Sunday, November 10, 2013

An Open Letter To Bomber

Bomber's written a blog piece in which he basically says he reckons my Party's mad-keen for rape apologism. So I wrote an Open Letter back. 

"Dear Bomber.

It appears you're labouring under some misapprehensions about the nature of NZ First and her supporters. 

First up, you've said in no uncertain terms, that you believe Tamihere ought to become the "new Deputy" of NZF. This will, assumedly, come as quite a surprising and unwelcome suggestion to NZF, who've just two weeks ago elected our own, rather less misogynist, Deputy Leader. Who also happens to be our party's Women's Affairs Spokesperson.

Incidentally, the self-same "second-rate political circus freak" (as you call her), has been driving progressive elements of NZF policy-formation such as our recent motion at Convention to institute legislative protections for girls in situations of proposed marriage under the age of 18.

Do you really think that if we're going to take a hard line on consent issues as applies marriage, that we're somehow not going to be taking exactly the same stringent line on sexual consent? Specifically the way in which girls under the age of 16 *are actually and assumedly unable* to render legal, informed consent?

You talk about "jaw-dropping sexism" emanating from our Party. Have you got some persuasive, compelling and pervasive evidence for this...? I admit that it took us some two decades to produce a female Party President, Deputy Leader, and better gender-balance within our Caucus than the modern Labour Party all happening simultaneously ... but none of that's really relevant to the charges you raise, which basically appear to come down to "active enthusiasm and support for rape-apologism".

Suffice to say, NZ First understands the difference between "promiscuity" and "alcohol-induced statutory rape of a minor". We also understand the difference between "freedom of speech" and "saying objectionable, offensive things as a media mouthpiece" (whether on talkback radio or a prominent blog)

And let me put it to you this way. All of them "old heads" in our "dusty constituency" that you defame by alleging they're actively enthusiastic about supporting rape apologism ... I'm not going to ask you how you'd feel if we said that about YOUR grandmother; but I am going to ask you to take a moment to stop, think, and consider just how many of those little old ladies who are stalwarts for NZF might have granddaughters who're about 13 right now. Or who were 13 once, or who had daughters who were 13.

Done that? Thought about our constituency as people with families, daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers?

Realized that perhaps, just perhaps, these people have something other than vague and non-specified concern about "youth promiscuity" going through their heads and instead a desire to help build a safer NZ to pass on to those very same grandkids by dealing with lowlife sexual abuser scum?

And that some of our little older ladies may in fact have been in the exact same position as some of these victims themselves in their younger days, having to negotiate what sounds like exactly the same police culture two, three, four or six decades ago?

Tell you what, Bomber.

"Nothing gets old heads nodding in agreement faster than the shameful ..." insolence of upstart youthful journalists who insist on telling them what they think they should be doing. Particularly when that "what they think they should be doing" is "supporting rape apologism".



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home-D? Mansion-D?! Hard Labour, G.

Wow. I opened my paper this morning to read about a woman who'd just been handed down a sentence for misleading investors causing losses of $200 million dollars.

Now, were this an ordinary blue-collar (or red-bandanna) criminal, guilty of causing a loss of even a hundredth or a thousandth of this amount through a direct wrongful taking or other conventional malfeasance, we would quite rightly be demanding that they face the harsh custodial sanction of a short stay courtesy of Her Majesty.

But no, it's the director of a failed finance company - a white collar criminal - and this therefore apparently means she deserves a sentence of a mere nine months home-detention and 80 hours community work.

The nine months' home detention, almost incidentally, is going to be taking place in a palatial Remuera mansion so absurdly spacious that the Department of Corrections wasn't sure their extant ankle-bracelet hardware would actually be able to cover the whole house, let alone the 15 meter swimming pool.

Now while I'm hardly the average frothing member of the Sensible Sentencing Trust (which my years at law school have taught me to regard as frequently being neither sensible nor trust-worthy), it's the multiple injustices inherent in this sort of thing that really make my (weakly-oxygenated, progressive) blood boil!

