Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Australian Quotes of 2014

December 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Blair presents some of his favourite quotes from 2014:

  • “This country is going to cook and people are going to die.” – Greens senator Scott Ludlam.
  • “The next time a woman dies at the hands of a violent partner and we read with trembling hearts that she could not get any legal help to stop that partner, we will be able to sheet the cause of death to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.” – Fairfax’s Jenna Price.
  • “China’s shift towards capitalism creates inequality and anger.” – The ABC’s unique analysis of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • “Thats my boy!” – Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf rejoices over a photograph of his young son holding the head of a dead Syrian soldier.
  • “Our best defence is of course our cultured reason. Our tolerance. Our audacious confidence in the fundamental goodness of others.” – The ABC’s Jonathan Green solves terrorism.
  • “In NZ we are very worried about a potential influx of Australians, you know, escaping heat waves and lack of water and infectious diseases.” – University of Otago climate scientist Simon Hales.
  • “It demonises people.” – Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson would prefer that we do not refer to terrorists as terrorists.
  • “Do you want death or do you want coal?” – Greens leader Christine Milne.

It’s a pity we don’t record the stupidest quotes here. Here’s a good one from the UK:

Prof Lorraine Gamman, director of the University of the Arts London’s Design Against Crime Research Centre, said cracking down on graffiti stifled creativity and denied young people an important form of expression.

Barf.

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ISIL publishes rules for women

December 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

You can’t make this up. ISIL have published a pamphlet which is an FAQ on the rules for women. They are:

  • You can take non-Muslim women and children captive
  • You can have sex with prepubescent girls
  • You can sell them as gifts to others
  • If she was a virgin, he (the owner) can have intercourse with her immediately after the ownership is fulfilled
  • If she was not a virgin, her uterus must be purified
  • Two men who co-own a captive can’t both have sex with her
  • A man can’t have intercourse with his wife’s slave
  • It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse
  • It is permissible to buy, sell or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property
  • An impregnated captive cannot be sold
  • Beating a female slave for discipline is OK

Horrendous.

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The Westminster allegations

December 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Scotland Yard is investigating the alleged murders of three young boys by a VIP paedophile ring after a “credible” witness came forward to detail his abuse at the hands of Conservative politician, police said today.

The man – known only as Nick -has claimed that a Conservative MP murdered a boy during a sex attack, and a second boy was killed by a ring of abusers active in the late 1970s and 80s.

He claims that a third boy was deliberately run down in a car, which he said was a direct warning to him to keep quiet, according to an account given to investigative journalism website Exaro.

Police yesterday appealed for more witnesses to come forward. Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the lead officer for the operation, said that Nick had been spoken to by murder detectives and specialist child abuse investigators.

“They and I believe what Nick is saying to be credible and true hence why we are investigating the allegations he has made to us.

“I appeal to men who were subjected to abuse 30 years ago to come forward. We are also investigating the murder of three young boys – we are determined to find answers.”

Nick – whose real name has not been disclosed – has claimed that he was abused from the age of seven to 16 by groups of men, including at parties and at places across London and the Home Counties including military bases.

It sounds too horrific to be true, but you can never be certain. There’s a long history to these allegations, with files having been destroyed etc.

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Fact checking US politicians and Vladimir Putin

December 19th, 2014 at 9:22 am by Lindsay Addie

One of my favourite political blogs is Glenn Kessler’s at the Washington Post who awards Pinnochios (from one to four) for porkies and lies told by politicians’. Here is a sample of Kessler’s biggest whoopers from 2014.

They aren’t in any particular order.

Barack Obama: “I didn’t call the Islamic State a ‘JV’ team”

President Obama repeated a claim, crafted by the White House communications team, that he was not “specifically” referring to the Islamic State terror group when he dismissed the militants who had taken over Fallujah as a “JV squad.” But The Fact Checker had obtained the previously unreleased transcript of the president’s interview with The New Yorker, and it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing.

JV means junior varsity. He didn’t seem to be aware that ISIS (ISIL) were a major threat in the Middle East then told a porky about his previous comments.

Rand Paul: “John McCain met with Islamic State terrorists”

Intraparty slap downs are pretty rare, but Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have radically different foreign policy views. With no evidence but Internet rumors, some promoted by liberal groups, Paul declared that McCain unknowingly met with members of the Islamic State — and even had photographs taken — when he had slipped across the border with Syria to meet with rebel forces. But the claim was proven to be absolutely false. As we said as the time, “there are days when we regret we are limited to just Four Pinocchios.”

Paul clearly had a severe bout of foot and mouth disease on this one.

