In defence of Finland

March 27th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

’s comments that Finnish people are uneducated and disrespectful to women have sparked outrage and made headlines in the European nation.

“The story is flaming in the Finnish media,” Juha Parikka, counsellor to the Embassy of said.

Auckland lecturer Merja Myllylahti has even started a Facebook group, calling for Brownlee to visit Finland “to learn some facts”. …

Brownlee’s spokesman said the  comments were made in humour, were based on OECD figures and were part of a general debate.

One Finnish blogger responded:

Just you New Zealanders stop raping sheep, children and your Maori slaves, which is a satirical comment with a shadow of fact in it so no hard feelings, and we’re okay.

People are getting a wee bit sensitive over this. But just in case Finland declares war on New Zealand, I’d better try and make peace, especially as we have no combat airforce left.

Personally I’m very fond of Finns, having spent a few days in Vegas with four young Finnish politicians. Thankfully what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but let’s just sat everyone had a great time.

Now I’m also very fond of New Zealand, and Gerry is right that in several areas New Zealand is the better performing country.

But in one key area, I’m prepared to concede that Finland is the superior country. They clearly have a more impressive armed forces.

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64 Responses to “In defence of Finland”

  1. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    People are getting a wee bit sensitive over this.

    No, they aren’t. One of our elected leaders got up and made some dumbarse comments that should be an embarrassment to any proud thinking citizen of this country.

    Gerry Brownlee needs to stand up and say Hi, I’m Gerry Brownlee, I’m the minister of eating mince pies in the NZ Government. My comments about Finland were stupid and completely wrong, and I’m basically just a great big dumbarse and I apologise unreservedly.

    [EDIT: And great pics of their armed forces. I would. Either of the latter two of them. But more the middle one.]

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  2. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    Meeaow – Finland can attack us any time!

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  3. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    The Israeli Defense Force has got more women in there compared to the Finnish I suppose. But may be those IDF female officers all come out of (or will be enrolled at) Technion Institute (Israeli equivalent of MIT & CalTech), therefore they can’t be called dumb.

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  4. Pete George (23,575 comments) says:

    The Finnish embassy says the matter is now at an end

    Juha Parikka, the deputy head of mission, told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday afternoon that the matter is now at an end.

    “Prime Minister Key has presented his regrets to the Finnish president, whom he met yesterday in Seoul at the nuclear conference. He said that he’s sorry for the comments.”

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/101882/finland-accepts-apology-over-nz-minister

    A pity Brownlee didn’t present his regrets a bit better.

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  5. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    …Gerry is right that in several areas New Zealand is the better performing country.

    For example, I doubt the Finns have a fat blowhard as stupid as Gerry Brownlee in their government.

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  6. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Which porn site did you get these photo’s from David…?

    [DPF: Umm I think porn sites tend to have fewer clothes. I just googled for them]

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  7. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    So, Labour can promote a country as better then NZ but the government isn’t allowed to defend itself by highlighting where that comparison country is not up to our standard?

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  8. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Bevan
    Perhaps you could refresh your memory with what Brownlee said:
    “I want New Zealand to be like Finland, which has worse unemployment than us, has less growth than us, can hardly feed the people who live there, has a terrible homicide rate, hardly educates its people, and has no respect for women.”
    Great, just great.

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  9. Will de Cleene (485 comments) says:

    Nonsense. Half the Labour party wears combat boots.

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  10. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    The Israeli’s take contestants off America’s Next Top Model and put them in Merkava Tanks:

    http://www.idfblog.com/2012/03/25/from-america-tank-instructor/

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  11. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    I watched this speech by Gerry on the light-hearted Wednesday session. I wouldn’t have bothered watching anyone else but he frequently displays a fine sense of humour as he did on this occasion, taking the piss out of Shearer.Long may he continue I just hope though that no Finnish member accuses NZ of having an Aparthied electoral system at both Central and Local level, we would have a problem denying that.

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  12. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    I want to hear more about Vegas- Do their politicians look anything like their soldiers David?

    [DPF: Yes]

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  13. flipper (4,068 comments) says:

    What a load of media driven crap.

    Having a very HIGH PROFILE friend in Finland ( venerated Olympic Gold medallist) , who assures me this is rubbish, I regard it as bullshit.

    Good afternoon.

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  14. cha (4,022 comments) says:

    Factoid of the day. New Zealand’s only war prize was the barque Pamir which was seized in Wellington following the Finnish invasion of the Soviet Union.

