Tuesday, December 30, 2014

If this were my son...

Toward the close of New Year's Eve Eve, this post from TV3's excellent man about various towns, David Farrier, happened to percolate across my newsfeed.

It's a photo of a temporary memorial called Arlington West that's erected every Sunday on California's Santa Monica beach by a group called Veterans For Peace. It's dedicated to US servicemen killed during the course of the Iraq War, with each of the thousands of crosses in the photo representing one of the fallen. (As an aside, the plaque next to it points out that while this monument to the American war-dead takes up an area some 141 feet wide by 310 feet long, if done at the same scale for the Iraqi dead ... it'd be some 141 feet wide by 12.8 *miles* in length)

However, it's not just *any* photo of a war memorial and contemplative space ... it's also one of Max Key's holiday snaps.

As the lad himself puts it, "Fun".

Now, when this came up for debate amidst my friendcircle, the point was made that as a general rule, the spawn of politicians we don't like shouldn't ordinarily be singled out for especial targeting merely by virtue of their parentage. We don't usually get to choose those who contribute our patronymics and chromosomes, as you may have noticed.

The same gentleman then followed this up by asking the rhetorical question "If this was your kid, would your reaction be different?"

And I have to say (leaving aside, for a moment, the fact that I've never really considered blogging about my unborn presumptive children/hypothetical-next-generation-of-naescent-Rolinsonian-political-supersoldiers before) ... yes, yes it would be a bit different. I'd be giving him a clip round the ear - something that, I can't help but note, you aren't *usually* allowed to legally do to somebody else's kids. (Particularly given my rather amusing previous run-in with Key's diplomatic protection squaddies...)

In any case, while 19 is getting a little old to run the excuse of youthful exuberance and indiscretion; the reason why Max Key editorializing a memorial to Western troops who've died in Iraq as "fun" is arguably comment-worthy, is the fact that at the same time Max is shooting photos amidst the sand ... his father has our own military gearing up for a deployment to a new shooting war *also* in Iraq.

I'm not always a believer that you can judge too terribly much about a given father based around his son's arguable misconduct (because otherwise there'd be some seriously, seriously unfortunate conclusions to be drawn about The Rev. Rolinson based the continual stream of *ahem* "eccentricity" I indulge in) ... but if Max Key is *this* blase about America's war-dead from Iraq, we can only wonder whether this has anything to do with John Key's potentially somewhat cavalier attitude to putting our men and women in harm's way in the same foreign country.

Let's hope Key the Elder possesses a little more perspicacity than his son does about the gravity of what it means to die in a far-off land in service to your (or, in this case, someone else's) nation.

[My thanks to Andrew Paul Wood for his assistance with this piece]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rather Than Sending Troops To Iraq ... Brownlee May Wish To Consider Better Force Recon!

There's something a little unsettling going on at the moment. Ok, many somethings.

Of particular concern is the fact that right now, New Zealand troops are training at Waiouru for deployment to Iraq - and, assumedly, the ongoing war against ISIS.

Brownlee, of course, denies this is happening. Although it would appear that his office didn't *quite* get the memo...

So where are we at? The New Zealand Defence Force is undertaking  training for a deployment to Iraq. "Contingency" training? Or preparation for joining our domineering TPPA partners in yet another illustrious attempt at Peace Through Superior Firepower.

Either way, it would appear that Defence Minister  Gerry Brownlee hasn't exactly been straight-up about what's going on here. Recent statements made in Parliament by this "honourable" member suggested rather strongly that *no* pre-deployment training for Iraq was being undertaken.

Fortunately, New Zealand First's sources have kept us abreast of developments straight form the get-go - and told us that a company-sized force of up to 150 Kiwi troops had been undergoing training for deployment to Iraq from as late as mid-November.