Barack Obama: “Republicans have filibustered 500 pieces of legislation”

President Obama former senator, got quite a few things wrong here. He spoke of legislation that would help the middle class, but he was counting cloture votes that mostly involved judicial and executive branch nominations. Moreover, he counted all the way back to 2007, meaning he even included votes in which he, as senator, voted against ending debate — the very thing he decried in his remarks. At best, he could claim the Republicans had blocked about 50 bills, meaning he was off by a factor of ten.

I’ll give the President the benefit of the doubt and opine that he was merely repeating what his researchers/speech writers told him to say. It is still a clumsy attempt though to a score political point.

John Boehner: “There’s been a net loss of people with health insurance”

Nope. Boehner added apples and then subtracted oranges. At the point he made the statement, it was clear that the net gain was in the millions.

Boehner was talking about Obamacare. As in the case of the previous lie, Boehner was using shoddy research to try and score a political point.

Vladimir Putin: “A referendum was held in Crimea in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech announcing the annexation of Crimea that was full of whoppers, but none more so than his claim about the referendum. The referendum was rushed, political opposition was squelched, and the choices did not allow for a “no.” (The options were either joining Russia — what the ballot called “reunification” — or remaining part of Ukraine with greater autonomy, effectively making the region independent in all but name.) Moreover, the Crimea vote met none of the conditions for a referendum in the Ukrainian constitution. Clearly it’s time for a fact-checking organization in Russia.

This for me is the biggest lie on Kessler’s list. Putin would have real trouble convincing most people he’s a true believer in democracy and freedom of speech.

Note that Kessler provides web links to all the original stories. It is a pity that no one in New Zealand fact checks politicians on a regular basis.

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Was Man Haron Monis a terrorist or just a criminal?

December 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A number of people have asserted that Man Haron Monis was not an Islamist terrorist but a just a deranged criminal. Terrorist are of course a sub-set of criminals, but putting that aside, what is the evidence for whether this was a terrorist event.

The argument against is that Man Haron Monis was already before the courts on attempted murder and sexual offending. This was not someone who had led a blameless life and suddenly committed crimes after being radicalised. He was  someone facing a lengthy spell in jail, and perhaps thought better to go out in a blaze of publicity – maybe like our Phillip Smith – someone with nothing to lose.

But I don’t think that argument holds up, for multiple reasons. In order:

  1. He was actually free and at large. He shouldn’t have been of course, but he was.
  2. His previous convictions on the letters is directly related to his extreme political views
  3. He displayed a jihadist flag in the window of the cafe
  4. He demanded an ISIL flag be delivered to the cafe
  5. He demanded that the media broadcast his actions as an attack on Australia by ISIL
  6. He demanded that the PM be put on the line to him
  7. He made no demands about his court cases or convictions

While I understand why people would prefer to think it was not a terrorist incident, I think they are being naive. Certainly it was not a co-ordinated attack with multiple people. But sadly that is no longer the sole threat. ISIL is very different to other groups in that they have encouraged supporters to do whatever attacks they can manage, without authorisation or endorsement.

The article on news.com.au provides some thinking on what he may have planned to do:

Queensland barrister Patrick Van Grinsven, who spent 21 years with the police and 12 years of them as a counter-terrorism-qualified specialist negotiator, said police would have been concerned it was providing him with the tools for a horror show.

“If he got the ISIS flag, he could use that to make a very dramatic statement indeed,” said Mr Van Grinsven, who has trained closely with the NSW negotiators on the scene at Martin Place.

As for the media broadcasting his supposed request that Australia was under attack by ISIS, the police requested they not relay his demand for the same reason.

“This person may have been trying to set up an international stage,” said Mr Van Grinsven.

“It could be as serious as trying to do a live execution. We have seen others prepared to do that. This goes through negotiators’ minds.”

It is awful that two innocent people lost their lives. But it could have turned out even worse.

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Majority of Americans think CIA harsh interrogation methods justified

December 17th, 2014 at 2:28 pm by Lindsay Addie

A Washington Post-ABC News poll asking Americans about the Senate report in CIA interrogation methods post 9/11 has some revealing conclusions.

NB: I’ve paraphrased some of the questions for reasons of brevity.

When asked if they thought the report was fair?
Fair: 36% – Unfair 47%

Did the CIA intentionally or not mislead the White House?
Intentionally mislead: 54% – Did not mislead: 33%

Was the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists torture?
Yes: 49% – No: 38%

Did the CIA’s methods produce important information?
Yes: 53% – No: 31%

Which of these statements comes closer to your own opinion: (It was wrong to release this report because it may raise the risk of terrorism by increasing anti-American sentiment) OR (It was right to release this report in order to expose what happened and prevent it in the future)?
Yes: 52% – No: 43%

Do you think there should or should not be criminal charges filed against officials who were responsible for the CIA interrogation activities?
Should: 34% – Should not: 57%

All in all, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?
Justified: 59% – Unjustified 31%

Looking ahead, do you feel that torture of suspected terrorists can often be justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?
Often or sometimes justified: 58% – Rarely or never justified: 39%

So a majority of Americans according to the poll are happy to see some kind of rough treatment meted out to terrorist suspects. Even though they think the CIA lied to the White House. Also of particular interest is the reaction of voters across the political spectrum. This is covered here. The chart is too large to reproduce here but it shows that across many demographics except the liberal Democrats there it is accepted that use of torture in some shape or form is justified. That includes moderate/conservative Democrats.

