged you)
Arthur Flannagan
3. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother’s dad, father’s dad)
William Samuel
4. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name)
5. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Red Cat
6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, town where you were born)
Murray Papakura
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav drink, add “THE” to the beginning)
The Black Beer
8. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)
9. GAMER NAME: (1st pet’s name, street you grew up on)
Tinky Tennessee
10. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of last name plus "izzle")
11. YOUR EMO NAME: (black, the name of one of your pets, then add any word that means "crying" to the end)
Black Juno Blubbing
12. ROMANCE NOVELIST PSEUDONYM: (name of your fav perfume/cologne, fav candy)
Rexona Toblerone
13. INDIAN NAME: (what is the wind doing?+ what time of day is it?)
Gentle Breeze Morning

Leave a comment if you’re going to steal this yourself, and I’ll tag you after the fact.

Snowy Umbrella - Eisen Tomioka

Eisen Tomioka 1864-1905 snowy umbrella

Japanese print artists were masters of the empty spaces, and were never afraid of a dynamic asymmetry in their composition. [Taken from the excellent Japonisme blog. ]

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Strike out

Attorney General Chris Finlayson pointed out on Monday out that ACT’s three-strikes policy would violate the Bill of Rights Act – and so it would.  It’s not about “rights for violent criminals,” as Radio NZ erroneously reported, but as Finlayson quite properly says,

the legislation could result in "disparities between offenders that are not rationally based" and "gross disproportionality at sentencing", which raised the apparent inconsistency with the Bill of Rights [protecting New Zealanders against cruel, degrading or "disproportionately severe" punishment].

It would raise the likelihood, or at least the possibility, of an offender being sprung for a five-year offence having nothing to lose by going on to commit murder before he’s caught.  After all, if simple assault and mass-murder get the same sentence, what has he got to lose?  And it would raise the possibility, if not now but in the future, of those found guilty of victimless crimes being locked up and watching the key be thrown away.

Why ACT ever went with the ‘three-strikes’ populism Lord Ansell alone knows, when the proven success story they might have promoted instead was the Broken Windows model, or the simple right to self-defence.

And why ACT ever went with David ‘Nutcracker’ Garrett as an MP for their supposedly classically liberal party I guess we’ll never know.  (Garrett, when told of Finlayson’s findings responded: "So what?  Alter the Bill of Rights Act. We've got too hung up on people's rights."  Which tells you all you need to know about Mr Garrett, I guess)

Graeme Edgeler points out the further problems with the three-strikes policy here, while laying a few myths to rest [hat tip Kiwiblog].

And David Farrar posts on a controlled experiment in Boston to test the Broken Windows methodology.  And guess what: it worked.  Again.

Economic illiteracy in blogland [updated]

The Standard’s Steve Pierson has been less than kind about the economic understanding of economic journalists.  Fair enough.  But Matt Nolan at  The Visible Hand and Paul Walker at Anti Dismal have both looked at the standard’s of The Standard’s own economic understanding, and found it – how shall I put this – seriously wanting.

Both as economics and as journalism it fails all the necessary tests.

Neither Matt nor Paul actually uses the words ‘abysmally ignorant’ to describe Mr Pierson' own'understanding, but their fingers must have surely itched to type them.   A commenter at TVHE has nevertheless drawn the explicit conclusion both Matt and Paul were kind enough to only make implicitly:

If [Steve Pierson] wants to see the economically illiterate he need look no further than the nearest mirror.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, NYU economics professor William Easterly reckons that in n the midst of the scariest crises of our lifetimes, politicians might be heading left, but “the crisis seems to have scared many economists of all kinds--including some previously heterodox--to reassert the orthodox recommendations of Econ 101.”

By that standard, then, The Standard’s so-called economics should be firmly placed in the “politician” category.

Collapsing ACC [updated]

Looks like the failed “all care and no responsibility” ACC scheme is collapsing—the Herald reports “the National Government is planning ‘significant changes,’ saying “soaring costs and deteriorating performance show the present scheme is not working”—while anecdotal reports suggest the ACC bureaucrats themselves are trying to shore up their collapsing system by short-changing claimants and throwing patients off their lists. 

