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On this site you'll find posts and pages from recent years. The site began as part of my public law practice after leaving Parliament in 2005. Accordingly it records my opinions, not necessarily those of Franks & Ogilvie of which I am a principal, or any client, or the National Party for which I contested the Wellington Central electorate in November 2008.

From the Wellington Writers’ Walk:

“It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action,the world headquarters of the verb”

– Lauris Edmond, from The Active Voice

Theodore Dalrymple profiles a notable NZ murderer

  • July 11th, 2018

Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal concentrates on a New Zealand born murderer in his reflection on the evolution in our criminal justice system, discerned from a quiet evening’s reading of Notable British Trials.

He observes that for roughly 200 years, trial transcripts were popular, if not the favorite, reading material in the English-speaking world?especially in Britain. He describes them “as complete an inventory of human depravity as has ever been assembled.”

John Donald Merrett’s brilliant defense counsel, Craigie Aitchison got a Scottish jury to declare the charge of murder “not proven” after Merrett shot his mother in the head when she discovered he had been forging cheques on her account.

Dalrymple quotes from Aitchison’s final address to the jury: ?I will say only this to you, as one who has been much and intimately in contact with him in these last few days. . . . Send him out from the Court-room this afternoon a free man with a clean bill, and, as far as I can judge, he will never dishonour your verdict.?

Twenty eight years later Merrett killed his estranged and fearful wife, and his mother-in-law, after a life of typically psychopathic financial crime, indifference to danger ( he became a war hero, including to the men he lead) and risk taking with others’ money.

Not the first or the last time that brilliant counsel have fallen for the evil genius of psychopathic criminal clients.

Goff: freedom of speech – partisan abuse of political power

  • July 9th, 2018

I have agreed to be named on a website promoting a court challenge to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. He has claimed the power to decide which political views can be discussed in Auckland public halls.

If the Mayor of Auckland has that power it is no local matter. With it he could deny nearly half the population of New Zealand a practical chance to see and to assess for themselves any speaker the Mayor decided they should not be free to judge. He may claim he has that power to ban things he sees as inimical to the “social” or “cultural” health of his subjects.

The law deliberately gave the Auckland Mayor presidential authority plus a Council with limited power to control him. But even if the Councillors had normal council powers over Council officers and the Mayor, a Council should not have the power to stop people from meeting in public halls to hear and judge unpopular speakers.

The long established legal boundaries on freedom of expression are all the “protection” Councillors should be allowed to assert. Public authorities at both central and local government level should now be scrupulously secular and politically neutral in their stewardship of public assets.

The bitter struggle to win freedom of religion, thought and expression was marked by majority tyranny.

Local oppression can be the most insidious, because local power is pervasive. “You can’t beat City hall”. Coercive local governments can make it costly in daily life and business to dissent from dominant beliefs. Local oligarchs can ignore fundamental rights and freedoms when common law protections are too expensive to enforce. And they can often ignore the intentions of law. Consider, for example, how helpless central government has been against Christchurch and Auckland planners who have the backing of elderly voters who like the status quo in their leafy suburbs. They’ve blocked densification to shut young families off the housing ladder.

I’ve been concerned about the risks to our democracy at local level for many years, long before Auckland lost its genuinely local government into the UberCity. In 2002 the Local Government Act removed centuries-old constraints on the power of local politicians. They were given the incredibly vague freedom to pursue the four “well beings”. They can claim to be advancing their community’s cultural or social well being, to boss their neighbours around in ways that even central government would not dare to do.

I was concerned they would abuse their new power to enforce dominant orthodoxies. So, with Nandor Tanczos (Green) support, I moved the insertion of s 155 (3) of the Local Government Act 2002. Unexpectedly we succeeded. It reads:

(3) No bylaw may be made which is inconsistent with the?New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, notwithstanding?section 4 of that Act.

That was as far as we could get then in subordinating local government to NZBORA (though NZBORA is expressly not binding on central government). It is limited but I am proud of it. And now we must ask a court to make it clear that the principles recorded in NZBORA are fundamental elements of our rule of law, as a constraint on the non-bylaw decrees of local lords.

I mentioned in the Parliamentary debate in 2002 some historical attempts by local councils to suppress the Salvation Army in its early years. At the urging of publicans and established churches they passed bylaws against band music in public places and noisy gatherings in streets. Among other reasons the Salvation Army had to attract support in the streets was that they were banned from hiring public halls.

