Friday, March 21, 2014


The NZ Problem Gambling Foundation has been effectively defunded after a Ministry of Health review recommended dumping Gambling Foundation services in favour of the Salvation Army. The membrane between state and religion grows ever thinner, and there's a weird funk in the air.

Let's get this clear at the get go. It's not that I wish to pick a fight with the Salvation Army. I have had their Bell Gully law jockeys pissing in my ear on a Friday afternoon when I'm getting my drunk on before. Captain Buzzkills, for sure.

I'd just like to know why the Problem Gambling Foundation was dropped after a long and respectable history, and whether it was the Sallies' tax exempt status that helped undercut the tender for rehab and support services. Unfortunately, the only evidence being presented so far is a series of black boxes.

When casinos were first legalised in NZ, the Casino Control Authority set many conditions on licences. One of those was a gambling levy, which would be funnelled directly towards NGOs funded to be the casinos' nemeses. Some kind of watchmen duality would keep the system in check for the public good.

The NZ Problem Gambling Foundation was a product of this levy. Over the next 20 years, it provided a secular national service for problem addicts, and provided the Problem Gambling literature that casinos must by law have visibly displayed in their premises. The advocacy was separately funded through donations, and worked to minimise problem gambling at the source, through supply control of the gambler crack of pokie machines.

In contrast, the Salvation Army is a more generalised provider of government welfare services; a bit like Serco, the private company behind the Auckland Remand Centre and new Wiri prison, but tax exempt through religious status (The Seventh Day Adventists do the same thing with Sanitarium. Don't get me started on Jesus Freaks and breakfast communions. Suffice it to say, coffee and cigarettes is my rite).

So, after twenty years of internationally recognised excellence in treatment, research and lobbying (Sinking Lid? That was them), why have the NZ Problem Gambling Foundation lost their meal ticket? Well, no-one's saying.

The independent report by the Ministry of Health hasn't popped up. Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne did, on Checkpoint, where he failed to illuminate the why of it either. Nor did the Sallies, who weren't going into specifics. There was unfinished contract haggling to be had yet, and the whole deal was commercially sensitive (My paraphrase, not a quote, m'lud). Unfinished business indeed.

The Ministry of Health is feeling pretty damn sure that the God botherers can improve on the precedents set by the Problem Gambling Foundation. Faith-based even. And which secular NGO is the next to get gobbled up by the Salvation Army's market share and scales of economy?

It's a new monopoly. Pass God. Collect $200.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Born to the Purple

Congratulations to Lewis Holden for becoming the Nat candidate for Rimutaka. I first met Lewis during the NZ Flag campaign, and later got to know him on the occasional times I'd turn up to Republican Movement meetings. Nice choice, Nats. Lewis goes head to head against Labour incumbent Chris Hipkins. Skippy and me crossed paths at Vic Uni, so this election marks the first occasion where Facebook mates square off against each other for a seat.

Labour's candidates Rob McCann and Tony Milne are also known quantities. Rob McCann is an old school mate from way back, who ended up in the public service. He's the true Labour heir to the Otaki electorate, after Darren Hughes pulled the wrong pin and Mitchell jump-seated the last election. I hope Rob unseats Nathan Guy there. Doing so would raise the IQ of both Labour and National caucuses.

Tony Milne was (former Labour Chief Whip and current Labour Party Secretary) Tim Barnett's Mini-Me back in the early 2000's when I began learning the art of lobbying the hard way over drug reform. I met them for a short consultation in Auckland, where I was informed that Peter Dunne has rooted the numbers after the 2002 election (after the worm, which was after Corngate, which was after everything else). Tony Milne is well-suited to run for Christchurch.

But it becomes evident that Labour's Got Talent is picking from an ever-decreasing puddle. The student activists and broad union base has dried up, and Labour is resorting to fellow travelers in the political or media classes; career politicians and bleeding heart journos. It could be, it might be worse. Lacking any unifying principles beyond autocracy, NZ First and the Maori Party have reached for weather presenters in the search for Beta demagogues to keep up appearances.

If Labour can't stop Spinal Tapping around in the wilderness and disappearing in a raspberry cloud of self-indulgent alienation, this fate or worse awaits. They're already onto their third lead singer in six years, and their fifth drummer, Matt McCarten, has joined the band after the last drummer exploded in shingles. Matt McCarten's drum solos are known for their originality, not their longevity.

It's academic as far as I'm concerned. I joined the Green Party last Winter Solstice. While I might not agree with all the ingredients that go into the Green Party sausage factory, what comes out at the other end in the way of policy doesn't make the public violently ill. Take their latest policy to get kids to school without SUVs, for example. The NZ Herald yummed it up, Hooton reckons the Nats will probably grab the idea, and there's not a squeak from the Soccer Mums. Anyone who can defuse a Soccer Mum has my respect.

The Greens aren't looking to be a minority coalition partnership with Labour. They know that if Cunliffe had a choice to rebuff the Greens and go into government with NZ First, he would do so. Longer term, the Greens are aiming for a majority. The Greens equivalent of Labour's Rob McCann, Wellington's James Shaw, has been likewise pushed up the provisional Green Party List. McCann and Shaw are both organisers. They make shit happen.

