DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

It could only have been someone like Nicky Hager who could have written Dirty Politics.

THIS MORNING I listened to Morning Report's Brent Edwards explain that John Key's  apparent strength  has always been his ability to portray himself as being 'above politics'. John Key has liked to cultivate an  image of himself as a  good, genial bloke who likes his rugby and a beer or two at the barbie. He's the guy who likes to share a laugh or two with his mates, Si and Gary, on More FM.  When he's not doing that, he's cooking on TVNZ's Good Morning show.

If John Key  has been able to cultivate this cartoon  image of himself  it has only been  because a mainstream media has, for  most of the time, allowed him to do it.

Certainly the left - whether  it be soft or hard - has largely  never been conned by 'Brand Key'.  He's been the frontperson for a government that has  enriched the wealthy and pauperised the poor. While John Key has been  having his photo taken with Richie McCaw, Paula Bennett  has been putting the boot into beneficiaries.

But our  voices have largely been confined to the blogosphere. Within the mainstream media a cabal of journalists have forgotten that their  job is to speak truth to power and not to chat pleasantly with the Prime Minister on a  sofa in a television studio or write another friendly newspaper column about his government. And it certainly isn't a job of  a television host to  use a prime time television show  like Seven Sharp to cheer on the government while berating and making jokes about its political opponents. 

But what Nicky Hager has done is blow apart the mainstream media's  cosy relationship  with the government, a relationship  that has conspired to leave the neoliberal  orthodoxy unquestioned and intact. This is a neoliberal orthodoxy that has journalists like Radio Live's Duncan Garner declaring that John Key  is doing 'a good job' managing the economy - instead of giving voice to the 270,000 children living under the poverty line.

It could only have been someone like Hager, outside the mainstream media, who could have written a book like Dirty Politics - with, of course, some not insubstantial  help from someone who gave him access to the treasure trove of data obtained from the Whaleoil website. It could have only been someone like Hager because mainstream journalists in this country are only too willing to defer  to government.  Indeed many journalists in this country have used Whaleoil as a legitimate news source.  Very few will no doubt admit to that now.

The media would retort that they just report the 'facts' but an increasing number  of us  have way too  many problems with what the  mainstream media define as  'facts' - and how they frame those 'facts'.  The media has  continued to foster a stubborn editorial bias under a veneer of “objectivity”.

Initially the media  were  seemingly willing to accept the Prime Minister's  claim  that Dirty Politics was all part of a 'left wing conspiracy'. Government cheerleaders like Mike Hosking and Sean Plunket were happy to promote the government line that Kim Dotcom was somehow pulling all the strings.

But these sort of arguments have become plainly ridiculous and untenable, especially now that #whaledump on Twitter has begun uploading the Whaleoil emails to the web, for all to read. This is the age of digital empowerment! If Brand Key has been severely damaged then so has the credibility of a swathe of journalists who have promoted that brand.

I'd like to think Nicky Hager has demonstrated that the political agenda does not have to be controlled by government and its allies  in the mainstream media.  In this digital world  we have the power to upset the conservative agenda  that protects the rich and powerful. We certainly do not have to accept it.






#TEAMKEY


WHY MY NEXT PRINTER WILL BE AN EPSON

'FAIR AND BALANCED'

Mike Hosking  showed off his  'impartiality'  on Seven Sharp tonight. 

 MIKE HOSKING  PLUNGED to a new low on Seven Sharp  with a blatant attempt to discredit Nicky Hager and his book  Dirty Politics. There was no pretence of anything resembling  journalism - this was an exercise in defending a government that Hosking  wants to see re-elected.

After he  had allowed National's campaign manager Steven Joyce to take a few  free swipes at  Hager, Hosking himself weighed in. He was not  interested in talking about the substantive issues raised in Hager's book because he had already decided  that there was  'no smoking gun'. But as ex-Listener editor Finlay MacDonald tweeted, 'Mike Hosking wouldn't recognise a 'smoking gun' if it was presented to him on a plate in book form'.

Instead Hosking  was intent on portraying Hager  as someone who had 'stolen' data from the computer of Cameron Slater  and, anyway,  Hager  had not proved a thing because 'everyone' ( the government) had denied all  his allegations. Case closed. So let's talk about something else then, shall we?

