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Radical Emptiness

with 5 comments

I must admit that I was bracing myself this Monday morning at the prospect of Labour’s latest plans for tackling AGW, given all the talk about dairy farmers being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for our terrible Green House Gas (GHG) emission sins!

I was therefore immensely pleased to read this in Kiwiblog on Tuesday morning:

Stuff took the time to tally up these 284 listed actions and classify them.

Over half (158) are not really plans at all, but are plans to make a plan down the road, or to scope the scale of a possible policy, or develop an evidence base to build a policy on.

Excellent. NZ Labour strikes again. Plans and more plans amounting to nothing, although unfortunately a lot of money will be pissed up against various walls. It’s reached a sad stage in government when the best you can hope for is that the ideological fanatics you oppose turn out to be incompetent morons who couldn’t find their assholes with a mirror and a magnifying glass.

Still, let us be grateful for small mercies and the fact that for all the bloviating about the Climate Crisis, Labour have figured out that to really reduce emissions as far and as fast as they want would mean doing things that would be … harsh. This was explored from a US perspective in this article from 2019 where the writer lays out the reality of “getting serious” about reducing GHG emissions by imagining what a True Believer President (Democrat naturally) would have to do:

Inslee had launched his campaign two years earlier as a longshot, single-issue candidate. But events rapidly outpaced what had begun as a boutique candidacy intended to call attention to climate change.

As his first act as president, Inslee declared a national climate emergency. As his second, he announced national carbon rationing. Until further notice, consumers were limited to one tank of gas per month. Based on time of year and regional climates, natural gas and heating oil deliveries to households were cut by as much as 60%. Utilities were directed to submit plans within the month to cut total electricity generation by 40% and to optimize their existing generation mix to use as little fossil generation as possible.

In this imaginary scenario Inslee wins because Mother Nature delivers droughts, storms, tornadoes and hurricanes that perfectly fit his campaign. Congress follows Inslee (a real politician btw) and:

  • Nationalises the entire US electricity industry (the massive TVA and BPA are already public).
  • Creates a National Renewable Energy Corporation to produce enough wind turbines and solar panels to produce 60% of the nation’s electric power by 2030.
  • Creates the National Nuclear Energy Corporation, which takes over all private nuclear businesses build 200 single-design reactors in a decade to handle the other 40% of power needs.
  • Nationalises the Big Three US automakers to retool all their factories in three years to make EV’s.

While it’s imaginary the writer compares this to what is actually being proposed or being done to show how moderate even the calls of most US greens are.

As many environmentalists and even elected Democrats have come to believe that serious climate disruption is already upon us, it has become fashionable to call for a World War II-style mobilization to fight climate change. But virtually no one will actually call for any of the sorts of activities that the United States undertook during the war mobilization—rationing food and fuels, seizing property, nationalizing factories or industries, or suspending democratic liberties.

In other words even the zealots are full of it, and, although they probably are genuinely alarmed, don’t actually see climate change as the immediate and existential threat they publicly say it is. The article is lengthy and goes into some detail about the post-war history of the US Left in five sections:

  • The Libertarian Left.
  • From Public Goods to Market Failure.
  • Communitarian Capitalism.
  • Tilting with Windmills.
  • Our Divided Neoliberal House.

All of which has led them into a position where they can’t go for the imaginary ideas of a President Inslee. Thankfully, because it would likely be a catastrophe. If you think that’s OTT I suggest you look at what’s happening in Sri Lanka as a direct result of an ideological, scientifically ignorant decision by it’s (former) President to ban agrochemicals for farming. Which led to this:

Within six months of the ban, rice production in the country—a once very sufficient industry—dropped 20 percent, forcing Sri Lanka to import $450 million of rice to meet supply needs and surging rice prices rose nearly 50 percent.

Now, Sri Lanka will pay farmers across the country 40,000 million rupees ($200 million) to compensate for their barren harvests and crop failures. In addition to the funding, the Sri Lankan government will pay $149 million in price subsidies to rice farmers impacted by the loss.

Which then led to this:

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy and has suspended payments on its foreign loans. Its economic miseries have brought on a political crisis, with the government facing a protests and a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

The reserves declined to $3.1 billion by the end of 2021, and to $1.9 billion by the end of March, he said. With foreign currency in short supply thanks to less tourism and other revenues, official reserves were tapped to pay for importing essentials including fuel, gas, coal and medicines beginning in August 2021.

Which has led to this, with only enough petrol to last one more day.