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  15. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Gerry Brownlee seems to have lost the plot. He disclosed personal information about Lianne Dalziell in the House the other day because he was losing an argument. I guess Dalziell should be thankful that she wasn’t standing at the stop of a staircase, or else she might have had an accident.

    As for his comments re Finland, he reckons he was making a joke. Isn’t a joke meant to be funny? There was nothing amusing about his idiotic comments.

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  16. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Perhaps you could refresh your memory with what Brownlee said:

    Well? Where is your rebuttal? Do you not have an argument against what he said? If what he stated was not factual, surely you would be able to highlight this point.

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  17. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Is this the same Finland which fought alongside Nazi Germany for most of the Second World War? And then changed sides when it became apparent Germany would lose?

    What an appropriate example of rectitude for Labour to choose.

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  18. awb (304 comments) says:

    I love it how this blog post, rather than discussing a screw up by a high profile National minister, instead chooses to fill up the majority of the page with photos of attractive women. Classic diversionary tactics, really subtle stuff there.

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  19. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    Finland should lighten up.
    People compare national statistics to other countries all the time and often make rude remarks about the country being compared to.
    You even get Marxist idiots saying Cuba is a better country than the USA just because it has a slightly better infant mortality rate.

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  20. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I’d imagine that Cuba rates ahead of the US on quite a few measures.

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  21. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    Well as a sad male plae and stale any or better still all 3 of these lovelys can take me hostage and do what ever they wish with my sad bod.

    Pace makers working overtime better go and have a lie down

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  22. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    You even get Marxist idiots saying Cuba is a better country than the USA just because

    I’d imagine that Cuba rates ahead of the US on quite a few measures.

    Case in point

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  23. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    The quality of life in Cuba is arguably a lot better than many quite similar Central American and Caribbean nations. Just saying.

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  24. Steve (4,563 comments) says:

    3rd photo shows large zips for easy access pockets – clever uniform

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  25. Raphael (88 comments) says:

    a couple of years ago I stumbled across this blog post about the Finns: http://anarchangel.blogspot.co.nz/2009/11/finland-be-afraid-be-very-afraid.html

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  26. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    Brownlee is a buffoon. Bring back Nick – all is forgiven.

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  27. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    The quality of life in Cuba is arguably a lot better than many quite similar Central American and Caribbean nations. Just saying.

    Yeah, cause no communist country would ever lie about the quality of life in their country now would they?

    I’m sure Stalin said the same about the Ukraine during the Holodomor.

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  28. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    So you think life in Cuba is pretty bad, Bevan?
    Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, an infant death rate lower than some developed countries, and an average life expectancy of 77.64. In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF’s definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.

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  29. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    mikenmild>So you think life in Cuba is pretty bad, Bevan?

    I do. Lefties often defend Cuba’s health care system on the basis of their own extreme gullibility and the Cuban government’s propensity to lie. This is what it is really like: http://www.therealcuba.com/Page10.htm … Horribly dirtyand backward. the Castro brothers must have really hated their countrymen to inflict such misery on them for so long.

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  30. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    Time for some Tuesday Night Quarterbacking as I suggest what Gerry should have done as Labour raved about Finland.

    He should have talked about all the things he loves about that place, one of which was found in a link above:

    I also mention that Finns own nearly as many guns per capita as Americans do, but drink 8 times as much hard alcohol per capita

    Because having lots of heavily armed, hard drinking people correlates with being a great country.

    Well, it’s as good as any other factor!

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  31. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Wow, what an unimpeachable source you have there. Look, I’m no fan of socialist Cuba, but in some respects they have done quite well. If you’d rather they were poorer and unhealthier but freer, well maybe that change will come about sometime. If you are an ordinary bloke and had to choose one dictatorship to live under, you might just choose Cuba.

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  32. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Finland, Finland, Finland
    The country where I’d quite like to be
    Pony-trekking or camping
    Or just watching TV
    — Monty Python

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  33. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    I’m surprised Brownlee hasn’t added that the Finns don’t have a sense of humour either. But they do obviously have a very attractive army. There is obviously more than one way to keep the Russian bear quiet.

    Actually Brownlee dealt with it pretty well on Campbell Live tonight.

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  34. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Raphael – welcome… and thanks for the link. An enjoyable read.. and one I’ll pass to my Finish friends.

