The Jackal

1 Oct 2014

The problem with warmongers

The problem with warmongers is they appear to have no empathy for their fellow human beings. That's because war, and the industrial complex behind it, is invariably built upon people's prejudices.

History is littered with examples of prejudice being used as a reason for atrocities…a prime example being the holocaust. Although there were a myriad of other unjustifiable reasons, it was people's prejudices that were ultimately used as an excuse for the worst genocide in living memory.

We see the same thing with Israel’s illegal war on Palestine. How can they indiscriminately bomb women and children you might ask? Well the simple answer is they’ve been conditioned to hate from a very early age.

That's also the case with the United States' wars for oil in the Middle East. Although people being stigmatized for what they believe in or the colour of their skin is nothing new, the ability to turn prejudices into actions has become a lot easier with the advent of radio, television and the Internet. The warmonger's have utilized these tools to convince entire nations that there's a reason to tear themselves apart or go to war. In fact their propaganda is now used worldwide to the great detriment of all mankind.

Here’s one small example of the damage to society from the warmongers propaganda, with the Mail Online reporting yesterday:

Woman's head is battered against train carriage by female attacker who shouted racist abuse

A Melbourne woman was left 'emotionally distraught' after being verbally and physically assaulted during a racial tirade by a fellow train passenger.

The 26-year-old victim was standing by the doors of the train as it approached Batman Railway Station in Northern Melbourne on Thursday evening, when she was approached by another woman who began hurling abuse at her.

Media reports allege the victim was a Muslim woman.

These aren't just random attacks...they’re events that have been actively encouraged by governments through a compliant and corrupted media banging on about Muslim extremists. Such propaganda has encouraged prejudice within the general public, with people's differences once again being exploited as an excuse to go to war.

Last week, the Courier Mail reported on Brisbane Muslim community leader Ali Kadri saying:

“This is how extremism starts. It starts in the mind, it comes out the mouth and ends up in violence ... we must all sit down and come up with some solutions.’’

The problem here is it's the state creating and promoting people's fears and prejudices. This clearly indicates that they've learnt nothing at all from history, because if they'd actually listened to those who went through a real war, they wouldn't be trying to cause another one.

So fickle is their understanding about the realities of war that only a generation after world war two, so-called Western "democracies" seem ready to utterly disregard our forebears' sacrifice. This shows that the real problem with warmongers isn't just that they actively promote people's prejudices, but that they haven't learnt from their mistakes and are therefore fated to repeat them.

29 Sep 2014

Peter Williams - Hero of the Week

There are not many lawyers who I respect. However, that's not the case with Peter Williams, who is clearly one of the good guys.

Not only has this highly experienced Queen's Council worked tirelessly to uphold the law, he has also been outspoken on many issues of significance to all of us.

Here's Peter Williams talking with Selwyn Manning about the GCSB's unlawful activity:

Unfortunately Williams has the big C, with yesterday's Sunday program reporting:

Peter Williams QC is fighting a force he's never before encountered. It's cancer. And for this 79-year-old criminal defence lawyer, it's one of his biggest trials yet.

And it's one of those moments he says that "you realise how precious life is. People take it for granted when you're young, you think you're going to live forever."

But despite a difficult prognosis, Williams never has given up easily and has a track record to prove it. For over 50 years, he's defended some of our country's worst criminals - rapists, murderers and drug traffickers. He says he even liked many of them.

I'm sure his unbiased approach annoyed the hell out of many people. One thing the get tough on criminals crowd needs to understand is that everybody has rights, no matter what they might have done.

This is something that Peter Williams obviously understands. Through his advocacy for prisoner's rights and work as the president of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Williams has undoubtedly challenged our entire justice system and in so doing made it better.

That's why Peter Williams wins this week's Hero Award.

28 Sep 2014

The truth will out

It's unfortunate that those involved in the Dirty Politics scandal have taken National's election win as some sort of vindication of their devious tactics. However, the business as usual approach people like Cameron Slater and David Farrar are taking, so soon after they've been exposed, is likely to blow up in their faces.

It might be a somewhat convincing meme that middle New Zealand simply doesn’t care about government corruption, but the truth has a way of getting through to even the most deluded individuals. Eventually, more and more people will start to become aware of the sinister side to John Key's administration, and either through openly challenging or quietly working against it, progressive and positive change will occur.

However, nobody should be under any illusions that the repressive regime such propagandists represent will try to further undermine our civil liberties, especially for those who challenge the current dysfunctional system with reason and facts. This is especially the case for academics who understand the implications of not doing their work honestly.

Today, Scoop reported another story that shows Cameron Slater has learnt nothing:

Hate merchants at it again with smear tactics

“It’s disappointing to see the hate merchants at it again with yet another attempt to smear and silence a health professional who’s doing research they disagree with,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

“Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog has repeatedly attacked the work being done by public health researchers, for example in the areas of nutrition and smoking, and now he’s having a go at Otago University nutrition expert Dr Lisa Te Morenga.

“Once again we see him using the word ‘trougher’ in a blog post in an offensive attempt to undermine the credibility of a health professional who is using her expertise to improve public health, and then on Twitter we see Carrick Graham and Jordan Williams also laying into Dr Te Morenga.

The share hypocrisy of these guys appears to know no bounds. If academics are "trougher's" for being paid to undertake research, what does that make Cameron Slater & co for being paid to try and undermine it?

The problem here is that the right wing has an enormous credibility issue that they don't look like ever resolving...mainly because they don't want to even acknowledge the problem exists.