I note that the NZ Feckless covered this story a couple of days ago and in the story I read did not once mention the organic farming decision that led to all this. Stuff talks only of Chinese infrastructure projects and debts. Dishonest assholes.

Adam Smith once said, in reply to a student’s concerns about Britain being ruined by the loss of the American colonies, that “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”. Sri Lanka is about to test the limits of that – and don’t for one moment think it couldn’t happen here if we had equally fanatical environmental decisions made here along the lines of “President Inslee”.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

Russia’s existential crises.

with 22 comments

This is basically a followup to the article I wrote yesterday about the US intelligence agencies proxy war against Russia, because I wanted to explore some of the larger issues surrounding that war.

That includes the idea that – while Putin’s invasion of Ukraine needs to stopped and even turned back – there’s no need to try and leverage it to get rid of Putin right now, as various fools from “President” Biden to Lindsay “There is no off-ramp” Graham have been demanding in the most bellicose terms.

There are two reasons why getting rid of Putin should not be considered an objective right now, let alone a priority.

First, because Russia’s thousand year history is of a massive, centralised, state led by a strongman “Czar”, from Czar Ivan to Czar Stalin. Putin is merely the latest and would likely be replaced by someone in his inner circles (or even the outer ones) who thinks much the same about Mother Russia, the West and Ukraine. In light of the history of such leaders back to the ancient civilisations you can bet there are already such schemers at work, thinking ahead to post-Putin days.

But the second reason is actually more sobering and, frankly, a bit sad; and it is that the Russian nation is slowly dying, war or not, and it’s this I want to focus on here, starting with a blunt statement in this article, Russia is dying out:

“One hundred and forty-six million [people] for such a vast territory is insufficient,” said Vladimir Putin at the end of last year. Russians haven’t been having enough children to replace themselves since the early Sixties. Birth rates are also stagnant in the West, but in Russia the problem is compounded by excess deaths: Russians die almost a decade earlier than Brits. Their President is clearly worried that he’s running out of subjects.

That excess deaths bit has a very nasty reference point from the 1990’s in the wake of the collapse of the USSR.

One journalist in Russia at the time wrote about how “the deaths kept piling up. People … were falling or perhaps jumping, off trains and out of windows; asphyxiating in country houses with faulty wood stoves or in apartment with jammed front door locks … drowning as a result of driving drunk into a lake … poisoning themselves with too much alcohol … dropping dead at absurdly early ages from heart attacks and strokes”. By the early years of this century, life expectancy for Russian men was on par with countries such as Madagascar and Sudan.

Over which an often drunken, shambolic President Yeltsin “ruled”. It was no surprise to many Russia watchers that Putin rose to power and promptly went after the causes of these things, to the extent that he could, starting with getting rid of the first wave of post-Soviet oligarchs who’d looted the place and replacing them with more cautious and amenable men. A must-read book on this is the 2011 work, The Oligarchs, by the former Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post.

Unfortunately there’s not much that Putin can do, any more than can other leaders facing such demographic problems (It should be noted that here in the West it’s not even considered a problem – yet)

It’s a humiliating state of affairs because Russian power has always been built on the foundation of demography. Back in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville foresaw that Russia would become a world power, because “Russia is of all the nations of the Old World the one whose population is increasing most rapidly”. The only other country with its population potential was the United States. De Tocqueville prophesised that, “Each one of them seems called by a secret design of Providence to hold in its hands one day the destinies of half the world.” A century later, they were the world’s two uncontested superpowers.

The article points to practical outcomes such as the Eastern portions of Russia – the ones right next to a resource hungry China – being steadily abandoned, as well as rural areas and small towns dying as young people flee to the cities. When it comes to the military the current demography is one of the reasons the Russians are having so many problems in the Ukraine.

Year after year, the share of recruits from the peripheral republics went up, while the share from Russia went down; in the late Eighties, three-quarters of recruits from Central Asia could not speak Russian.

It’s also worth recognising that the Russian men who fell fighting the Germans in the Forties were from families of six or seven siblings; those who fell fighting the Afghans in the Eighties were from families of two or three. Those falling now, fighting in Ukraine, are likely to be only-children or one of two siblings. The preparedness of a society to sustain military losses falls as family size falls.

That sort of fundamental problem also goes to the heart of how you design a military that allows for it. As pointed out here in The Russian Army Wasn’t Designed for War:

With the break up of the USSR, Russia no longer had access to virtually unlimited manpower supplied by Belarus, Ukraine, and other now-independent nations. It attempted to create a hybrid of the traditional Russian military where soldiers are cannon fodder with a professional Western military, including a professional corps of noncommissioned officers. They gave up on the noncommissioned officer experiment about 20 years ago and rely on commissioned officers to do all leadership and management tasks.