With the events in Australia and Pakistan in recent days there is a greater opposition than ever to terrorist attacks. It is too soon to accurately assess how these events will frame the debate on terrorism and how terrorists should be treated in captivity. Has what is morally acceptable in dealing with terrorism changed especially after the Taliban slaughtered 130+ innocent children? I think it probably has.

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Russia’s economic woes

December 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Russians are wondering whether the relative economic stability of Vladimir Putin’s rule has come to an end, as the rouble continued its downward spiral on Tuesday, despite a dramatic overnight rise in interest rates.

“Even in our nightmares we couldn’t have imagined what is happening now a year ago,” said the deputy chairman of Russia’s central bank, Sergei Shvetsov, as the currency slid further against the dollar and euro.

Analysts suggest a combination of falling oil prices and western sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine initiated the rouble’s collapse, while further decline is taking place as investors panic and lose confidence in the currency.

As ordinary Russians watched their savings lose more real value on Tuesday, an unusually bitter polemic broke out between senior government officials. In a system where public disagreement is rare, the outbursts were a sign of how serious the tension is, as officials scrambled to deflect blame from themselves for the rouble’s slump.

The central bank announced a rise in interest rates from 10.5% to 17% after a late-night meeting behind closed doors on Monday in a desperate attempt to stop the slump. After a brief rally on Tuesday morning in response to the move, the rouble continued its fall and has now lost more than 50% of its value against the dollar since the start of the year. The rouble rallied again in the afternoon, recovering from a low point of over 100 to the euro to reach the 90 mark, but that figure still leaves Russians stunned, given the rate at the beginning of this year.

Putin may end up losing office over his invasion of Ukraine. The economic pain for Russia will only get worse and worse, and there will come a point where Putin will be (rightfully) blamed.

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Words I wish a NZ Labour leader would say

December 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Jim Murphy has been announced as the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party. …

“The majority are fulfilled, getting on, getting by, being successful. A minority are falling behind, denied opportunity, trapped, unable to escape the hardship of their upbringing.

“That inequality is wrong and it is my driving purpose, it is our driving purpose, it is the Scottish Labour Party’s driving purpose to end that type of inequality once and for all.”

Mr Murphy said the best way to tackle poverty was to boost the economy.

“The most effective anti poverty measure is a successful economy,” he said.

Would we even hear NZ Labour or the Greens say this here?

“It’s about backing businesses, it’s about creating jobs, because if redistribution is our aim, which it is, then we need more wealth not less. We want more entrepreneurs, not fewer. A growing middle class that more families are able to join.

“The debate about how we spend our wealth starts with how we earn it.”

Indeed.

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Two hostages dead in Sydney

December 16th, 2014 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

Police confirmed three people have died and four others were injured during the police operation that brought the siege at Lindt cafe to an end just after 2am today after more than 16 hours.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed two hostages and a lone gunman were killed and a total of 17 hostages were held throughout the siege.

Terrible that two innocent lives were lost, but am relieved that it wasn’t much higher. The Police did the best they could in a very difficult situation.

There was no word on the fate of the gunman, earlier identified as 50-year-old self-styled sheik Man Haron Monis.

Monis was known to police and as a self-styled preacher of Islamic State on bail for accessory to murder, as the gunman who was holding 15 terrified hostages in Sydney’s Lindt cafe.

On bail!

The 49-year-old, originally from Iran who lived in southwest Sydney, had previously sent offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, calling them ‘murderers’, The Daily Telegraph says.

He had a sawn-off shotgun and was a fringe Islamist, The Australian and Sky News reports.

I think countries such as Australia, and NZ, need to have much more stringent immigration criteria – I don’t mean banning people on the basis of their religion, but asking prospective migrants a detailed set of questions to ascertain if they hold extreme views, and would be happy living in a secular country.

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says it would naive to think that an attack similar to the Sydney siege couldn’t happen in New Zealand.

Three people, including the gunman, are dead after the Martin Pl siege ended in a volley of gunfire shortly after 2am local time this morning (4am NZT).

“I think you have to say yes,” Key said. “There is always that risk, there’s that risk everywhere in the world. There’s the risk that there’s a person who is somehow attracted to the teachings and kinds of messages and propaganda that these people are peddling.” …

Key said the events in Sydney only showed how dangerous IS was, even if it wasn’t directly involved. 

