A SMALL VICTORY FOR OCCUPY AUCKLAND

Auckland Council CEO Doug McKay doesn't get his own way - like he's used to.

The Auckland authorities have failed, first time round, to evict Occupy Auckland from Aotea Square.

After the Auckland City Council issued them with a trespass notice, Occupy Auckland went off to court. Judge David Wilson agreed that Occupy had not been given sufficient notice to leave Aotea Square and struck out the trespass notice.

So Auckland Council CEO Douglas McKay who told Occupy Auckland 'to forthwith leave and stay away' now has egg on his face.

The judge instead gave protesters a week to prepare for a two-day eviction hearing which will begin on December 7.

Doug McKay has no sympathy with Occupy Auckland and the issues that it is highlighting like poverty and growing inequality.

He is on a total salary package of approximately $750,000 so he won't be heading to a food bank anytime soon.

Previously he has held senior positions in firms like Goodman Fielders, Lion Breweries, Sealords and Independent Liquor.

When he was CEO of Independent Liquor Matt McCarten of the Unite Union wrote to him requesting a modest wage increase for his workers - as they were still on the minimum wage. McKay said no to the wage increase. He also declined to do anything about Impendent Liquor's notorious anti-union activities which included managers intimidating staff.

He is, not surprisingly, a supporter of the National Party.

Meanwhile Occupy Auckland have criticised Mayor Len Brown.

Occupy Auckland spokesperson Chris Glen says Brown has backed away from a commitment he made to Occupy.

“At our latest liaison meeting Len vehemently stated that no immediate action would be taken against the lawful protest action in Aotea Square while discussions were ongoing,”

WHAT I DID ON MY HOLIDAYS

Councillor Wells claims she's writing a report about her recent trip to Germany.

Cate Broughton at the Christchurch Mail has been diligently pursuing Councillor Sue 'Double Dipper' Wells. But Ms Wells, not one to usually shun the media spotlight, has turned down repeated requests for an interview about her recent wine junket - namely attending the annual conference of the Great Wine Capitals network in Germany.

The loyal sideshow Bob supporter seems to have conveniently forgotten that, during last year's local body elections, she promised to be accountable and accessible. But it was always too good to be true. This, remember, is the councillor who told the media that if anyone in her ward wanted to talk to her they could do so while she was doing the shopping or the gardening!

She's the same councillor who declared that she didn't want to represent the good people of Christchurch - she wanted to lead them! In the case of her unequivocal support for the dismal Henderson bailout she led the good people of Christchurch by the nose. The price of her cronyism and stupidity was a $17 million bill for the Christchurch ratepayer.

But Wells is now being forced to write a report outlining the 'benefits' of her German holiday for Christchurch . That report, she claims, will be available at the end of the month. It'll make for interesting reading.

Of course she may not necessarily write the report herself. That job might have gone to either Elizabeth Wilson or Samantha Sii, both council employees. Wilson is the Christchurch/South Island coordinator of Great Wine Capitals while Sii is listed as the Christchurch/South Island administrator.

It seems that these two women get to do all the work while Wells helps herself to the free overseas trips.

LABOUR DISINTEGRATES

National's victory marked a disastrous defeat for Labour. We have to look beyond electoral politics for real political and economic change.

Only 68 percent of eligible voters bothered to vote. Yes, a third of the voting population decided that it didn't want to participate in the 'democratic' process to elect yet another neoliberal government. Yet the mainstream media wants us to believe that the turnout was 'disappointing'.

Clearly the voters didn't share the opinion of both the politicians and the corporate media that, just by voting, they had a real say in the economic and political direction of the country.

They certainly didn't share the opinion of blogger Martyn Bradbury who waxed lyrical about the 'power of the individual' and the joys of voting. Wrote Bradbury: 'bless our civil society, today is a true celebration of the power of the individual and our liberal progressive democracy!'

Perhaps Bradbury might spend some time reflecting on what are the implications for representative democracy when the major parties are peddling similar austerity policies that will only serve to further cut living standards, public services and the social rights of working people.

There is clearly widespread anger with the economic policies that are being pursued but, other than through the Mana Party, that anger has not been heard in parliament. And that anger will continue to be not heard in parliament.

But there has been no talk in the mainstream media about the disenfranchisement of ordinary people. The fact that this election was simply about which political faction of capitalism had the 'best' austerity policies has gone conveniently unrecognised by the mainstream commentators.

Labour, which attempted to paint itself as the natural party of the working class, didn't convince anyone and its vote collapsed. Labour's tossed a few policy crumbs in the direction of working people ( eg no GST on fresh fruit and vegetables) but, ultimately, it had no plan to upset the pro-capitalist and neoliberal applecart. When Goff talked of 'making hard decisions' we all knew it wasn't going to be business that was going to be at the sharp end of those 'hard decisions'.