The problem is that the Russian armed forces are neither those of the USSR nor the West.

That article is long but has a wealth of detailed evidence on the problems with ethnic units in the Army – who are basically the cannon fodder nowadays – including a story from March that I thought was propaganda bullshit but turned out to be true; several hundred Ossetian soldiers got so pissed off with the uselessness of the Russian Army that they just up and quit, hitchhiking their way 500 miles back home, where they later got into public, video-recorded arguments with the Ossetia President Anatoly Bibilov, telling him exactly how bad it was.

No WWII Russian steamroller then, but also not a flexible, networked modern military either, as shown with other things like:

  • Abandoning their secure military comms and using captured cellphones and Ukrainian cellphone networks instead, with the associated loss of security.
  • Hopeless logistics capability, covered here in Punch It Vladdy.
  • Legal desertions by paid contractors.
  • “Training” and “Discipline” that still involves the traditional practice of dedovshchina.

As this other article (which references that first) points out, one of the real, unspoken reasons for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine may have simply been the prospect of instantly adding 40 million Russian speakers to the Motherland:

I think Russian chauvinism despises the very idea of a free and independent Ukraine, and lot of Putin decisions seem to be driven by ego. Pro-natalist policies like tax and welfare incentives seem a much better way to deal with their looming population crash than a risky invasion. But Putin makes all sorts of stupid calculations. And seeing his army’s performance in Ukraine would cause a sane man to back away from open conflict with NATO.

Yes, well, “artificial nation” and all, fits perfectly with that take. The article also references a YouTube analysis and summarises its points, of which I’ll list just three:

  • Russia has to win in Ukraine because ““The Russians see this as an existential crisis. They will fight until they can’t.This is their last chance….they will never stop until they have to, or they are forced to.
  • This is going to last months, probably years.
  • “They’ve killed at least 50,000 [Ukrainians], probably closer to 100,000.”

That last is important when you consider that Ukraine is about as bad a demographic basket case as Russia, with an even lower birthrate. The last comment in that piece also fits with yesterday’s post:

But Zeihan’s theory that the U.S. and NATO see this as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to defang Russia short of a direct conflict with NATO countries strikes me as correct.

Finally there’s yet another example of the dysfunction of Russian institutions in this story of how the GRU (Russian military intelligence) seems to be gaining influence over the FSB (the former KGB) because of FSB failures in the Ukraine – starting with their under-estimation of the ability and desire of the Ukrainian military and government to fight, as well as Western and US resolve, but also including propaganda failures from the recent past in Ukraine:

“The Kremlin’s decision to favour outgroup animosity over in-group identity building, and its vast overestimation of the extent to which its lies about non-existent Ukrainian ‘fascists’ promoted pro-Russian sentiment, are key reasons why the invasion has been a strategic and logistical disaster.”

“What identity-building propaganda I could find in Donbas after 2014 was vague, poorly conceived, and quickly forgotten. Political attempts to invoke Novorossiya [“New Russia”] were cast aside by the summer of 2015, but such weak propaganda suggests they didn’t stand much chance anyway.”

In short, too much “de-nazification” bullshit and not enough, “Why Russia is amazeballs”. FSB propaganda is not what it once was in the days of the KGB, but that’s true of the FSB across the board.

Read the whole story here, but don’t laugh too much at such things. Here in the West, we’re merely traveling down a different dysfunctional path with our various government institutions, whether in NZ, Europe or the USA.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 17, 2022 at 6:00 am

Discretion is the better part of valour

with 22 comments

“Joshua son of Nun sent two spies out from Shittim secretly with orders to reconnoitre the country. The two men came to Jericho and went to the house of a prostitute named Rahab..”

Discretion is certainly a quality prized by both the first and the second oldest professions in the world.

Nobody who uses either of these services wants that fact broadcast across the community, and both the provider and the user understand the mutual protection provided, even in these days of legal prostitution and advertising thereof.

Speaking of the CIA and its friends, they’ve been leaking to their favoured MSM sources, starting with the NYT, that they’ve provided intelligence to the Ukrainians that has enabled them to:

  1. Kill some of Moscow’s generals,
  2. Down a plane carrying Russian soldiers (at the start of the war near Kyiv International Airport)
  3. Sink one of Putin’s warships (the Moskva)

Now I doubt that anybody, least of all the Russian FSB and GRU, has ever doubted that US intelligence has been helping the Ukrainians from day one and earlier, using satellite and drone observation, plus signals intelligence of all types. And I don’t have a problem with that because I want Putin to lose.