This little rant from Hosking was  simply a continuation of a rancorous  interview Hosking  conducted with Hager on his Newstalk ZB show this morning. While this sort of thing is par for the course on the right wing talkback station it is unacceptable that TVNZ continues to allow Hosking to use Seven Sharp as a platform not only  to parade his support for the Key government but attempt to shut down an issue that is embarrassing and potentially fatal for John Key.

At one point Hager accused Hosking of not having an 'open' mind on the book which I think was being far too polite. I think Laila Harre's demolition job  on another National Party cheerleader, Rawdon Christie, earlier this week is  a useful guide on how to treat Hosking.  Challenge him. Call him out for his blatant political favouritism. He is contemptible and he should be treated with contempt.

Hager was also not happy with Heather du Plessis-Allan and her  facile item on Dirty Politics. She avoided all the main issues too and highlighted the fact that Judith Collins called a few people a few names. It was all just one big joke for the woman who was also responsible for  the  awful sycophantic profile of Cameron Slater  that screened on Seven Sharp several weeks ago. Slater will be delighted to know that he can continue to count on her support.

If Mike Hosking was working in the United States he'd be working for Fox News and berating Edward Snowden for being a traitor to America. That's how bad this guy is. We deserve a whole lot better than this ignorant right wing hack.

The good thing is  that no one is listening to Hosking. The first edition  of the book has already sold out and a second printing has been ordered. And you can get it on Kindle via Amazon.

RAWDON CHRISTIE IS A SCHMUCK - AND WE'VE GOT THE VIDEO TO PROVE IT !

The  TVNZ Breakfast host gets his comeuppance.

ONLY A FEW DAYS after the Prime Minister had snidely suggested that Kim Dotcom was Laila Harre's 'sugar daddy', Harre was in no  mood to politely  brush  aside  John Key's new allegation that Internet Mana  were responsible  for the  effigy burning video.

The Internet Party leader was invited on to TVNZ's Breakfast to respond to the allegation as if it might possibly be...true. No wonder Harre was exasperated.

A proper journalist  should  have been able to work out  for himself that the allegation was without merit. After all the claim was first  made on  Cameron Slater's sleazy Whaleoil website - a notorious attack dog for the National Party.

But we're talking Rawdon Christie here.

Christie admitted he took the video from Whaleoil. But he never bothered to check out its credentials. Perhaps he had other more important things to do - like droning on again about his skiing adventures or cracking jokes with  Sam the maniacal weather guy.

Laila Harre took him to task for his ineptitude.

"The Prime Minister cast a slur and told a lie on your programme yesterday," she told the increasingly rattled Breakfast host . "You presented that video to the Prime Minister and you knew from your research, or should have known from your research, that it had no relationship with the Internet Party."

Christie's pathetic defence was  'I didn't tell the PM that this was Dotcom's doing.'

No, having handed John Key the ammunition, you  just sat  there like a  schmuck and  allowed the Prime Minister to make the allegation unchallenged.

Of course none of this comes as any surprise. Christie doesn't interview Key in a proper journalistic sense - he chats to him in a 'I think you're great' sense.

After copping an earful from Harre, Rawdon tried to salvage something  from the wreckage. It was pathetic - but strangely gripping - television. If I freeze frame the picture I can clearly see Rawdon's credibility disappearing out of the studio.

He talked about 'balance' and how 'the election wasn't about him'. Unfortunately for Christie he dug a deeper hole for himself when he read out a text that accused Breakfast of 'spinning the feedback its way'.  Great stuff.

THE GENTRIFICATION OF CENTRAL CHRISTCHURCH

The good people of Christchurch will pay nearly $300 million for a massive convention centre but will see few benefits from it.  It's all part of a rebuild of central Christchurch that is economically unjust.

I DID NOT  DETECT  A LOT OF excitement  for the proposed  Christchurch Convention Centre when it was unveiled last week.

Perhaps that's because  many people have other pressing matters on their minds. Like - why am I still living in a severely damaged home over three  years after the big quake?  Why am  I still living in a garage? Is this destined to be permanent?