For the record, I thoroughly approve of the idea of restitutional justice and thus applaud the notion of including a strong component of serving one's community in any serious sentence - as we can see here, the harms wrought by this individual are clearly of such a scale and magnitude so as to have affected the community at large, so it is only appropriate that some measure of direct compensation form an important part of her sentence.

But does the other part of her sentence - the home-habitation bit - actually have to also take place in the community?

Does the specter of being sentenced to live in your own mansion really provide an adequate deterrent?

How many of those who've been made victims by the fraudulent antics of failed finance company directors can still even AFFORD to live in their own homes?

Is it fair that one (social) class of offender seems to be treated ever so more leniently than others?

Does NZ First have a solution?


NZ First has long believed that the prospect of home detention doesn't actually provide an adequate deterrent for white collar criminals intent on fleecing investors and companies; nor does it represent a suitable symbolic sanction from the perspective of the community and victims. Instead, as we see in this case, home-d can frequently wind up appearing to be an easy option or not more than a modicum of punishment at all.

So what's our solution?

Hard labour for white collar criminals :D

Keeps me happy because there's still the "community-work-by-way-of-restitution-to-the-wronged-community" element kept in there; would probably go some ways toward meeting victims' expectations of retributive justice; attempts to pacify the right-wing commissar-execution brigade by bringing back hard labour; and on top of all of this, sends a really strong message to our potential white collar criminal coterie (i.e. every finance-house and embezzler in the land) that their conduct WILL NOT be treated far more leniently than any other form of wrongful taking or illicit inducement of loss.

Hard labour for white collar criminals. Beats "incarcerating" them with a 15 meter swimming pool!


An old favourite political-economy joke of mine runs thus: "Any bro can steal from a railroad car ... but it takes a bro with a PhD in Economics to steal the whole dang railroad!"

If this whole 'hard labour for white collar criminals' thing kicks off, the next logical progression to my mind is to establish a similar category of sentencing for those engaged in outright economic treason at the Cabinet level and down.

I mean, if we're committed to exemplary actual-punishment sentences for those who defraud our communities and mislead investors ... then why not take this closer to its logical conclusion by instituting similar sentences for those who defraud our country and mislead citizens by flogging off our nation's asset-base, for instance.

With any luck, it'd make guys like Bill English think twice!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Neoliberal Chickens Come Home to Roost in a Coup

Spurred on by Mr Chris Finlayson's diatribe about the relative backstabbyness of Labour ... (which seemed rather curious coming from a member of the party in possession of the 2nd-most-pockmarked-set-of-collective-shoulder-blades in Kiwi politics after ACT) ... it occurred that there seems to be a pretty axiomatic correlation between how right-wing/neoliberal a party is and its relative level of internal disunity/coup-preponderance/outright civil war.

So, ACT is clearly at the extreme neoliberal/unstable end of this spectrum - both politically/economically and in terms of internal turmoil (the precise details of this clusterfuck from about 2002 onward being pretty well known, but memorably featuring the Nat-backed ouster of Hide by Brash, the earlier Roy-attempt at Hide, the full-blown civil war which accompanied that, ongoing (and very public) criticism from Roger Douglas of Hide's vibe, various rumblings against Richard Prebble ... and so on and so forth), these guys really are the apex and eminent case-study of the linkage between neoliberal vibes and flawed/tumultuous internal structures.

Then there's the Nats. Won't go into the details (there's seven decades' worth to countenance, with it getting particularly bad following the end of Muldoon), but it seems like the Born to Rule party is in an almost perpetual state of squabble about who, exactly, was born to rule whom. Memorable examples include attempted uprisings against Muldoon, the neoliberal plot against Jim Bolger which produced Shipley, the ouster of first Shipley and then her successor, English; and then in a fit of revenge, English leaking a whole lot of emails in order to torpedo Brash, thus leading to Key. And from Key unto either Collins or Joyce but they haven't finished duking that out yet.
What the National Party's vicissitudinal internal fortunes betray is that the more neoliberal a party gets, the more volatile its internal situation becomes.

Following on from this is the Maori Party. A Caucus of 3 MPs of which 2 are Leaders doesn't leave much scope for leadership squabbles I would ahve thought ... but apparently not. Again. They furthered a neoliberal agenda in concert with the Nats, and found themselves with first a Hone- and then a more generalized leadership problem.