I am inspired by the American Civil Liberties Union. Over the years after the McCarthy hysteria they went to court to stop local authorities from banning speakers and gatherings of Communists and Nazis and apartheid era sports teams, from public property. They argued consistently that it was too dangerous to freedom of communication to give those in power the right to decide what was desirable or undesirable. Because it would end up being used by the powerful (and majorities) to block challenging ideas. But also because it would prevent ordinary citizens hearing wrong talk for themselves and learning how bad or ugly it was.

Freedom of assembly and speech may be even more important now, in the era of social media echo-chambers and bubbles. Most political and religious discourse is now in soundbite abbreviations. Many political debates never reach the public, except as a species of comedy, lampooned by ignorant scoffers in media programmes that specialise in mockery. There is little chance for people to get the kind of sustained sequential argument and discussion that happens at public meetings.

Mr Goff, somewhat ludicrously, said he will not allow divisive speech. He wants speech for unity. What about diversity Mr Goff. Have you turned your back on that? What do you seek from it? All thinking and speaking in unison? If our society has become so fragile it can’t handle awkward or unsettling speech or challenge, then it may be because young people have had too little practice.

Barack Obama is not too busy with golf and Sir John Key to write to me

  • March 22nd, 2018

Today Obama emailed me personally despite his busy schedule in Auckland. He asked me to get active for the Democrats. I?m sharing his message with you, at the end of this post.

Former NZ PMs often regard it as bad form to stay active in partisan politics after retirement. There is a feeling they should give their successors a reasonable shot at maturing into office and effective leadership without a predecessor?s sniping.

That was also a convention in the US.
But not now. Not in the Montagu v Capulet acidity of the USA?s tribal democracy.

Since Trump?s victory the legendary Democrat internet comms machine has been running hot. It was created by Obama to win the Presidency.

A Democrat supporter can expect a personalised email almost every day over the signature of some Democrat notable, including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Sometimes there are two in a single day.
Most ask for money. They often refer to events in the recipient?s locality.

I signed up all those years ago out of curiousity. I?ve never sent money because it is unlawful for US politicians to receive foreign funds, though some of the pitches have been compelling. Hillary?s campaign sent some great messages, though the hindsight slagging of it is not entirely unfair. Contempt for the values of ordinary Americans seeped through in many repulsively partisan messages.

But Obama?s message today matches his dignity.

?From: Barack Obama
Date: 22 March 2018 at 4:24:26 AM NZDT
Subject: 2018:

Organizing for Action

A little over a year ago, at my farewell address in Chicago, I asked you to believe. Not in a candidate, or a politician, or a party — in yourself.

In your own ability to make a difference in your community and your country.

For eight years in the White House — and long before that — I’d seen it happen time and time again: ordinary people who got involved, stayed involved, and pushed for a better future for this country we love.

That’s how change happens.

And this November, we have a chance to make that change happen in local and federal elections across the country. We cannot squander it.

Commit to vote in November 2018. Say you’ll fulfill your duty as a citizen, and that you’ll keep pushing for progress.

That faith I placed all those years ago in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change — that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

In the past year, I saw people like Kim, an OFA volunteer in Virginia, bravely share her story during the health care fight — of how, before Obamacare, her 13-month-old son Isaac was on the verge of being kicked off insurance as he went through surgery after surgery. She spoke up, and helped save health care for Isaac and millions of Americans.

I saw folks in South Carolina identify a problem with their town’s outdated, dangerous school buses — then roll up their sleeves, do some organizing, and get the statehouse to fund new buses for Charleston’s kids.

And I saw a new generation of young leaders grab clipboards, collect signatures, and decide to run for office themselves.

Throughout 2017, I saw Americans all over the country step up, have the tough conversations, and speak out about the issues affecting us all. We have to keep it up in 2018 — because every ballot measure, every election, every conversation on an issue we care about — it all matters.

There are no do-overs.

So right now, I’m asking you to make a commitment: Seize the power you have. Speak up. Make this democracy work. Do not succumb to cynicism. And say you’ll vote in 2018 — there’s too much at stake this year to sit this out.

I’m in

Thank you,

Barack Obama

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Surprise that Chris Bishop not contending

  • February 14th, 2018

I’m surprised that none of the speculation on National Party leadership has extended the field to Chris Bishop. He is the stand-out MP of his intake. PM Ardern, and before that David Lange showed that being far down the seniority list is no bar to early elevation to Deputy Leadership or to electoral appeal

He should muscle into contention even if none of his colleagues step up to draft him and whether or not success is likely this time.

