Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Anti-Labour website hears (but not heeds) electoral watchdog's warning

The new year has barely begun and the Electoral Commission is already flexing its new Government-given muscles, warning website creator Andy Moore that if he doesn't heed their warning over his attack website Don't Vote Labour that "he is not complying" with provisions of the Electoral Finance Act, then trouble will be a-coming his way.

Moore correctly says that the Commission's demand that he include his name and address on the site "is a breach of freedom of speech," and at this stage he has no plans to knuckle under.  Good on him, I say.

But there are others who are less supportive of free speech.  Martin Bradbury for instance, who says "you want to be an attack dog for the right, you gotta be registered" -- which to translate from oaf-ese means "Register with the government in order to criticise the Government." Brilliant!  Or: "Disagree with me, and I will defend to to the death the necessity for you to be muzzled."  With 'allies' like that, free speech hardly needs enemies.

Perhaps protagonists here should be reminded again of some of life's verities. That, as Salman Rushdie points out, without the freedom to offend, then freedom of expression ceases to exist.   And those still left defending the Electoral Finance Act might like to be reminded of the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said that "it is error alone that needs the support of government.  Truth can stand by itself."

Free speech is a precious and delicate flower.  As Saudi blogger Fouad al-Fahran has discovered in being arrested for violating Shari'ah laws on free speech (“everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah”) it is a flower all too easily pruned.

Cancer Card rescinded

I was as delighted to hear of new blogger 'Annie Fox!' conquering cancer as I was to read her disappointment at the rescinding of her 'cancer card':

The old Cancer Card gets you out of doing anything boring at all if you don't want to – work included. Fan-bloody-tastic, should have got cancer ages ago!
The mysterious thing about the Cancer Card is that its power increases the sicker you become, so after about your 4th course of chemo its power will probably be at its peak and provides many, many a free-pass. The only thing Cancer Card can't actually do is cure cancer.
But I noticed a disturbing thing the other day - mine had vanished! No I hadn't left it in the car to be stolen by the local yobs. But ever so slowly, as I got better and better, its power had diminished. It's like a muscle, the less you use it, the weaker it becomes, until eventually it withers & dies.

See, every silver lining has a cloud.  ;^)

Command and control education okay, says Minto

The Urewera 17 transcripts and John Minto's close association with all the protagonists was enough to show that the motives of his Global Peace and Justice mob were the reverse of those suggested by the name.  It was certainly neither peace nor justice that the snipers' rifles and molotov cocktails were intended to produce.  Minto's other interest, of course, is the Quality Public Education Forum, and like GPJ, it's another mis-named front.  As his rebuke to Tim Shadbolt over the issue of educational innovation demonstrates, it's neither quality nor education that interests him.  It's control.

Southland Institute of Technology (SIT) has used the government's tertiary 'voucher scheme' to deliver innovative education systems country-wide, says SIT's mayoral champion Tim Shadbolt, in courses that compete with other providers in both content and delivery.  But the government's new command-and-control tertiary scheme, which has seen him announce a year-long campaign of opposition, will kill SIT's innovative approach, he says, and kill off the opportunity of education for many youngsters who relish the teaching tools used in SIT's classrooms.  "There are kids in South Auckland who will miss out [if the courses are dropped]," says Shadbolt, pointing out for example that SIT's courses that use TV and computers as teaching tools had been successful with those who had difficulty in traditional classrooms. "A lot of street kids find paperwork off-putting. They're more comfortable with computers and TV and are prepared to have a go."

But this is competition and innovation delivering quality education.  That's not what Minto is for.  Minto literally wants to "erase 'entrepreneurialism' from the curriculum."  Showing his true colours, Minto insists Shadbolt and SIT should sit still, stop innovating, and do just as the education commissars tell them to, which means to butt out of competing and possibly showing up other educational providers.  Competition in education, under which SIT and its students have flourished, creates a "pointless and wasteful turf war" according to Minto, adding nothing to education "but the false notion of choice based on glossy brochures."  Such is Minto's notion of competition.  Organisations competing for your favour create a "pointless and wasteful turf war" and "a false notion of choice based on glossy brochures."  He would prefer the system more familiar to Soviet housewives, it seems: the empty shelves and substandard produce of a commissar controlled collective.

It would be a "tragedy for all young New Zealanders," says Minto, "if Mayor Shadbolt's campaign to undermine the new [command and control] funding mechanism is successful."  In fact, it would be an even greater tragedy if Minto were accepted as a genuine supporter of quality education.  Like peace and justice, it's of little interest to him except as a front for his real interest: Marxism.

UPDATE: By the way, if you're wondering why the the names of two of the groups associated with New Zealand's recent "terrorist camp" raids sound so benign ("Global Peace and Justice Auckland," spearheaded by communist John Minto and "Peace Action Wellington" by sniper rifle trainee Valerie Morse), then as Lindsay Perigo suggests, "Think Gramsci."

A nuclear Taliban

The conflict in Pakistan is one in which we all have a direct stake, says Robert Tracinski. "Not only is Northwest Pakistan serving as a safe haven for Taliban fighters fighting US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, but Pakistan is the only majority-Muslim nation that has nuclear weapons."

There is a "three-way battle" for control of Pakistan, says Tracinski, "pitting dictator Pervez Musharraf against two very different opponents—a liberal, Westernized urban middle class, and radical Islamists allied with al-Qaeda. It is vital to [all] our interests that Pakistan's liberals win—and that its Islamists are prevented from taking control of the country's nuclear weapons."

After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto however, American foreign policy in Pakistan is in trouble.  Says Elan Journo at the Ayn Rand Institute, that's no surprise: it was "in disarray long before the assassination."

U.S. diplomats have been scrambling for months to do something about the growing power of Islamists in the nuclear-armed nation which Washington hails as a “major non-NATO ally.” Having supported President Musharraf’s authoritarian regime, Washington helped broker the deal to allow Bhutto back into Pakistan, hoping she might create a pro-U.S. regime, but then decided to push Musharraf to share power with Bhutto, then insisted that he’s “indispensable,” but also flirted with the idea of backing Bhutto.
All this against the backdrop of the creeping Talibanization of Pakistan. Islamist fighters once “restricted to untamed mountain villages along the [Pakistani-Afghan] border,” now “operate relatively freely in cities like Karachi,” according to Newsweek. The Taliban “now pretty much come and go as they please inside Pakistan.” They are easily slipping in and out of neighboring Afghanistan to arm and train their fighters, and foster attacks on the West.
Why has Washington proven so incapable of dealing with this danger to U.S. security? The answer lies in how we embraced Pakistan as an ally.

There is no conspiracy here from the US, just vacillation and appeasement. Read on here to find out why it was American weakness rather than strength that encouraged the crisis whereby Islamic totalitarians have got closer than ever before to getting their hands on nuclear weapons.