But it’s long been understood that all this is done on the down low. Aside from anything else you don’t want to show your cards to the enemy as to how you’re getting all this information. Let them guess. And in this case you also don’t want to start a larger war by pushing the Russians to start taking more direct actions against specific US intelligence platforms and generally pushing Putin into a corner he can’t get out of. For once I’ll quote the Democrat-supporting moron NYT opinionater, Tom Friedman:

“Boasting about killing his generals and sinking his ships, or falling in love with Ukraine in ways that will get us enmeshed there forever, is the height of folly.”

Which leads into one of those classic spycraft, “you know that I know that you know…” things. Surely the US intelligence agencies are not so stupid as to run such risks, in which case the question is why they would be blabbing about this.

The rather frightening theory I have is that elements of US intelligence have concluded that since the Russian military has proven to be a bit of a paper tiger and Putin has been revealed as not so smart as was claimed, that the US can start rubbing his nose in this stuff; “Yeah, we did all this! Watcha gonna do tough guy? Huh? Huh?”

Before anybody says that the CIA and company could not be that arrogant, hubristic and stupid let me remind you of the rather long list of hubristic failures they’ve had over the decades, from missing the fall of the Shah of Iran, to missing the fall of the Warsaw Pact and then the USSR, to the 9/11 attacks and Iraqi WMD’s. Yes, they’ve had spectacular successes, including greatly contributing to the fall of the USSR. But there’s enough failure and mistakes in that history to put the brakes on when it comes to confronting a nuclear power, one still with some 6000 warheads.

Incidentally that second claim about the downed transport plane is likely to be bullshit, as detailed here in Red State where the reporter (a former US Army officer) tears it apart and wonders why the CIA is trying to take credit for something that does not appear to have happened. The details of the claim are fascinating in themselves, like no wreckage spotted for such a shoot down; but in light of the other stuff about killing Russian Generals and the Moskva it’s this I find fascinating:

The lead reporter on the story was the Intelligence Community’s and FusionGPS’s go-to guy, Ken Delanian. Delanian is basically a stenographer for the IC who, in the past, has submitted his reporting to the CIA for pre-publication review and correction. The story goes on to sing the praises of the intelligence community’s work in keeping Ukraine in the fight.

Why did the IC “officials” who fed stuff to Delanian push this story out, and why Delanian and his co-authors didn’t attempt a fact check?

Actually he answered that question with that earlier paragraph. He goes on to point out that the sources probably have little to do with with Ukraine and are just passing along water cooler gossip.

But that’s still rather reckless in this situation. Another writer points out that the Pentagon is pushing back on such claims, and that this leads to a speculation only a little less worse than the deliberate goading of Putin:

Now, however, identifiable Pentagon officials—people with names, like, “John Kirby”—are walking back the claims of the anonymous “senior American officials” and “US officials”.

That the US government is so divided on the core issue of war or peace with a nuclear power is disturbing in and of itself. That one faction in the government is attempting to go over the heads of the Pentagon on the issue of a war of choice adds to the concern. The fact that the sources are identified so vaguely is further cause for concern, since it suggests a lack of military expertise. That this semi-public debate is taking place with essentially no significant input from the one constitutional institution of the American republic which has the authority to declare a war—the legislative branch—or meaningful public debate should raise our concerns to the level of alarm.

Then there’s “The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022”, which is being touted as a way of expediting the delivery of weapons and munitions to Ukraine. Lend-Lease? I don’t object to the actions but the choice of name, with its quite deliberate echo of World War II history, is another marker of Washington arrogance and hubris, on both the Democrat and GOP sides.

And that’s apart from the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill passed by the House, amazingly an increase from the $33 billion requested by Biden, so you know how hot a bipartisan Congress is for this stuff, even when it contains shit like this:

  • $54 million goes to the Center for Disease Control.
  • $67 million is given to the DOJ for salaries and expenses.
  • $110 million is marked for embassy security in other countries
  • $4 billion is delegated to Joe Biden for “foreign military assistance” with essentially no stipulations.
  • $17.6 billion goes to the Department of Defense for stuff that may or may not have anything to do with Ukraine.

Chip Roy of Texas summed it up very well.