Voters may say they do not like naked ambition, and it is more graceful to look as if one is being dragged unwilling to leadership, but subconsciously we don’t want to be led by someone who does not have enough confidence to tussle for it. Ambition is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

Richard Prebble used to attribute to Napoleon the claim that he did not appoint generals unless they’d been carrying a hidden field marshal’s baton since being young officers.

Chris should be impudent enough to step forward now. He may think there is time to wait, but there is no knowing how soon the need to lead could arise. He should be impatient, and not only because there is no clear inspirational leader in the generation that has their hands up now.

Sure – the attention if he seeks the deputy position will be positive and negative. The non-story will re-emerge from the snowflakes who want teenage females walled off in social media convents. But he does not need to respond to that. His colleagues might slap him down. That’s a risk a confident leader does not worry about. And if he runs now, irrespective of the outcome, he not them will be front of mind if and when the current aspirants lose their gloss and eventually their mandate.


My dog supports anthropomorphism

  • November 20th, 2017

A report (linked through Flipboard) on research into brain activity associated with breath control asserts:
“Humans’ ability to control and regulate their brain is unique: e.g., controlling emotions, deciding to stay awake despite being tired, or suppressing thoughts. These abilities are not trivial, nor do humans share them with many animals. Breathing is similar: animals do not alter their breathing speed volitionally; their breathing normally only changes in response to running, resting, etc.

It is said that one negation disproves a theory. My current hunting companion, Lottie-dog aged 10 years, proves that at least one animal can and does alter her breathing volitionally.

When we hunt, panting is a default routine whenever we stop moving. Sometimes it is because she has been working hard (she has only three legs so climbing can be tough for her) but generally it appears to be to lose heat, not for oxygen. So panting is normal after movement on any warm day. Panting can be noisy. It can seem overwhelmingly loud deep in the windless bush.

But if we are both listening hard, trying to hear whether  a deer we’ve disturbed is sneaking away, she closes her mouth and stops panting. She will do that if I ask her to even if she hot or has just run back to me (often when she has scouted the vicinity and is satisfied there is nothing of interest close in).

I say “shush”, and show I am listening deliberately. She will stop panting for up to 10 second periods with quick catch up panting in between. She can try to suppress the noise even in the unavoidable panting phases, dropping her head near the ground and licking her lips.

She may join in listening,  flicking her ears up or swivelling her head to concentrate, if she knows I am concentrating on sound, stopping her panting to do so. She will do that even if she has not been been showing interest in the surroundings. But when it is to humour me it is for more brief intervals. She lets me know when she thinks I am displaying my frequent abysmal (to her) understanding of whose scent is in the air, and what is going on around us. By lying down and looking in the opposite direction.

I did not try to teach her to silence her breathing. I did not teach her to listen while I was overtly listening. Many years ago she just started showing that understanding of what we were doing together.

But now she is getting tired. Her back has stiffened after years of asymetric thrust from one rear leg. She will still come out for hours of walking and watching. Her eager eyes follow every move in preparation. But once it is clear that I have running shoes instead of boots, or if I look to be heading for a motor-bike not a quad she can ride on with me, or if I grab my mountain bike, the head turns away in embarrassment. She pretends to have not noticed I’m heading out, just in case I call her to come as a command. She does not want to exhaust herself running the 10-20 km that was once so exciting and that she could still do, but only at the cost of days of pain to follow.

So now she is showing me how many emotions and capacities we share, and  what lies in store for me. I too will give up the full days of hunting. She knows I’m compromising now. She seems to be no longer surprised or frustrated that I leave a deer we can both see too far away across a deep gully.

I’ve already stopped trying to carry a carcase. I may have another dog life left, so she will not be the last. But she may be the next to last. But perhaps my next dog will not get enough shared hunting time to learn to listen with me, and to control her breathing. Perhaps it will not be as smart as Lottie. But it will be far more agile than me. I will not have the energy to hide from the next dog the way I could from Lottie in our bamboozle game. I’d get away by climbing a cliff she would have to find a way around. While she was working out how to catch up I’d make a confusing scent trail, then hide.

The next dog will not have to learn to trust me to lift her safely down cliff drops. But the next dog will have to make more allowances for me.  It will do that, uncomplainingly.

This post has become unapologetically anthropomorphic.  We share so  much more than  scientists allow.


Why does the left hate Israel – it seems counterintuitive?

  • November 8th, 2017

A Quora answer to that question was so crisp I wanted to record it somewhere I would remember.

