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New Zealand’s Watergate

In 1972, the Deomcratic party’s HQ was the subject of a bungled attempt at a break in.

This lead to a scandal that is so well known, that it became known as “Watergate” after the hotel, and almost every scandal in the English speaking world having the “-gate” suffix attached.

Why would you break into a competing party’s headquarters? Well, you’d find information, strategies, and other things that the opposing party is using legitimately. But you’d also find material that would be embarrassing – possibly even criminal if released to the general public.

What’ we’ve seen this week has been much the same.

Imagine the Republican party operatives who broke into Watergate succeeded.

Imagine they leaked the documents to a known, friendly journalist who wrote a book without checking with any other sources, compromising principles that journalist previously claimed to hold proudly. Imagine that those affected were able to claim with credibility that not just one break-in had occurred.

What we have here is a lot like Watergate. Only, where that break-in failed and backfired, this one succeeded. Only, it didn’t really find anything much, in 8gb worth of stolen material. So little new material in fact, that the media are really struggling to find anything. So little, that an entire chapter is about a man who’s email wasn’t even hacked, and thus, relies entirely on banal, already-public information.

And, just in case you thought this book was somehow principled, it ignores long-standing allegations of worse behaviour from the other side of the isle. (For all Slater’s faults, he has always blogged under his own name, and has never made the slightest secret of his connections to that party.)

Yet, what we have are opposition leaders praising those who engaged in the dirty trick, claiming that the stolen documents show serious flaws in our democracy. There are even journalists condemning the condemnation of the guilty party.

Here’s what the politicians said about it:

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe says allegations made in Nicky Hager’s new book ‘Dirty Politics’ are “the closest New Zealand’s got to its own kind of Watergate”.

How about The Greens?

The Green Party is to lodge a series of official complaints over allegations contained in Dirty Politics.

The party was also promising to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry if elected “to get to the bottom of what has gone on and to seek recommendations on how to rebuild a clean and fair political system in New Zealand”.

[I would note that I have previously called for a Royal Inquiry into the 2005 election, and the attempts by the Labour party to intimidate public servants regarding their theft of $800,000 of public money and their breaking of electoral law and the subsequent attempt to change said law to their own advantage.

To the very best of my knowledge, the Green Party never came close to making such a demand, and still defends and supports the law changes to this day.]

“The New Zealand public cannot have any confidence in our democracy until these claims are investigated and [alleged] offenders held to account.”

The party revealed this morning complaints would be lodged with the police, Parliamentary Service, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Privacy Commissioner relating to the allegations of “corruption and abuse of power”.

John Key has degraded our democracy,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

What about Winston Peters?

Winston Peters is comparing the revelations in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics to the Watergate scandal that brought down US president Richard Nixon.

Note the language used. People are comparing the allegations spun from material from a successful break in, with a failed attempt at a break in to extract similar material.

Ladies and gentlemen, a more cynical bit of politics you will not find.

Update: Try this: There was a break in, the material gathered is being compared to water-gate.

Cambodia, and destroying the world

I found this on Instapundit today. It’s so sad, I almost wept reading it.

When Khmer Rouge forces seized Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, the couple was living with eight of their children in a rural town called Kampong Chhnang. Three days later, the guerrillas arrived and residents — including Younly — cheered, relieved the war was finally over, his 86-year-old widow Som Seng Eath recalled.

But within hours, everything changed. Every soul was ordered to leave on foot.

The Khmer Rouge were emptying Cambodia’s cities, marching millions of people into the countryside to work as manual laborers. Their aim was to create an agrarian communist utopia, but they were turning the Southeast Asian nation into a slave state.

Younly “didn’t believe what was happening. He kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon, don’t pack much,’” his widow said. She ignored his advice, and took as much as she could — including five of her husband’s school notebooks, and several blue ink pens.

As gunshots rang, they joined the departing hordes, cradling their young children and whatever they could carry. As they walked into the night, people wept.

Sadly, we forget so quickly just how evil humanity can be.

Go read, and remind yourself of the dangers we face when people decide that they can reshape society to their ideal, by whatever means they deem necessary.

Related, is this via Patterico. You can click through and read the letter to which this is a reply, but I think the reply pretty much speaks for itself, and the state of politics today.

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

Worth pondering, I think.

Problem Gambling Foundation

It’s a shame that the Problem Gambling Foundation has lost it’s funding.