“As I said, they’re extremely well-resourced, we believe they’re the most highly-resourced terrorist group in the world. 

“They’re using the internet in a way that’s never been seen before, to build this outreach capacity and to target the very sort of people that we’ve seen in Australia overnight; to tap into people and to use them as a domestic terror threat type of organisation,” he said. 

“I don’t think we should stop the things that we’re doing. I think we should continue to standup to ISIS and actually, it just demonstrates how dangerous they are.” 

The gunman at the centre of the Sydney siege is among a number of homegrown terrorists being targeted by IS, Key said.

The attack was an act of “cowardice”, and New Zealand’s hearts went out to all Australians, he said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy isn’t it? Our hearts and thoughts go out not only to the families of the victims and the hostages, but actually to all Australians. 

“Australia’s our nearest neighbour, they’re our greatest mates, we consider ourselves to be very similar in the way we go about our lives. 

“I think Australia will be really hurting, and indeed the world is as we see some people lose their lives in an utter act of cowardice, and so close to Christmas,” Key said on Firstline. 

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Australian Greens targeting academics

December 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Dirty Politics in Australia with the Australian Greens conducting a witch hunt against academics who have ever done work for the  Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies:

THE notorious US anti-communism campaigner Joe McCarthy would be proud — the Australian Senate has adopted his tactics in pursuit of independent think tanks.

Instead of “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”, a Senate estimates committee is asking whether particular academics and specialists are “connected” with the Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies.

Incredible.

“This is outright McCarthyism,” IPA deputy director James Paterson said. “It is pretty much ‘Are you now or have you even been a member of the IPA?’ ”

There’s a twist in this story.

The person who asked the question was South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright, who raised it at an October hearing.

“I am interested to know if any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?” she asked.

The Weekend Australian contacted the senator’s office yesterday seeking comment on why the organisations were singled out and whether she was investigating connections to any other organisations.

Senator Wright’s adviser said the senator was too busy to respond, having “back-to-back meetings” and “two human rights events” to attend.

Human rights, not including freedom of association it seems.

They found the questions insulting, seemingly suggesting that publishing with these highly regarded organisations devalued their expertise.

CIS executive director Greg Lindsay said: “We are an organisation of the highest standards that publishes Nobel laureates, leading academics from Australia and around the world, as well as high-level politicians from all major parties. I’ve never heard of Senator Wright — who is she?”

Great retort.

Both the IPA and CIS support free markets, individual liberty and limited government.

Mr Paterson said Senator Wright’s question was a “classic example” of playing the man rather than the ball. “It is deeply revealing about the Greens’ attitude to political disagreement,” he said. “Are the Greens senators hunting down the political affiliation of all those who contributed towards developing the national curriculum, or just those they disagree with?”

The lead author of the original history curriculum was Melbourne University historian Stuart Macintyre. His connections were not pursued by the Greens. Professor Macintyre was once a member of the Communist Party.

Heh.

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Hostages in Sydney

December 15th, 2014 at 12:45 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

AN ARMED man is holding several people hostage at a cafe in Martin Place in Sydney.

There are hostages standing with their hands up at the windows in the popular Lindt chocolate shop, which has two or three entrances. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a jihadist flag.

Terrifying for the hostages, and also for everyone in Sydney. Hopefully the situation will be resolved with no hostages killed. If it is a terrorist attack, which seems the case, it is a grim reminder how close to home it is all getting.

UPDATE: The flag says:

There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God’

It seems it is a jihadist flag, not an ISIS flag. The distinction may seem small, but I’d say less likely that the hostages will be publicly killed. Let’s hope.

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Will US Drone attacks now come under closer scrutiny?

December 13th, 2014 at 2:27 pm by Lindsay Addie

 

Mural in Sanna, Yemen - (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Mural in Sanna, Yemen – (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

With the furore over the CIA interrogation techniques during the George W Bush administration still ongoing attention is starting to shift to using US Drones to attack and kill terrorists.

Lauren Fox from the National Journal discusses the various arguments.

As Republicans prepare to take leadership over the Senate Intelligence Committee, the panel’s oversight work will shift from spending considerable resources to ensure the release of the backwards-looking torture report to a committee that incoming Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said will deliver oversight in “real time.”

“We are not going to be looking back at a decade trying to dredge up things,” Burr said about his future on the committee, just before Feinstein released her report.

Members of Congress are divided over whether the president’s highly secretive drone-strikes program needs more congressional scrutiny. Some criticize the program’s legal rationale, while others have concerns about killing combatants who may have valuable information.

One issue is that a dead terrorist suspect isn’t as good an information source as a live one.

Details about how drones are used to kill terrorists remain unknown, a fact leaders on Capitol Hill harbor concerns about. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is in line to be the next Senate Foreign Relations chairman, said it’s an area ripe for oversight.