I don’t know anything about Tostig Godwinesson who answered, but it chimed with what I recall from being a young leftie, and when alongside them in Parliament.

You will undoubtedly get lots of complex and detailed, thoughtful answers to this question, but in my mind it boils down to a very basic situation.

The left defines the human condition as a struggle between “oppressor” vs. “oppressed”. Every situation, country, conflict, and political or social issue can be and is seen through that lens.

The left sides with the oppressed, for many reasons: genuine heartfelt belief that the oppressed of the world need support, virtue signaling, etc.

Perceptive, though it still does not explain why they take that approach and not another.

The thing to grasp is that theirs is a 100 %  coherent world view. It makes total sense to the left. It has the intellectual rigor and coherence of applied Marxism, in a way that has tremendous power for people who view the world that way. The Marxian world of oppressed vs oppressor is taught and reinforced at universities, and then reinforced through peer pressure, social shaming, and clique formation.

If you don’t question the premises, including that humans are perfectible under enough coercion from moral and intellectual superiors.

It has given us everything from “white privilege” to “intersectionality” to just about every other cause of the modern left. EVERY leftist cause has oppressor vs oppressed at the core. Black lives matter, rights of illegal immigrants, you name it, and oppressor vs oppressed is what it’s about.

Israel has been defined by the left as the oppressor, and Palestinians the oppressed. Absolutely nothing can ever shake the left loose from this characterization of the problem. If, tomorrow, a Palestinian lobs a missile onto a school bus full of 3rd grade girls, the western left will see it as another example of how the oppressor (Israel) forced the oppressed (Palestinians) to take extreme, and sadly regrettable – but necessary action, for one must fight oppression, and the oppressor bears the brunt of responsibility. The more Palestinian rockets that fall on elementary schools in Israel, the more evident it is that the oppressors must change their ways in order to end the violence. The oppressed cannot really be blamed for their actions, and never are by the western left, because their actions are borne of desperation.

There was a time when Israel was seen as oppressed by western liberal elites – back in the kibbutz days, through the ’67 war, and maybe to ’73. The western left kinda liked Jews when they were powerless and at the mercy of others; not so much when they have a powerful military and control of a thriving state. Why? Because then they are no longer ‘oppressed’, and in the Marxian worldview, the only other thing you can ever be is an oppressor. It is binary.

The Palestinians and their media enablers have done a superior job of framing the conflict in simple, Marxian terms for a western audience. How well has it worked?

Well, we have “gays for Palestine” marches in San Francisco, rooting for the side that would just love to blindfold all gays and throw them off tall buildings, rather than the side that is one of the most LGBT tolerant societies on the planet. That kind of puzzling behavior is easily understandable once you process it through the oppressor vs oppressed lens. The LGBTQ folks feel they are sticking up for a fellow oppressed group, when what they are really doing is supporting the people who want to slaughter them. It sounds like a paradox, but it isn’t, once you evaluate it in classic Marxian oppressor-vs-oppressed terms.”

To the question – “why?” I’d try some psychological stereotyping. Whether it is backed by research, I do not know.

Crudely simplifying the world into goodies and baddies has always been a comfort to those deeply threatened by the paradoxes, compromises and complexity of reality. Manichaean duality appeals to teenagers and zealots. They get an excuse for cruelty and indifference that is not available to those who can’t divide the world into good and evil, sinners and angels.

Or perhaps it is that many sense that they cannot compete on their usefulness to others, on their ability to create, to build and to nurture. Too many of those may instead turn left, where they will find comrades who define themselves by what they hate, by who they oppose, and by constant fine-tuning of the categories of those who are by definition outside their tribe.

NZ’s productivity mystery not mysterious to me

  • October 31st, 2017

I’ve been musing on the official puzzlement about our country’s woeful lack of productivity improvement. It turns out that for years our productivity has barely improved. In other words we are generating too little more per head than 20 years ago. Our GDP has grown, but disappointingly little more than population growth.

We have a whole Productivity Commission to agonise over the issue.

Croaking Cassandra (Michael Reddell) offered a shockingly non PC theory last year, that it could be because of excessive low quality immigration. If I correctly distil what I’ve taken from his writing it is that our natural competitive advantage has been in our high productivity rural base. Our urban lack of competitiveness (distance, inefficiency, whatever)  has been subsidised by rural efficiency enabled by having few people using large areas of land.