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  35. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF’s definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.

    I did actually burst into laughter at that one. And remember that mikenmild has portrayed himself as a moderate leftie who might support things such as getting tough on interest-free student loans and WFF.

    But now this: the classic left-wing defence of Cuba. In this mikenmild, you remind me of nothing so much as the American Communists P.J. O’Rourke observed in his classic Harpers article, Ship of Fools, about a riverboat tour of the USSR. Even their Soviet guides were driven up the wall by their guests asking some variation of What is the cement tonnage production per capita in the USSR?.

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  36. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    So what is incorrect about the qualify of life statistics for Cuba?
    Please enlighten me.

    Meanwhile, back to Finland:
    Finland, Finland, Finland
    The country where I want to be
    Eating breakfast or dinner
    Or snack lunch in the hall
    Finland, Finland, Finland
    Finland has it all

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  37. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    So what is incorrect about the qualify of life statistics for Cuba?

    To qualify for them you have to be a good, little Castro worshiper, otherwise …

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  38. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Best you can do, tom? I get it – Cuba is very, very bad. It’s so obviously impossible to be happy or healthy there.

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  39. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    mikenmild>So what is incorrect about the qualify of life statistics for Cuba?

    Firstly, they’re all made up by the Cuban government and reported to the UN and similar bodies who report them uncritically.

    Secondly, if they were actually good then Cubans wouldn’t regularly drown trying to float to Florida on rafts built of tyres. People rarely say “Hey, it’s really great here… I should risk my life trying some desperate method to escape”.

    Thirdly, if they were actually good then whichever geriatric Castro brother is currently running the place would hold an election and be returned to power with an overwhelming mandate. He’d look like a legitimate leader rather than a sad old man looting a miserable country and oppressing the people.

    Lastly, if Cuba were anything other than a poor unhealthy shit hole of a country then the government wouldn’t be reduced to boasting about the supply of pressure cookers as a policy triumph:

    “The programme could wipe out a popular private business that uses moulds to construct rustic ones from cheap aluminium. Imported pressure cookers sell for about $25 (£13), more than the average Cuban earns in a month, while homemade ones cost about $5.50. The government-distributed cookers will cost about the same as homemade ones and could be bought by monthly payments. ”

    Seriusly… 50 years of socialism and a rice cooker costs more than a month’s income, and the government has to sell $5 cookers on installments. The sort of stuff you can buy at the Warehouse for a pittance is a major policy objective of the failed Cuban government.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/mar/10/cuba

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  40. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Hey, I was only looking at the CIA Factbook – must be a bunch of socialist lies.

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  41. Leaping Jimmy (16,473 comments) says:

    I love it how this blog post, rather than discussing a screw up by a high profile National minister, instead chooses to fill up the majority of the page with photos of attractive women. Classic diversionary tactics, really subtle stuff there.

    We’re* so fiendishly clever awb that we waited for one of you foolish lefties to mention Cuba which we knew one of you would – eventually – then we all leapt onto it and obfuscated like nobody’s business until everyone doesn’t even remember what the hell it was all about anyway, something starting with “f” wasn’t it…

    Ah well.

    See. Even if you wouldn’t find this level of sophistication amongst the Nats in Parliament, we conservative bloggers have carefully studied your lefty propaganda and learned volumes from Hulun’s years and now we can suck you lefties in without you even knowing it.

    So there! Nah nah nah.

    All we have to do now is transfer those learnings into the Parliamentary wing and we’ll be sweet for the next four terms** but crikey, when you get thickees like Gerry and Murray and a lot of the farmer types well bloody hell, it’s taking awhile longer than the project planning sessions allowed for, put it that way.

    * The VRWNLLWC

    ** 4 terms is a certainty since Key isn’t ugly like a bulldog as Hulun and all her closest advisors were and voters respond to that and also we don’t have any nasty vipers like Hodgson and Winston so 4 terms, easy, for us (if we can get the thickees across the plan). Nah nah nah, again.

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  42. stepheng (25 comments) says:

    Gerry Brownlee truly should just keep his mouth shut, but there is a wider point here that he’s right about that DPF indirectly makes with his example of Finland’s armed forces: lefties worldwide (and the NZ left in particular) are very selective in how they use Nordic countries in their examples. All those countries have large militaries by NZ standards (often with some degree of compulsion/conscription), Sweden gets 50% of its electricity from nuclear, Norway has got rich on oil, and so on. Still, Finland’s Day-fines are pretty brilliant, (go here for a calculator in the traffic offenses case), and the conniptions they give the WSJ alone make Finland a sentimental pole-star for lefties.