Now the discussion among what's left of Labour's support base is about who to replace Goff with. But the cupboard is looking bare and I'm sure that no-one in Labour will be thanking Phil Goff and former president Andrew Little for leaving the party with so little to work with. (I'm very happy that Little, who betrayed and sold out union struggles time and time again, failed to get elected as a Labour MP. He could only sneak in via the list.)

But in the end the speculation over Labour's leadership will only serve to give pro-Labour political pundits and bloggers something to write about. Eventually The Standard will begin to churn out its 'Isn't John Key terrible?' articles again and commentator Chris Trotter will continue to hanker for his blue Labour, sans social liberalism. Pointless diversions.

But next year John key and his chums will be on the attack again, slashing services, axing jobs, bashing beneficiaries. Labour can do nothing to stop them.

Labour has got nothing to offer ordinary people and that means we can only fight the National Government by taking action outside parliament through demonstrations, strikes and other activities.

That said, I opened the Sunday Star Times this morning and saw a large advertisement placed by the PSA. The advertisement urges the 'incoming government' to put people before profit, make 'our country a fairer, more equal society' and ensure that 'services are there when they're needed'.

This is the same PSA leadership that has sat on its hands for the past three years and allowed the Government to smoothly axe over 1300 jobs.

The Government plans to axe more jobs in the coming months and the PSA's only response is to run pointless newspaper advertisements.

Even now it looks like the CTU and PSA bureaucrats, despite everything, are still not going to organise and fight.

The policy for the last three years has been not to rock the boat because 'a Labour Government will make things better for everyone'. How does that strategy look now?

ELECTION RESULT : THE SAME OLD CRAP WINS

You want real progressive change? You're out of luck.

In these last few hours before 'the big day', the commentators and the bloggers have been amusing themselves - and boring everyone else - with their endless speculations and hypothetical scenarios about the election result. Will John Key be able to rule alone or will Labour - with the help of Winston Peters, apparently - be able to stop him. Can a combination of parties lead to a Labour-led government. What needs to happen for that to occur? And so it goes on. And on. And on.

The implication of all this hot air from the 'chattering classes' is that we are being presented with real political alternatives . According to The Press we are facing our 'starkest choice between the two major parties in a decade.'

The Fairfax-owned newspaper defines this 'stark choice' this way: 'Labour's prescription centres on a capital gains tax and compulsory savings scheme, and National's on partial asset sales and fiscal austerity.'

This is isn't a choice between competing ideologies - this is simply a choice to decide on neoliberal economic policy. This is not democracy - this is the Pepsi - Coke challenge. You can have Mars bar or a Moro bar - but its the same damn chocolate bar.

Labour's so-called 'alternative ' is simply ‘more of the same only less so’. Labour is offering us austerity lite - but with no guarantee it won't revert to austerity heavy if the global economy collapses - which now looks increasingly likely . If there is a major European banking collapse, the extent of austerity we see now will be a picnic compared with what is to come.

We have effectively been disenfranchised. Representative democracy has failed.

While I have nothing but contempt for John Key I think Goff's attempt to paint himself as a friend of the working class has also been nauseating.

What we can expect from Parliament, whoever is the Government, is more sustained attacks on living standards, more job cuts, more attacks on beneficiaries.

The question is - what are we going to do about it?

SOLID ENERGY GETS HACKED

No Lignite Coal Mining In Aotearoa NZ from Roger L on Vimeo.


Ha Ha. Solid Energy's website was hacked by anti-lignite activists this morning. Visitors to the website were redirected to this video.

John Key has described the hacking as 'underhand'. Boo hoo.

ENOUGH OF BLAMING WOMEN

Jennifer Fox, 19, was three months pregnant last Tuesday evening when she joined an Occupy Seattle march that stopped at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street. "I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in," she says. "I was screaming, 'I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.'" At that point, Fox says, a Seattle police officer lifted his foot and hit her in the stomach. Another officer also struck her in the stomach. She was then pepper-sprayed by both officers.

Jennifer, who is homeless, later had a miscarriage.

Incredibly some people think Jennifer was responsible for what happened, writes Trish Kahle.


Earlier today, word got out that Jennifer Fox, a pregnant woman who was pepper-sprayed at an Occupy Seattle protest, had a miscarriage.

Police had insisted after the attack, which also resulted in the pepper-spraying of an 84 year old, that the chemical weapon is not more dangerous for some than others. Obviously, to anyone with common sense, this isn’t true. But even if you take this statement as true, if pepper spray isn’t more dangerous for some than others, it’s clearly dangerous for everyone. That’s why it’s, you know, a weapon.