“I have always wondered why there isn’t more concerns about how that is carried out, but I don’t think anyone would want to do that as retribution,” for the torture report’s release, Corker said. “I think people genuinely want our country to be secure, but at the same time it is pretty amazing that those kinds of decisions are made amongst such a small group of people.”

The Obama administration strongly defends the drone program. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling for more information to made available by the CIA.

“We could be going down the same road all over again, but with killing instead of torturing,” says Chris Anders, senior legal counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The kinds of people that were involved in the horrors of this torture report are still around. It is hard to believe they have become better managers or more careful about remaining within the law in subsequent years.”

Fighting terrorism is always a messy business and there is a fine line between what is morally acceptable and the steps needed to actually defeat the perpetrators of terrorist acts.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released detailed data of US drone strikes between 2004 and May 2014. This article and the spreadsheet can be found here.

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Australia to vote on constitutional recognition for Aborigines

December 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It’s more important to get constitutional recognition for Aborigines right than to rush it through, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday.

Abbott has nominated May 27, 2017, as his preferred date for the long-awaited referendum – the 50th anniversary of the celebrated 1967 referendum on indigenous rights.

However, he warned that if the referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution failed it could set back the cause of reconciliation by decades.

“We’ve got to get it right,” he said yesterday.

“It’s more important to get it right than to rush it.”

The Prime Minister says no one wanted the first Australians to finally feel like first-class citizens more than he does – but he said it was better to take it slowly and ensure it succeeded.

“We shouldn’t be unambitious and we shouldn’t be over-ambitious. That’s the balance we have to get right here.”

Constitutional change must satisfy a majority of people in a majority of states.

If Abbott succeeds, he will be doing so against history. Only eight out of 44 referenda have passed in Australian history, and the last one to pass was in 1977. Eight since then have all failed. Seven failed to get a majority and one got an overall majority but not a majority in a majority of states.

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US politics cartoons of the week: 8 December 2014

December 8th, 2014 at 4:12 pm by Lindsay Addie

Two this week, one making fun of each side of the political spectrum.

The first one questions the sanity of those in the GOP who want to shutdown the US federal government again.

andy_marlette_andy_marlette_for_12022014_5_

© Andy Marlette, found at Real Clear Politics

 

The second is about the huge increase in public debt since 2008 featuring an oblivious Barack Obama.

gary_varvel_gary_varvel_for_12042014_5_

© Gary Varvel, found at Real Clear Politics

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Congress Declares War on Obama. The end of his Presidency?

December 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

Obama1

The gum-chewing celebrity stand-in for President is under serious threat as, in breaking news 5/12 NZ time (Associated Press and Fox), the US Congress – the real power behind the ‘throne’ – has just voted down Obama’s Executive Order immigration initiative to vote amnesty to five million illegal immigrants. (Incidentally, Obama won his second term by about five million votes; so this might be viewed by some as a cynical Democrat ‘buy-up’ of an electoral buffer [ten million people] against the other side, a bit like the electoral implications of Sir Robert Muldoon’s universal superannuation initiative, that it could be argued significantly expanded the National party voter base).

Obama2

Capitol Hill (or “The Hill”) that houses the US Senate (right) and the House of Representatives (“the House”) (left) sometimes also referred to (confusingly) as “the Congress.”

The bicameral US Congress (House of Representatives & Senate) is the real power in America, among several checks and balances.  They vote the money and a president must have their support to go to war (remember all that pressure from Churchill to Roosevelt to enter WWII, and Roosevelt needing to navigate Congressional sentiment and feeling and using them as his effective UK filibuster?).

Presidents Reagan and Bush both used Executive Orders, but to enact already passed laws; Lincoln used the rare power under emergency in time of civil war.  Obama has used it simply to circumvent the democratic process in America to get what he wants, a policy he cannot get sufficient votes for in the House. Obama has ‘made law’ on the hoof without reference to, indeed in the face of direct opposition from, the democratically elected political representatives.  He has done this by appealing to some ‘higher morality’ for the ‘righteousness’ of his party political and factional ideology, the pathological arrogance of a lot of Left political thinking. That is an anti-democratic outrage.

Back in Democracy-land (Govt of the People by the People) the elected House voted 219-197 to declare Obama’s immigration actions “null and void and without legal effect.”   Obama himself described his own potential action as “unlawful” before doing it. 22 times he said that but he’s weasel-worded a 180 degree ‘switch-a-rooney’ to now say it’s ok; brought in his lawyers. So, government by selective lawyers. At first the ‘constitutional professor’ (Obama) said it would be illegal and unconstitutional to take the action he now has, but has since ‘learned’ how wider the powers of the President actually are.  Gee, how convenient. Government by research and autocracy. No wonder he’s attracting the epithets “Emperor” and “King.”

