More investigation into New Zealand politics

The Economist reports:

A larger-than-life sculpture made of manure that depicts the hapless environment minister, Nick Smith, defecating into a glass of water has been a hit.

Some American politician should steal the New Zealand First party’s idea for the SuperGold card:

SuperGold Card

SuperGold Card, a flagship policy

The SuperGold Card, a discounts and concessions card for senior citizens and veterans, has been a major initiative of the party.

New Zealand First established a research team to design the SuperGold Card, which included public transport benefits like free off-peak travel (funded by the government) and discounts from businesses and companies across thousands of outlets. Winston Peters negotiated with then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, despite widespread opposition to the card on the grounds of high cost. As a condition of the 2005 confidence and supply agreement between New Zealand First and the Labour Government, Peters launched the SuperGold Card in August 2007.

The card is available to all eligible New Zealanders over the age of 65. The card provides over 600,000 New Zealanders with access to a wide range of government and local authority services, business discounts, entitlements and concessions, such as hearing aid subsidies. A Veterans’ SuperGold Card, also exists for those who have served in the New Zealand Defence Force in a recognised war or emergency.

SuperGold Card came under threat in 2010 when National Minister Steven Joyce tried to terminate free SuperGold transport on some more expensive public transport services, including the Waiheke Island ferry and the Wairarapa Connection train. The Minister retreated when he came under fire from senior citizens.

Give old people a card that gets them free stuff!  They’ll love it!


Reader Catherine in New Hampshire writes

Dear Helytimes,

Have you abandoned your commitment to keeping us informed about public lands under Trump?  I’m baffled by the present situation and would like some help!

Frustrated,

Catherine

Reader,

I get it, I’m sorry.  The truth is I myself am baffled by what’s happening.  I’ve been slowly informing myself by reading:

High Country News.

They’re doing such good reporting on these issues.   Also their classifieds are great:

This roundup of their stories on the latest developments is great:

I found this post on Mojave Desert Land Trust’s Instagram to be a good summary, too:

Trying to make sense of the national monument review process is like trying to avoid stepping on a scorpion in the dark.
In other words, our government is making it really hard for the public to see what is going on.

Here’s what we know so far.

In April, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior (DOI) to review whether 27 national monuments deserved continued protection.

From May to July, the public was allowed to submit comments about this review. All of you spoke up to defend our Mojave monuments! Nearly three million Americans joined you in submitting public comments, 98% of which were in favor of keeping or expanding protections. 

August 24th, DOI Secretary Zinke submitted his recommendations to the White House…and refused to release them to the public.

Since then, the public has waited for any information. And our Desert Defenders have continued to raise our voices about why our monuments deserve continued protection!

This Sunday, The Washington Post published a leaked version of Secretary Zinke’s report. Although this was supposed to be the DOI’s finalized review, it was titled as a draft and only contained vague recommendations for ten monuments.

It would need further revision by Zinke to become a final report. There was no mention of the other 17 monuments officially under review, including Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow. Nor was there word on Castle Mountains, which Rep. Cook asked Secretary Zinke to cut, although it wasn’t part of the original review.

Ultimately, no monument was declared safe. And the report’s omission of 17 monuments leaves them open to untold threats down the line, like executive orders or management plan reviews.

What the leaked report does make clear is that the Trump administration is preparing for an unparalleled attack on protected public lands that could result in widespread loss of wildlife habitat and economic harm to local businesses.

This entire process is unprecedented — and tomorrow, we’ll let you know what’s next.
#DesertDefenders #StopCadiz#nationalmonuments #mojavetrails #desert#mojavedesert #antiquitiesact 

Seems like — and this may shock some of you – the Trump administration is hindered in executing wrongheaded and malicious policies by stupidity, clumsiness, disorganization and lack of any clear ideas, principles or goals short of being obnoxious and servicing the interests of GOP donors!

Welp, on the plus side, reading High Country News and learning about the Mojave Desert Land Trust has given me faith that lots of good people who care passionately are fighting to steward public land in effective and intelligent ways.