In addition to being pepper sprayed, Fox was also kicked at least twice in the stomach–even though she screamed multiple times that she was pregnant.

But honestly, I expect this shit from cops, as much as it infuriated me. What was even more revolting–did you know such a thing was possible?–was the responses I saw from sexists across the internet. These were not pulled from dark corners of internet chatrooms. These were some of the comments I saw on Facebook, where my lefty friends had posted the story in a rage.

I wouldn’t have even brought my dog to an OWS protest much less a child or pregnant wife/partner/girlfriend whatever…looking at responses to OWS in New York (pepper spray, use of batons), and Oakland (pepper spray, tear gas, batons), would YOU personally be ok with allowing a woman you know to be pregnant to put herself in a situation where there is even the slightest chance that the police would use force?…I see a trend and the trend would be one where if I was on either side of the demonstration I’d fear for the safety of women much less pregnant women. If its “wrong” or not for such people to protest is an erroneous point to me, I see danger to women and would act accordingly.”

“Why hang around pregnant when shit’s hitting the fan?”

“Sure the police were unnecessarily violent. But it’s been going on for months now; it’s no surprise that something like that happened. It was totally irresponsible for her to be out there in her condition.”

“I don’t condone violence and I’m not saying what happened was a good thing. But maybe she shouldn’t have put herself and her baby in this situation to begin with. It’s called ‘responsible parenting’. Apparently this 19 year old isn’t ready for that…”

“I’m sorry but all these peaceful protests turn violent with the police…and she had to know and so did others that it would. I don’t go to “peaceful” protests because I am a mother and have to be whole for my children. I am all they have. Why didn’t she see that? Why couldn’t she have stayed out of it for her childs sake? I am disgusted with both sides on this one.”

(As a side note, if by chance you see something you wrote here, I’m not sorry. You should be ashamed.)

First, let me make something perfectly clear. Women are people. Women are human. And we have rights.

One of those rights is the right to self-determination. Fundamentally, women can make their own choices about their own bodies. Carrying a fetus doesn’t change that. This is not even close to being up for debate. It’s just how it is. Also, women and children should not be lumped together, though they so often are.

Why? Because children are dependent. Women are autonomous. Women can make their own decisions. The first comment above suggests that no women–no women at all–should be involved in the Occupy protests out of fear for their safety.

But there are other ways to defend Fox’s action–even though I shouldn’t have to.

The primary claim against her is that she should have stayed home from the protest to ensure the safety of the fetus. But how does one define safe? For most people, “safety” means having a place to sleep that is protected from the elements, having access to clean water, healthy food, and adequate health care. Fox is homeless, which means her safety was already severely violated–yet no one seemed to care about that. Her safety–and the safety of the fetus–only became a cause of concern when she challenged the very social structures that perch her on the margins of society. What is veiled as a “concern for safety” actually functions as a sexist form of social control, an attempt to frighten women into not exercising our constitutional rights. Glenn Greenwald wrote about this much more broadly on his blog earlier this week, but the fundamentals are the same.

Another argument against her is that when the crowd refused to disperse, the “action was no longer peaceful” (their words, not mine), and the police then acted within their right to pepper-spray and beat her. But there is no circumstance under which “refusal to disperse” legitimates violent attack–chemically or physically. Not for anyone. That the person who commits civil disobedience must accept their punishment as “right” is a legal fallacy. Fundamentally, when “unjust decisions are accepted, injustice is sanctioned and perpetrated,” noted Howard Zinn. “When unjust decisions become law, the government and its officials should be toppled.” The root question of it all is this: is the rule of law more important than the freedom of assembly?

The answer, quite clearly, is no. Laws, theoretically, are created to protect rights in the form of a social contract. In American society, laws protect class interests, and they are based on the domination of one (minority) class over another that constitutes the vast majority. This is not a social contract. It is social colonialism. The right to assemble supersedes the rule of law. Therefore, the police–and the people who gave the orders–were in violation, not Fox, not any of the protesters.

Instead, I argue that by participating in the Occupy Seattle protest, Fox not only acted within her human and legal rights, but she also acted incredibly responsibly–regardless of any pregnancy outcome she may have desired. Current austerity proposals would further undermine the safety she would be able to attain within society, and if she had chosen to carry the pregnancy to term (and not, you know, be beaten and pepper-sprayed) the level of safety she would have been able to provide for her child.

For many of us on the margins, at the bottom, we stand to benefit far more in the long term from a mass movement that restructures society, that ensures human needs and human safety come before the needs of profit and the protection of property. And I can think of no more moral or responsible action than fighting–at any pregnancy status–for a world free of exploitation, free of oppression, and certainly free of sexist bullshit like this.