So Labour and the Greens both know what's ahead and what's at stake. In the adaptability stakes, my money's on the Greens.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Intersection of Ford and Cribb

If you enjoyed The Luminaries, Top of the Lake or True Detective (or, at least, its unmined potential), you'll enjoy this 80 page sequel of sorts from the Independent Police Complaints Authority, involving the framing of 17 year-old Maori Shane Cribb by Alexandra Police. The innocent are punished, the guilty walk free, and at the end, nothing changes.

Follow the exploits of Constable Dairne Cassidy, the token female in a cast of cocks. Convicted in court of attempting to pervert the course of justice, she is but one of two anti-heroes. The other being belligerent shit stirrer Stephen Potter (Cribb's girlfriend's Dad). It is Potter's nagging of the IPCA that eventually sees this miscarriage of justice seen to.

It's a sad state of affairs when the best conclusion that the IPCA can produce late on a Friday afternoon is that they found no evidence of police conspiracy. Almost as sad as the vacant recommendations, seeing how the the Policing Act 2008 apparently fixed everything.

If you prefer the audiobook version of the main plot points, tune your ears to Mary Wilson's cross examination of Stephen Potter, or the carefully chosen words of District Commander for Southern Police, Superintendent Andrew Coster.

There's a beer token waiting for ex-cop Dairne Cassidy and bush lawyer Stephen Potter here. Valid at the local Raumati pub. No expiry date.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mojo's Fulcrum

If it were possible to send a soundbite back in time to myself as a child, it would sound something like "You're Deaf! You're Deaf! You're fucking Deaf!" This cryptic advice, if heeded, might have saved a lot of soul-searching along the way, as well as a considerable amount of collateral damage.

Alas, pretensions of normalcy demand otherwise, even now. Consider simpleton Sym Gardiner, who insists his cochlear-implanted daughter not learn a second language because it will mess with her head:
"Their identity is all wrapped around the (NZSL) language."

"The reality is, it's probably not really a living language."

"We have no desire for my daughter to particularly identify with the deaf community."

"Our desire is that she's completely mainstreamed and she's just like any normal kid."

The best cure for stupid shit like this is the Four Deaf Yorkshiremen joke.

Katya is one of mine; born Deaf in a world of Norms. She differs from other tribal Deaf, such as those who go Deaf from occupational hazard or illness such as Otosclerosis, or old age. There used to be an informative Brit vid on YouTube pointing out the subtle differences between these tribes, but it was taken down for copyright reasons (possibly for the use of execrable '80s pop song AEIOU).

Regardless of what Sym says, his daughter will have a rich and well-stocked interior monologue. Her eyes will grab what her bionic ears cannot. She will be better read than her father, and probably less subtle in her opinions.

Thank Dagg Mojo is in the House, trailblazing through the many barriers still in place to Deaf participation. Even the Nats have u-turned on their ACC policy to the newly-Deaf, as well as expanding aids to children.

But the big ask is yet to come. You can have disability employment services out the wazoo, but if the employers are still too timid to hire, nothing changes. There still needs to be a shock to the system.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Westminster Duality

Big ups to Arts & Letters Daily for throwing a link to this discourse on the genetic differences between liberals and conservatives. A few observations:

The monkey that used the first weapon in 2001; A Space Odyssey was a liberal.

Somewhere in the dark distant past, at least one of Colin Craig's ancestors fucked a Neanderthal.

The Act Party should stick to third or fourth cousins at least for the greatest genetic diversity.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Bush Toasts Police Cannabis Conservation Efforts

RNZAF's Green Hornet, fresh from seeding the Waitakere Ranges

Police Commissioner Mike Bush today praised Police efforts in their annual cannabis seeding project.

"Every year, the NZ Police spends millions of dollars in an attempt to conserve the endangered cannabis plant. In association with the NZ Air Force, Police locate fertile female cannabis plants, uproot them, and fly them over dense bush land, in an attempt to spread cannabis seeds over as wide an area as possible," said Commissioner Bush to an assembled group of police and selected members of the media.

"The NZ Police has a long and proud history of planting things," said Commissioner Bush as he set alight a Wicker Man full of cannabis. "Normally, possession of cannabis seeds is a criminal offence. There is no statute of limitations on the growing of cannabis. It falls to the NZ Police to fulfill this duty."

"We sow the seeds. Nature grows the seeds. We seize the plants. And so the circle of life is complete," chanted Commissioner Bush from amidst the smoke.

After a few minutes, Commissioner Bush re-appeared.