A young couple near me were also nonplussed by the unveiling. In fact, they did know it had happened until I told them. Their view was straightforward and to the point - 'they' should fix the mess in the suburbs before even contemplating  spending $500 million on a convention centre that people like them will be unlikely to use.

But, of course, their view is biased. They are forced to find  $600 a week rent to house themselves and their small child in a small two bedroom house. They are victims of  a government that has allowed private  landlords to run amok while Gerry Brownlee (a landlord himself) smugly assured the city  that  'competition' would eventually bring rents down. Not surprisingly they are less than impressed with his  frequent appearances in the local media declaring what 'great progress' Christchurch is making. 

They would certainly not be impressed with Brownlee waxing enthusiastically about the convention centre in the latest issue of the CERA propaganda broadsheet, the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update:

'The venue will be one of the jewels of the central city and have huge benefits for tourism in Canterbury and the South Island. Convention centres attract high spending professionals and capturing more of this high-value expenditure would be of considerable benefit to the wider Canterbury economy'.

The proposed Convention Centre itself is, architecturally, a dog.  It's a metal and glass pancake  dropped in the middle in the city. The Christchurch Convention Centre fails to  acknowledge or reflect  'our past, our shared experiences, and our common future.'

I'm quoting Mark Solomon of Nga Tahu. This  is what he wrote in a foreword to the Central City Recovery Plan - which  Nga Tahu had a big hand in writing.

Now - are we surprised ? -  Nga Tahu is also  part  of the consortium that will build the convention centre, which also includes the Carter Group  and Plenary Conventions.

These three firms will generate large profits out of this project. Meanwhile the people of Christchurch are expected to fork out some $280 million as its contribution.  With the Christchurch City Council already in a  financial hole it is unacceptable that this project is being  pursued.

As Eugenie Sage of the Green Party has pointed out, if so much public money is going in to the convention centre then it should be  owned by the good people of Christchurch.

But what is essentially a public works project isn't a public works project at all.

Plenary Group are a company that specialises in public private partnership (PPP) and that means the convention centre could  simply see, as Sage says, a direct transfer of public money to private profit.

What is also galling about the convention centre  is that isn't even being built for the needs  of the local community. It's been built, as Brownlee enthuses, for 'high spending professionals' - ie tourists and convention goers.

It will be a focal point in creating a  gentrified central city. The immediate blocks around the convention centre will be publicly -financed gentrification facade aimed at putting Christchurch 'on the map for the conference and convention market' (Brownlee).

The local economic elite  will frequent the upmarket retail stores and restaurants but those of us who don't have a fat wallet  we will effectively be locked out of our own central city.

 But we will end up paying for the party via exorbitant rates, the sale of public assets, and cut backs in other services.  As an aside, one of the 'dirty little secrets'  the Christchurch City Council does not want you to know is that  it is dipping into the mortgages of an increasing number of financially stressed citizens  to pay for outstanding rates - while, at the same time, it gives 'rates holidays' to wealthy property developers in the central city.

As I've said before, only a powerful, unified, and organized political opposition contesting for power could hope to lead an altogether different urban renewal. While there have been sporadic  and isolated outbreaks of resistance, such  a grassroots opposition has  obviously been missing. When we needed a 'People's Recovery' we've ended up with a corporate money-grab.

The rebuild of central Christchurch is economically unjust and could well prove to be a fiscal disaster as well. 

DAY OF RAGE


PRIME MINISTER  David Cameron’s failure to condemn Israel’s massacre in Gaza was attacked by MPs and other speakers on Saturday in a mass rally in London’s Hyde Park in support of the Palestinians. Speakers also called for sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel.

More than 150,000 people marched from the BBC studios  past the US embassy in Grosvenor Square to Hyde Park, in a protest called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other organisations.

In Capetown  over 200,000 attended a rally expressing outrage at Israel's military assault on Gaza.

Both marches were  part of a global Day of Rage, with people marching in cities around the world  to show solidarity with the people of Gaza.




COMRADE DOTCOM

It takes a unique  mind to work out that mega-capitalist Kim Dotcom is a revolutionary socialist.

IN PERHAPS ONE OF HIS most absurd posts of recent times, blogger and Labour Party supporter  Chris Trotter has decided that Internet - Mana is no less than a revolutionary socialist party.