This article was originally published on I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit.

LIBERAL ILLUSIONS

Bryan Bruce's call for a 'fair market' to tackle child poverty is naive and unrealistic.

Bryan Bruce's documentary , Child Poverty: A Special report, was an indictment of nearly three decades of neoliberal economics that have completely failed the people of this country.

The reality for many people in this country, as Bruce showed, is being forced to live in shocking living conditions. Bruce visited several houses owned by the state that were simply uninhabitable. There was mould on the ceilings caused by damp , there was inadequate heating, the houses were in a general state of disrepair.

But families are living in this squalor. In one house six members of a family were sleeping in one room just to keep warm.

It is such horrendous living conditions that disease thrives. Last year, more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital for respiratory infections. Doctors routinely treat cases of rheumatic fever and scabies – diseases now rare in Europe. These are the diseases of poverty. We used to say that New Zealand was a great place to bring up kids - its a sick joke now.

Bruce visited Sweden where a free nationwide health service health service is maintained for children. And all children get a free and healthy meal at lunchtime while at school.

This liberating policy actually saves money. Economist Gareth Morgan explained that comparative international studies have shown that by insuring that children are fed at school, live in warm houses and have access to healthcare pays off $4 to every $1 spent.

Bruce argued that the child poverty is an ethical question rather than a political one. He thinks there should be a political consensus to tackle the issue of child poverty and to tackle it immediately.

But in the end it is a political question. Bruce say in the documentary that he wants a 'fair market' rather a 'free market'. In short, he wants a fairer and kinder capitalism.

But the economic crisis that continues to deepen is slashing the social gains of the post-war era. This is not a question of temporary sacrifices to steady the ship through stormy economic waters. What we are witnessing now - and which many liberals will still not acknowledge - is the overturning of the social contract that emerged after the Second World War.

It's worth noting that both Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Minister of Health Tony Ryall have been seemingly unavailable to respond to Bruce's documentary.

They are members of a Government whose response to the economic crisis is to cut social spending, cut wages, slash jobs and welfare.

In these circumstances Bruce's argument that there should be some kind of political consensus to create a 'fair market' is, to be frank, simply naive and gets us nowhere.

We need a far more radical transformation of the economy than the one Bruce is proposing.

THE RETURN OF THE CLOWN

Paul Henry lends a helping hand to John Key.

In 2010 Paul Henry won my inaugural 'Media Clown of the Year' Award. Last year Sideshow Bob Parker lifted the coveted prize and he must be confident that he can retain his title after some ludicrous performances in the media this year.

But for Paul Henry, until last night, it looked like his glory days were well behind him. He's been spending his time hosting a 3-6pm show on Radio Live but it would be fair to say that his undoubted talent for buffoonery and general stupidity have been wasted on the low rating talkback station.

But last night Susan Boyle's greatest fan was a member of the panel that assessed the performances of John Key and Phil Goff in TV3's Leaders' Debate.

It was clear that Battlin' Phil Goff scored a clear points victory over Smilin' John Key. Goff had Key backpedaling for much of the fight. Key made a better fist of it in the latter rounds but by then it was just too late. This, I have to say, was a surprise victory for Goff. He's clearly benefited from some intensive media training in the gym.

And the general consensus is that Goff came out on top. Even the New Zealand Herald couldn't give the fight to Key;

'It was a clumsy debate for National leader John Key, who appeared oddly out of sorts from the beginning...The winner was Goff, for whom the media training has finally paid off. He sounded convincing and measured against Key's interruptions.'

Strangely though none of TV3's panellists gave the nod to Battlin' Phil.

Political Scientist Therese Arseneau thought it was a draw as did TV3's Political Editor Duncan Garner. I suspect they had been talking with Don King during the commercial breaks.

But former National Party candidate Paul Henry gave the fight to John Key. Perhaps Henry still thought he was on TV1's Breakfast which he, almost singlehandedly, turned into the 'John Key Appreciation Show'.

Henry's verdict clearly caught host John Campbell off guard. He enquired if this opinion was a product of Henry's own political preferences rather than any objective assessment of the fight.

You know me, John,' was Henry's glib reply.

The 'whooshing' sound you heard was all of TV3's political credibility escaping from the studio. Arseneau looked flummoxed. Garner played with his pen and stared at his notepad.

But Henry didn't stop there. He declared that the sixty-odd people who were controlling 'the worm' all looked like 'greenies'. And we all know what Paul Henry thinks of' greenies 'don't we? They smell and can't be trusted.