Leave the Key under the mat, please

When you get to the voting booth this year and your blue pen is hovering over John Key's name -- getting ready to write him a blank cheque based on little more than a nice smile, a good story and the ability to change his mind at the drop of an order paper -- give some thought to his choice of architecture.  Any man who can stand proudly outside a house like this with that proud look of ownership on his face  has to be treated with considerable caution.     

Paul at the Fundy Post critiques a residence utterly without charm.

It is difficult to know where to begin. Here is a house (described somewhat disingenuously by the Herald as a "bach") which has the appearance of a miniature office building. Rather than its present location at Omaha Beach, its design suits it to a business park on the outskirts of the city, conveniently near major transport hubs. The reader should note the extravagant and charmless cornice, apparently supported by massive piers, as well as the floor-to-ceiling windows in tinted glass. The reader should note these and resolve never to have a home with these features; unless, that is, he should wish to have regular visits from photocopier salesmen, for surely they will flock to his door.

Should one be visiting Mr Key in his holiday home, whether to attempt to sell office products or for social reasons, it would be very bad form to tap one of those seemingly weighty piers. It would chime like a bell. The piers must be hollow, since the wooden deck which apparently supports and surrounds them could not bear the weight of so much masonry. Wits might observe that this is a hollow house for a hollow man.

Not that he's not entitled to live in whatever kind of appalling house he wants to, of course.  Just as we're quite entitled to judge him for that choice.  As architect Claude Megson said when reflecting on the appalling artistic choices of Alan Gibbs (this was back in the eighties when Gibbs was advising on how taxpayers' money should be divvied up), if these people don't have the taste or even the honesty they were even born with, how can we trust them in any other sense?

Monday, 7 January 2008

Turning out coffee-coloured people by the score ...

Lindsay Mitchell has a couple of fair questions about local race relations.  Given the graph below,  "Why do some people persist with separatism as a principle for policy formation?" and "why do we have a party based on race?"  Answers on a tokenist postcard, please.


And another thing: why (as I'm reliably informed is the case) are teachers required by the Ministry of Education to determine the race of children in their care, and if in doubt to unilaterally declare them Maori?  Aren't the liberal ruling classes supposed to be against racism?  Or is that just empty words for the proletariat.

Smoking, lies & the nanny state

page_headingThere are two kinds of celebrities who do 'issues.' The first kind are the vacuous joiners, adopting popular causes to either bolster flagging careers or boost new ones.  Then there are those who use whatever profile they have to promote causes they actually believe in.

Musician Joe Jackson (right) is the second kind. Explains the Telegraph:

Not for Jackson the populist flag-waving of Third World debt relief, global warming or the anti-landmine movement. In his more bloody-minded moments he says he feels like "standing up and saying, 'Actually, I quite like landmines!'"

For the past 10 years, Jackson has been a staunch defender of the rights of smokers. As a moderate five-a-day man, he is principally motivated by suspicion of the covert agenda of the anti-smoking lobby, which he dismisses as "a new Prohibition, a racket hugely driven by the pharmaceutical companies in partnership with the World Health Organisation" ...

"Mean-spirited" is his favourite description for everything from our obsession with vacuous celebrities to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras and chronic shortage of watering holes with late licences. News that smoking was to be outlawed in public places in [Britain] came as the last straw.

Read Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State [pdf], by Joe Jackson.  Or browse his site.  And if you can, track down and listen to his version of the song    'Round Midnight on this Tribute to Thelonious Monk.  Magnificent.

Trawler caught by Antarctic warming

I was amused to read that a British trawler was trapped in Antarctic waters by ice floes rampant with global warming, and rescued only by the heroic efforts of the USAF.

The Argos Georgia, a British fishing trawler, has been stuck since Christmas Eve amid floes near the Ross Ice Shelf deep below the Antarctic Circle.

Damn those warming ice floes.  Tim Blair summarises more warming news:

• All of Florida frozen;

• Extreme cold alert for Toronto;

• Washington man killed by four feet of warming;

• And record snow in New Hampshire...

2007 'Not PC' Stats

2007 was a good year for Not PC, with a steady and solid rise in readers, comments and feedback, and heartening signs of rational libertarian arguments first appearing here being picked up and ranged around far and wide -- which is after all what Not PC is here for.  Feel free to keep that up; attribution is optional.

Monthly figures for 2008 range from January's 9,761 visits (it took a few weeks to get going again last year) to an October high of 45,870.  The highest day was 3rd October, with 1386 visitors recording 2058 hits.  Totals for the year were:

277,257 visits from 108,644 visitors.
429,641 hits
For the last quarter of 2007, I was averaging 1035 visits per day, recording 1653 hits.

Unlike DPF, I can't easily tell you how many posts there were, or how many comments.  I can tell you there's been 4,578 posts since I started here in April 2005, and a whole slew of comments, most of which are intelligent and illuminating -- unlike some blogs we could name but won't.  (According to Tumeke!, I average 30 posts per week, making that approx. 1500 posts this year.  No wonder my fingers are sore. At an average of 300 words per post, that would make nearly half-a-million words. Phew!)

If readership like this gets your advertising juices flowing, then feel free to email me to discuss your plans at organon@ihug.co.nz. This is, after all, "published by me on a commercial basis."

UPDATE: A commenter asked me for stats on browsers and operating systems of readers, so here they are:
Internet Explorer 51.47%
Firefox 40.50%
Safari 5.56%
Opera 2.01%
Windows 87.98%
Macintosh 8.88%
Linux 2.57%

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Ranking the local blogosphere (update)

It had to happen.  The NZ (political) blogosphere has been ranked.  It's early days yet, and still decidedly speculative (and sometimes wrong -- I'm rated as "Right" for example), but the boys at Tumeke! have put together a system to decide who outranks whom in the local political blogosphere, to make a list which they propose to update monthly.  See here.  Should be interesting watching, especially in election year when a welter of tribal blogs emerge into barking sunlight with a feral glee when election fever strikes, only to wither away again in ignominy once the fever departs.

Yours truly enters the lists this month at number five...

UPDATE: "Bah, humbug," says Paul at the Fundy Post.  At least, that's how I'd characterise his review of what Tumeke's blog rankings show up:

The problem with blogs is that the political chaps want to have their say, so they set up blogs and link to all the other political chaps. Blogging is serious business, for serious people. The real political blogs are joined by fake ones – politicians pretending to be bloggers. The non-political blogs, often written by people with specialist interests who know what they are talking about, don't get a look in. Writing skills count less than political allegiances. And the result is a list like this, where many of the entries, whether left or right, are unreadable.
Not that Mr Selwyn is at fault in compiling this list. The dominance of political blogs seems to be a natural feature of the blogging ecosystem and is self-perpetuating. Among those political blogs are writers who are informed about the issues and can present the arguments. It is just a shame about the rest.