Obama3

So, this is no longer about Immigration, but the Constitution and Democracy.  Like gun laws, you don’t fight Americans on C and D.  Obama will lose and his ‘presidency’ may unravel. But it gets more serious than that, because this stand-off is potentially tied to the Budget.  The Constitutional debt ceiling (already historically lifted by Obama amidst acrimonious factional debate and stonewalling) expires on 11 Dec. 2014. Current government funding will expire. The House will be disinclined to give the President his way.  It could potentially be a bleak Christmas for government workers.

Obama4

Moreover, 17 States led by Texas have voted independently to sue the President over the Constitutional legalities of what he is doing (see the States list at the bottom of this post).  That is serious disunity in the Union.  Remember, the breakup of the Union and civil war occurred previously over political policy disagreements (slavery, property rights, State autonomy vs Federal authority, transference, among other complex issues).

A severe issue is the political mismanagement of this.  Obama seems oblivious to the budgetary and political consequences of his immigration autocracy, and that implications would inevitably flow like falling dominoes for contravening the Constitution and slapping Congress in the face. Did he not understand that of course the majority Republican House would want to leverage the Budget issues against his unprecedented contempt over immigration policy?  Wakeup Mr President; do you not understand how politics works?

The 113th Senate must also pass this House “null and void” bill (and may not); the White House has already said it will veto the House bill (to block the immigration initiative).  So, this is war.

The difficulty for many Republicans, is the backwash against them if they stonewall the government flow of money, as it hits many Americans in the pocket (government workers).  So, short-term pain for long-term Constitutional and Democracy principal and politics? It’s a risk. Some Repub.s want to delay the Immigration fight until 2015 (when there will be both a Republican House and Republican Senate majority).  Makes sense.

[Note: Despite the recent 2014 mid-term elections during the 113th Congress which gave the Republicans a majority in both wings of Congress, the 114th Congress does not ‘meet’ in Washington DC until 3 January 2015. Until then, the 113th Congress continues, a bit like our Parliaments, until they are sworn in. (Recall the constitutional crisis over currency devaluation between the outgoing Muldoon administration and the incoming Lange 4th Labour government? [the 40th-41st NZ parliaments]).

My pick is the House bill will not get Senate support, but it will sound a warning to the Obama presidency that will galvanise the 17 States pursuing legal suits against him over the Constitution.  Then in early 2015, the Republicans will rally and engage their President in an almighty Constitutional scrap (Senate & House) over their system of government. It will be a challenge for the 2016 presidential runners, and surely, will play trump cards to the Republican nominees, presenting hustings themes of the highest order to American minds (Constitution, Democracy, Federal Power, Monarchy vs Presidents,  etc. You can hear the booming stump speeches already). Hillary Clinton, if selected, will be drowned out in the greater debate.

The federal lawsuit against President Obama, includes: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

~ John Stringer.

 

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Is President Obama the worst President since WW 2 – part 1?

December 6th, 2014 at 4:00 am by kiwi in america

The inestimable Professor Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia has produced a most fascinating graph comparing the combined electoral fortunes in Senate, House, Gubernatorial and State Legislature elections for the party of each President since World War Two. After two disastrous mid term elections (2010 and 2014), President Obama is on track to post the worst results of any President since WW 2.

http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/what-a-drag/

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“Some presidents did fairly well by their parties, relatively speaking. Truman’s nearly eight years in office came at the end of an extraordinarily long period of Democratic control (1932-1952), yet his losses — while serious — were modest compared to many of his successors.

Eisenhower left the GOP in much worse shape when he left office in 1961, with a net loss of 14 governors, 12 senators, 48 House members, and a whopping 843 state legislators. Republicans wouldn’t recover much of this ground until Reagan.

Kennedy’s Democrats were in solid shape in all categories during his brief tenure, but despite a landslide with lengthy coattails for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Democrats had suffered major erosion in federal and state positions by 1968, notably losing 15 net governorships and 437 state legislative seats.

The Nixon-Ford years, capped by the Watergate scandal and Ford’s pardon of Nixon, left an overall record that mimicked Eisenhower’s in some ways, though the GOP was left at an even lower ebb once Ford exited the White House in 1977. The shell-shocked Republicans were at rock bottom in the number of governorships, House seats, state legislative seats, and state legislative chambers.

Of all modern presidents, Reagan could boast the best record. In fact, he is the only president to achieve a gain in any category — a slight net addition of six Republican state legislators from 1980 to 1988. (There are almost 7,400 state legislators, so this is a very modest advance, but a unique one all the same.) Still, Reagan left the GOP in a substantially weaker minority status in both the U.S. Senate and House.