Yes, out of nowhere, Henry is a contender for 'Media Clown of the Year.' And he has another chance to slake his claim for the big prize on Saturday because he is one of the commentators on TV3's election night show. Expect Henry to pull out all the stops...

EMPTY POSTURING OVER STATE ASSETS

The state-owned power companies that Labour are championing are the same power companies that keep putting their prices up.


So a Labour Government wouldn't sell any further state assets.

Big deal. I'm not about to break out the champagne and put on my party hat. I'm not about to declare that this is 'a real point of difference' with National.

Given that this is the very same political party that plundered the state asset larder in the 1980s, Labour's claim to be the defender of 'our assets' is more than a little hypocritical.

I watched Phil Goff on television last night declaring that it was only six days until New Zealand's future was hocked off to the highest bidder. Really Phil? I thought you and your Labour chums did that in the 1980s and, as John Minto has commented, we've been paying the price ever since. Paying through the nose.

This isn't the Catholic Church Phil - you don't get pardoned for your past sins. Some commentators might be able to forgive you for the sake of political expediency but these the same people who never fight back, who are always prepared to 'compromise'.

If Labour really had seen the error of its ways it would be campaigning on a policy of re-nationalisation. And it would nationalise the banks and the finance sector. (Every year New Zealand loses billions of dollars in dividends that the Australian-owned banks take out of the economy,)

But Labour won't do that because it remains committed to neoliberal economic policies that have completely failed.

At the very least Labour should have committed itself to scrapping the State Owned Enterprises model.

It was the fourth Labour Government that brought in the SOE model to ensure that state companies operated on the same basis as those in the private sector.

In short, none of the state assets that Phil is championing today play a social role. The job of the SOE's is to make money and pay whopping dividends to the government.

The power companies that Phil likes to refer to as 'ours' are the very same power companies that have been ramping up their prices for years and making life miserable for the very people that Labour claims to represent.

Indeed electricity prices went up over 70 percent under the Labour Government of Helen Clark. I didn't hear Phil Goff complaining about this.

What's so fantastic about the government owning a power company that is continually putting up its prices and which ruthlessly disconnects families who are struggling with the huge bills they are receiving?

But none of the neoliberal parliamentary parties are prepared to break with the SOE model that has created this situation.

Labour's defence of stste assets is, frankly, little more than political posturing. There is no difference between privatised state assets or corporatised state assets - ordinary folk still get shafted.

SIDESHOW BOB GETS A BAD REPORT

The Christchurch City Council are failing the people of Christchurch, says the Future Canterbury Network.

The Future Canterbury Network is an independent watchdog group was established shortly after the devastating February 22 earthquake.

Its brief is to monitor and assess the progress that Canterbury councils have made in the process of earthquake recovery.

FCN has just released a report assessing the performance of the Christchurch City Council since the February and September quakes and the council doesn't exactly receive a rave review (see scorecard)

The FCN praises the work that the council did in preparing a draft city council plan and says that it had been 'a model of community consultation' but suggests that tings have ground to halt since then. The reports says 'there appears to have been little translation of the grand idea into strategies.'

Certainly a malaise appears to have fallen over Sideshow Bob and many of his council chums. The report highlights the controversy that erupted over the appointment of the council CEO but equally, we can point to incidents like Councillor Sue Wells being allowed to travel to a wine 'conference' in Europe at the expense of the ratepayer. It is another manifestation of a council without focus, led by mayor who continues to play 'favourites'.

Despite indicating he would develop a better working relationship with the Labour-aligned councillors there is no evidence he has done that.

This writer has long criticised Sideshow Bob and his chums for their lack of accountability and transparency, and the report also criticises Sideshow Bob for his secretive ways.

The report comments that a lack of transparency appeared to be 'situation normal' for the Christchurch City Council.

Sideshow Bob , as we well know, is always hostile to any form of criticism - however mild. In the past he has rejected criticism as being part of a mysterious 'left wing conspiracy'. Or its all part of a Labour Party campaign bent on destabilising his mayoralty.

The problem for Bob this time round is that the FCN is chaired by a former National minister, Philip Burdon.

The members of the FCN come from a wide cross section of the community. They include the Vice Chancellor of Canterbury University , the head of the Salvation Army, architect Miles Warren and former mayor Garry Moore. Indeed, at other times, some of these very same people have been political allies of Bob's.

But that hasn't stopped Bob dismissing the report as a 'hatchet job'.

But Bob is proving to be something of a ventriloquists dummy and its the Earthquake Recovery Minister who has his hand up his bottom.

Gerry Brownlee has attacked the FCN as ‘hand-wringing talkers’ and ‘time wasters’ and its no surprise to see Sideshow Bob simply regurgitating the words of his master.