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  43. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked Castro if Cuba’s economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.

    I do think it’s time for an end to the US trade embargo, however.

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  44. Leaping Jimmy (16,473 comments) says:

    stepheng you make very good points. IMO the thing the lefties are most selective about is ignoring the fact their populations are all (at least before the EU 1990’s screwed it up) indigenous going back thousands of generations, just like Japans, and that gives a priceless advantage to any country, in terms of getting it on educationally and in many other ways because all the horses are pulling in the same direction and if anyone gets out of line, such as, Bjorn decides to become a dole bludger, why the neighbours, Bjorn’s family, Bjorn’s friends et al just get into Bjorn’s face and pretty soon Bjorn isn’t a dole bludger anymore.

    This happens, over there, still. Not quite so much as it used to since the EU started to weave it’s majik but to a large extent it still does, and it doesn’t happen here, and hasn’t for around two generations (forty years).

    Given lefties do nothing but engineer societies you’d a thought wouldn’t you they would have picked this up but apparently, the whole lot of them have missed this elephant in the room fucking obvious drop dead fucking d’oh with bells on obvious social trend, leading one to conclude either all lefties who reckon Scandanavians are just shit-hot are either fucking stupid or fucking disingenuous and there doesn’t seem to a third alternative, to any thinking person, does there.

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  45. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    Quick google mikenmild. There are many other similar examples.

    And I don’t think you do get it. The number of people who have escaped from Cuba and the even larger number who would leave if they could just get on a plane (e.g a situation just like every other Communist hellhole in history), is surely sufficient testimony that there is not enough healthiness or happiness to make a 99.8% literacy rate and an average life expectancy of 77.64 worthwhile.

    Not that I think you’re a communist or have any desire to live in a society like that. But it does give an insight into the compromises you’d be willing to make in our society. How much less freedom would be acceptable to you if it meant gaining higher average life expectancy and a 99.8% literacy rate? Not as much as Cuba but …?

    It also throws an interesting light on the next occasion where you mockingly and sarcastically imply that people are drawing reductio ad absurdum conclusions from your arguments. Maybe they’re not?

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  46. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    LJ
    “…indigenous going back thousands of generations, just like Japans,”

    The ethnic group we refer to as Japanese are not actually indigenous to Japan in the strict sense (although after centuries of occupation it becomes somewhat moot). The Ainu enjoy that status. I think your essential point is valid though; it helps for a population to have homogeneous value system to work collectively.

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  47. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    Anyone else think John Key and Gerry Brownlee made a tactical error by apologizing?
    If they had continued the banter, they could have made the issue between New Zealand and Finland, instead of between National and Labour.

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  48. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    adze>I do think it’s time for an end to the US trade embargo, however.

    Cuba is well known for importing stuff on tick and then never paying their bills. They leached off the Soviets for years and do it to all their suppliers these days. The trade embargo is really just a way of stopping US companies from being ripped off. It’s a bit like a law making it illegal to send money to Nigerians you’ve just met on the internet.

    Cuba can trade with every other country in the world. The US sanctions are no excuse for their miserable existence, any more than NZ sanctions are to blame for the economy of Fiji. It’d also be very easy for the Cuban government to remove the sanctions themselves… the US government has made it quite clear they’ll be gone the day after a free Cuban election.

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  49. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    tom
    Correct, I am not all that keen on living in Cuba. While I might well prefer to live there rather than Haiti or some other less than paradisaical Caribbean nation, I very happy here in NZ. All I was doing was responding to emmess’s little rave to see who would bite. Thanks.

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  50. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    davidp

    Trade occurs between the US and Cuba now, despite the embargo. The way they get around the issue of creditworthiness is that there is no credit; cash only.
    I’m not sure a trade embargo is an particularly appropriate (or consistent!) diplomatic lever to encourage democratic elections within a nation. There are plenty of undemocratic governments in the world that trade freely with the US; That kind of change can be encouraged, but it best occurs within the country in question.

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  51. Leaping Jimmy (16,473 comments) says:

    The ethnic group we refer to as Japanese are not actually indigenous to Japan in the strict sense… The Ainu enjoy that status.