If private insurers were to dump people maimed by medical misadventure, to name one story that’s come my way, there’d be an outcry.  But because it’s a government department this sort of outrage just gets a group hug.

There’s nothing so cold as government charity.

Opening ACC up to competition is urgently needed.  Privatising the damn thing is essential.  But getting rid of the pathetic “all care and no responsibility” arrangement should be a fundamental change.

UPDATE: A friend suggests that if ACC really wants to save money, they could begin by pulling all their goddamn stupid ads of the television!!  We’re not going to die if some dopey bastard stops popping up every five minutes telling us not to go outside without a raincoat, on the roof without a ladder – in fact, we’re less likely to want to go out and kill someone out of sheer bloody frustration!

Windmill Epistemology [with a competition update]

How long since you’ve seen a decent philosophical cartoon:

Windmill Epistemology

Windmill Epistemology002 Windmill Epistemology003

Get the joke?  Greg Perkins makes the important point over at Noodle Food about the lesson to be drawn from this "sign of insanity."  It’s all about asking the right question.

[BTW, anyone who can crisply state the relationship between Perkins’s point, the existence of God, and the “science” of global warming will have earned themselves a free digital copy of The Free Radical.  Have at it!]

Humour from the Met Office [update 2]

Eager to continue talking up the warmist fiction, the UK’s Met Office insists that Britain’s coldest winter in thirteen years should in no way lead to anyone questioning global warming.  “Global warming,” said the bureaucrats, “had prevented this winter from being even colder.”

The UK’s average mean temperature across December, January and February was 3.1C - the lowest since the winter of 1995/96, which averaged 2.5C.

UPDATE 1:  Meanwhile, back in the States … the Master Resource blog points out that the Obamessiah's cap-and-trade scam is now seen more as a revenue generator than an attempt to "save the earth."  Indeed, says David Schnare, while the warmist bubble continues to burst, the alarmists have lost the President as their alarmist-in-chief, and with him goes the entire federal government. 

    In simpler terms, faced with new science, an economic crisis, and a need for higher taxes, President Obama has burst the climate-change alarmism bubble. The Environmental Left will get a watered down cap-and-trade program, not the urgent program they insist is necessary.  Because Obama, their President, is providing half a loaf, they can’t complain. But the alarmists are now on the fringes of the policy debate and heading into a very inconvenient scientific discussion they are not going to win.

In other words, the primary question for the Messiah is not how he can save the earth, it is:  "how can I make people pay for the coming socialism."

UPDATE 2:  Tim Blair has chapter and verse on the warmists’ anti-warming march on Washington’s Capitol, the one blessed by Gaia with several inches of global warming:

    Global warming activists stormed Washington for what was billed as the nation’s largest act of civil disobedience to fight climate change, only to see the city almost shut down by a major winter storm.

You might call it game, set and match to reality.

Cranes – Ito Jakuchu

Ito Jakuchu

I love the apparent simplicity of this.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Nick Smith, the libertarian! Who’re you kidding?

The Greens’s Frog Blog is confused.  Yes, yes, it’s not like that’s anything new.  But now they’re more confused than usual.  You see, the Frog’s authors thinks that because he once used the epithet Nanny State to describe them, that National’s odious Nick Smith sounds, therefore,

“like one of those Libertarian types – the modern free-market version of the 1980s Moonie crossed with the ‘flat earth society’ – the sort always willing to shove a bit of Ayn Rand down your throat while you are waiting for the bus.”

Their words, not mine.  And while it sounds like there’s more than one serious confusion there, it also sounds like – as Corporal Jones almost used to say – they don’t like those who tell the truth about ‘em.

Liberty Scott responds politely in Frog’s comments to at least one obvious point: “Funny how you’re sensitive about ‘nanny state’; is it that you don’t want to convince people to save the planet’, but prefer to force them to?”