SIDESHOW BOB ON FAIL BLOG!

Here's some media coverage 'Mr Orange Safety Jacket' probably won't like..

A reader sent me a link to something Sideshow Bob- related. I clicked on the link.

The Facebook item below made it to the mega-popular American site Fail Blog which, according to Wikipedia, chronicles ' disastrous mishaps and general stupidity in photos and video'.

One section of Fail Blog is 'Failbook' which features 'fails' found on Facebook. Someone submitted this piece featuring our hopeless Christchurch mayor.

funny facebook fails - No Kicking in the Southern Hemisphere
see more Failbook

POLICE ATTACK OCCUPY WALL STREET



The New York authorities have declared war on the Occupy movement and in the early hours of Monday morning the police attacked the movement in Zuccotti Park.

The media were forcibly kept away while the police demolished the camp, batoning people indiscriminately. This attack comes hard on the heels of the police demolition of the Occupy Oakland camp in California.

But as one person tweeted from Zuccotti Park: 'You can't evict an idea . We will grow stronger.'

This short video catches the police in violent action..

D'OH! 2



Following in the footsteps of Rick Perry, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain reveals what he doesn't know about Libya - which is a lot.

SOUND AND FURY SIGNIFYING NOTHING

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, the mainstream media try to extract some mileage from the Prime Minister's staged meeting with John Banks in an Auckland cafe.

I have taken marginally more interest in the general election campaign than I did with the Rugby World Cup but that's not saying much. So I know who the main teams are, who are the key players and I can give you a brief outline of the main game 'incidents' but, after that, I'm kind of working on remote control.

I've avoided most of the TV 'debates' and I've read mere snippets of the myriad of articles and columns that have been written about this campaign. What's more - I don't think I have missed much.

The problem is that party politics is no longer about ideological differences, or indeed any kind of substantial debate reflecting competing visions for a better society. There is nothing to engage with and nothing to debate. There is no passion. There is no excitement.

Despite the fact that neoiliberalsim has failed and capitalism is stuffed, none of the parliamentary parties are prepared to abandon the 'free market' and start afresh.

This election - like the last one - is about which company director will win the boardroom battle to run New Zealand Inc. It's a naked grab for power within a set of defined rules. It might even be a game of two halves but neoliberalism will definitely be the winner on the day. It's just a matter of who gets the big office with the big comfy chair.

Because none of the parties - and that includes the Green's -can even conceive of a society not under the iron heel of the 'free market' , this election campaign has been reduced to personality clashes, party machinations and petty squabbles over policy differences that are mostly disagreements about technicalities rather than about differences in fundamental philosophy.

And we can't forget the incessant opinion polls. Its 14 -0 to National but Goff has just kicked a penalty from a John Key foul. Its 14-3! But Labour supporters say that the score doesn't accurately reflect the true nature of the game!

'Show me the money!" demanded John Key, when he accused Labour of not costing its election promises.

A backpedaling Phil Goff retorted that he would be releasing ' a spreadsheet' '. Gosh. A 'spreadsheet'! Be still my beating heart!

The media, of course, went goo-goo over this. It was about as interesting as two accountants criticising each others work methods but,apparently , its one of the pivotal moments of this dreary election campaign.

We really are scraping the bottom of the intellectual barrell when John Key quoting a line from a Tom Cruise movie is considered to be the height of clever. The fact that Key's backroom staff thought it was a good line to deliver was sad but what was even sadder was the way the media got sucked in by it.

The media are now going ape about the taped conversation between John Key and John Banks.

What does it say about this election campaign that the mainstream media are devoting so much time and energy to reporting crazy over reality? Perhaps Key discussed his preference for English Breakfast tea or perhaps he and Banks talked about Don Brash's shelf life. Maybe someone cracked a joke about Winston Peters. Who cares other than Guyon Espiner, Duncan Garner and co?

The really important issue that the mainstream media won't talk about is how we, the people, are living under a one party system and the only 'choice' we are being given is which brand of capitalism we want. We have been effectively disenfranchised and the corporate media has nothing to say about it.

It would rather speculate on a conversation between two politicians in a cafe.

D'OH!



You don't have to be a follower of American politics to appreciate this display of stupidity from this week's Republican Presidential Debate.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas wants to get rid of three branches of the federal government - but he just can't remember what that pesky third branch is...

POINT OF EXTINCTION

Labour's demise is not just Phil Goff's fault.

In its first year, Phil Goff explained away the National Government's popularity as simply 'the honeymoon period'. Unfortunately for Goff and Labour, National's popularity remains largely undiminished. Labour are on track for a demoralising election defeat which could well see National being able to rule without the baggage of coalition partners. Labour is in danger of extinction.