His basis for this claim is nothing more than the fact than the audience at a Kim Dotcom meeting chanted 'Fuck you, John Key!' Seduced by the spectacle as he so often is, Trotter's observation is as dismal  as his recent  comments  that some of the protesters  against Israel's barbaric assault on Gaza might of been anti-semitic.

It is an indication of just how right wing mainstream  politics have become in New Zealand that someone as determinedly anti-socialist as Chris Trotter can claim   that the spectacle of a wealthy capitalist encouraging his youthful audience to tell John Key to 'fuck off' is somehow  'revolutionary'. However he manages to waffle on about this for five hundred words or so, even dragging Labour stalwarts  Harry Holland and Peter Fraser into his nonsensical  ramblings.

It is also instructive to note that while Trotter leaps to his keyboard to laud  Internet Mana as 'revolutionary' he only has scorn and derision for genuine revolutionary socialists.

WAR STORIES

While we might reject the view that World War One was a 'just war', it is also true that other interpretations  are just as politically convenient.

IN THE  New Zealand Herald former Green MP Keith Locke writes that  ' over the next four years we will learn much about World War I and the suffering that went with it'.

Maybe, but will we be any the wiser?

So far,  the mainstream narrative  of the 100 year  anniversary of the   'Great War'   has been sorely inadequate. The coverage that I've seen on television has invited us to believe this was a 'just war', that  20 million people,  both soldiers and civilians, lost their lives in defence of something called  'freedom'.

But, as Keith Locke rightly comments, '... we can do that without glorifying the war, or defining it as a just war.'

But I'm not entirely convinced that we will confront the stark reality of WW1 because it is politically convenient not to. While Locke rejects the fantasy that WW1 was a 'just war', he is also guilty of being selective with his facts.

Although I appreciate there's only  so much you can say in a short opinion piece, I don't think that excuses Locke from  failing to acknowledge  the dismal role that the European social democratic parties, backed by the trade union bureaucracy, played in the rush to the bloodbath. 

In the months  leading  up to war the  social democratic parties all agreed that  there  would  be no  defence of capitalism, even if  it came in  the patriotic colours of the flag, disguised  as a defence of  'nationhood'  and 'the people'.  When war was declared, however, all the reformist parties rallied behind 'their' ruling class.

In Germany  the Social-Democratic Party (SPD), voted unanimously to finance the German war effort, a blatant betrayal  of socialist principle. Despite the importance of this historic betrayal, Locke does not mention it. Being an ex-socialist and familiar with socialist history, I thought he would have. 

This omission  makes his observation that  'The German Government is not sponsoring big commemorations or visits to war graves' one without context and  fails to acknowledge the struggle that  the great socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg and her socialist comrades waged against the war.

The German  Social Democratic Party (SPD) was, at the time,  the largest working class party  in the world. The problem was that it was becoming an  increasingly bureaucratised and top down organisation  with the reformist leadership intent of protecting their own privileged positions. That's something we're not unfamiliar with today.

Rosa Luxemburg had long campaigned against the bureaucratic and reformist nature of the SPD  but even she didn't anticipate its leadership voting  to fund the German war effort.

Luxemburg was imprisoned for her opposition to the war. In The Junius Pamphlet (1915), written in her cell, Luxemburg castigates the leadership of the SPD:

The most precipitous fall, the most violent collapse. Nowhere has the organization of the proletariat been yoked so completely to the service of imperialism. Nowhere is the state of siege borne so docilely. Nowhere is the press so hobbled, public opinion so stifled, the economic and political class struggle of the working class so totally surrendered as in Germany.

Having comprehensively failed to infuse any class perspective on WW1  it is not surprising that  Locke  limply calls for  the hundred year  anniversary  be used 'to promote reconciliation and make progress on European integration.'

Reconciliation between who exactly? And what on earth does 'integration' mean in the context of a neoliberal Europe?

I think we can do much better than this.

In September 1915 a left conference was held in Zimmerwald, Switzerland. The conference highlighted the need for a clean break with pro-war socialists and a struggle to overthrow capitalism.

The Zimmerwald Manifesto, written largely by Leon Trotsky,  circulated illegally  in the war torn European countries  and became a focal point of the revolutionary socialist movement.  The manifesto declares:

Beyond all borders, beyond the reeking battlefields, beyond the devastated cities and villages: Proletarians of all countries, unite.