And here’s another: for the record, no, Nick Smith is not a libertarian.  In Lindsay Perigo’s memorable words, he’s an anal authoritarian with a tongue so forked he could hug a tree with it.

Feel free to make as many points of your own as you might wish to.  There’s many more to make.

“Global warming is not a crisis, but it may be creating a crisis of intellectual integrity” [update 3]

Jane Shaw, a senior fellow at Montana’s Political Economy & Research Center, reckons the lack of intellectual integrity in the global warming debate is deeply disturbing.  “Global warming is not a crisis,” she says here, “but it may be creating a crisis of intellectual integrity.”

The crisis that concerns me stems from the way that scientists are addressing the issue. Ever since 1988, when James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, alerted a congressional committee to global warming, climate change has been a political issue.

Shaw gives plenty of examples herself of the intellectual crisis in science, not least how “scientists who question aspects of the orthodoxy have been silenced or fired,” but also how “methods and standards that have stood the test of time since the Enlightenment have been shunted aside in order to promote a political objective.”

It reminded me too of a recent and rare debate between a warmist and a skeptic, between one William Schlesinger, a heavy-hitting warmist from the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies – a chap with credentials and government work right down to his arse -- and John Christy, a noted climate scientist and non-warmist from the University of Alabama at Huntsville who measures climate data by satellite.

Schlesinger, the oaf, begins by saying nearly “all scientists agree” so therefore it’s time to stop discussion and get on with making dramatic changes to curtail CO2 emissions and change our lifestyles.  He wasn’t going to further discuss the science, he said, and instead, as Roy Cordato reports at the Master Resource blog, “simply went to a series of slides showing scary scenarios about the future.”

Christy carefully went through data—temperature records, sea level rise, melting ice caps—to show that the alarmist case is exaggerated on all counts. But Schlesinger chose not to rebut despite having plenty of time to do so. He wanted to assume the problem to get to the public policy and the new world that he favors.

If that tactic sounds familiar to NZ ears, it’s because that’s precisely the approach our parliamentary “climate change inquiry” intends to take: To ignore the science, and to plough on instead with the new world of tax and spend and cap they wish to promote, the bastards.

So much for debate.  So much for science.  And no wonder, as they’ve noted before at the Master Resource blog, “this is why the other side does not really want to debate.”

NB: If you’d like to watch the Christy-Schlesinger “debate” online, you can see it here at the John Locke Foundation blog. It’s fascinating.  As someone said of Schlesinger, he’s not even deep enough to be called shallow.

UPDATE 1: “Science writer Gary Robbins asks: ‘Why do people hate Al Gore?’”  Tim Blair’s advice: “Keep it below 800 words.”

UPDATE 2:  Oh, by the way, how many actual climate scientists you think there are in the IPCC?  Roy Cordato has the answer, courtesy of Schlesinger.  It’s less than one in five:

During the question and answer session of last week's William Schlesinger/John Christy global warming debate, Schlesinger was asked how many members of United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were actual climate scientists… His answer was quite telling. First he broadened it to include not just climate scientists but also those who have had "some dealing with the climate." His complete answer was that he thought, "something on the order of 20 percent have had some dealing with climate." In other words, even IPCC worshiper William Schlesinger is now acknowledging that 80 percent of the IPCC membership have had absolutely no dealing with the climate as part of their academic studies.

UPDATE 3: “Japanese scientists have made a dramatic break with the UN and Western-backed hypothesis of climate change in a new report from its Energy Commission,” reports the UK Register [hat tip No Minister].