Beer O'Clock: Loving lager

This is not the regular Beer O'Clock post here, but a note that The Times has several articles that Beer O'Clock readers will enjoy, including

A day in the life of a lager sommelier

A good beer list is an increasingly important part of life for any self-respecting restaurant...

In the beginning, there was ale .....

In the Middle Ages, Benedictine monks worked out how to keep ale fresh during the summer - and that is how lager was born...

How to sip, drink and enjoy lager

For many people, lager is a thirst-quencher and not a drink to be savoured slowly. That perception is about to change...

How to spot the perfect pint

What makes the perfect pint? The glass, the pour and a whole lot more...

So many lagers, so little time

When it comes to lager, many punters and bar staff are happy with as little detail as possible...

And of course a quiz: Lager buff – or bluff?

The world's weirdest legal cases

And The Times also has a neat list of twenty of the world's weirdest legal cases, from the man who sued God to the man who sued TV for making his wife fat...

My favourite is the story of German lawyer, Dr Juergen Graefe, who acted for an elderly pensioner sent a tax demand for €287 million, even though the woman’s income was only €17,000. Dr Graefe fixed the problem with one standard letter to the authorities, but as German law entitles him to calculate his fee based on the amount of the reduction he obtained, his fee came to €440,234 (£308,000). It was met by the state.

The year is 1907...


The year is 1907. One hundred years ago. What can happen in just one century (figures are American, unless otherwise stated) ---

*  The average life expectancy in the U.S was 47 years.
* The five leading causes of death were:
  1. Pneumonia and influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke

* More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.
* One-hundred in every one-thousand babies died before their first birthday.
* Antibiotics were yet to be invented.
* There was no income tax, no central banks and no passports.
* Only 14% of U.S. homes had a bathtub.
* Only 8% of U.S. homes had a telephone.
* There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads in the whole of continental America.
* The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
* The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
* The average wage in 1907 was 22 cents per hour.
* The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
* A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
* Frank Lloyd Wright designed the 'Fireproof House for $5000' (above) for the 'Ladies Home Journal.'
* Meanwhile, timber villas in Auckland's Grey Lynn were changing hands for two hundred pounds.
* Sugar cost four cents a pound.
* Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
* Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
* Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
* Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
* The American flag had 45 stars.
* The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30.
* Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
* There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
* Only six percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.  Nine out of every 10 adults were able to read and write, (nineteen out of twenty native Americans, but only five out of every ten negroes).
* Blacks were called negroes.
* Marijuana, Heroin, and Morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect 'guardian of health'."
* Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
* There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A.

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years . . . and feel free to add your own snippets in the comments.  [Adapted from a post at Earth Changes Media]

Friday, 4 January 2008

Warriors ruled, not okay.

A story for you here on this fine January morning.

A long, long time ago, the world (it was thought) was divided up into four classes of people: Nobles, and commoners, clergy and serfs. Commoners and serfs were barred from bearing arms, and were thus reliant on the protection of "knightly violence" - thus was born the veneration of the "noble warrior,' the notion of class, and the acceptance of any pillage the noble warriors cared to make.

Warriors ruled, okay.

Such was society for thousands of years, in thousands of different places.  Such was the culture of medieval Europe, of Shinto Japan, of ancient China, of pre-European New Zealand, of today's Islamic states.  The three "estates" (comprising nobles, clergy and commoners, with serfs consigned to the memory hole) were said in medieval Europe to be part of an "organic whole" that "reflected the order of heaven." Nobles (said their clerical allies) were divinely mandated to live off the backs of others. Poverty and plunder and the "chivalry" and "warrior code" that created them were nothing to be reviled, but a recognition of divine order --  "The poor will always be with us" was not so much a plaintive cry as the ordering of a society "one and triune like the divinity who had created and would ultimately judge it."

So said the clergy.

The clergy and the knights needed one another: The nobles needed the sanction of the clergy to continue their plunder; the clergy needed the protection of the sword to keep their own game going. Ayn Rand pointed out that these two represent two sides of a vicious and mutually dependent coin -- she characterised them with the images of Attila and the Witchdoctor:

While Attila extorts their obedience by means of a club, the Witch Doctor obtains it by means of a much more powerful weapon: he pre-empts the field of morality. . . . Both of them are incomplete parts of a human being, who seek completion in each other: the man of muscle and the man of feelings, seeking to exist without mind. . . . Atilla rules by means of fear, by keeping men under a constant threat of destruction--the Witch Doctor rules by means of guilt, by keeping men convinced of their innate depravity, impotence and insignificance.

The nobles acquired their values by force; the clergy by the fraud of "mystic revelation." Their mutual need to keep the plunder going created the "warrior culture" and the veneration of martial virtues that made this setup so widespread. The astute reader will be able to draw examples of his own, and will also be able to see what was missing.

What was missing was someone to create the values being plundered.  Pillage was revered; production was not.  Plunder was valued; trade was not.  No wonder human history has mostly been a history of conflict and stagnation and pauperism, at least in those times and places in which this con game has dominated and the warrior culture has not been supplanted by a trader culture

A trader does not seize his values by force; he trades value for value -- a mutual exchange in which both parties benefit.  In those times and places in which the warrior culture is dominant, life has been nasty, brutish and short; in those times and places in which a trader culture is dominant, human history is more benign.  Reflecting at the end of his life on the necessary overthrow of the witchdoctors and the warriors, Thomas Jefferson pointed out the necessity of "of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

After centuries of struggle, the light of reason and the recognition of the rights of man has led, at least in those parts of the world where the light is allowed to shine, to the burying of poverty and the veneration of greater virtues than slaughter and plunder and the apologetics of witchdoctors.  Let us ensure that the light continues to shine ever brighter, even as the forces that seek to snuff out that light gather and redouble their efforts.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Don't vote for Nanny, or for Nanny's supporters

As the new website advertised in that banner on the right says, Don't Vote Labour.  In fact, don't vote for any party, politician or candidate that supported the Electoral Finance Bill and the rorting of NZ's electoral law, including the opportunists who were embarrassed into changing their minds at the last minute -- but do add the 'Don't Vote Labour' banner to your own website  (instructions for that here), and don't be prepared to give the other bastards an even break either.

Why not vote for these particular lying bastards?  As Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton explains:

In 2005 Labour flouted election laws by stealing public money to buy propaganda.

In 2006, they abandoned all constitutional norms and retrospectively changed the law so that they wouldn’t be called into the High Court to answer for that action.

This year the government has passed legislation allowing them to steal far more at the next election. Worst of all, the Clark regime is now trying to ram through legislation that would ban me from pointing out that they are behaving like tyrants and telling people not to vote for them.