Democrats were delirious when Bill Clinton restored them to power in 1992, a euphoria that lasted until his unpopularity pushed both houses of Congress to Republican control two years later. Despite a marginal improvement in Democratic fortunes during the rest of Clinton’s administration, the party registered a net loss of 11 governorships, seven Senate seats, 45 House seats, 524 state legislative berths, and 18 state legislative chambers.

George W. Bush’s long-term losses were more modest. Nonetheless, with Bush’s sharp drop in job approval because of his handling of the Iraq War and Katrina (plus GOP congressional scandals), Democrats regained full control of Congress in 2006, and in 2008 secured outright majorities in 60 of the states’ 98 legislative chambers (excluding Nebraska’s nonpartisan unicameral body).

However, it is Barack Obama who holds the modern record for overall losses, at least through 2014. President Obama has presided over two devastating midterms for his party. From 2008 to the present, Democrats in the Obama era have racked up net forfeitures of 11 governorships, 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 913 state legislative seats, and 30 state legislative chambers. In the latter three categories, Obama has doubled (or more) the average two-term presidential loss from Truman through Bush.”

 

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Opposition leaders never really plot to kill their rivals

December 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Venezuelan judge on Wednesday formally charged opposition leader Maria Corina Machado with conspiracy to kill President Nicolas Maduro and told her that she faces a maximum prison sentence of eight to 16 years if convicted.

My default position whenever an opposition leader is arrested, is to assume they are being framed by the Government.

Why would an opposition leader want to kill the President? It won’t make them President. It will make the Vice-President, the President, and probably ensure their party gets re-elected with a huge majority due to sympathy over the killing!

Six other prominent opposition figures were named in the complaint, which said the plot sought to “disturb the peace of the nation,” according to a statement issued by prosecutors. The investigation of the alleged conspiracy began in March when the country was convulsed by nationwide demonstrations against the Maduro government, protests that Machado encouraged and led.

So his her real crime is to lead protests against the leftist Government.

This year, Machado was banned from the National Assembly after the legislative body’s president, Diosdado Cabello, accused her of treason for supporting the nationwide student-led protests against rising crime and economic mismanagement.

So it is treason to support protesting students in the socialist paradise of Venezuela.

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Key elected head of the International Democrat Union

November 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Key was yesterday elected Chairman of the International Democrat Union. This is the global union of centre right parties. It is unprecedented for the leader of such a small country to become the chair.

It has 54 members including the Australian Liberal Party, Canadian Conservative Party, Taiwanese Kuomintang, French UPM, German CDU, UK Conservative and US Republican Party. It was founded by Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, Jacques Chrirac and George H W Bush. John Howard has just retired as the Chairman.

I have had some involvement myself in the IDU and the IYDU. To be elected Chair means that dozens of other Prime Ministers and party leaders are in support of you. It is a sign that John Key is recognised internationally as one of the most successful centre right leaders around the world.

Global politics, like domestic politics, often works on the strength of relationships. Key’s ascension to the IDU leadership is significant.

When he first became National Party leader, some on the left mocked Key as someone who would be incompetent on foreign affairs – how could a money trader know anything about diplomacy. Since then Key has developed strong relationships with both the US and Chinese Presidents, is good friends with the Australian, British and Canadian PMs, and now has been elected by his peers to be the leader of the global grouping of centre-right parties.

 

 

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A political King

November 21st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Prince of Wales intends to continue making “heartfelt interventions” in matters of national importance when he becomes king, rather than adopting the Queen’s blanket impartiality on public affairs, close friends have said.

As Charles III he will redefine the “evolving” role of monarch, as he believes he has a duty to ask questions of those in power on issues such as the environment, on which he has campaigned for decades. Patrick Holden, an adviser to the Prince on sustainability, told the Guardian: “He feels these issues are too serious to ignore.”

So the next King of New Zealand will be a political campaigning interfering King.

If we’re to have a political Head of State, wouldn’t it be better to be one we can choose?

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Significant increase in deaths linked to terrorism

November 19th, 2014 at 1:08 pm by Lindsay Addie

The New York Times has a story on the latest terrorism statistics. They cite two studies which have researched the statistics for 2013.

Pointing to a geographic imbalance, the report by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace said five countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria — accounted for four-fifths of the almost 18,000 fatalities attributed to terrorism last year. Iraq had the bloodiest record of all, with more than 6,300 fatalities.

This data will not surprise anyone. According to Vision of Humanity’s research these are the raw statistics.

  • 17,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks last year, that’s 61% more than the previous year
  • 82% of all deaths from terrorist attack occur in just 5 countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
  • Last year terrorism was dominated by four groups: the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIL, and al Qa’ida.
  • More than 90% of all terrorist attacks occur in countries that have gross human rights violations.
  • 40 times more people are killed by homicides than terrorist attacks.

The New York Times also states that in the four years starting in 2007, worldwide attempts to defeat terrorism only managed to achieve ‘modest decreases’.