None of this is smart, from the leaks to the spending, all of which may be nudging the US to something more than a proxy war, which is why it’s even led to speculation about other reasons that may lie behind all this:

Abraham Lincoln arrested opposition journalists and publishers during the War between the States.  WWI saw the passage of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, the latter of which absolutely infringed upon freedom of speech.  And Franklin Roosevelt is notorious for having interned U.S. citizens of Japanese and also of German descent and for persecuting some Italian-heritage Americans.

Civil rights’ trampling would surely be worse under a major-war scenario today.  Not only are we much farther down the rabbit hole of moral nihilism and wanton constitutional trespass, but Americans who even question our Ukraine policy are already labeled “stooges of Putin.”  Moreover, Democrats have already made crystal-clear what they want: complete power — by any means necessary.

I don’t think the Democrats are either smart enough or courageous enough to pull that off.

Lastly from the world of Smart People In Charge, I’ll leave you with this video of some Ukrainian “soldier” supposedly doing a training video on how to operate a mortar. It’s not just the Russian military that have training problems. Here’s the snapshot from near the end in case you don’t want to watch two minutes of video.

I’ve never fired a mortar or even been near one, but I’ve watched enough war movies to know that that is not the end you stick in the mortar tube first.

Two must-read articles from Karl du Fresne

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Readers will be well aware that my attitude towards the MSM is that that they are, at best, shallow and useless in their reporting and “analysis”, and at worst combine that with massive ideological bias to the Left as well as the occasional bouts of outright partisanship towards, in the case of New Zealand, the Greens, Labour, or the Maori party, depending on how well each of them is doing in supporting a Left wing agenda.

The read I have on the NZ MSM at present is that, as Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury have often pointed out, they’ve sold their souls for capitalist money and the “neo-liberal” status quo established since 1984, in exchange for pushing every other piece of Leftist wank. I think those two gentlemen are nostalgic screamers because, at least in the environmentalist world of combating AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) they may get want they want eventually from their rather despised New Left comrades with a return of state ownership or more likely, a regulatory and tax regime that makes a mockery of the term “private enterprise”. Whether the Leftists in the MSM know where the AGW process will lead or not doesn’t really matter, but I suspect that many “reporters” do and are keen on using it to get back to the supposed Nirvana created by the First Labour Government.

As such it’s important that blogs support eachother, so here are two articles by Karl du Fresne that need as much exposure as possible:

  1. Squeeze your eyes shut, cross your fingers and hope

This post deals with the steadily growing catastrophe that is Three Waters and the Health re-structuring.

Carterton District Council, one of the smallest in the country (population 9700), expects to spend $850,000 preparing for Three Waters over the next two years. The council’s chief executive says the plan has imposed an “enormous” programme of work that the council’s not resourced to cope with it. Mayor Greg Laing describes the process as “absolutely appalling”.

The Times-Age quotes the Department of Internal Affairs as saying funding will be provided to cover transition costs, but it’s obvious that councils haven’t seen any of the money and don’t know when they will. In any case, South Wairarapa’s mayor Alex Beijen, who presides over a district with a population of only 11,000 (and one that’s already financially stretched to breaking point), says resourcing will be a big challenge even with extra government money.

I laughed at one of the comments where the guy sent a Letter To The Editor concisely pointing some of the problems and found his points about rents and royalties had been excised. Standard censoring of disinformation; I don’t know why he bothered but others made the point that this why blogs and other social media (to an extent, given their own censorship) are important while the MSM dies.

The healthcare problem has been hidden by C-19 Kabuki Theatre and Three Waters but if anything it’s more frightening:

As Powell points out, “With only 40 working days to go, DHBs have no more information on what will replace them on 1 July than they had on 21 April last year when the health minister announced their abolition.” You can read his damning appraisal here.

This all sounds familiar, the same as other SNAFU’s this government has made in the last few years; ill-defined plans; falling behind schedule; last-second scrambles to do something. I really hope I and my family don’t fall sick in any way for the next couple of years.

2. The Free Speech Union meeting that earned a trigger warning from Salient

This is Karl catching up on Victoria University’s response to his talk On the threats to free speech, that was delivered a while ago at the university, courtesy of the Free Speech Union.

It seems that the students have been triggered by a speech that none of them apparently attended and have used the student newspaper, Salient, to express their outrage; Karl points out that it’s prefaced with a trigger warning advising, in bold type: 

This article examines some of the racist, transphobic, sexist, and otherwise harmful content discussed at the event in question. Please exercise caution when reading.

Frightening.