But it’s quite another to try and weave a conspiracy into a situation where there is none. Ele Ludemann has a good post pointing out how Labour has tried to do just that.

This is the sort of stunt which puts voters off. But I’ve noticed that Labour has never been too worried about keeping their stories straight. I wonder what that says about their voters?

Update: It seems that the real reason they are upset is because the PGF is much more closely aligned with the Labour and Green parties than the Salvation Army is.

Reminds me of the screaming over making student associations voluntary really.

Update 2: Reading further down Kiwiblog I see this:

UPDATE2: Also worth thinking about how the PGF has reacted to the news they lost the tender. They immediately contact Trevor Mallard (no doubt through their public health manager who is a Labour Party candidate) and claim it was due to their opposition to Sky City. There are dozens of organisations out there who lose tenders when better bids are put in. Most don’t go running to Trevor Mallard to try and turn it into a political story. The fact they did so, shows how deeply political they had become.

A very poor choice there by the PGF, very poor indeed.

Video

Obama and Nixon Video Mashup

This has been sitting in my “drafts” for some time (along with a bunch of other stuff, some of which is the result of tip-offs).

Since I first saw it, Obama has completely changed his tune, calling scandals “phony” that he was previously calling “inexcusable”.

People sign card thanking the IRS for persecuting conservatives

Ignorance? Or just sheer disgusting unprincipled behaviour?

Recall that Nixon never actually succeeded in getting the IRS to do this sort of thing as the commissioner refused to do it. Yet here’s young people who are actually pleased it happened.

But it’s not really surprising they found signers, since the New York Times appears to take the same attitude as these deplorable young people. But I’d sure like to know how hard they worked to find them. The video make it look like it was really easy, but you never know how these things are edited.

Eric Holder – Only a matter of time

The other day Eric Holder testified before congress.

Unfortunately, he played the innocent act a little carelessly and told a rather obvious lie.

“In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy,” Holder said during the hearing.

The problem is of course, that it’s fairly well known that Holder signed off on the spying of Fox News journalist James Rosen.

The catch is this: If Holder never considered prosecution of journalists including Rosen, then the affidavit laying out a purported criminal case against Rosen was a ruse, a false statement under oath, directed to the court to conduct a wide-ranging dragnet. If, on the other hand, the affidavit which Holder signed off on is true in laying out the case against Rosen, then he didn’t level with Congress. In either event, he needs to come back and explain himself. If he refuses or takes the Fifth, there is no alternative but to name a special prosecutor.

It’s the same trap that a certain Labour cabinet minister was caught in a few years ago. However in this instance, there’s no question of the media ignoring the rather obvious implications of the contradictions as they did for David Parker here.

Liberals scoff at the notion that Holder might be forced to resign, but if he is now a subject of further investigation, it is untenable for him to remain and preposterous for him to conduct a probe of the Justice Department as the president ordered.

You don’t have the moral authority to be the country’s top investigator if you’re under investigation yourself.

Holder must be feeling the heat, for how else to explain a ludicrous puff piece in the Daily Beast waxing lyrical on the attorney general: “[S]ources close to the attorney general says he has been particularly stung by the leak controversy, in large part because his department’s—and his own—actions are at odds with his image of himself as a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves.”

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that there are still media who are happy to cover for the administration, even as they are being uncovered for what they are.

Oh puleez. Even worse than the ah-isn’t-he-really-a-good-guy tone throughout, are we really supposed to believe that “for Attorney General Eric Holder, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully sink in until Monday morning when he read the Post’s front-page story, sitting at his kitchen table. Quoting from the affidavit, the story detailed how agents had tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, perused his private emails, and traced the timing of his calls to the State Department security adviser suspected of leaking to him”?

Surprising how many members of the Obama administration have so little knowledge about what’s going on under their leadership, that they find out about things by reading the newspaper.

That excuse didn’t really work for Obama though, there’s no way it’ll work for Holder. He has now had two out of control investigations into different media organisations, investigations that have grossly over-reached and broken pretty much every rule in the book.

Let’s face it, who really believes those where the only ones?

George W. Bush is smarter than you (and fitter)

Ran into this the other day, apparently written by an economist who used to work with Bush Jr.

It contradicts (I’m tempted to say busts but it’s one guy’s word) very comprehensively the image of Bush as stupid.