Japan's boffins: Global warming isn't man-made
    Three of the five researchers disagree with the UN's IPCC view that recent warming is primarily the consequence of man-made industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. Remarkably, the subtle and nuanced language typical in such reports has been set aside.
    One of the five contributors compares computer climate modelling to ancient astrology. Others castigate the paucity of the US ground temperature data set used to support the hypothesis, and declare that the unambiguous warming trend from the mid-part of the 20th Century has ceased.
    The report by Japan Society of Energy and Resources (JSER) is astonishing rebuke to international pressure...
    JSER is the academic society representing scientists from the energy and resource fields, and acts as a government advisory panel…
    "[The IPCC's] conclusion that from now on atmospheric temperatures are likely to show a continuous, monotonic increase, should be perceived as an unprovable hypothesis," writes Kanya Kusano, Program Director and Group Leader for the Earth Simulator at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology (JAMSTEC).
    Shunichi Akasofu… uses historical data to challenge the claim that very recent temperatures represent an anomaly:
    "We should be cautious, IPCC's theory that atmospheric temperature has risen since 2000 in correspondence with CO2 is nothing but a hypothesis. "
    Akasofu calls the post-2000 warming trend hypothetical. His harshest words are reserved for advocates who give conjecture the authority of fact.
    "Before anyone noticed, this hypothesis has been substituted for truth... The opinion that great disaster will really happen must be broken."

Any NZ parliamentarians listening?

LIBERTARIAN SUS: Of Losers & Letterboxes

This week, Susan blasts the vandals…

susanryder2 Unfortunately for me, I’m prone to migraines. They’re not much fun. I wouldn’t even wish one on a Green MP – and there’s not much I wouldn’t wish on a Green MP.

Fortunately, it prevented me from making this date last week. I say that because I was angry and it would have shown and I wouldn’t have been sorry.

I can’t stand vandalism. It’s inexcusable. It’s not to be written off lightly as just mischievous behaviour; it’s downright lousy and criminal. The perpetrators are often, but not exclusively, aimless older kids who seem to do little but delight in wanton destruction.

Sadly, there’s a lot of it. Last year we saw the tragic outcome of what happened when a fed-up householder took matters into his own hands, resulting in the death of a vandal. Bruce Emery is now serving a custodial sentence for manslaughter. The dust had barely settled on Emery’s sentencing when I learned that my grandmother’s letterbox had been destroyed for the fifth time in about a year. Her elderly neighbours’ letterbox was also smashed to the ground and kicked along the footpath for good measure.

“So what?” you might say. “It’s only minor. It’s only bored kids, etc.” No, it’s not. It’s a real nuisance and a waste of time and money. But more than that, much more than that, is the menacing attitude behind the action.

Speaking plainly, it screams “fuck you.” It exemplifies total disrespect for other people and their property. It conveys a frightening mindlessness. And it most certainly qualifies as entry-level crime.

When Ann Hercus was Police Minister in the 1980s, she publicly said that she wasn’t concerned with property crime. That was the start of the finish and Ann’s chooks have come home to roost. In fact they’ve pecked their way to her old colleague Helen Clark’s electorate, with last weekend’s vicious little escapade of three armed teenagers demanding ice-cream and sweets from a Sandringham dairy owner, before upping the ante to cigarettes and money.

3News showed Helen Clark turning up to express her outrage at such a horrific situation. Quite rightly calling it a vile act, she wondered why this sort of thing was occurring. “What’s going wrong with our families?” she asked.

Now call me old-fashioned, Possums, but I found that just a bit rich coming from the very person who, until recently, has been running the country since Adam was a cowboy. I note that 3News didn’t feel the urge to remind her of that either. I’m sure Ann Hercus could shed some light.

Back to my grandmother. She’s a remarkable woman who, at 95, still lives independently in her own home, doing for herself and leading an active life. Aside from her superannuation, she makes no demands upon the state whatsoever, deploring and eschewing the state hand-out mentality.

So when I hear the news that some useless little bastard has just randomly decided to attack her property, unnerving her in the process, it makes my blood boil. The truth is that I want to grab the kid and kick his or her arse into the middle of next week and the week after that. I want them to know what retribution feels like – and what the fear of that retribution feels like. I want them to know in no uncertain terms that unpleasant behaviour has unpleasant consequences.