They've now rammed that legislation through with the support of assorted toadies. That is wrong.  As Peter Osborne says, “If ever there were a time to openly break a law, it is now. Bugger registering to have your say, and bugger staying silent.”

Thus following the sidesteps of DPF and sundry others, let me follow the no-nonsense balls-out approach of KG by asserting:

This website is published by me on a commercial basis.  Advertisers pay to be here.  Views expressed on it by me are political views which are not intended to inform, enlighten or entertain, but to cajole, induce and persuade.  They are specifically intended to sway the votes and sympathies of readers, which in this context means to persuade the chatterati to the promotion of capitalist acts between consenting adults, and to dissuade voters from voting for or supporting Nanny's legion of cheerleaders.

Hence under paragraph (g) of Section 5(2) of the Electoral Finance Act this website may be considered an election advertisement.

I further assert that this website is a news media Internet site and that posts on here written by me, as the editor, are intended not  to inform enlighten or entertain but solely for the purpose of swaying the votes and sympathies of readers, and hence also may be considered an election advertisement under paragraph (d) of Section 5(2) of the Electoral Finance Act.

For the record, my name is Peter Cresswell, and my address is none of your damn business.

Have a nice day.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Eight for '08

Uncle Trev tagged me to post my eight wishes for 2008. I've confined myself to politics.

  1. For the disquiet about Nanny State and the EFB that is now all but bubbling under to reach a tipping point, erupting into nationwide outrage against the onslaught of Nanny's soft fascism -- and widespread and insistent demands to beat the bitch back.
  2. For New Zealand's Labour-Lite party to find a pair and come out with genuine policies promoting capitalist acts between consenting adults -- or that are even just a tiny bit more radical than those now advanced by Australia's new Labour Prime Minister.
  3. For ACT (the "liberal" party) to promote policies actually based upon its founding principles; for the Maori and Green Parties to discover property rights; for Jim Neanderton, Winstone Peters and Peter Dung to be rejected by Wigram, Tauranga and Ohariu voters respectively, so that we never hear their ego-driven whining again.
  4. For would-be Libz supporters to realise that it's about ideas, stupid; and for several Libz candidates to put together significant war chests for well-focussed, widely publicised constituency campaigns, by which New Zealanders discover the twin values of liberty and reason, and principled policies promoting same head to parliament.
  5. For Alan Bollard to realise that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon -- and that it's his hand on the handle of the printing presses.
  6. For Ron Paul supporters to realise that Gen Petraeus is winning in Iraq and that George Bush did not fly those planes into the World Trade Center; to rediscover Thomas Jefferson's policy on the Barbary Coast pirates and to take to heart the words of President Madison once the Barbary war was finally won (America's first victory over Islamic terrorists), to whit: “It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.”
  7. For warmists and the pro-warmist media to finally realise that the planet stopped warming in 1998, that climate models are as accurate as crystal balls, and that Al Bore and the IPCC emperors really don't have any clothes.
  8. For American Objectivists to realise that the anti-human environmentalists and death-worshipping Islamic totalitarians in our faces are a more direct and imminent danger than are the right wing religionists they insist are under the bed.
And finally, a hope almost beyond hope for the demise of lies, spin and spin doctors, and the rise and rise of open and honest straight talking instead.

. . . I'm tagging, um, Callum, Scott, Woolfie, Graham, PhilAndLuke and MikeE and to post their own hopes for 2008 -- if they aren't out there somewhere well beyond civilisation and internet coverage as they should be at this time of year.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Elections 2008

Oswald managed to snare a copy of next year's election ballot paper, as authorised by Helen Clark's chief of staff (and snaffled by ZenTiger).

Digital 'Free Radical' open for business

I'm very happy to announce that the injury-delayed digital edition of the new Free Radical is now available for download here at the Free Radical store.

(My very warm thanks to webmaestro William Green for climbing out of what fortunately wasn't his death bed to do the necessaries.)

del.icio.us Tags:

Best of NOT PC in 2007

Rather than nominate my own Best Post of 2007, I'm following the lead of the SubStandard and inviting you lot to nominate your favourite Not PC post of the past year. Just leave a note in the comments section below, if you'd be so kind. I'd love to know what you've enjoyed most, and why.

UPDATE: Just noticed the SubStandard boasting that since its August start, it's gone from tens to hundred and now "thousands" of readers ever day. Thousands? Really? With an Alexs rating of just 533,395 that puts it above Jordan Carter's pathetic rating of 989,176, but well below this blog's 345,207 -- which I'm happy to say attracts on average just over a thousand a day when it's properly in business. That's a single thousand, not several thousand. (Some comparative ratings are here.)

So the SubStandard is not just substandard, it's also prone to boastful lies -- just like the politicians on whose behalf the SubStandard so regularly lies.

Holiday radio

You might like to know that thinking radio hasn't died altogether for the summer. Lindsay Perigo is on Radio Live afternoons until some time next week.

You can check frequencies or listen online at the Radio Live website.

Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007 (updated)

In some places political candidates are chosen in free and fair elections.  New Zealand used to be one of those places.

In other places such as Pakistan however, they seem to prefer assassination:

Two months after her triumphant return from exile, a lone gunman fired several shots at Bhutto as she left an election rally in Rawalpindi, hitting her in the neck and chest. Seconds later a fireball caused by a suicide bomb engulfed her bulletproof car and killed at least 20 supporters. The former prime minister was rushed to a nearby hospital where distraught supporters burst through doors, smashed windows and tried to storm into the operating theatre where surgeons struggled to save her life. She was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Initial suspicions for the attack fell on Islamist militants who had previously threatened to kill the 54-year-old scion of Pakistan's greatest political dynasty. [Source: Guardian]

Note the suspected perpetrators? 

The news of Bhutto's barbaric assassination and the slaughter of twenty others rather overshadows the news of even more Islamist barbarity from Afghanistan, where according to Amnesty International's 2007 Report on Afghanistan there was a rise in cases of so-called “honour” killings of women. [Source: Abdulhadhi Hairan, GROUND REPORT]

UPDATE 1: Poneke looks at how since partition India has worked out way, way better than Pakistan.  The reason?  One's a secular state.  The other isn't.  Guess which one is rife with poverty, violence and Islamist training camps, and (now that it's abandoned its pathetic earlier addiction to socialism) which one is the coming economic tiger. [Hat tip DPF]

UPDATE 2: Christopher Hitchens pens a magnificent eulogy to Benazir Bhutto here.  Her courage, he says, "could sometimes have been worthy of a finer cause, and many of the problems she claimed to solve were partly of her own making. Nonetheless, she perhaps did have a hint of destiny about her."  And her murderers?

Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman's Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico. But it's hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death. The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.

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Temperatures rising. Not.