    Thanks adze for the clarification. I do tend to wax lyrical. Possibly even only five-ten generations (100-200 years) is probably enough to get social consensus embedded in a human society unless you have something irreconcilable going on like we have here in NZ.

    Anyone else think John Key and Gerry Brownlee made a tactical error by apologizing? If they had continued the banter, they could have made the issue between New Zealand and Finland, instead of between National and Labour.

    emmess they wouldn’t have wanted to. It’s not a victory if you escalate a local conflict into an international incident.

    Unless that is, you’re Hulun. But Key isn’t Hulun, thank goodness.

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  52. Raphael (88 comments) says:

    @krazykiwi – thanks for the welcome.

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  53. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    All I was doing was responding to emmess’s little rave to see who would bite. Thanks.

    A very little rave as it happens. He said Case in point.

    Ah! But you were trolling. Of course.

    Clap ………… clap …………. clap …..

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  54. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    The Kiwi Jerry attack on Finland is a media beat-up, but the comment of Adolf Finkelstein at 4.17 shouldn’t be unchalleged.

    Fink posted:

    Is this the same Finland which fought alongside Nazi Germany for most of the Second World War? And then changed sides when it became apparent Germany would lose?

    The Finns were forced into the war on Germany’s side by the Soviet Union, which attacked them on 30 November 1939, two months after World War II began and before Germany launched Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941, ending the Russian-German pact.

    The Finns (similar population to NZ) fought brilliantly against up to 600,000 Russian troops, until overpowered. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union of course the Finns regarded them as Allies.

    Up to early 1940, the British and French leadership considered sending up to 150,000 troops to support the Finns as volunteers if this could be done without instigating a war between the Allies and Russia (this was when Moscow and Berlin were still allies).

    In June 1944 the Soviet Union launched a second large offensive against Finland. The Finns were forced to negotiated an armistice with Moscow, and as part of this had to expel remaining Germans.

    This is what Finkelstein is apparently referring when talking of the Finns changing sides. The Finns had less choice in the matter than, say the Italians, or the Vichy French.

    The girl soldiers pictured at the beginning of the thread are great, but don’t be fooled, the Finns have proved themselves really tough troops. According to Malaparte, the Italian journalist who covered the Eastern front as a war correspondent with the Nazis, crack German troops couldn’t match the toughness of the Finns in winter fighting in the forests and snow. Sadly, some Finns fought in SS units in other parts of the Eastern front, but again showed they are tough folk.

    Russia has several internal “nationalities” of ethnic groups closely related genetically and by languages to Finns of Finland, and they have proved just as tough for Moscow.

    Top rally drivers, great athletes, excellent architecture and symphonic music, top-class education, technology industry NZ would love to have … the Finns are okay.

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  55. SHG (316 comments) says:

    Or, as QoT put it,

    http://ideologicallyimpure.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/finland-afraid.jpg

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  56. stepheng (25 comments) says:

    @Leaping Jimmy. Yes, the Nordic countries are basically monocultures, which gets you a lot of social capital/trust/agreement on fundamentals for free, which in turn is a natural basis for large welfare states of the sorts that lefties prefer. High immigration, multicultural societies that agree about little etc. would, conversely, seem to be a good fit for relatively small government. All political persuasions contain tensions of various sorts but lefties’ joint preference for super-multicultures and also for large government is a doozy.

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  57. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Aww tom, you’re way too kind. What was most entertaining though was you leaping in with the Cuba communist = Cuba bad line. Just coz they’re commies doesn’t make everything there awful, eh?

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  58. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    I can say the IDF girls are hot, hot, hot

    There is nothing like a girl with a machine gun coming on to you.
    Ah the memories of youth.

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  59. Raphael (88 comments) says:

    @SHG: I don’t know which figure is more disturbing, the 226,875 Russian dead, or the 400,000+ missing.

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  60. Mark1 (90 comments) says:

    So where do we get these Maori slaves from? Is this something you can get online? Actually, I’d prefer maybe an Indian or Chinese slave – but they are, no doubt, very expensive and I’m not sure the Fair Trading Act would cover their purchase.

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  61. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    What was most entertaining though was you leaping in with the Cuba communist = Cuba bad line. Just coz they’re commies doesn’t make everything there awful, eh?