It’s a puzzle to economists because we’ve seemed to do so many things  right:

  • our economic reforms have been lauded;
  • we rank high in the ease-of-doing-business ratings;
  • we are low on corruption – a handicap that undermines even the best resourced people;
  • we’ve bought lots of gee whizz capital equipment that should make us more productive;
  • we’ve invested in fast internet and lots of computing power;
  • we’re keeping kids studying for much longer;
  • we work long hours – 6th highest in the OECD for average hours worked;
  • we have one of the highest engagement rates in the OECD (proportion choosing to work);
  • we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the OECD;
  • we’ve had 8 years of stellar performance compared with the countries that panicked after the GFC.

One can think of things that could have negated the benefits. For example:

  • we’ve been buying capital equipment with foreigner’s savings – the same kit is available everywhere and the goods it produces have been dropping in price accordingly;
  • while we are not yet corrupt, our lawyers and courts have become constipated. It is too expensive  to enforce simple contracts and a massively bigger legal establishment feeds off the uncertainties that come with its self-asserted discretions;
  • instead of upgrading tertiary staff quality and resources our “investment” in education has been diverted through free student loans to bribing more kids to eat and drink more while studying, teaching them that debt does not matter and then exporting many of the brightest and best;
  • many now going into tertiary education might be just extending their time of juvenile irresponsibility and dependency. They’d have learnt more on the job from people who do;
  • the international measures of ease to start a company etc do not pick up changes in the time wasted on fruitless compliance and virtue signalling that has never had proper cost-benefit assessment;
  • many health n safety measures require new supervision, and plainly pointless costs that induce worker cynicism about efficiency, and deprive ordinary workers of  autonomy, initiative and personal satisfaction;
  • a low jobless rate means marginal engagement of many of our most useless workers. The feral marginal workers may be nobbling the productivity of both employers and their fellow employees;
  • the burden of dealing with “work unready” people is magnified across the economy by the steps all employers must now take to minimise exposure to our most stupid lawyers and judges. They’ve  created deadweight employment costs for no benefit, even to those they claim to protect;

An economist might be able to say whether any of the above are readily testable.  It interests me that the Productivity Commission has shown no apparent interest in the vast increase in the proportion of our intelligent and anxious people doing ruler/lawyer/judge/police/security type work – essentially bossing other people around without any skin in the game (rulers who bear none of the costs they impose from over or under enforcing).

Ordinary workers have been emasculated, to use an old term deliberately. They must  work under managers terrified into generating back-covering records of close supervision. Much of it has been developed without any proven safety gain, and certainly no cost benefit evidence. For example, a recent study  suggests that scaffolding costs are adding appreciably to housing costs, to stop workers falling from single story buildings, when:

  • figures show that was a very rare risk;
  • the cost per life saved may be $180m, over 50 times what we consider the proper test for spending to make roads safer;
  • no account has been taken at all of the extra death and injury flowing from householders doing their own roof and wall painting work, because they can’t afford the scaffolding cost.

But there may be an even more simple contributor to our sorry productivity figures. I’d be interested to know if my impression chimes with what others are experiencing.

Last Christmas I concluded that we were in the midst of a serious culture shift when tradesmen friends sent details of when they would be back to finish a project. I’ve seen more this year from the roads on Fridays before a long weekend. I’ve never seen such full mid-week carparks at Mt Ruapehu, and many of the vehicles have work logos. I saw it last Christmas in the the emailed out-of-office responses to my messages. And this year in August, and again recently during the school holidays, my inbox had numerous out-of office responses.

I’m convinced that many more of us are informally taking much more time off. Many tradies seemed to close a week before Christmas, and come back only for the full  fourth week of January. Families that would have previously taken time away, now expect both parents to go during the year, when in the past it might have been only over Christmas.

I do not think it is just my age group. Friends with school age kids report that class-rooms are often noticeably emptier on days attached to long weekends. It is easier to pick their kids up, because so many families have gone before 3 pm. In Auckland they may have become accustomed to that, because of the terrible traffic delays before long weekends. But I hear that schools in other cities are not immune.

Young friends, and German and French work visa woofers we’ve hosted just love what they call NZ’s “laid-back” approach to work. They think it is remote from what they will return to.

Are only our self-employed taking more time off? Are other employees insisting on the same, without pay? Or accepting that employers who allow more leave will probably not offer pay increases. Is the trade-off overt? My impression is that it is not confined just to my baby boomer friends still working but taking much more time off.

Perhaps employees in a tight labour market are taking more unauthorised advantage of “glide time” or other twilight allowance time. Will they see that as compensation for lower pay increases? Perhaps what were once disguised as “sickies” have become mainstream and regularised.