"I have spoken with TolleyMachus. This year's budget will be bountiful," Bush concluded, before retiring to the lunch buffet and finishing off a platter of sausage rolls.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Birth of Gonzo

Just as Kroc didn't invent McDonald's (he was a milkshake maker salesman), Hunter S. Thompson didn't invent the term Gonzo. That honour belongs to Eichhorn:

And now, here's National's Jack Marshall posing in front of some subversive comics he wanted to ban:

This post is dedicated to Deborah Hill Cone and all the other writers, comics and blogsters fighting to keep the NZ in gonzo. Keep calm and keep creatively self-destructing on behalf of the public good.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Careful What You iPredict

David Farrar pumps up Kiwi Poll Guy's look at iPredict stocks that back another term of National Government. Conveniently, they specifically highlight the odds of a post-election National PM:
Kiwi Poll Guy looks at what has been happening on iPredict:

iPredict is running a contract on National winning the 2014 election.  It was originally launched on 26 October 2011, a month before the 2011 General Election, and has been floating around between $0.40 and $0.60 since then.  It’s only in the last month that the stock has moved significantly beyond $0.60, so it’s worth taking a quick look.

It is convenient because I took a screen shot of the Buy/Sell in this category back in late January:

Note how someone has flooded the market, almost guaranteeing that the stock won't fall beneath 60 cents. You can't see it at iPredict now, as they only show the Top 10 orders.

Media beware. It's bad enough creating self-fulfilling prophesies with polls. It is quite another to invent futures based on asymmetric gamblers.

Unforced Errors

Justice Minister Judith Collins gets caught pimping her husband's milk in China during an official visit. Cabinet rules expressly forbid ministers endorsing products for advertorials. Not a good look, what with former National Justice Ministers Jeffries and Graham courting public disdain and all.

David Cunliffe once again proves he is his enemy's best friend by admitting to hidden donations. For someone who spent years planning his ascent to the top of the Labour party, he seems to have spent bugger all time on logistics.

According Labour IT spokesperson Clare Curran, whose office data dumped policy ideas to National's IT Minister Amy Adams, Labour will be going to the election with a range of KKK platforms.

How to articulate the awfulness of it all? Describe the plot lines of these first season episodes of Family Guy only by their titles:

Death Has a Shadow
I Never Met the Dead Man
Chitty Chitty Death Bang

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Statement from TWAT

Taxpayers Who Aren't Thieves would like to apologise for any offence taken by members of the public by a spokesperson over a Deaf MP's parliamentary expenses.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald contacted a Taxpayers Who Aren't Thieves spokesperson seeking comment on a story regarding an alleged misuse of taxpayers' funds. The reporter reported that they had a report purporting to report that an Opposition MP (and an admitted MMP supporter) had rorted inexplicable expenses with taxpayer funds.

After confirming that no fellow golf club members were involved in the rorting, the spokesperson released a statement that may have been misconstrued by non-members.

TWAT is an equal opportunity lobby group dedicated to publicising gross inequalities in government spending. The TWAT spokesperson on duty at the time of the NZ Herald enquiry has been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome, and anything he says should be considered with this in mind.

We admit that the $510 expense incurred to attend an interview is part of the normal duties of parliamentary business for a Member of Parliament does not qualify for such TWAT scrutiny. If we really were this petty, people might draw attention to the massive hypocrisy involved in persecuting such trifling sums.

In order to distract you from the stupid mess caused by this TWAT, please raise your pitchforks and light your torches for Michael Hill Jeweller, who didn't get some taxpayer money he asked for.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Three Whyte Stripes and the Weakly Interacting Massive Particles

It didn't take long for Richard Prebble's massive gravity to be noticed on the Act party's subatomic body politic. Only last Sunday, new leader Jamie Whyte was announcing a new dawn for Act. Nek minnit, it's three strikes for burglars.

David Seymour has been left alone by the media pack, leaving him the plodding work of door-knocking around Epsom and introducing his unknown mug to the electorate. Seeing as he's hoping to be the third local Act MP in as many elections, he has his work cut out for him. This could well be Epsom's third strike.

Act's apparent leader has had no such luck. Fresh from clawing his way out of the bleedingly obvious snare of the Incest Pit earlier in the week, Jamie Whyte has recanted last week's pledge that he "backs tough deterrents but law and order is now not one of the party's policy priorities".

Audrey Young reports from Act's annual conference today that the reason for Whyte announcing this backslide into the hard right was because his Mum was burgled and the culprit shat on the floor.

Let's count off a few of the inherent idiocies.

1. Burglary, like buggery, loosens the bowels. Any police who attend burglaries will tell you it's not uncommon to find a ripe crime scene. Home invaders have also been known to piss on an innocent person's rug.

2. Burglary is one of the most under-reported crimes. Official police records show the resolution rate for burglaries hovers around the same rate as GST, 15 percent. 7/8 of reported burglaries go unresolved. The only people who report burglaries are the hopelessly naive or those with insurance, who need the police paperwork for their claim. There is no target market here, only poor signalling.

3. Never bring your Mum to a gun fight. Don't use your Mum as a body shield either. Use John Banks' corpse instead.

4. It sounds remarkably like policy by anecdote, a remarkably bad way to make law.

5. There's nothing new with Act at all. We've had flat tax, three strikes and cousin hopping in the last week. With a bit of luck, they'll try talking up charter schools and education vouchers next week.

It will be interesting to see if anti-Prebble, the McCarten Particle, will have a similar effect on Labour. Will we be seeing the return of some old Alliance policies (or existing Mana policies, take your pick), such as Jim Anderton's Financial Transactions Tax?