The new George W. Bush Presidential Center is being dedicated this week. This seems like a good time to bust a longstanding myth about our former President, my former boss.

…One of my students asked “How involved was President Bush with what was going on?” I smiled and responded, “What you really mean is, ‘Was President Bush smart enough to understand what was going on,’ right?”

The class went dead silent. Everyone knew that this was the true meaning of the question. Kudos to that student for asking the hard question and for framing it so politely. I had stripped away that decorum and exposed the raw nerve.

I looked hard at the 60 MBA students and said “President Bush is smarter than almost every one of you.”

More silence.

I could tell they were waiting for me to break the tension, laugh, and admit I was joking.

I did not. A few shifted in their seats, then I launched into a longer answer. While it was a while ago, here is an amalgam of that answer and others I have given in similar contexts.

I am not kidding. You are quite an intelligent group. Don’t take it personally, but President Bush is smarter than almost every one of you. Were he a student here today, he would consistently get “HP” (High Pass) grades without having to work hard, and he’d get an “H” (High, the top grade) in any class where he wanted to put in the effort.

For more than six years it was my job to help educate President Bush about complex economic policy issues and to get decisions from him on impossibly hard policy choices. In meetings and in the briefing materials we gave him in advance we covered issues in far more depth than I have been discussing with you this quarter because we needed to do so for him to make decisions.

President Bush is extremely smart by any traditional standard. He’s highly analytical and was incredibly quick to be able to discern the core question he needed to answer. It was occasionally a little embarrassing when he would jump ahead of one of his Cabinet secretaries in a policy discussion and the advisor would struggle to catch up. He would sometimes force us to accelerate through policy presentations because he so quickly grasped what we were presenting.

I use words like briefing and presentation to describe our policy meetings with him, but those are inaccurate. Every meeting was a dialogue, and you had to be ready at all times to be grilled by him and to defend both your analysis and your recommendation. That was scary.

We treat Presidential speeches as if they are written by speechwriters, then handed to the President for delivery. If I could show you one experience from my time working for President Bush, it would be an editing session in the Oval with him and his speechwriters. You think that me cold-calling you is nerve-wracking? Try defending a sentence you inserted into a draft speech, with President Bush pouncing on the slightest weakness in your argument or your word choice.

In addition to his analytical speed, what most impressed me were his memory and his substantive breadth. We would sometimes have to brief him on an issue that we had last discussed with him weeks or even months before. He would remember small facts and arguments from the prior briefing and get impatient with us when we were rehashing things we had told him long ago.

And while my job involved juggling a lot of balls, I only had to worry about economic issues. In addition to all of those, at any given point in time he was making enormous decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan, on hunting al Qaeda and keeping America safe. He was making choices not just on taxes and spending and trade and energy and climate and health care and agriculture and Social Security and Medicare, but also on education and immigration, on crime and justice issues, on environmental policy and social policy and politics. Being able to handle such substantive breadth and depth, on such huge decisions, in parallel, requires not just enormous strength of character but tremendous intellectual power. President Bush has both.

On one particularly thorny policy issue on which his advisors had strong and deep disagreements, over the course of two weeks we (his senior advisors) held a series of three 90-minute meetings with the President. Shortly after the third meeting we asked for his OK to do a fourth. He said, “How about rather than doing another meeting on this, I instead tell you now what each person will say.” He then ran through half a dozen of his advisors by name and precisely detailed each one’s arguments and pointed out their flaws. (Needless to say there was no fourth meeting.)

While I don’t think being able to predict advisers answers is necessarily always hard, it is pretty funny.

The article then goes into reasons why people have come to think Bush is stupid, which basically boil down to:

1) He’s from Texas, not from the “intelligent” states (and as a result has a “funny” accent”.

2) He made a point of presenting himself as a common man, not as an aloof intellectual

 

Video

Obama Really Poor at Speaking

I saw this video at Patterico just now. His point is that the president is using marines to hold his umbrella instead of doing it himself. (Update: Yep)

Well, I’m quite certain I’ve seen Bush have that (in spite of these images) so I think that’s a bit of a beat up.

But I was incredulous at just how bad Obama stumbles around in these comments. He doesn’t even seem to remember who the guy next to him is.

Bush got stick for talking this badly. It seems that Obama’s solution is to never talk off-the-cuff – something that has been noted before.

Obama’s Anti-Bullying Guy

I covered a few of Obama’s appalling choices for running various things in my big post just before to the presidential election.