You can read the sad, pathetic details of the objections to his speech and while I and a lot of other students never took much notice of such things at varsity – where the Left-wing student radicals dominated such talk via the student unions and their varsity newspapers – it’s clear that such people have much greater influence, some might say control, over their varsities than they did forty or even twenty years ago.

For me, one comment showed how far things have gone:

As a Victoria lecturer and a member of FSU (so I would prefer to be anonymous), I am sad to say this is exactly what I expect from our students. Students nowadays are extremely lazy; most of them don’t even bother to attend lectures. Critical thinking and meaningful debates are just not things under their radars. I don’t blame students but the university administration. The university administration is a bunch of failed academics who do not really care about education and research. All they care is their position and would do everything possible to pander students in order to get money from the government. As a lecturer, our constant pressure from the university is how to make students happy and get more of them, not how to train better citizens of the future.

An unexpected result of the 1990’s reforms of university is that there are a lot of people there who should not be, given their lack of brains, and that the incentives for them to go and the incentives of the universities to get bums on seats, are screwed up. Perhaps if student loans were tied directly to the universities so that they’re on the hook for payment recovery, the universities would be pushed harder to teach productive courses and “train better citizens” in real critical thinking.

I guess this will be my single issue in 2023

with 23 comments

I’ve often written that with six co-bloggers focusing on New Zealand there’s no point in me doing the same, and in any case I find US politics far more interesting because ideas that are considered “settled” in NZ are still being fought over there, plus new ideas about how a society should be organised.

But there are times when an idea begins to emerge in New Zealand that is controversial and worth fighting over, and “co-governance” is it.

Up until now I’ve figured that it would have to be fought over at the 2023 election; that Labour could not continue to push forward in the face of growing public alarm and falling polls over a range of issues that might see co-governance as the straw that breaks Labour’s back into the low twenty percent range or even lower. Labour would be forced to either dump it or make the arguments in public as part of an election so that whichever way it goes, we can at least say that a democratic decision was made on the future of the country.

Chris Finlayson

But I’ve concluded that this is not how it’s going to proceed and the reason has to do with comments I saw quoted from none other than former National MP and TOW Negotiations Cabinet Minister, Chris Finlayson.

When I first saw these quotes on Kiwiblog I found it hard to believe that they could have been uttered by a former National Party MP and minister; a person that I effectively voted for over several election cycles and that I thought was an intelligent and compassionate man devoted to rectifying the sins of past colonialisation. Sure, there was grumbling on the Right about some of these deals and the fact that Finlayson had gone from being poacher to gamekeeper on the issue.

So I checked out the Radio New Zealand podcast referred to, The Detail and its episode Co-governance: Time to get on with it?, and discovered they were true quotes:

But as former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson explains, the concept itself is nothing new. 

Finlayson takes The Detail back to the ground-breaking signing of the Treaty settlement between the Crown and Tainui in 1995, and explains how the settlement over raupatu claims led to the formation of the Waikato River Authority. 

It became the genesis of other co-governance arrangements, giving iwi an opportunity to participate directly with local or regional government to provide advice or take part in the management of a particular resource. 

As he describes them, those past settlements that he was heavily involved with were not really about righting wrongs via the Waitangi Treaty tribunal process. No, they were about building small but permanent foundations for an entirely new way of governing this nation; a way that has now sprung into life via the supposed “opposing” party, Labour, backed by The Greens and naturally the Maori Party, with the He Puapua report, Three Waters and so forth.

And it gets better:

“I simply say to people, one, there’s a new regime, get with it folks; two, Rome wasn’t built in a day.” 

While he says there’s room for robust debate about the co-governance model between the Crown and iwi and hapū, Finlayson’s advice for dealing with the “sour right” behind the racist, resentful rhetoric: “We’ve just got to leave those losers behind and move on. They don’t like tangata whenua. They dream of a world that never was and never could be,” he says. 

Two words Mr Finlayson.

Fuck

You.

My Scottish and Irish ancestors lived for hundreds of years tugging their forelocks to Irish landowners and Scottish Lairds, escaped that, and neither I nor my kids are going to repeat that process with the likes of Prince Willie Jackson and Princess Nanaia Mahuta.

And the thing is that Finlayson fits in so perfectly with them and their born-to-rule arrogance. That wealthy Khandallah childhood; the Latin and French majors; the LLM and mixing in the highest echelons of our legal and political circles, not to mention the leaders of our various great iwi. No wonder National lapped him up and loved him. He could elegantly stick it to Labour and others on these issues.

While all the time he was basically on the same side as them.