Just dropped back in to pass on some news I thought you'd be interested to hear:

With only few days remaining in 2007, the indications are the global temperature for this year is the same as that for 2006 – there has been no warming over the 12 months.

But is this just a blip in the ever upward trend you may ask? No.

The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. [Source: New Statesman magazine]

I figured you needed to hear that.  Shame the politicians, warmists and other assorted jackasses still haven't learned that, as David Whitehouse says, "if temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming [then] something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of [dollars] needlessly." 

Delete the word "may" in that last sentence. 

Why not join with Frank Furedi and JimHopkins in making a 'New Year's revolution' to make 2008 the year to challenge the Politics of Apocalypse.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Help lift a likely lad's literacy

Before I head off properly, let me tell you a story. A story of a man, a very good man - a man who's doing some very good work. You might even call it a story for Christmas.

You might have heard of a chap called Graham Crawshaw who helps young boys to read: He holds what he calls Reading Adventure Camps for unreading and troubled young boys; he offers them all the adventures young boys should have, and he teaches them to read -- and these are the boys everyone else has given up on.

His two criteria for choosing boys or his camps are 1) that they can't read, and 2)that they're considered unmanageable. From this unpromising material he changes young lives.


They don't need to. Poor reading is mostly a result of poor reading teaching -- teaching using the failed 'Whole Language' method, for example. Using phonics however, Graham teaches those who've been failing at reading that it's really not hard once you "break the code -- that reading is fun, and far less difficult than they thought. Since 1995, Graham has held 69 six-day Reading Adventure Camps up at his Phonics Farm near Dargaville, teaching over 1400 children the joy and skills of reading.

Early in the New Year, on January 9th, he holds his first camp in a new location, at Windy Ridge Boys' Farm just south of Warkworth. We're heading up there in a few days to help him get it ready, and you can help as well if you'd like to.

If you feel the Christmas spirit and you want to help this good man out then you can sponsor a boy to this camp, or you can donate materials or money, or you can volunteer your services as a cook, as a reading tutor or as a cabin leader. Any help at all would be appreciated.

Said one parent after one of Graham's reading camps,
My son wasn't that keen on going to a reading camp. But the difference towards reading was amazing. He read his first novel in one week and couldn't put it down... It has been evident to me this camp is essential for all children with reading difficulties...
You can read more about Graham and his reading camps at page 11 of the digital edition of Free Radical 73 [pdf], and an interview with him in Free Radical 74, page 12 [pdf]. And of course, feel free to enjoy the rest of each magazine.

And if you're inspired enough to help in any way, you can download details and a form here [jpeg].

Enjoy your Christmas!!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Beer O’Clock – The Best of Beer, 2007

It's definitely that time of year. Last week, Stu from SOBA presented his 2007 beer picks. This week, Neil Miller from RealBeer hands out some accolades of his own in the way of NZ's best beers, and the best bars in which to drink them.

Beers of the Year

10. Hallertau Stuntman – ludicrously strong, a glass of delicious stupidity

9.  Moa Original – still a startlingly different very rare beer

8.  Three Boys IPA – balance, flavor and now consistency

7.  Galbraith’s Burton Pale Ale – I only ever had one pint of this and it ruled

6.  Limburg Czechmate Pilsner – not big, just brilliant

5.  Cock and Bull Monk’s Habit – decadent, complex, good for the soul

4.  Dux de Lox Nor’easter – why is Ginger Tom in a bottle ahead of this nectar?

3.  Epic Mayhem – strong, punchy, aromatic, this is hophead heaven

2.  Emerson’s Organic Pilsner – the best this fine beer has ever tasted

1.  Epic Pale Ale – full of flavour with vast reservoirs of drinkability, my beer of the year.

This list clearly reflects my preference for hoppy beers and, in many cases, strong beers too. The bottom line is that it comes down to personal taste. I know Stu’s list would look very different. I shudder to think what would be on PC’s list…

Best Bars

Auckland: Galbraith’s – When the usually wine-focused Metro magazine says a brewpub is Auckland’s bar of the year (by which they mean New Zealand’s bar of the year), it is pretty clear Galbraith’s has universal appeal. Outstanding beer and food in a funky venue.

Wellington: Malthouse With its beer list passing the 140 mark, this is the Capital’s mecca for beer lovers. The selection and service are outstanding. Beware of implausibly handsome Scotsmen.

Christchurch: Twisted Hop Expanding to meet demand, this fine English-style brewpub is rightly popular with ex-pats and locals. Real ale and black pudding are hard to beat. Personally, I’m loving the informal competition between the Hop and Galbraith’s to see which can provide the best pork pie in New Zealand. I’m already a volunteer judge.

Dunedin: Inch Bar – A bar which simply should not work but is absolutely brilliant. You can spend hours marvelling at how much beer can be served from the country’s smallest bar. Watch out for the appearance of the sacred handpump, and Richard Emerson on his bicycle.

This is sadly the last Beer O’Clock for 2007 from me. Even though the most read and most searched Beer O’Clock column was about the Heineken mini-keg, I’d still like to wish all readers a decadent yet safe festive season, and recommend against the product within.

Cheers, Neil


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Christmas message from Frank Lloyd Wright

This is probably one of the last remaining posts here at Not PC for the year, so it's probably a good time to wish all of you a great Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year -- that is, every single one of you who doesn't wish increased state bullying upon me and mine and on the rest of the populace of New Zealand who remains here.  Just a small number of you, then.

So as the offices here at Not PC Towers begin to shut down for the holidays, I really do want to re-post architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s poetic message on “man the enlightened being” which he used to send out at Christmas time. “The herd disappears and reappears," says Wright's message, "but the sovereignty of the individual persists.”

Literature tells about man. Architecture presents him. The Architecture that our man of Democracy needs and prophecies is bound to be different from that of the common or conditioned man of any other socialized system of belief. As never before, this new Free-Man’s Architecture will present him by being true to his own nature in all such expressions. This aim becomes natural to him in his Art as it once was in his Religion.
With renewed vision, the modern man will use the new tools Science lavishes upon him (even before he is ready for them) to enlarge his field of action by reducing his fetters to exterior controls, especially those of organized Authority, publicity, or political expediency. He will use his new tools to develop his own Art and Religion as the means to keep him free, as himself. Therefore this democratic man’s environment, like his mind, will never be style-ized. When and wherever he builds he will not consent to be boxed. He will himself have his style...
Read on here: Man, the Enlightened Being by Frank Lloyd Wright, and have a great individualistic holiday season.  And remember this useful advice about responsible holiday drinking: Try to schedule responsibly so you get it all done before lunch.

Is Christmas too commercial?

Is Christmas too commercial? Says philosopher Leonard Peikoff, that complaint misses the very point of Christmas, the most benevolent and commercial holiday in the catalogue.