A century after the war to end all wars,  the message of the Zimmerwald Manifesto still rings true today.


GAZA'S DESCENT INTO HELL


Israel continues its genocidal war against the people of Gaza while the international community stands idly by. This photo was taken today.

WE BELIEVE IN NESSIE !

Glasgow. A lavish party is being held in one of Europe's most economically deprived cities - not that the New Zealand mainstream media has noticed.

I SHARE THE VIEW of former ACT leader Rodney Hide. I too have zero interest in the Commonwealth Games.

It is an increasingly anachronistic and second  tier  sporting event that barely registers with the rest of the world.

But there are other more important and substantial   reasons I am unenthusiastic about the Commonwealth Games - and which Hide hasn't talked about.

Truckloads  of cash have been  spent on an  eleven day event in a city where nearly 40,000 children live under the poverty line.  Indeed statistics from the Scottish Government last year  revealed 710,000 people north of the border - including 150,000 children - were living in poverty in 2012.

The British Government's austerity measures have furthered deepened the level of deprivation in Scotland , as elsewhere in Britain.  A number of  benefit cuts  were introduced by  David Cameron's government  in 2013. The British  Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that,as a direct result of the welfare 'reforms' there will be a further increase in the number of  British households, both in work and out of work, experiencing poverty.

None of this got a mention in a sanitised and plain awful  Commonwealth Games ceremony, where they  instead sang about fictitious lake monsters:  'Nessie! Nessie Nessie! We believe in Nessie!'

The Glasgow Commonwealth  Games have now cost well over half a billion pounds to hold. Over 21 million pounds has  been lavished on the opening and closing ceremonies alone.

The fact that a lavish party is being thrown in one of Britain's most deprived cities has escaped the notice of the mainstream New Zealand media

Once again another sporting event has given a whole load of broadcasters and journalists  the excuse  to have a bit of a holiday in Scotland, in between filing hysterical news stories.

Have you been counting the cliches? How often have you heard : 'It's a golden day for New Zealand!' and  It's gold rush for New Zealand'. And  what about  'There's a golden glow around the New Zealand team!' - that one came from Radio Live's Marcus Lush.

Such is  the media's hysteria over a New Zealander winning a  piece of metal  in the egg and spoon race, it has been judged so important it has been the lead story  on both the TVNZ and TV3 six o'clock news bulletins. Apparently  the fact that Israel  is presently bombing Gaza back to the Stone Age isn't quite as important as a New Zealander winning  a medal. It hasn't  got that essential  'feel good factor', you see.

None of New Zealand's many journalist and broadcasters in Glasgow have seen fit  to take a stroll through the city's economically  deprived  East End, despite the fact it is only a stone's throw from the main Commonwealth Games venue.

It was in the East End  that the Accord Centre, a day centre for  the learning  disabled was bulldozed by the  Labour-controlled Glasgow  City Council to make way for a  car park for buses for the  Games. The Accord Centre had been serving the local community  for over twenty years

East End resident Helen McCourt - and  who a child attending the  centre - told the media: “Over 120 people were put out. Glasgow City Council told us we’d be getting a new building but there has been nothing. They said there was £250,000 for it but now it’s gone—what’s happened to it?”

They probably used it to pay for Rod Stewart.

And  the Dalmarnock area  of Glasgow was effectively destroyed to make way for the athletes’ village and other venues.  Hundreds of homes were demolished. Former residents have been promised new homes and other facilities - a promise that has  not been kept.

The only people smiling have been the corporations and the wealthy  property developers.


RIDING FOR GAZA


 AZIZULHASNI AWANG rode for Gaza at the Commonwealth Games.  The Malaysian cyclist raced in the men's sprint wearing special gloves, with 'Save' over one knuckle and 'Gaza' over the other. Awang's fists featuring the message were held to cameras after the race, which took him through to the quarterfinals on Friday.

But making a stand for the people of Gaza could have consequences.

The Commonwealth Games Federation told The Associated Press it will "contact the Malaysian chef de mission to discuss the incident and take any action."

That action could range from a reprimand to Awang losing his accreditation.

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