And now in keeping with that Olympian attitude of superiority, in his mind the issue has already been decided by The Powers That Be – meaning the political elite of both National and Labour, plus our academic and legal communities – and now it’s just a matter of getting on with it.

Elections? Democracy? Pfft. I would not now be at all surprised if he uttered then same phrase as Willie Jackson about this nation, that “We’re in a consensus-type democracy now. This is not a majority democracy.”  Consensus is one of those words which, when I hear it, tells me I’m about to be lied to.

The final question I have, and frankly I think it’s rhetorical now, is how many more like him are there in the National Party? I’m betting enough to push this through eventually under some guise or other:

My prediction, there will be a substantial empowering of iwi in education, heath, housing supply and social policy in the next few years. National will go along with most of this once they are back in government, just as they have done so since 1990.

In that sense Don Brash was a bit of an aberration, one that National is not keen on repeating.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2022 at 3:59 pm

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks

with 8 comments

A farmer and historian in Britain, one John Lewis-Stempel, has published an interesting article in Unherd where he argues that the rise of wheat as the most widely grown crop in the world has, over the millennia, enabled tyranny!

Wheat has corrupted humanity

I was immediately caught by the opening paragraph:

“Beef & Liberty”. Such was the slogan of the 18th century London dining club, The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. The carnivorous Regency gentlemen were sensible in associating the scoffing of sirloin with freedom and the rights of Britons. Food, like the personal, is political.

Being a political tragic it’s ironic that I don’t enjoy the fact that everything is now political, even food, but I can’t deny it when I read of things like actor James Cromwell supergluing his hand to a Starbucks counter so he could lecture customers and staff alike for ages about the iniquity over their surcharge for vegan milk.

Privileged dickhead! I must re-watch LA Confidential so I can see him get his just deserts by being shot in the back.

In Lewis-Stempel’s article he covers the tyranny of wheat, from forcing us into factory-like patterns of tilling, sowing, weeding and harvesting, to being an easy crop for the State to inspect and tax – and confiscate – compared to animals or root vegetables, all the way to the modern tyranny of Monsanto:

…the grains were developed for their ability to cope with a chemical product that Monsanto wanted to flog. So if the farmer buys Roundup Ready seed, then he or she buys the tied-in Roundup herbicid. And Monsanto cashes in twice.

He also goes into some detail about the other chemicals needed to grow wheat and it’s not a pretty picture. The article ends on a note that will be music to the ears of NZ grass farmers:

To save the planet, pastoralism is the intelligent solution. The brain is 60% fat, and omega-rich fat from grass-fed meat is excellent for mental health. The sine qua non of free thinking. Beef and liberty! More meat, less wheat!

Agree or disagree, it’s a fun article so read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2022 at 9:06 am

Asian Parents

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Sheesh. All this Russia, Russia, Russia stuff is getting too much. 🙂

It must be time for some humour, courtesy of two Asian-American standup comedians talking about the culture of their parents. Enjoy.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 10, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Humour, USA

Mysteries of the Special Military Operation – Part 4

with 23 comments

The Mystery of Putin’s Health

He’s been looking pretty pudgy lately after years of sporting a trim, even athletic figure, well into his 60’s.

But good food and drink catches up to all of us as we age. Perhaps it’s just that? There’s also the fact that Russians of Putin’s vintage had to deal for much of their lives with diets and healthcare that have led to much lower life expectancy rates than are normal for a developed country. Maybe that’s catching up to him as well despite twenty years of what is undoubtedly a very good diet and healthcare as President of Russia.

But you certainly don’t see him doing this shit anymore.

That was just eight years ago.

But there are other things that are just weird about the guy, starting with this photo released by the Kremlin themselves a few months ago.

I haven’t heard of anybody, not even the Russian trolls, who have tried to pass that off as normal. I at first assumed it was some Western smartass having fun with Photoshop to produce a Monty Python moment, but it turned out to be the genuine article.

Then just a few days ago they released this video.

Putin held onto the table with his right hand for many minutes and again he looks bloated compared to even last year.

We all saw how badly Joe Biden deteriorated mentally just between 2017 and 2019, so anything’s possible and can happen quickly in the health area, especially when you’re 69 years old as Putin is. Unlike Biden, he at least appears to have all his marbles intact and can speak coherently, although the invasion of Ukraine cannot be described as the sort of decision you’d expect from the Chess Master that Putin has been acclaimed as for years.

Maybe he senses the approach of the end and is determined upon his vision for a Great Russia before he passes from this world?