It shouldn't really be this way. The economy has tanked and there are , officially, over 157,000 out of work And on top of that there are a growing number of working poor, many of whom can't get enough hours to make ends meet. And there are 240,000 children living below the poverty line.

The Government's response is to give tax cuts to the wealthy while imposing austerity measures on the rest of us. This is John Key's prescription for economic renewal and 'a brighter future'.

Yet Labour continues to plummet in the polls. The problem is that Labour is providing no alternative other than an assertion that it would be a better steward of the neoliberal economy than National. The differences between the two parties are minor and what we might 'gain' on the swings with Labour we will surely lose on the roundabouts.

There is also the problem of Phil Goff. John Minto has put it this way:

...even as Labour tries to distinguish itself by shuffling a little to the left of National its attacks are blunted because it's hopelessly compromised at every turn and the problem is personified in Labour leader Phil Goff. When Goff attacks the rise in GST, the ghost of Goff reminds us it was the man himself who introduced GST at 10% in the first place and then increased it to 12.5% back in the 1980s. It was also Goff who brought in tertiary student fees and again it was Goff who sat at the Labour cabinet while it sold our key state assets for a song to the rich mates of senior Labour politicians of the time. We've been paying the price ever since.

Of course its not all Goff's fault. It's not just Trevor Mallard or David Cunliffe's fault. It's not even just the fault of the present Labour parliamentary cabal.

Behind Labour lies a small army of trade union 'leaders, 'advisers', journalists, columnists, bloggers , academics and the like who have consistently supported and defended Labour's neoliberalism. They have all contributed to a party which, in John Minto's words 'has done more than National in the past 27 years to enrich the 1%.'

Between them and the Labour Party they have been the architects and promoters of an economic ideology that has devastated working class communities while enriching the already wealthy. Some of them still seriously regard themselves as 'progressive' but they have been consistent supporters of economic policies that have wreaked untold damage in working class communities up and down the country.

I think you probably know who some of these people are.

Asked what was the difference between the left and right, Italian philosopher Norberto Bobbio replied that the left always seeks greater equality and the right always produces greater inequality. The Labour Party has created a society scarred by inequality, a society more unequal and more unjust than ever.

Of course there have been a range of rationales and excuses to justify Labour's venal politics. They have ranged from the dumb 'lesser evil argument' (National is worse than Labour) to the more sophisticated but equally dumb arguments of 'Third Way' politics.

Even today Labour's supporters are lying to us. We are being told that there are real 'points of difference between National and Labour' . We are even being told that Labour is a 'centre left' party. The intellectual dishonesty is astonishing, the political cowardice unacceptable. The Labour Party is on the point of extinction and these clowns behave as if they aren't to blame. It's easier just to blame Phil Goff.

Not surprisingly John Minto predicts a comprehensive win for National and he says Labour will dump Goff in the New Year as it tries to 'shift significantly to the left'. But he does say Labour's new caucus is going to have problems 'finding anyone in their new caucus who has an economic backbone rather than a corporate-moulded artificial brace.'

Certainly Goff will go but the Labour Party, after nearly three decades of slavish commitment to neoliberalism and the 'free market' , has nothing to do with the future of left wing politics in this country. As any kind of progressive force Labour has been dead for many years.

The debate about the future of progressive politics in this country has got nothing do with the guilty people who have pursued and defended the policies that have inflicted such misery on ordinary folk. They deserve to be swept away.

DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN

Where in the world is Councillor Sue Wells?

Weeburdt1 has asked on Twitter : ' Does anyone know where @sue_wells went? I hope she is ok and only taking time out.'

Since attending a five day wine 'conference' in Germany, Wells has 'disappeared'. Her blog remains dormant as does her Twitter account. Her Facebook page is 'temporarily unavailable'. It's almost as if Wells uncharacteristically wants to keep a low profile.

The wine 'conference' ended on 27 October.

What we do know is that the loyal Sideshow Bob supporter is apparently still in Europe and is supposedly 'looking' at cities damaged during World War Two.

A number of Christchurch councillors have justified overseas jaunts on the basis that its earthquake-related 'research' but Wells justification for touring Europe, on the face of it, seems spurious at best.

I'm sure though that Ms Wells will be providing the good people of Christchurch with a comprehensive report on what she's been doing and what she's achieved. And how much it cost the ratepayer.

That will lay to rest the scurrilous gossip that she's simply having a holiday at the ratepayers expense...

BE REALISTIC, DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE

The Paris Uprising of 1968 demanded the impossible. Over forty years later we must demand it again.