But I missed this one.

Dan Savage. Dan Savage’s anti-bully program was chosen by Obama to be part of his anti-bully project. Just one problem Dan Savage is a pretty nasty bully himself.

You can see him pander to the atheist haters here. Not only is his critique quite ignorant (has anybody read Acts 15* ?!?) but having driven tens if not hundreds of students from the room he then proceeds to mock them.

There’s lots of stuff on his Wikipedia page, including his co-sponsoring of the disguising campaign to smear Rick Santorum which I will not quote here.

In a 2006 interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, Savage stated that then-Green Party Senate candidate Carl Romanelli, whom Savage claimed was partially funded by state Republicans for a spoiler effect against Democrat Bob Casey, “should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope”. In the same interview, he stated, “Mr. Romanelli should go [expletive deleted -s1] himself.”[53] Immediately after the interview, Savage wrote, “I regret using that truck metaphor, and didn’t mean it literally, and it was in poor taste, and I regret it.”[54]

On HBO‘s Real Time with Bill Maher July 15, 2011, during a panel discussion of the debt limit increase negotiations between the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama, Savage said in a stand-alone remark, “I wish the Republicans were all [expletive deleted -s1] dead.[55] He apologized for his remarks on his blog later the same night saying in part, “I don’t feel that way. My dad is a Republican. (Well, he says he’s an independent, but he hasn’t voted for a Democrat since JFK. My dad is a Republican.)”[56]

Finally, today he wished cancer on Sarah Palin. Not only that, he openly admitted he was being a bully:

Image

It’s sickening. But sadly, given Obama picked a tax cheat for treasury sectary, picking a confirmed, unrepentant bully for his anti-bulling program is about par for the course.

An idea to get Conservatism back on track

The Republican party in the US just suffered quite a defeat. But they do have a position as majority in the house from which they can launch something.

I was reading via Instapundit today (or maybe yesterday) that in spite of recent events, in spite of Chicago being dominated by Democrats, in spite of the failures of Stimulus projects, in spite of the clear media cover-ups of Democratic party stumbles, gaffes and scandals, in spite of all the evidence people think it’s the Republican party that is the most corrupt.

So here’s the thing. I have no no doubt whatsoever that the Republican party does contain and tolerate a lot of corruption. Not as much as the Democrats, and it is not as fundamental as it is to the Democratic party, but it does exist. And no right thinking American wants a corrupt government.

At the same time, the Republicans have a big image problem. Trust me, they do. It’s like there’s two groups, Republicans and the people who think Republicans are evil. Very little middle ground. They need to fix this, and the media (who lovingly helped build it) is in no way going to help.

So here’s what I think the Republican led house should do. (I’m not entirely sure this is possible but what the hey, not like anyone’s going to read this!) Establish a house committee/commission to root out corruption. First, staff it with guys like McCain who’s integrity is utterly unimpeachable.

Next, go after the bad eggs in the Republican party itself. Have every member sign a statement saying that they will conduct their politics properly or leave. Then kick out the bad eggs, get them prosecuted if possible and let it be seen that the entire party condemns them as they go. If it loses the entire majority do it. Once the public get the idea that they’re genuine in what they’re doing, even willing to risk their own majority, those seats that are vacant may just be won back anyway.

Backers? Kick them to the curb. Special interests? Tell them to take a hike. Yea, it’s gonna hurt. Yea, it may damage the party in the sort term. But it’s like anything hard – the bigger the pain, the bigger the payoff is down the line.

In the meantime, other proprieties are just going to have to suffer. Let’s face it, the public voted for Obama so they don’t seem to care much about what the Republicans hold dearly do they? It’s just like anything, you have to decide what is really important. And you can be effective at running the country if you’re fat and lazy with a huge beer gut.

And it’s only when it’s very clear that the Republican party is absolutely, completely and utterly clean, so clean that even Chris Matthews is admiring the sparkle, so ruthless with corruption that there is no question that even the top brass would see the door they were found giving favors, then and only then you start on the Democrats.

But by that stage, you probably won’t have to. The public will start turning on them and the media will have to ask why they are not prepared to clean their own house.  Obama will probably finish his term, but his legacy of corruption will mean that everyone will be glad to see him go.

That’s my thinking anyway. I think it’d work in the US.

It’s never work here because we have no conservatives worth a damn in the first place.

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