But I can’t do that. And the police don’t seem to have a clue, either. (Ann’s ideas took root). So you tell me what needs to be done. I’d especially like to hear from those who were critical of Bruce Emery. I’m all ears.

Because know what? I’m still angry and it shows and I’m not at all sorry.

* * Read Susan Ryder every week here at NOT PC * *

Thanks, Bill. Didn't know I'd bought a Mascot [updated]

When the news came out yesterday that Mascot Finance had gone under I thought to myself, "Phew," thank goodness I hadn't invested my money in that dog.


Turned out I had. And so had you.

Turned out the government has invested your money on your behalf.

About $28,000 each promised to each of Mascot's 2558 "investors."

Good on us, eh. :-/

PS: Turns out Mascot stopped taking deposits in September. Turns out Treasury okayed its inclusion in the Government's Guarantee Scheme in October. Turns out Treasury still reckons that "based on the indications at the time, there was no reason to decline Mascot Finance's application."

Which means this won't be the only "investment" you never made that you're going to have to pay for.

UPDATE: In the latest report from the Sage of Omaha,Warren Buffett confirms the inherent destructiveness of government guarantee schemes:
Funders that have access to any sort of government guarantee – banks with FDIC-insured deposits, large entities with commercial paper now backed by the Federal Reserve, and others who are using imaginative methods (or lobbying skills) to come under the government’s umbrella – have money costs that are minimal.
Conversely, highly-rated companies, such as Berkshire, are experiencing borrowing costs that, in relation to Treasury rates, are at record levels. Moreover, funds are abundant for the government-guaranteed borrower but often scarce for others, no matter how creditworthy they may be.
This unprecedented “spread” in the cost of money makes it unprofitable for any lender who doesn’t enjoy government-guaranteed funds to go up against those with a favored status. Government is determining the “haves” and “have-nots.” That is why companies are rushing to convert to bank holding companies, not a course feasible for Berkshire.
Though Berkshire’s credit is pristine – we are one of only seven AAA corporations in the country – our cost of borrowing is now far higher than competitors with shaky balance sheets but government backing. At the moment, it is much better to be a financial cripple with a government guarantee than a Gibraltar without one.
Download Buffett's wisdom from the mountains here [pdf].

IndoMalayan Pavilion, Metro Toronto Zoo – Ron Thom


I wish I could find some better photographs about what seems a fascinating project.  The story here explains that that pavilions shown here

are constructed as a series of irregularly faceted hyperbolic paraboloid roof planes covering a similarly irregular topography. At the outset, Ron Thom had wanted to avoid making what he called a "prison for animals," aiming for spaces as non-building-like as possible, in a "continuous environment of humans, flora and fauna."
The geometry of the plan … is brilliantly simple, yet appears as a complex abstracted landscape as varied as the natural landforms that surround it. [It uses] … hyperbolic paraboloid structures [made with] the Triodetic system of aluminum tubes and joints. Each building is an assembly of two modules, 42-foot squares and rhomboids, with 90-degree, 60-degree and 30-degree corners. An infinite variety in surface topography is made possible simply by varying the apex and base of each section of the roof surface, creating what appears to be an extremely complex building.
The structure is supported on cast-in-place concrete tripods from which hollow-section steel beams extend at various angles to the peak of each roof area. Between the main steel members, the hyperbolic paraboloid surfaces are formed by a Triodetic grid system of aluminum tubes and nodes, formed of either equal-sided squares or pentagons, intersected with diagonals which carry the roof load in pure tension. This allowed members to be relatively small and light, helping to keep the overall roof sections as thin as possible. The Triodetic structure is topped by 2"x 6" cedar joists and tongue-and-groove cedar decking. The original cedar shingle roof surface was recently replaced with copper sheathing.