Talking with friends in the US and following its development via the internet and, to a lesser extent, television, it is clear that the Occupy movement in the United States is continuing to grow and gather momentum. This is important for the development of the movement worldwide.

Its growth and impact has been stunningly impressive especially since it has occurred in the face of hostility from local authorities, intimidation and violence from the police and the predictable attacks on the movement by the corporate media.

We have to also remember this is all happening in a country where children are taught that 'everyone can become President' and if you're not wealthy then you must be stupid and/or not hardworking enough.

Presidential candidate and former corporate CEO Herman Cain said recently “if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” That view may of fallen on fertile grounds in the past but the likes of Cain are now discovering that Americans aren't going to swallow that line no more. Suddenly that notorious cheerleader for the rich and powerful, Fox News, is looking mean and grubby and the demands for more cuts to social programs have become less insistent and belligerent.

The Occupy movement has changed the entire political debate. Instead of the talk being what next austerity measure can be imposed on ordinary American the focus is now well and truly on the 1 percent who have benefited at the expense of everyone else. Ordinary Americans have inserted themselves into a space previously the domain of the politicians, the business 'leaders' and the journalists and columnists of the corporate media.

After having been bailed out by ordinary Americans the denizens of Wall Street are continuing to 'live the lifestyles they have become accustomed to' and, despite it all, they still feel they are entitled to the lavish salaries and the bulging bonuses.

Many of these creatures should be in jail - but they have been shielded by a President whose election campaigns are largely funded by these very same people.

And ordinary Americans have just had enough. The sleeping giant that is the American working class has awoken and all the 'experts' who told us that class struggle was over and we had 'reached the end of history' and 'liberal democracy' had won - well, it is they who have been consigned to the rubbish dump of history. Good riddance.

Where will the Occupy movement go from here? What organisational model will it take if any? What kind of policies will it gravitate around? All these questions and more are being debated within the movement. As an aside, I am finding this debate far more interesting and stimulating then the banal charade of the New Zealand general election campaign where we plebs get to vote on which machine politician gets to manage the neoliberal economy.

While there is part of the Occupy movement that sees the corporations, the banks and 'greed' as the main problem there is , equally, a significant section of the movement that says that it is not about replacing a 'bad' banking and finance sector with a 'better' one but it is about replacing a crisis-ridden economic system that is manifestly unjust.

It seems to me that the guiding principle for the movement is that it must be ambitious and it must seek a new world. The world that Marx told us was ours to win is still to be won. That cannot be done by making deals with forces defending entrenched positions of power and privilege. That is the road to nowhere and to defeat.

If the Occupy movement retreats to the hopeless position of what is 'acceptable' it may as well give up and go home now. If it is prepared to negotiate with Government to 'find areas of common agreement' it may as well fold up the tents, stop the marches and let Wall Street continue its looting and pillaging in peace.

The Occupy movement must demand the impossible . It is only impossible until it happens. Then it is the new reality and the there is no returning to what went before and a whole new world awaits.

Be realistic and demand the impossible.

NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING

Labour won't do the right thing and turn TV1 into a non-commercial public broadcaster.

A few months ago Labour's spokesperson on broadcasting , Clare Curran, commented that Labour was 'committed to a strong independent public media'.

At the time I said that Curran's comments had to be viewed with scepticism and Labour's announced intention to create a new public broadcaster has justified that scepticism. It has failed to deliver.

Instead of doing the right thing and transforming TV1 into a non-commercial public broadcaster, Labour proposes to create what looks like a cut-price organisation using TVNZ7 and the resources of Radio New Zealand. Indeed this is similar to the model that the National Government was considering before it decided to pull the plug on TVNZ7. Ironically a previous Labour spokesperson on broadcasting , Brendon Burns, described National's idea of turning TVNZ7 into a 'public broadcaster' as a 'face saving measure'.

A national broadcaster should be at the heart of a country's media affairs and a important part of is cultural life. But Labour's 'national public broadcaster' would be little more than a niche provider broadcasting to a minority audience on the fringes.

It would exist out on the periphery allowing the commercial operators (including TVNZ) to rule the roost - and the ratings.

This is what the commercial operators want and it looks like Labour is happy to oblige.

When a radical shakeup of broadcasting is required in this country, Labour 's offering is weak and ineffectual. It displays, again, Labour's continued obsession with pandering to the needs of 'the market'

Curran says that will be a public debate which will allow New Zealanders to shape the future of public broadcasting,

This is nonsense. Labour already have an agenda in mind and any discussion on turning TV1 into public broadcaster will certainly not be part of that agenda - which, incidentally, is the policy of both the Green Party and Mana.

Curran has accused National of killing public broadcasting in New Zealand, but Labour's new initiative will certainly not bring it back to life.

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