Who has got the cure for the sit-at-home blues? Ask Dr Grabthar. Now with bigger, easier to read font!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

[General] Brash, Katrina and Drag Queens

The above picture is pretty much on the ball. I was asked what I thought about the recent moves by National Party leader Don Brash’s (who knew he had a Wikipedia entry?) to makeover Mäori organisations (by makeover I mean “gut”). I was asked by someone who knew that I worked at one the institutions named by Brash for a short time (although not long enough to offer any real in depth knowledge). So what do I think?

Well first let me officially recognise the work of Ross P Kettle whose cartoon I have “borrowed” without permission. Go here and here to see more of his work.

What’s left to say? (I tend to wait until well after the event to see if anything has been left out once an issue has been thrashed by the local blogosphere). Tze Ming points out, in her last two posts, that Brash’s ideas on this seem to be basically made up on the spot to gain the “unthinking vote”. [By the way, Tze Ming’s blog “Yellow Peril” is in general a very good read and I suggest for those who have yet to discover it].

Brash’s policies lack internal consistency. When asked on Campbell Live about the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Gerry Brownlee (National’s #2, Brash wouldn’t show because of the email controversy) said that it would be subsumed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What? That doesn’t sound like a plan.

I think the best example of Brash’s campaign has to be the forestry decision that happened last week and was then disappeared. Talk about flip-flopping!

National’s Forestry Spokesman: “We’ll cut down native trees on the West Coast”

Don Brash: “What? No we won’t”

National’s Forestry Spokesman: “But you said…”

Don Brash: “Never mind what I said then, this is now!”

As a quick aside, TV One had footage of National’s Forestry Spokesman (whose bloody name I’ve forgotten) talking about how he once threw a cat in the fireplace. “The fire had gone out…” was his defence, PSYCHO. Seriously check the list (numbers 5 and 8).

Brash’s whole campaign (screw the Mäoris, screw the environmentalists, screw the immigrants, screw the poor people and, naturally, screw the people who sit in the over lap) is aimed squarely at the unthinking vote. Strictly what is happening NOW ! He has also tended to argue both sides, sometimes in the same sentence (ie. Labour is too family oriented, National does more for families than Labour).

Now don’t underestimate the “unthinking vote” (also called the “knee-jerk vote”). A study done a short time before the last US Presidential election showed that most voters make their decision on the day. Some will unconsciously be more likely to vote for a particular candidate because it is raining/cloudy/sunny or the person looks taller/happier/more confident.

I always like to think of the Simpsons Halloween episode “Citizen Kang”. The two aliens Kang and Kodos take over the bodies of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole during the 1996 Presidential election. Kang (or was it Kodos) announces “Abortions for all!” and is booed. He then tries “Abortions for none!” again to boos. He thinks and then “Very well: Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!” Everyone cheers.

To put it bluntly Don Brash is Kang. He just keeps talking until everyone cheers. And then Stuff.co.nz (or the Herald) does a poll to confirm that everyone cheered.

What’s his latest scheme? To remove the Mäori seats from parliament. ::sigh:: It’s almost sad.

I expect Scott will wade in soon.

Here is an extract from Brash’s Wikipedia entry.

Shortly after becoming leader of the National Party, Brash outlined five main policy areas:

1. Dealing with declining New Zealand incomes

2. Education - dealing with too many people leaving school with poor literacy and numeracy

3. Welfare dependency

4. Security - law and order

5. The drift towards racial separatism in New Zealand

He’s got number 5 well sorted. The drift has now become a steady undercurrent. Of course billboards that separate all of New Zealand into Kiwis and Iwi will do that? Ever thought to ask which one you are? Ever thought how to explain to a Mäori child which one (s)he is?

Look New Zealand, Mäori organisations like Te Mangai Paho and Te Puni Kökiri work very well and do some very good things (just look at Mäori TV). Pacific Island Affairs, I imagine, also do well. What was that other one National would scrap…? Oh that’s right Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

National not only see no difference between Mäori and non-Mäori but they also cannot tell the difference between men and women. This may be why there are no Mäori or women in the National party top 10 (that is unless you include Katherine Rich, and we don’t).

Given there is still a massive gender disparity (please send angry emails while I go look for the evidence to send back to you) a Ministry of Women’s Affairs seems like a good idea. [Caution: blog about to go off-track again] A Ministry (or at least a Department) of Men’s Affairs is also a good idea.

See the MMA would have a completely different tack to the MWA. The MWA’s work has three areas:

  • economic sustainability – improve women’s ability to independently provide for herself and her family
  • work-life balance – help women achieve a greater balance between paid work and life outside work
  • well-being – improve health and social outcomes for women.

The MMA would be looking closer to “the root” (education and early development) and so should be more realistically called Male Affairs (just to denote that it means everyone with a penis and not just of a certain age). There is substantial evidence to suggest that we need to be helping men (and boys) achieve at higher levels than they are currently. So an MMA is a good idea.

Sorry went off track a bit there.

We have a thing called the Treaty of Waitangi. Like it or not your ancestors (assuming you are Mäori or Pakeha) signed the Treaty for us to get along. Setting aside the different wording in the different versions, there is still the underlying message of partnership between the two parties to develop a nation.