Somewhere in the middle, we have the Labour Party. Mr Finlayson is correct to note that there do seem to be quite a few white ants in amidst the red ones, with specific dishonourable mentions including everybody subsequent to David Lange (seriously - how many leaders did they have between Lange and Clark, and for how long?), and a humourous side-note for Phil Goff's attempted "Chicken-Coup" of Helen Clark in the mid-1990s. Once again, there is a clear pattern. As teh party found itself becoming one of the underpinnings of our neoliberal paradigmatic consensus, its internal volatility increased. Up till the Clark years, at any rate. Quasi-social-democracy and winning elections is apparently something of a salve in this regard 

Now at the complete opposite anti-Neoliberal/relatively stable end of the spectrum, we have The Greens and NZ First.

I'm going to chuck the Greens down first, for two main reasons: Mike Ward (former Co-Leader of the forerunner Values Party) and Nandor Tanczos. Admittedly it wasn't a traditional sort of leadership squabble, as the previous incumbent had quite literally died in office, but either way there was a contest, somebody wound up having to stand aside, and in addition to losing two well-recognized Parliamentarians, Mr Ward had to be lent on in order to be made to give up his entitlement to enter Parliament as next on their List. Clearly, "sustainable" economics is not negatively correlated with a sustainable interior position.

Anyway. I know I'm frenetically biased as all hell, but I'm chucking down NZ First last. As both the most stable (for the last decade and a half, at least) and arguably the most anti-neoliberal of the main parties. The only time we've had a leadership coup ... it was back in 1998, and was an arguable result of getting *much too close* to the whole neoliberalist vibe. And never was Tau Henare to darken our doorstep again. (The resultant Mauri-Pacific party failed even harder than the present Maori Party combined with Taito Philip Field's NZ Pacific party) Ever since then, we've been remarkably stable. *quickly runs to check history of Yugoslavia*

So yeah. There's my response to Chris Finalyson's "Unauthorized History of the Labour Party". All six main parties ranked on a spectrum from most-volatile/neoliberalist down to least-volatile/neoliberalist. It's pretty telling that it's the same spectrum, don'tchathink?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Davoyding the issue? Never fear, ordinary Kiwis to the rescue!

Yesterday, over a hundred anti-racism advocates turned out in Christchurch to march against Kyle Chapman and his small, but pert band of white-whine enthusiasts. 

Now, the question I'm asking myself is ... what's the new Race Relations Commissioner got to say about this. 

I mean ... a group of white supremacists stages a public demonstration ... there's a rather larger counter-demonstration from persons concerned about the impact this might have on race relations in NZ ... and it's all within a few days of us having appointed a Race Relations Commissioner.

You'd think it would be an ideal sort of an occasion for an incoming RRC to make her mark with - really establish some "credentials".

I thus tried to search up what Devoy had to say about the demonstration.

Now, I can tell you right now what Joris de Bres said about the same event in the same city last year (it's the first hit on google for various combinations of "race relations commissioner", "kyle chapman" and just about anything else you can think of), but unfortunately I can't tell you what our incumbent Race Relations Commissioner thinks about white supremacists demonstrating on the streets of Christchurch.

I'd like to hazard an informed guess as to what the Race Relations Commissioner might have to say/think about Kyle Chapman attempting to pull off a 5-man chorus of "DO YOU HEAR THE (WHITE) PEOPLE SING" in the streets round St Albans ... but given what she apparently thinks about Waitangi Day, I'm really not sure I'd be anywhere close to the mark.

I'm not saying that Savoy's appointment appears to be an attempt by the government to evince the irrelevancy of the position of Race Relations Commissioner ... but I am saying that I'm bloody glad, given the present incumbent, that there's a two to one ratio of anti-racist activists to white-supremacists down in Christchurch for situations like these.

Because apparently, in the absence of a functioning Race Relations Commissioner, relying upon the principles and good conscience of your fellow Kiwi is pretty much all we've got to get by on.

Suddenly, it doesn't seem so bad.