At Christmas we don't say "sacrifice and repent," we say enjoy yourself and thrive! Getting together with workmates, friends and loved ones, celebrating the year with gusto; giving gifts pleasure to people you value, whose friendship you want to enjoy. Boats full of happy people cruise the harbour; laughing diners fill restaurants; shops overflow with people buying gifts to make people happy who make them happy. What's not to like about Christmas being commercial?

Christmas [says Peikoff] is an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life. Yet all of these are castigated as "materialistic"; the real meaning of the holiday, we are told, is assorted Nativity tales and altruist injunctions (e.g., love thy neighbor) that no one takes seriously...
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: ‘Merry Christmas’—not ‘Weep and Repent.’ And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance....
All the best customs of Christmas, from carols to trees to spectacular decorations, have their root in pagan ideas and practices. These customs were greatly amplified by [Western] culture, as the product of reason, science, business, worldliness, and egoism, i.e., the pursuit of happiness...
Life requires reason, selfishness, capitalism; that is what Christmas should celebrate -- and really, underneath all the pretense, that is what it does celebrate. It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.

And so say all of us.

UPDATE: Historians know the "reason for the season," and what they know is it's not because of the Nativity. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury apparently knows the truth, conceding yesterday that the Christmas story and the Three Wise Men - the whole Nativity thing -- is all just "a legend." Story here [hat tip James Valliant]. What a great Christmas present, the gift of truth.


I trust everyone is safe after last night's earthquake?  No horror stories from anyone?

I didn't feel a thing here in Auckland.  How 'bout you?

Women who prefer cardigans, perhaps?


Britain’s chief scientist Professor Sir David King demonstrates that being a scientist and being a braindead joyless bastard are not mutually exclusive.  Says King:

Women must stop admiring men who drive sports cars if they want to join the fight against global warming, the Government’s chief scientist has urged.

Allow me to demonstrate what you aren't allow ed to find sexy.  Ladies, be sure not to dribble. MGA MGA MBGRV8Ferrari-Dino-246-GT





Seems to me that any woman who really did prefer a cardie-wearing bloke who drives a Prius to someone driving one of these needs their head read, and should be shunned in polite company -- just like King should be.  Global warming: it's not just killing freedom, but killing fun as well.

Back in my day ...

Allow me to rant for just a moment. 

2007 has been a frustrating year in many ways.  Certainly a frustrating year for freedom lovers, and in almost every way a frustrating year for most people in the building industry.  New regulations, new impositions, longer lead periods and higher costs for every part of the building programme, 'voluntary' registration of the builders and designers who remain in the industry ...

The greater intrusion can be seen in a simple comparison of building consent documentation through the years, and the time and paper taken to produce it.

Building consent applications take three times longer to prepare than they did just ten years ago and four times as much paper to produce as they did twenty years ago, and (it often seems) it takes about five times longer and quite a few dollars more to process -- not to mention the time taken for resource consent applications, and in extra inspections once you start.

One hundred years ago most houses were built on the basis of one A3 sheet of plans  (sometimes) an A4 handwritten specification clipped to the sheet. These are the sturdy houses of yesteryear that ring our major cities in which the chattering classes of today now love to live.  Today, those same plans would get you thrown out of the council offices, (the size and growing population of which tell their own story about the growth of intrusive regulation), and to renovate the houses it now takes longer to produce the plans than it does to do the work.

The nonsense only started in recent decades.  Twenty years ago your typical house could be built with about five pages of plans and maybe twenty A4 pages of specifications.  Those buildings still hold up well today.

Ten years ago things were starting to get more complicated, with the paper  required to lodge a building consent for a simple house doubling from what it was ten years before -- and, naturally, fewer of those pages were now being read -- but little did we know the explosion in time-consuming bullshit that was about to come.

In the last five years, and in this last year particularly, producing and guiding an application between the Scylla and Charybdis of the building and resource consent process seems the work of Sisyphus, not of Ulysses.  It used to be fun.  It's not any more.

A client was telling me yesterday that he was going through the paperwork of a deal made about ten years ago: he bought a section conditionally on the basis of getting a resource consent for subdividing the place into three units. Seven weeks later he was breaking ground, with building and resource consents in tow.  These days, he'd have to buy unconditionally, and have to suffer the holding costs and uncertainties of a much, much, much longer wait.

More time, more unnecessary costs, bullshit and bureaucracy (and bureaucrats) increasing by the month.  And are our houses really better for it?

** Posts from the ARCHIVES on: Building

'Pinwheel' Tower - Organon Architecture

PinwheelTower1987-003PinwheelTower1987-002I drove past the big hole in the ground yesterday on the corner of Albert and Victoria that will one day soon will become Auckland's second tallest building, and I reflected wistfully about this student project of mine from 1987 for the city block next door at Queen and Victoria, where the awful Philips Fox building(s) is/are now.

The pictures of the concept model are rather worse for wear, but I still like the way it would have soared up out of that Queen St corner, and require just a little bit of time to get to know.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

It's 'back to business' time: National are not the answer

I like these comments by Lance Davey at SOLO on the aftermath of the Electoral Finance Bill's passing into law.  It's a timely reminder that despite the anger over this Bill and some very occasional appearances to the contrary, National are not the answer:

Shadbolt is temporarily off my shit-list, for now. As were National. I didn't once call them Labour-Lite or refer to them as Natscum throughout the anti-EFB campaign. But now that's over it's back to business.

The problem with the "we must vote National to dislodge Labour" is that we are then "settling" for National; a barely more palatable alternative. We then strike the problem that to prevent Labour coming back to power, we "must" vote National again. It's Tweedledum and Tweedledipshit, and it frustrates me that people see a need to support one over the other...

What sticks out in my mind [from the anti-EFB campaign], beyond the sickening arrogance of Labour, beyond the dangerous rhetoric of Winston "our censorship laws are perhaps too liberal" Peters, beyond the hideous stench of corruption of the whole damned process, is the smug, snide look on the face of John Key and Bill English when they first started speaking out against the bill in the media.

National are not our saviours—they cannot be trusted any more than Labour can. To them this wasn't an all-out assault against free expression. No, this was a golden opportunity. I'll never forget the overjoyed look on John Key's face while describing just how draconian the EFB was. Smiling and laughing the whole way...  Do not for one second think that they are any more conducive to liberty in New Zealand than Labour.

If Labour are the type to launch a "dramatic assault" on liberty, then National are the type to give her a quiet back alley raping, then tell us that she was asking for it. Voting National just to dislodge Labour would be votes wasted.

The EFB is not my main concern. It's the culture that led to it... The Libz have it right, it is the mainstream that has it wrong. New Zealand needs a massive cultural and philosophical revolution. To do that you have to set your teeth, draw a line in the sand and say "No further, these are our demands, these are our principles and we will fight for them unwaveringly and unflinchingly". What hope if every time the bogeyman spectre of Labour raises it's head we go running back to National?