Written by Tom Hunter

May 10, 2022 at 7:00 am

Place your bets gentlemen

with 11 comments

On what Putin is going to say in today’s May 9 WWII victory parade in Moscow, celebrating the victory of the USSR over Nazi Germany in 1945 in The Great Patriotic War.

Over at Red State, former US Infantry officer, “streiff”, lays out the options, for which I’ll give the synopsis here and you can click on the link for a fuller explanation of each:

  1. Acknowledge the war, promise better days, and move on.
    Message: “we are fighting, and we are winning.”
  2. Our work demolishing naziism is done.
    Putin announces the annexation of all currently occupied territory, declares the war over, and blames Ukraine for attacking Russia when it doesn’t stop.
  3. Declare war.
    “Contract soldiers would no longer be able to quit when they desired, and conscripts could legally be herded off to the front”
  4. Declare partial or full mobilization.
    “Mobilization means that men, potentially up to the age of 65, would be swept up and put in the Russian armed forces. Don’t laugh. This has been done in Donbas”

He gives an amusing example of what a “mobilization” exercise can mean:

In 1978, the Department of Defense carried out a nationwide mobilization exercise called Nifty Nugget. The exercise involved the military and government agencies from federal to state to test America’s mobilization plans in case of a war with the Warsaw Pact. The motto might have been, “I’ve been to two goat ropes and a county fair, and I ain’t never seen sh** like this before.” The same aircraft were used in the mobilization plans of multiple organizations. Federal agencies didn’t know which of their staff were reservists or had plans for filling their positions. Rail lines critical to moving troops and equipment and been ripped up. Some installations designated as mobilization centers no longer existed. The capability to clothe, arm, and feed the mobilized men was challenged. The officers and noncommissioned officers needed to train and staff the new units did not exist. In short, even as a paper-only exercise, it was a disaster.

I can’t imagine it working much better in Russia.

Hence the great US term: SNAFU

It’s 10:30am, May 9 in Moscow so we wait with bated breath.

Heh, I’d did like his final comment because this is pretty much me as well:

What happens? On February 23, I would have bet good money that the whole “I’m gonna invade Ukraine” thing was a put-on. I got nothing.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 9, 2022 at 8:24 pm

Mysteries of the Special Military Operation – Part 3

with 7 comments

The Mystery of the Sunken Ship Salvage

Three weeks ago the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, sank.

In a storm while being towed to port.

After an ammunition bunker exploded.

And it was not, I repeat NOT, anything to do with the Ukranians firing land-based anti-ship missiles at it. In the same way that when reports first broke of it being towed after being damaged by … something… that was denied too – until it could no longer be denied.

As was acknowledged about two weeks later by the US DOD and others, a missile strike is exactly what happened to the ship, but they probably knew from day one, given the electronic coverage they have of the area.

However, things got ever murkier when Russia sent a salvage ship, the Kommuna, to the location, complete with deep diving submersible. (cool side note: the Kommuna was commissioned during the time of the last Russian Czar)

Why would they do such a thing?

I think everyone could agree that the largest warship sunk since 1945 — 600-feet long and displacing 11,490 tons in 300 feet of water — isn’t going to be raised. Then the question is, what is worth the effort of deploying a submersible and possibly divers to recover. It is difficult to imagine that there are surviving electronics or crypto gear that just have to be salvaged. The idea that conventional munitions or missile tubes would be worth this level of effort strikes me as ludicrous. Just as silly is the theory that the Russians are trying to recover bodies from the wreckage. The Black Sea is a closed environment; ships entering have to pass through The Straits, and Moskva’s wreck is a very short distance from the major Russian naval base at Sebastopol. Physical monitoring of vessels entering the Black Sea and the wreck site could provide eternal security. There is no danger of a repeat of the Glomar Explorer going after the wreck of the K-129 in the open Pacific.

Well there could be one reason and it’s related to a propaganda claim that the Ukrainians threw out after they sunk the ship – that it was carrying nuclear weapons. None other than the US DOD jumped on that, saying they’d seen no indications of such. But the Russian reaction was interesting, as this writer said:

What aroused suspicion was Russia ignored the allegation. If you’ve been following the progress of Putin’s War, you know any time Russia is accused of something egregious or criminal, they have three sequential responses:
a) we didn’t do it;
b) you faked it to create a “provocation”;
c) you do it all the time.

All of this, of course, is speculation except for one thing. There is a marine salvage vessel with a submersible at the site of the Moskva, and there are no logical reasons that don’t involve nuclear weapons.

Readers are invited to contribute suggested reasons – logical and otherwise.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 9, 2022 at 11:00 am