“These smear tactics were well documented in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book and the resulting political revelations in the lead-up to the general election, and they’re unacceptable. Critiquing the conclusions of research is a valid part of health debate and discussion but this is just nasty stuff on the part of Whale Oil and others. New Zealand’s health professionals should be able to to carry out research and other investigations without fear of intimidation.”

Mr Powell says this latest attack on a health professional follows the recent visit here by British anti-tax spin doctor Christopher Snowdon to talk about the evils of taxing sugary soft drinks.

“It’s all part of a relentless campaign to undermine and silence people who are working to address issues like obesity, diabetes and public health. Our view is that sunlight is the best disinfection for those tactics.”

I wonder what the right wing will do when people stop being afraid?

27 Sep 2014

Cunliffe will stand again

After a week of unfounded criticism, much of it coming from the mainstream media, David Cunliffe has made the right choice and stepped down as leader of the Labour party. However, he has already announced that he will be stepping back into the ring to contest the position, which will likely be with the ever-meticulous Grant Robertson.

This makes a lot of sense, because it will not only ensure media focus is on Labour concerning an issue no sane journalist could criticize, it will also be a team building exercise nicely timed to boost moral. Such things will likely work in Labour's favour, especially because the focus will remain on the party, who should use this advantage to promote themselves and their values.

Today, the NZ Herald reported on David Cunliffe's announcement:

I have today decided to resign the leadership of the Labour Party, effective from the end of caucus on Tuesday.

The party has suffered an historic election loss and in resigning as leader I take responsibility for that.

The party will review all the contributing factors. That process has begun and I give it my full support.

Labour's values are New Zealand's values. But the election result has reinforced that the Labour Party must change in order to uphold and communicate those values.

I was elected one year ago with a mandate to lead change.

In that time I have worked to pull the party and caucus together and put every resource available to the service of the campaign.

Clearly there is much more to do, and the party's direction must be respected. There is no room for division or airing differences through the media despite agreement to the contrary.

The recent election confirms that Labour needs a more comprehensive overhaul.

We need to renew and rebuild our culture, accountabilities, how we do things and present to the world.

Achieving that in time for the 2017 election will require experienced and determined leadership with a broad mandate.

Whatever decisions are made must be in the best interests of New Zealand to have a strong and vital Labour Party.

The Party's interests must come before any personal interests. I have thought carefully before responding to the calls to re-offer myself for the leadership of the party.

Consultation with colleagues, members and affiliates has affirmed that the whole party must participate in this choice, and not just one part of it.

Therefore I am announcing today that I will nominate for a primary contest, which will be held across the caucus, the party membership and the affiliates as the party constitution requires.

The process is a matter for the party Council, but the work we have begun towards creating a better country with opportunities for all New Zealanders must be fast tracked.

I would like to take this moment once again to thank my family and friends, my parliamentary colleagues, my office staff, my electorate committee, staff and volunteers, and the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who voted Labour and who believe that Labour is a vital part of New Zealand's future.

It is a privilege to lead the Labour Party. It is a great and proud party. It has the best interests of all New Zealanders at heart.

It has the values needed to create a fairer and more progressive society. I intend with the endorsement of the Party, to lead Labour to victory in 2017 so we can implement them.

I am now going to resume a long-booked family holiday until Monday evening and won't be available for further media comment.

Thank-you. Kia kaha. 

Still baying for blood

An entire week after the election, which is a long time in politics, and the media are still picking over the bones while not really reporting the news. If anything their criticism of David Cunliffe for not publicly committing Hara-Kiri has increased. The collective howling in today's NZ Herald in particular makes it pretty obvious that they're still taking their cues from National party attack bloggers like David Farrar and Cameron Slater.

Here's a little tweet by Bill Ralston that nicely sums up their collective mentality:

Of course the media have transferred their own lust for another sacrifice onto the Labour party, who aren't doing themselves many favours by playing along. With the biased media franticly flailing about and using any nuance to attack Labour, any contest for the leadership still needs to be run on Labour's terms and result in a positive outcome.

The second target on the list, Kim Dotcom, has also come under increased pressure, but for what reason isn't clear. Perhaps the right wing still fears that a resurgent Internet party will one day tip the balance?

It seems odd that people who are essentially capitalists are criticizing others for being paid or having money, especially because it was only through the financial backing National received that Key has retained power, not because of National's policy agenda that is clearly lacking in any real substance. However, it's more likely that they're simply attempting to further undermine the entrepreneurs credibility to try and counter any future court decisions that go in his favour.

The third target down their list, Hone Harawira, still has a reasonable chance of regaining his seat at the next election, provided he stands. Three years of further cuts and social policy failure is going to leave the good people of Te Tai Tokera wondering why they didn't support MANA this time round. Sure, there may be a few who changed their votes because of a slight change in policy direction, but the main reason Harawira lost his seat was because of media bias, mistakes during campaigning and disunity within the left wing.

Watching Kelvin Davis actively campaign with National's propagandists was particularly disconcerting. Because of such occurrences, there's no question that the size of no-mans-land between political parties on the left, that invariably share the same goals, has increased.

This is in fact the main reason for National's success, particularly vote splitting and actively campaigning to undermine candidates standing on similar platforms. You very rarely see such things from within National, as anybody who even thinks about questioning the leader and the regimes agenda is given the dirty politics treatment.

While the right wing are still baying for blood, Labour and the wider left must move to develop a strategy to ensure their policies gain traction with all New Zealanders.

Those with ulterior motives must not be allowed to side-track such an important dialog, which must be able to cut through the dirty politics disease that continues to poison our democracy.