Monday, 2 March 2009

“When I grow up I want to be free” [update 5]

Rational Jenn has this beaut pic of her kids at Atlanta’s Tea Party protest.mmpol01_AtlantaGA

No wonder they caught they eye of the MSM and Michelle Malkin.  Good on them and their Mum for getting out in the rain to protest the Obamessiah’s fiscal child abuse.

johngalt-sign.story_inline UPDATE 1: MORE ON THE CROSS-THE-USA TEA PARTYS in St Louis, Atlanta, Kansas, Washington, Chicago, New York, Denver

And Jenn has a link to  “a great post up at Pajamas Media called Ayn Rand and the Tea Party Protests.

“The tagline: Protesters must couple their outrage at bailouts with a positive vision of a properly limited government.”

UPDATE 2Writing in the Grand Junction Free Press, Linn & Ari Armstrong reckon that the parallels with Atlas Shrugged are more profound than many people realise: in the face of the ten-thousand commandments of government, producers are starting to go on strike…

UPDATE 3:   “Beautiful women are always on the cutting edge of social trends,” as P.J. O’Rourke once observed. “On that score,” notes Tim Blair, “the anti-stimulus movement in the US is doing just fine.”

UPDATE 4Flibbertigibbet takes up the cudgels on behalf of Mr & Mrs Rational Jenn and their children, on the issue which for some reason has overshadowed the reason for the protest:

    I would argue not only is it appropriate for children to be present at such events, but that it is beneficial to their education to be there. Children SHOULD see their parents engaging in political discourse and being passionate about ideas.  Children SHOULD see how adults conduct themselves when they disagree with the government.  Children SHOULD be exposed to ideas and encouraged to explore, discuss, and defend ideas.
    All these busy-bodies accusing Mr. And Mrs. Rational Jenn of being bad parents, abusing their children's minds, and undermining their own political objectives should check the facts and check their premises.

They might begin by checking the entirety of Flibber’s well-argued post on the matters in question.

UPDATE 5Rational Jenn has responded at length to those who’ve criticised her here (and here) for taking her kids to the Atlanta Tea Party,

to provide a little more context for those who may be interested; to thank those who have supported our actions in the past few days; and to let people know that I did stop and re-examine my premises very carefully. And to make it clear that we'll ALL be in attendance at the next rally.

Good for her.  As she concludes,

Kids should be allowed in the world because they live in the world.

Millions of dollars of bad ideas [updated]

At a cost of what Cactus Kate quite reasonably reckons would be several million dollars (”If you calculate the lost productivity and add in the time charges and travel costs of 200 attendees in that room for a day”), the Jobs Summit wrapped up with, as she says, twenty mostly crap ideas that any National Party caucus meeting or regular public sector advisory group would have been able to come up with – and probably reject right off the bat.

Christ almighty, the “big three” of those twenty ideas are a nine-day working fortnight that will reduce production while costing us all more; an investment fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars that will commence its activities by taking those hundreds of millions of dollars out of the same markets for loanable funds that genuine producers would like to be using;  and - the piece du bloody resistance - a cycleway the length of New Zealand.


If this really was a roomful of NZ’s best and brightest, then we really and truly are in trouble.

NB: Cactus has a wee profile of the dickhead who floated the cycleway pipedream, a poseur who admits "I've never tramped and never owned a bike since I left school," but “does have extensive experience … in walking round the Viaduct slowly enjoying the view with numerous pretty women.”

And Lou Taylor has an idea for the nationwide cycleway that might just put a $2.02 billion “investment” to the only work it’s every reasonably likely to be useful for – and it could pay for its own construction by selling off for scrap the under-used materials that presently run the length of the country.

UPDATE: The Visible Hand looks at the bad ideas from a mainstream economics perspective and concludes: “I don’t want the government to do any of the things suggested here - I think they will, in the current environment, make matters worse.” 

I agree.  But as Paul Walker at Anti Dismal said a few weeks ago, this is not about economics.  It’s politics.

The Atlas Index [update 2]

Anti Dismal blogs a piece from The Economist, which has noticed an interesting correlation between milestones in the global economic crisis and sales of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. See:

CFN041As you’d expect, The Economist has a theory.