Maybe most of us are not as materialistic as the Greens feared.  There has always been a worry that NZ business don’t grow big because the founder’s  ambition is beach, bach and BMW. Once they get comfortable, they take things easy.

It is pretty tax efficient for individuals. The current system can’t tax income we haven’t generated. If we’ve subconsiously  decided to take more leisure instead of increased income it may be very hard for any government to stop us.

If this is a collective move, I applaud it – as long as those who have been depending on an ever increasing pie understand that it might not come. Other countries have suffered similar experiences. The Scissors Crisis occurred when Lenin freed Russian peasants from their landlords. The young Soviet government was shocked when production dropped sharply as peasants decided on some leisure instead of the backbreaking work needed to grow enough to pay the rents.

History has accounts of taxes imposed on populations solely to force them to earn money, because they were too happy with subsistence and preferred it to working. Will wealth taxes be imposed to force us to work our assets?

Can the Productivity Commission measure whether we have quietly decided to forgo income increases? Is it widespread? Is it a response to less work satisfaction? Or just a privilege in a society that genuinely does not place high value on being rich?


Common sense we may not see in New Zealand for long three years

  • October 27th, 2017

Allison Pearson in the Telegraph has a blistering response to the UK Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation‘s urging that the UK should welcome back young jihadists for integration. Entitled “How do you solve a problem like returning jihadis? I’ve got a pretty good idea” she excoriates Max Hill QC’s naivete.

Allison celebrates instead the refreshing bluntness of the UK Minister for International Development, Rory Stewart. who told BBC Radio Five Live that British Isil fghters should be killed in Syria, rather than be allowed to return to the UK.
 “These are people who have essentially moved away from any kind of allegiance towards the British government” he said.
They are absolutely dedicated towards the creation of a caliphate, they believe in an extremely hateful doctrine that involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an 8th-century state”.
“These people have held women and children hostage, are torturing and murdering, trying by violence to impose their will. They are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”

Mr Stewart is remarkably qualified to scorn the handwringing uselessness of the Establishment. He has walked across Afghanistan, and much of Asia. He founded a charity for the Afghanistan he knows so well and I’m told that his documentaries are gripping, including one on Afghanistan and the Great Game (the British Empire’s competition with Russia).

Allison Pearson lampoons the QC’s  recommendations, referring to Joyce Grenfell’s “Nursery School” sketches. Google them. I’ll think of them now whenever a report says some New Zealand bunch of vicious scumbags have been referred to Police “Youth Aid”

Pearson asks us to imagine Grenfell doing her bright and breezy best to de-radicalise a class of repatriated Islamic State fanatics:

 “Now, Mohammed, please put that down. Yes, dear, I know, but I’ve explained that knife is for cutting tomatoes. Good, that’s better.
 “Today, we’re doing non-violent use of knives. What’s that, Shamina? Junaid wants to lock you in the cupboard because he saw your arms? Junaid, we never shut people in cupboards. I don’t care what your Uncle Reyaad used to do to girls who didn’t dress modestly in Raqqa. This is England, dear.
 No, Shamina is not a Western whore, she’s a very pretty young lady.
 Kadiza, please let me see your face. I’m sure it’s a very nice burka, but remember our no-covered-faces rule? What do you mean it’s not Kadiza? Abdul, why are you wearing Kadiza’s burka? Take it off at once.”

Pearson goes on: 

I mean, what could possibly go wrong with integrating a few hundred extremists returning from a war zone?
Jihadists who, according to Max Hill’s generous interpretation, “have travelled out of a sense of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing”?
After all, we have so much money to spend on counselling wannabe suicide bombers after paying for the monitoring of 3,000 extremists already in the UK who are considered a direct threat by MI5 with 500 under constant costly surveillance.
Mr Hill’s suggestion would be alarming at any time, but it came in the same week that Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, warned that Britain was facing the worst terrorist threat he had seen in his 34-year career.
There had been a ‘dramatic upshift’ in attacks this year, he admitted, resulting in the murder of 36 men, women and children in London and Manchester. Some 20 plots in the UK have been foiled over the past four years with a record number of terrorism-related arrests: 379 in the year to June.
These are truly deafening figures. Yet, so often, the reaction of the authorities is to stick their fingers in their ears and act as if this dire threat from an enemy living among us were somehow normal like when London mayor Sadiq Khan said that terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city”. As if bombing young girls at a pop concert were just a bad traffic jam.
It’s not jihadists who are guilty of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing. Increasingly, it’s the governing class of this country…”

Pearson refers to other PC idiots:

” Moral contortionists like those fools at the Foreign Office who said that the term “pregnant women” in a draft UN human rights paper should be changed to “pregnant people” because the former could “exclude transgender people who have given birth”.
In other words, British civil servants think it’s OK to promote a policy that is grossly offensive to half the population who, for very good reason, have the monopoly on getting up the duff. This, in order to spare the feelings of trans people who have got pregnant. All two of them. Yes, two.
The gulf between what the man on the street thinks and those in authority believe has never been wider.