I'm not yet so scared of Labour and their policies that I'll hide behind the skirts of National.

As you'd expect, it's kicked off some debate...

TFR78: The Democracy Rationing edition (updated)

TFR78Cover "Don’t Vote For Any MP, Any Party Or Any Candidate Who Supports The Electoral Finance Bill!"

Democracy is now rationed. Political speech is being muzzled. Has New Zealand really come to this? The latest Free Radical magazine hits the streets, just in time for Christmas, and just in time to dissect the greatest assault on New Zealand's democracy and free speech since .. well, for ever.

How did it come to this, that saying what's quoted above could have just become illegal? Bernard Darnton and Peter Cresswell explain why, how, and why it’s so wrong – why and how what our soldiers fought to defend is being taken away -- why thousands have taken to the streets to protest it, and where that leaves us now. And that's just the cover story of this bumper summer issue of 'The Free Radical.'

  • NANNY's BIG BABIES: The Rise and Rise of an Infantilised Culture
    We now have virtually cradle to cradle nannying -- we’re never allowed out of our cribs, and there's nothing any of New Zealand's childlike, apathetic would-be whiners care to do about it. Marcus Bachler and Peter Osborne take the culture of infantilisation to task. How did we become such crybabies, they ask?
  • FEEL-GOOD ENVIRONMENTALISM: Spinning the Climate
    How is it that the forces of global nonsense can fly to Bali in their thousands to force us to make any sacrifice hey consider necessary towards their goal of “saving the planet”? Talking about ways to force us to reduce carbon emissions, emitting 100,000 tonnes of the stuff themselves to fly there to talk about it – that’s how ‘seriously’ they take their own warnings. Vincent Gray, Callum McPetrie, Joel Schwartz, Steve Hayward and Ken Green explain how spinning the climate requires politics to pose as science, and emotions to replace thought.
  • BANNING BZP: Prohibition Still Doesn't Work
    How is it that despite abundant evidence that prohibition doesn’t, can’t and hasn’t ever worked, the forces of darkness are doing it again: banning a peaceful party pill, and inviting the social destruction of prohibition all over again. Rodney Hide, Nandor Tanczos and Richard Goode point out the how, as Richard Goode says, the party pills ban but the 'P' into BZP.

All this plus the usual treats, including reviews, interviews, all your regular columnists, and a celebration of the 40th anniversary of your editor’s favourite TV show, all in this 78th Free Radical. 78 blows for freedom, and still going strong!

Head to the Free Radical store to subscribe or to buy your digital Free Radical. Or head to one of these top shops around the country to pick up your hard copy (they should be arriving in shops this afternoon).

Peter Cresswell

NB: We're having a few teething problems getting the new digital issue for TFR78 succesfully uploaded at the Free Radical store. Keep checking back: I've been assured it will happen soon.

In the meantime, here's a link for an A3 poster of the cover you can download. Enjoy.

UPDATE: As astute readers might by now have realised, our webmaster appears to have taken an early holiday -- for which I can only offer prospective purchasers of the digital edition my profound apologies, and a recommendation that they purchase a hard copy edition from one of these top shops. And to say that volunteers for the job of Free Rad webmaster will be gratefully received in the New Year.

UPDATE 2: Mystery solved. Just heard that webmaster presently responsible for uploading digital Free Radicals was hospitalised after a car accident. News such as it is so far here. Naturally, our thoughts are with the young man as we wish him a speedy recovery ...

Heading up, then heading off

As the uni year closes and PhD candidates emerge blinking into the sunlight of the real world, one successful PhD candidate explains why PhD graduates might not be staying in New Zealand very long.

At Christmas, thank the producers

Christmas is a time to thank the producers, those who make the stuff we can't do without.  As we end a year in which the favourite words are sustainable, environmental, and anything beginning with "eco," Lew Rockwell reckons we should celebrate entrepreneurs -- "those who make speculative judgments in a capitalistic economy, risking their own resources to bring us goods, services, and techniques that we have never known before."
It is the entrepreneur's intuition and imagination that make economic progress possible.
That's true.  As year on year and generation on generation our lives are blessed with the material benefits brought into the world by those especially imbued with the entrepreneurial spirit, it's worth it just occasionally to pause and say thank you, and to wonder why and who would want to put a stop to their life-enhancing efforts. As Rockwell notes:
Unfortunately, some would. They oppose the free-market process that makes improvement possible. They seize on some innovation that they don't like, and instead of declining to buy, seek to deny that opportunity to others by passing laws against free exchange and economic progress.
Such people seem to be everywhere these days. The environmentalist movement is replete with them; indeed, the ideology pretty much defines the ideological Left. They preach that we buy too much, sell too much, and compete too much, while calling on the government to stop us.
This hectoring must carry some persuasive power, given how many people have been taken in by it. The mistake is in thinking that economic progress is driven by some strange force outside our control. In fact, material progress represents the social ratification of the ideas and actions of dreamers in a capitalistic marketplace, people seeking to bring us better ways of living, and using peaceful means to do so.
...People have been led to believe that shutting down entrepreneurship and the marketplace will improve the world. Actually, that way lies barbarism, and a system unfit for human beings.

A good and timely message. When Brad Thompson of Clemson University declares that "capitalism works because it's moral and just," this is what he means: the freedom of capitalism represents leaves free all dreamers free to dream, free to rise, and able to take us with them.

What a great thought to contemplate at Christmas.

Some thoughts for the season from Lord Byron

I would to heaven that I were so much clay,
As I am blood, bone, marrow, passion, feeling--
Because at least the past were passed away--
And for the future--(but I write this reeling,
Having got drunk exceedingly today,
So that I seem to stand upon the ceiling)
I say--the future is a serious matter--
And so--for God's sake--hock and soda-water!
(Fragment on the back of the Poet's MS. of Don Juan, Canto 1)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Darnton offers Libz political party as 'flag of convenience' for free speech

The first truck was driven through the Electoral Finance Act this morning, even before the Governor General had the chance to sign it into law.

Co-trustee of the Free Speech coalition and leader of the Libertarianz Party Bernard Darnton is offering his Party as a 'flag of convenience' for third parties wanting to spend more than the cap imposed upon them by the Electoral Finance Act.

As a registered political party, Libertarianz has a spending cap of $2.4 million dollars, twenty times what is allowed to third parties under Labour's draconian new free speech rationing rules, and Darnton sees a way to use that to promote the free speech this Government would like to muzzle. Darnton announced the new policy, explaining:
"Libertarianz is happy to authorize election advertisements for the third parties that Labour has tried to crack down on. We've never spent anything like $2 million dollars on an election campaign, so we've got plenty of room to spare.