    I used to cut the communists some slack, especially different countries such as Yugoslavia, which seemed to escape the worst aspects of the police state. And I often did so on the same basis as you’ve defended them – literacy rates, life expectancy and other sets of the statistics so beloved by central planners. And who needed to add to Cold War tensions.

    But since most of them have collapsed I’ve come to realise that they were actually even worse than I had thought. One of the classic examples being the fact that the Stasi in East Germany had twisted most of the population into spying on each other: wives informed on by their husbands and such like, and they never knew until years after the Wall fell. Disgusting, and yet even the most anti-communist screeds in the West never claimed that. It’s as Susan Sontag stated a couple of decades ago; that in hindsight the more accurate picture of the USSR and all it’s minions and compatriots around the world was drawn by Readers Digest rather than The Nation.

    So yes, I think everything there in Cuba is awful. Not as awful as North Korea to be sure, but a crap society to live in nevertheless, whose public face (such as smiling musicians in hotels) can smile because they’re probably on the bullied-and-bribed list of the secret police.

    And yes, I no longer admire or even respect nuance and moderated critiques in this matter: communist does = bad. Very, very bad.

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  62. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I happen to think that there might be more to life in a country than its political system. I think we can all agree, on the basis of fairly objective reporting, that like in North Korea must be pretty miserable. Life for many in China is fine, miserable for many, but their repressive political system naturally doesn’t lead to trade embargoes, etc. OTOH, there are many, many basket cases that qualify as democracies but offer very little for the inhabitants – Haiti. PNG, Solomon Islands, most of Africa, etc.
    So what’s the point? Yes, freedom is an important thing. Is it the only thing?

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  63. tom hunter (4,862 comments) says:

    I happen to think that there might be more to life in a country than its political system.

    Funnily enough I would agree – except that in the case of communism, like theocracies – it’s no longer just a political system. It’s a system for almost every aspect of your life. Aside from a bottle of booze and apathy there is no escape. The life in the country really cannot be separated from the political system, which is not surprising since those political systems were intended to take up every aspect of one’s life.

    So what’s the point? Yes, freedom is an important thing. Is it the only thing?

    The eternal debate -which I would not mind being nuanced about answering, “NO” to – except for the fact that that answer seems to open up an enormous breach through which planners and controllers pour to try and run my life, for the greater good of course.

    And again I can see why you’re willing to defend Cuba a little, even as you’re willing to profess some general concern that the place is not all that great. You’re buying into the exact same argument that the USSR used when arguing about things like the Helsinki Agreement on human rights. Whenever the West pointed to freedom of speech and such like, the communists countered with the argument that these freedoms meant nothing if you were unemployed and homeless. There’s an argument there, but of course their solution crushed freedom of speech (and other freedoms) in attempting to give everyone a guaranteed job, together with housing, cars, education, and health care for free.

    We’ve held back from that extreme, which I would feel more comfortable about were there not “moderate left-wingers” like you who continue to constantly ask that question, leaving me to wonder how far you are prepared to go, had you the power?

    I’d suggest that people who ask that question are truly missing the point. Freedom has to be the baseline principle for everything else. Without freedom all the enforced equality turns to crap anyway. In the case of communist countries the very things they provided for free degenerated – crap apartments, crap cars, crap medical technology, everything – because freedom of thought and speech was required to make those things better. But of course it had been dumped far down the scale as being insufficient. Quite the paradox.

    I think we’re in a world where the answer, as to whether freedom is the only thing that really matters, is increasingly, “YES”. Just at a consumer level, almost every device and technology invented has been used by ordinary people to escape planners and controllers (even ones as mild as your local Hot 97FM playlist programmer). Of course they eventually try to catch up by seeking to control those same things (e.g. your smart phone as a tracking device), but the point stands.

    That’s the way humans roll and any society that tries to restrict that path, eventually fails. The failure may be spectacular, as in the case of the USSR, or a pitiful decline like that of Cuba, or a slow train wreck as Western societies are with their giant public institutions.

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  64. Liberal Minded Kiwi (1,571 comments) says:

    What have we learned from this situation.

    1) All the hard work done to discredit Shearer was undone by Brownlee going overboard to score points
    2) Labour can sit back and chuckle at the fact the media are not on their back for Shearers Finland comments
    3) Finnish women are not badly educated or treated badly and are hotter than their NZ counterparts (not new information)
    4) Milkenmild has never been to Cuba. If he thinks all workers earning $20 per month is a good thing why is he defending the POAL workers?

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