Vision of Humanity cite the principal causes for terrorism

The three main factors associated with terrorism are state sponsored violence such as extra-judicial killings, group grievances and high levels of criminality. Poverty rates, levels of schools attendance and most economic factors have no association with terrorism. Most terrorist attacks use explosives; since 2000 only 5% were suicide attacks.

It is certain the 2014 terrorism statistics will be even worse.

[UPDATE]: Vision of Humanity uses the following definition of terrorism

The definition of terrorism used by the Global Terrorism Index is: “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation”.

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We should be able to act outside the UN

November 19th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

Prime Minister John Key says major companies such as Fonterra have been asked not to exploit the gap left by other countries’ trade sanctions on Russia because to do so would be a “terrible look” for New Zealand.

This raises the question why we haven’t imposed trade sanctions ourselves. It seems the answer is that we haven’t changed the law from from Labour had it, which was we can only impose sanctions if the UN agrees to them.

The problem is that Russia of course has a veto at the UN, so this means we allow our foreign policy to be subservient to their veto at the UN.

In most cases we would want to only do sanctions when the UN agrees to them. But as an independent country we should have the ability to impose them, even when there is no UN vote.

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Young female Muslims in Australia

November 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I detest Islamists and the psychopaths that are flocking to ISIS as much as anyone. But I also deplore people who think they represent the majority of Muslims. They are a very significant threat, but treating every member of a religion as the same is stupid and goes against my beliefs of treating people as individuals.

News.com.au has a cool feature on four young Australian Muslims. They are:

  • Delina Darusman-Gala, a fashion blogger
  • Neslihan Kurtonal, a tattooed social worker
  • Frida Deguise, a stand up comic
  • Abi Moustafa, a TV content editor

I’d encourage people to read the article and consider the need to distinguish between Islamists and Muslims.

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An FTA with (South) Korea

November 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

After five years of negotations, Korea and New Zealand are set to sign on a free trade agreement this afternoon.

Prime Minister John Key advised the deal was done soon after arriving into Brisbane for the G20 this afternoon. It is a landmark deal for Mr Key as the first bilateral free trade agreement under his watch as Prime Minister.

He will meet with Korea’s President Park Geun-hye before making the announcement. However, he said it would still be a challenge to get it through Korea’s Parliament, which has baulked over free trade agreements in the past.

Mr Key said that was because it involved agriculture which was a politically sensitive issue. However, the agreement was similar to those Korea had signed with Australia, Canada and the United States.

Mr Key said it was “a good deal” and would see tariffs imposed on New Zealand exporters drop by about $65 million in its first year with further drops until tariffs in most areas phased completely over a decade. Mr Key said there were some areas which were of little relevance to New Zealand and other sectors where it would have been impossible to budge Korea further

“I think those sectors might, at the margins, be slightly disappointed but overall people will be pretty happy.”

“Korea is a big market, there is $4 billion in two way trade. We pay about $225 – $250 million in tariffs each year. I think there will be a lot of New Zealand businesses quite happy with it on Saturday night.”

Good to see another FTA agreed. Reducing tariffs benefits both countries involved.

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Four Australian brothers join ISIS

November 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Four brothers slipped out of Australia last week to join the fight with Islamic State (Isis) in Syria.

As authorities attempt to contain home-grown terrorists from leaving Australia, the latest recruits from Western Sydney have been labelled “cleanskins” by police agencies because they were completely unknown to intelligence.

The brothers – aged 17, 23, 25 and 28 – told their parents they were going on a holiday to Thailand, according to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

The siblings are believed to have travelled to Turkey and crossed the Syrian border in the past week.

I suspect it is only a matter of time until there is a successful terrorist attack in Australia.

 

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Germany backs EU and NZ free trade agreement

November 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will back a New Zealand push for a free trade agreement with the European Union – words that will be music to Prime Minister John Key’s ears.

Speaking to media during her visit to Auckland today, Dr Merkel said Germany would champion New Zealand’s cause.

“I think we should also come out in favour of a free trade agreement between the EU and New Zealand. New Zealand has such agreements with China and other areas of the world.

“As a member of the European Union, Germany is very much championing, despite the great distance that separates us, to foster our trade relationships, to bring forward trade with the European Union.”

She said she was impressed by New Zealand’s growth, saying it was because the country was open minded and encouraged free trade.

Mr Key said Germany was already a critical trade partner and two-trade was now larger than with the United Kingdom. However, there was scope to do more and he had spoken about NZ’s aspirations for a free trade agreement with the EU.

Interesting that Germany is now a bigger trading partner than the UK.

An FTA with the EU would be great as they are highly protectionist. But it would require consent of all EU countries and I can’t see France agreeing.

Two way trade with the EU is around $12 billion a year.

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