"Free speech is far too important to let the Clark regime and its cronies flush it away. We will fight this law all the way to the election and we'd like to help groups that might otherwise be excluded from the election to do the same."
Darnton invited all third parties who wanted to include their spending under the Libertarianz cap to contact him to discuss the details:
Phone: 021 324 466
Email: bernard.darnton@libertarianz.org.nz

UPDATE: The Free Speech Coalition has begun its billboard campaign in earnest this morning against the parties who voted the Electoral Finance Act into law.
"The Electoral Finance Act was correctly labeled by the New Zealand Herald as an "Attack on Democracy" so we think it is fitting that Democracy should attack back," said spokesman David Farrar.

Three billboards are initially going up. One in Auckland targeting Helen Clark (above), one in Tauranga for Winston Peters (below) and one in Wellington for Peter Dunne [or the Greens]. "They are a clear statement," says trustees David Farrar, Cameron Slater and Bernard Darnton, "that we regard their legislation as anti-democratic and unconstitutional. MPs are there to serve the public, not to silence the public...

"We hope the public enjoy the billboards over summer. We only have funding to keep them up for a month but will be asking people to donate to keep them up longer, or to allow us to roll out more billboards in more cities."
You can buy more billboards for the Coalition at their website.

Hot Kyoto Air

Mark Steyn, just the latest representative of western values to attract the violent attentions of Islamic totalitiarians, points out in The Telegraph that there's more than a whiff of hypocrisy from America-hating warmists:

In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.
Had America and Australia ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion - and those are the US Energy Information Administration's somewhat optimistic models.

[Hat tip Kiwi Pundit]

The Ten Least Successful Christmas TV Specials of All Time

As you prepare to settle back for the Christmas season, and perhaps to prepare for a Salacious Saturnalia, you might be looking forward to one of the modern Christmas traditions: the TV Christmas Special. Here, for your edification, is the list of the ten least successful Christmas TV Specials of all time.
They include Orson Welles's seminal The Assasination of St Nicholas; the much-discussed 'lost' Star Trek Christmas episode, Christmas: A most Illogical Holiday,' Noam Chomsky's Deconstructing Christmas -- despite the concession of Chomsky to wear a seasonal hat for a younger demographic appeal, still unaccountably the least requested Christmas special ever made; and of course, Ayn Rand's 1951 classic, A Selfish Christmas.
Check them all out here.

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Electoral Finance Act: "It's about the sweet scent of power, and the lust for control" (updated)

Crikey, Hone Harawira can get to the heart of an issue.  Here he is speaking yesterday on the Government's Incumbency Protection Act, (passed last night by 63 votes to 57):

Yes folks money talks, but nothing talks quite like the truth, and the truth about this Bill is that it's nothing but an arrogant dismissal by this Labour-led government to deny the citizens of Aotearoa / New Zealand the right to participate in one of the fundamental rights of any so-called "democratic society" – how you elect your government.

And no – we will not be fobbed off by any talk about how this is only about election finances, because it ain't.

If this was only about election finances, then why did this Labour government push through special legislation to validate their $800,000 over-spend at the last election, rather than let the legal process take its natural course?

If this was only about election finances, then why didn't this Labour government ask the Auditor General and the Electoral Commission, to present a range of options for public consideration, and presentation to the House?

If this was only about election finances, then how come the Human Rights Commission says this Bill is a dramatic assault on fundamental human rights – freedom of expression, and the right to participate in the election process?

If this was only about election finances, then how come the Human Rights Commission says that even this rewritten, flea-bitten, revised and patched-up version should still have been given back to the public for full discussion and debate?

I'll tell you why Madam Speaker, it's because this ain't just about election finances.

It's about the sweet scent of power, and the lust for control. It's about the decadence of corruption, the stench of deceit, and the refusal to accept the reality of impending defeat.

Yes, there have been amendments, hell we even voted for one of them, but given the constitutional importance of legislation that will play a critical role in determining how the next election will be fought – stitching up this deal behind closed doors, and then adding a veneer of democracy through a select committee process, is nothing but a sick joke.

Mind you, this government denying the people of Aotearoa the right to open and public debate on the process by which we manage the next election, is right up there, with their changing the law to bypass any serious questioning of their expenditure, at the last election.

Madam Speaker, the Maori Party will not be party to a bill which is clearly aimed at restricting freedom of speech.

We will not be party to this desperate attempt by Labour to stay in power at the expense of the fundamental human rights of the citizens of this country.

We will not be party to a bill designed to put fear into those who would speak their mind, by forcing them to run the gauntlet of registration, audit, notification, financial agency, monitoring, reporting, scrutiny, and penalty.

And we will not be party to a bill that slams the door on opposition spending, while allowing government to continue to spend millions on promoting its own policies and programmes.

Madam Speaker, the Maori Party was borne out of Maoridom's absolute rejection of this Labour government's arrogant denial of our basic human rights to the foreshore and seabed.

And we will reject this Bill to rewrite the law to allow that same government to stay in power - with the same vigour and determination.

Madam Speaker, money is not what drives people to vote, it is truth...

And I sincerely hope and pray, that those who have sacrificed the truth for the delusion of power, that overwhelms this decadent and depraved piece of legislation, will come to see the folly of their ways when the people reject this sham, come Election 2008.

UPDATE: The Free Speech Coalition sums up the impact of the Act, which will come into force in just two weeks!

The Act discourages individuals and groups from participating in the electoral process and spending their own money, while at the same time allows MPs and parliamentary parties to far more easily use taxpayer funds on their election campaigns and not even have it count towards their spending limits. It is the ultimate act in hypocrisy.

The MPs have

- Ignored the Law Society's advice that the Bill should be scrapped

- Ignored the Human Rights Commission opposition to the regulated period, and their request to allow the public to submit on the amended Bill

- Ignored the NZ Institute of Charted Accountant's advice that the Bill is unworkable

- Ignored the Electoral Commission's advice on spending limits

- Failed to provide legislative certainty around the exemptions for MPs

- Protected anonymous donations with massive loopholes which may result in less, not more, disclosure

- Continually misrepresented key clauses of the Bill

"New Zealand has no written constitution. At the end of the day 61 MPs in Parliament can pass any law they like, no matter how repugnant. Previously constitutional conventions have protected Acts like the Electoral Act, but the passage of the Electoral Finance Bill sees the demise of that convention." said spokesperson David Farrar.

"We hoped the parties supporting this Bill would listen to the near universal opposition from the media, from the legal profession, and from the public and do the right thing. Sadly they have chosen not to.

"We do not believe there should be no consequences for those parties which passed the Electoral Finance Act into law. The NZ Herald correctly labeled it as an "Attack on Democracy" and we believe it is time for Democracy to attack back.