She mentions the realism of France:

“When Francois Hollande, the former French president, told his security services that he didn’t want a single jihadist returning to the country, it was perfectly clear what he meant, and the French people were right behind him.”

She pins blame on the left though IMHO the timid right is just as guilty.
“Only a populace that has been enfeebled by the drip-drip of warped, self-hating Leftist propaganda would not wish to see British Forces take the same decisive action.
Unlike Max Hill, I could not care less about losing a generation of young people who went [to join Isil] before attempting to come back to the UK.”

There are many sound sentiments like that, which ordinary people no longer see shared by their media. Can you imagine on RNZ a Police boss,  someone in authority, anyone, saying what most normal people think when some young criminal kills himself breaking the law – “Good job”,  instead of false grieving.

Pearson reminds us who really pays to price for ruling class sanctimony:

I mind very much about one friend of a friend. Lisa Roussos was seriously injured in the blast at Manchester Arena that killed her eight-year-old daughter, Saffie Rose. So far, Lisa has had nine operations to remove the bolts which were embedded in every part of her body.
Her hand had to be reconstructed. Not only has she lost her little girl, the family have lost their fish and chip shop, and the flat above it that they called home. They are destroyed, emotionally and financially.
If there is any money for rehabilitation, it should go to innocent victims like Lisa Roussos and her family, not to returning jihadists who sympathise with the killer of Saffie Rose.

And while we’re about it, Rory Stewart should be put in charge of counter-terrorism. Amazingly, this is a politician who understands that the human rights of the British people matter more than those of our enemies.”

Will the Rt Hon Winston Peters (Statesman) be free to call it as we see it? Will Ron Mark be gagged as a Minister? Will the PM swoon if they do express the views of ordinary people?

The Coalition Agreement has a puzzling provision that seems expressly designed to let Winston punish our last Foreign Minister for a craven conspiracy with peoples who despise our values, to kick Israel. If he needs permission set out in the Coalition Agreement, what else is now forbidden?

Stupid law – No 1 – coffee warnings

  • October 24th, 2017

The Lost Angeles Times editorial of 30 September comments on a California law requirement that cafes with more than 10 employees expressly warn customers of the possible cancer risk from acrylamide in coffee. The fact that the risk may be tiny, and outweighed by potential anti-cancer effects of coffee drinking makes no difference. That warning will be added to the thousands of warnings about normal risks of everyday life that now insult adults everywhere.

So far, nothing of interest – lawyers and public health zealots have been at this for decades.  The interesting part is the Times’ mea culpa. They admit to having scoffed at the warnings of opponents of the referendum and the law, back in 1986.

“The prospect that warnings might be added to every cup of coffee seemed like a joke back in 1986, when opponents of the proposal touted its potential misuse. We pooh-poohed those claims at the time, even though we opposed the initiative as too inflexible.

To be sure, the potential problems would not approach the grossly exaggerated levels predicted by the anti-Proposition 65 campaign, led by oil and chemical companies and the agriculture industry, [but] we wrote. “Passage of Proposition 65 will not lead to the banning of ordinary table salt or require warning labels on every apple sold or cup of coffee served in California.”

The fact that the most outlandish prediction may now come true only underscores the need for fixing or replacing this law”.

I’ve not felt able to laugh wholeheartedly at such nonsense in the US for over 20 years, after I came across the then new flip up seats in a refurbished lecture theatre at Victoria University of Wellington. The authorities showed their diligent care for the safety of our nation’s juvenile brightest and best. Each flipped up seat bore a natty label on its upward facing edge with a legend of indisputable logic and simplicity (no doubt in typeface of regulated clarity and prominence) – “Warning – place seat down before sitting”.

An institution genuinely dedicated to high standards and excellence would instead have made do with a simple policy. Any student who failed to “place seat down before sitting” with the gall to complain about lack of care by the University should be instantly terminated for being too stupid to deserve a VUW qualification.