Scrapping the Treaty and removing its reference from particular policies may actually be in breach of international treaty law. So basically Brash’s promise may actually be nothing more than an election lie! Dum dum DUMMMMM!!!

Brash is a penis, so if you vote for him (even a knee-jerk vote) expect to get dicked.

Thank you.

Now, what else has been happening in the world? Something happy no doubt.

Oh look, the USA is the largest supplier of arms to third world (and developing) nations. The weapons themselves are probably better at removing arms…and legs…and eyes…

Wouldn’t it be a good idea, just to state the obvious, to NOT arm countries so that we don’t have to worry about another “Iraq” or “Afghanistan”? Let’s move on.

Water was up to 6m deep in parts of New Orleans. A shark was reported in one street (but there is no picture to be found). This is a pretty big tragedy, but, as always, it could have been much, much worse.

In last month’s National Geographic (August 2005) there was a piece about what would happen if a Force 5 Hurricane hit New Orleans (there is no online version of the piece on New Orleans but there is an article and an interactive piece). The estimates for death and casualties were in the millions and property damage so severe that New Orleans would be uninhabitable, basically a write-off.

Thankfully when Force 5 Katrina came along the city had time to prepare. Death tolls currently sit in the hundreds, as to the property damage…we’ll have to wait until the water subsides to see, although many levies have broken and New Orleans may be reclaimed by the sea.

President Bush was nice enough to call off his holiday a few days early (that’s four days out of 32). He flew in a jet over the city. “Very low” over the city apparently, however, “very low” is still not landed and pitched in. “Very low” is not “called off holiday when the first warnings were came in and flew straight to Washington to prepare for disaster”.

However something was being done, something that feels pretty creepy somehow to me.

To make more fuel available in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration said Wednesday it will waive certain air pollution regulations for gasoline and diesel in all 50 states.

How does waiving air pollution laws make more fuel available? Seriously, if you know please write in, because I can’t figure it out yet. And will these laws be put back?

The Dom Post today has (in large print) somebody saying “[the hurricane] is our tsunami”. Um, while the hurricane was bad and while there is going to be a large clean up bill, this is no where near the magnitude of the Boxing Day Tsunami that killed more than 150,000 people, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. Also New Orleans had a lot of warning, which actually saved millions of lives; the people in the Indian Ocean had none. I’m not detracting from the devastation, just putting things into perspective. In fact just yesterday between 600 and 1000 people died in Iraq in the Al-Aaimmah bridge stampede. Perspective, that’s all this is.

Now finally about “Katrina the bitch”, and this is least important thing but we also blog about football here, the New Orleans Saints may have to journey to other cities to play their home games due to the damage done to the Superdome.

The last thing I want to mention is one of those crazy coincidence things. My partner was devising a script for a short film in which a group of drag queens go all “Ocean’s Eleven” in order to steal Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. Well, this morning I came across this article that says that the Ruby Slippers have indeed been stolen and that nobody knows who took them or how!!!! I suggest searching the local revue bars and cabarets.

Not quite life imitates art. More like life imitates the rough-first draft of what would have been art in a month or so. Needless to say Amy had to screw up her script. Doh!


Gibbs said...

Im guessing that if no pollution laws, consumption goes up, price comes down, nationwide demand goes up, supply to New Orleans goes down.
hell 'Norlens aint got no roads to drives on, whys they gonna needs more gas? And supply is "low" at the moment cos the G.O.M. oil fields arent working too good. Im really confused.

ben.run said...

That was a good Simpsons episode. I like the bit at the end where the aliens are revealed and the respond
"Well what are you going to do about it, its a two party system, you have to vote for one of us"
Someone in the crowd says
"We could vote for a third party"
"Ha ha, go ahead and waste your vote"

Regarding George Wanker Bush (What else could W stand for?) What a generous offer he has made. Its a pity he doesn't extend it a bit futher and say something like "In the Wake of the Hurricane I have decided to 'temporarily' remove the treaty of no oil exploration in Antartica and the moon, so as to help blaa blaa blaa"

Scott said...

I agree with Don. We should abolish the Maori seats. The Maori seats were originally brought in to make sure Maori never had any political power. Originally suffrage was based on land ownership, and Maori had a LOT of land. Had we enforced the laws fairly, Maori would have been running the country prior to 1867.
But the laws were arranged to only allow people with individual title to vote. Maori could have retitled their land, and taken over, but parliament made up the Maori seats instead. The Maori electorates are made up in the same way other electorates are (certain number of people is a seat). So they don't in any way interfere with proportionality in parliament. If we got rid of Maori seats, we could replace them with... Maori seats. That's right. We could let ANYONE come up with an electorate. SO if you can get a bunch of people to want to be the Jedi electorate, they can enrole on the Jedi role, and you're away. It doesn't effect proportionality, and it is completely voluntary. 60 MP's in electorates. 4million voters. 70k voters would be a seat. More independants. More people being represented by people they want to represent them.
Cause sure as hell a dude from the NZBRT wont represent Maori.