So either we have a situation wherein a newly-elected Opposition MP is considerably better informed as to the interior goings on and force goings-on of the New Zealand Defence Force than the Minister responsible is (possible - we're well connected); or, somewhat more likely, somebody's trying to pull that fine sheep-derived fiber-export we're so renowned for *directly* over the body politik's eyes about ensnaring New Zealand in what will become a deeply unpopular foreign war that we really have very little prima-facie reason to become directly involved in.

Brownlee's knowledge of all things NZ[D]F continued to be shown up in the House by Major Mark during the same exchange, when the aforementioned Illiterate Woodwork Teacher demonstrated a habitual National Party grasp of facts ... by trying to diminish Ron Mark's extensive and transcontinental military service and confusing him with fellow NZ First MP (and one of my favourites of the new intake - one to watch) Darroch Ball.

For the record: Ron Mark is, if you will, a bit of a Parliamentary bad-arse. He spent 15 years in the NZ Army, having joined up at age 16; and with a service record that includes much time with the Special Air Service and more than a year's worth of overseas deployments  with our Army to the Middle East. His CV also includes an additional half-decade stint in the military of the Sultanate of Oman - first in the Sultanate's Land Forces, and then in their Special Forces. 

So when it comes to discussing the relative merits of deploying Kiwi troops to Iraq, I *suspect* that I might *just* place *slightly* more credence in the contacts, information and analysis of a former New Zealand soldier with extensive deployment experience in the Middle East ... over the breathless assurances of a perniciously treasonous former financial trader, and a man whose greatest contribution to national security thus far was the $2000 fine to the Civil Aviation Authority he coughed up for breaching airport security at Christchurch Airport. 

Oh and, as you may have noticed ... nowhere on Mark's resume does there appear the title "storeman".

In fact, the closest thing we have to one of those in Caucus at the moment is first term NZ First MP Darroch Ball - who, in a previous life, was a commissioned officer with the 3rd Logistics Battalion, before discovering a serious and admirable passion for working with youth - first through the Army, and then in a subsequent career as a high-school teacher.. And even then ... "commissioned officer" =/= "storeman", any more than "Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act" equated to "rule of law" ...

In any case, this is evidently how the Nats intend to prosecute their pre-War campaign. Through lies, deceptions, falsehoods, iniquities, and inaccuracies. How else to explain Brownlee hamfistedly attempting to erase from the Parliamentary and popular record the real nature of Ron Mark's actual military service when the latter presents evidence of the Minister's duplicity.  

We're rapidly reaching a point wherein every time I hear a Nat MP assure us that they haven't made a decision to send "boots on the ground" to Iraq, I think of this... 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Labour votes for Surveillance State. NZ First Opposes!

A few weeks before the election, the New Zealand Labour Party decided to cash in on simmering popular discontent with the state of the surveillance state that National's set up. Never mind their own previous and well-publicized brushes with egregious state-surveillance ... they wanted people to know that in 2015, under a Labour Government, there'd be a full-scale and sweeping inquiry into our intelligence services, as well as the guaranteed repeal of several key bits of surveillance legislation that are open to perceived misuse and abuse.

It's all right here in this image, posted four days before the Election.

I guess it's a bit of a pity that the Labour Party's just voted in favour of the National-led government's "foreign fighters" bill, then...

Fortunately, there were two Opposition parties prepared to front-up and represent the interests of ordinary New Zealanders by voting against this bill. Guess who :D #BlackGreen2017

And while Winston's Godwinning of Parliament yesterday became a *little* overblown by declaring the "dogs of Naziism" would be let loose into peoples' homes with the passage of this legislation ... considering the very prescient point made elsewhere about the last big foreign Cause Celebre conflict which volunteers from Western countries found themselves swept up in [the Spanish Civil War] - perhaps he's quite right to draw our attention to the fact that once upon a time, the guys going off to fight in international brigades weren't regarded *quite* so perniciously.

Anyway. Full praise to New Zealand First for doing the principled left-wing thing and voting AGAINST this legislation.

Unlike Andrew Little, who says things are "appalling" ... and then votes for them anyway.

Full credit to Art for bringing this to my attention.