Dead store-keepers – a price of virtue signalling

  • October 7th, 2017

Another guest post, this time from Auckland, from Prof Owen Young, Professor of Food Science at AUT. I find two things particularly interesting in this one. First that unlike many academics he is not just virtue signaling –  urging new rules because he can see something bad happening (smoking) without worrying about unintended consequences.

Secondly, Prof Young wrote this article in 2014. At the time tobacco duty was raising $1.3bn. The article was rejected by the NZ Herald. What he warned about has come to pass. If anything he understated the risk.

Stuff reported on 2 October 2017 that NZ is now experiencing more than 10 robberies per day. Try searching Stuff  for ‘robbery, tobacco, dairy’.  And reflect on today’s Stuff article on the Wellington City Councillors who are happy to use their meeting time, Council consultation budgets, and to abuse their bylaw making powers in adding useless rules ostensibly about cigarette butts, but actually just to show they detest smokers. Ups to the three councillors who refused to go along with the preciousness, Crs Nicola Young, Brian Dawson and Simon Marsh. . 

E-cigarettes, hungry kids and dead storekeepers

The Tobacco Dragon, if not slain, is certainly on the ropes. Smoking rates in New Zealand are dropping in response to punitive and unrelenting increases in tobacco duty, and to persuasive advertising – if not always accurate –variously casting smokers as Pariahs or as addicts who need help to quit the pernicious grip of a tobacco addiction.

So what’s the problem with smoking? The obvious answer is the ill health and thus shorter lifespan of smokers. The argument that going to hell your own way was a personal choice never washed with the small army of Crusaders convinced that declaring care for the interests of the Pariahs is enough to justify ignoring their informed adult choices. The Crusaders are ceaseless. They did not bother to defend their over-riding of Pariah freedoms, but they knew it was a chink in their chain-mail, so they badly needed an innocent non-smoking victim.

That became the passive smoker. Now, second hand smoke was more than just an annoyance to many. It would shorten lives. The data to support the dangers of second hand smoke have come from many studies,  crammed together by mathematical trickery in the hope that if you torture the data long and hard enough it will ultimately confess. Hallelujah!

The reality is different. In spite of popular belief, the dangers of second hand smoke are greatly exaggerated as well-constructed studies over many decades have shown. And of course the Crusaders had long ago left that risk behind as they shifted into demanding smoke free status for parks and other outdoor spaces where second hand smoke could never be a credible public health risk.

But for the moment let us assume that second hand smoke really is a danger. How could someone living with a smoker – e.g. kids in homes with smoking parents – avoid exposure?

Help is at hand with the e-cigarette. While nicotine is undeniably addictive, it is not the nicotine that kills. It is the 1000 and 1 other chemicals in smoke that do the damage over a lifetime.

E-cigarettes generate none of these chemicals, so inhaling the vapour of e-cigarettes (termed vaping) is greatly safer than inhaling smoke. Fantastic, problem solved.

Not so, because e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine are illegal for sale in New Zealand as an over-the-counter product. But that won’t stop smokers legally buying supplies over the internet. A vaper tells me that e-cigarettes satisfy his craving for about $2 a day. Contrast that with a solid smoking habit that will cost about $20 a day, most of it tax.

So, why are nicotine e-cigarettes illegal for sale here? ASH, that indefatigable Dragon Slayer, says e-cigarettes normalise the combined action of fingers, object, mouth, inhale, exhale and therefore must be banned. However, ASH knows that nicotine e-cigarettes are greatly safer that tobacco cigarettes, so why the opposition if better health is ASH’s goal?

As for central government, which makes the law, what could be its motive for a ban? A cynic might say this: “We, the government, extract $1.3 billion a year in tobacco duty from smokers, who on average are the poorer members of society. This has at least two perverse outcomes: hungrier kids and terrified, injured and dead store-keepers and members of their families.

The two targets in most aggravated dairy robberies are cash and cigarettes. The tax on cigarettes has become so high that they are a currency worth murdering for, if you are a common NZ criminal.

But we care more about signaling our ‘care’ for smokers in spite of themselves, than about their kids and dead Istore-keepers and their families. Besides, smoking tobacco reduces lifespan, so we save  on National Superannuation and on geriatric health costs. So, it’s a win win to ban resale of e-cigarettes in New Zealand.”

Now we know that governments don’t exactly say this, but that is what it boils down to, and it’s morally indefensible.


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