UPDATE 1Sheldon Richman makes a related point:

    It comes down to greed.
    That’s what the economic turmoil is all about for many people. Too many of us were greedy, and now everyone is paying the price. Luckily this belief is wrong, because if it were right we’d be up the creek…
I see people blaming greed for our problems everywhere [however].
… Ayn Rand had it right–as long as self-interest is held to be morally corrupt, the market order will be suspect.

That’s Rand’s fundamental point in her defence of capitalism.  As Stephen Hicks points out, you can’t have a value-free economics.  As long as self-interest is held to be morally corrupt, the market order will remain suspect: no matter how much economic education you might have, the fundamental battle is still an ethical one.

UPDATE 2:  Gaia at Life on Marrs notes “The most surprising stat to me is that at one point in January its sales were higher than that of Obama's Audacity of Hope. Gives me a slight sense of optimism...”

It almost makes one think about change you could really believe in.

When is it okay to use a mass murderer in your advertising?

CHE I have a friend, who, like me is heartily disgusted with using the image of a mass murderer in their advertising. As she says, it’s bloody vile, so she’s sent them this excellent letter:

I think it is absolutely disgusting that you have used an image of Che Guevara to advertise your energy. Of course, in a society of free speech, that is your privilege to do so. This man is not a great revolutionary, he is a mass murderer and a coward, and whoever made this decision to use his image ought to be ashamed of themselves. At least do your homework and find out what he was responsible for. Power, at the cost of thousands of deaths of innocent people who did not hold his ideal? Give me a break! Despicable.

I await their reply with interest.

UPDATE: MikeE received a reply from Powershop that claims a semiotic justification for using a murderer in their advertising: the image of Ché, they say “has been adopted as a symbol of change in pop-culture. This image now has its own meaning that has very little, if anything, to do with Ché the person - as shallow as that may seem.”

Note that it was them who used the word “shallow” first.

Still, they say, “The poster you refer to appeared alongside others with similar messages of change and revolution. These posters have now been taken down and image does not appear in our TV commercial.”

So thank goodness for small mercies, huh. However symbolic they might be.

The greenwash is wearing off

With the Greens still contemplating the female replacement for Jeannette Fitzsimplesimons, two news items this morning delivered a taste of what the future might hold for them under the new co-leadership.

We heard Comrade Bradford bleating about corporal punishment in independent schools.  She complained about the independence of independent schools (just imagine);  she demonstrated she’s still completely unable to discriminate between smacking and beating; she whinged about the inability of the Ministry to bully independent schools to do what she wants them to.

And in the wake of the superb ASEAN free trade deal –- which NBR points out “pulls back the curtain on a market of 575 million people” -- we heard Comrade Russel Norman complaining about free trade deals.  He whinged that their effect is to tie government hands; he complained that it made governments completely unable to slap on protectionist regulations; he appeared completely unaware that that is precisely the point of free trade deals.

What we heard from both was bleating for bigger government.  What we heard from both was a lust for the big stick. What we didn’t hear from either was any genuine interest in the environment – which is what the Greens are nominally about.

Oh, and what about the other candidate for the co-leadership, Metiria Turei?  From Metiria Turei we heard nothing, nothing at all – which pretty much symbolises her do-nothing parliamentary career to date, and her future profile if she does score the top job .  She’s not the most dynamic of politicians, Ms Turei -- and Lord bless her for that – and Green supporters are already well aware of that. (And for that reason and that reason alone, I reckon that’s why Green supporters are going to vote Bradford and not Turei when it comes to marking their ballot in June.)

So like I said, this morning’s news was a taster of things Green to come.  If they go for Turei, then the co-leadership will consist of an authoritarian Aussie ginga and a woman on track to be the next Judith Tizard. If they go the way I think they will in their voting, however, then we’ll get two authoritarians with nary a figleaf of interest in the environment –- two cheerleaders for big government without even the veneer of greenwash that Jeanette’s presence gave to them in the past.

In other words, we’ll see the Greens as they really are: the new Socialist Workers party.

How d’ya feel about that, Comrade?