Ireland should take in two million refugees

I’ve developed a radical policy idea.  This is my position paper.

The Republic of Ireland should take in two million refugees.

Here’s my case.

Ireland is empty

Seriously, walk around the place.  There’s like nobody there.

Almost nobody

Here’s Ireland overlaid on Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania has 12.78 million people.  Similar landscape and climate.

Ireland has 4.773 million people.

Ireland has fewer people today than it did in 1841.

Not busy

What a wild fact.  What other country is like that?  Can we really trust that 1841 census?

My source here is the Central Statistics Office of Ireland:

Ireland is empty because people moved away.

There were all the people that died in the massive famine.

But post-famine emigration is really what depopulated Ireland.  The whole story of Ireland is people moving away.

Even James Joyce looked for a life elsewhere.

The people of Ireland were themselves once refugees.  

They weren’t always looked fondly on either.

They were considered to be dirty and dangerous fundamentalists from a scary religion.

Now look at them.

“Her father, Alfred Roy Carey, was of African American and Afro-Venezuelan descent, while her mother, Patricia (née Hickey), is of Irish descent.”

Says The Washington Post:

According to the Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million).

That’s just the USA.  There are something like two million Irish Australians and four millionish Irish Canadians.

What a great chance for Ireland to return the favor! 

What a cool national mission for Ireland!

And remember, we’re just restoring Ireland to its historical population level.

some people could live here

Possible counter argument:

But that will destroy the unique national character of Ireland!

Meh.

First of all, maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll adapt to it.  Or, as immigrants have done everywhere, offer new foods, traditions, ideas, and stir themselves into an overall blend.

You telling me Athlone isn’t happy to have Thai restaurant Kin Khao? Check out the reviews!

Second of all Irish culture is pretty darn resilient, there’s dudes in Southie three generations removed who’ve never visited the place who have shamrock tattoos and sing some fraction of the songs while they get drunk together.

Third of all Irish culture has been well-preserved already.

You can count on the Irish to do a fine job preserving.  source, shoutout to Wiki user Dilif

You can count on the Irish to do a solid preservation job.

(This song about boiling a policeman and spreading him like pavement is a fair example of Irish culture*.)

and

Frankly Irish culture could use a bit of a jolt.

Previous pinnacle of Irish culture?

Taking in two million refugees is a challenge.

But Ireland is up to it.  This country is one of the best ever producers of nurses, caregivers, teachers, cops.  It could be a a national project that would bring out the best in them.

You don’t think largely ceremonial president Michael D. Higgins could inspire and lead his countrymen in this task?

In conclusion, Ireland should take in two million immigrants.

Honestly it’s mostly sheep over there.

By the way, not asking Ireland to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  You could argue California has already taken in two million refugees.  I haven’t crunched the numbers yet but I think we could take in a million more.

* I’m aware the song was written by a Scottish person

The Irish comic tradition

source.  Barry McGovern / Johnny Murphy in Irish comic storyteller Samuel Beckett’s play

Just read this one.


It’s true.  Bannon, as presented in this book, is funny.  Makes it harder to dislike him.

At one point he describes Paul Ryan as

a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.

This vivid turn of phrase after speaking to an embattled Roger Ailes:

Bannon was surprised at his desperation.  “He was babbling,” he later told an associate.  “He was in the fucking mumble tank.”

Bannon’s key insight:

Monster, filthy, sick, beast – these are terms Bannon throws around as compliments, what bro doesn’t?  But on the other hand he starts to sound a lot like a dark wizard delighting in his devil-powers as he launches demons at the world.

Anyway, fast, entertaining and insightful book.

Was interested in the perspective of Peter Schweitzer, who wrote Clinton Cash.

Could you argue the same about journalists and Trump?  Both love Twitter.


Hoover Boys

our Chicago correspondent sends us this find:

The authors:


Us vs Them

This NRA ad is so twisted and vicious that I hate to sully Helytimes with it.  You don’t have to watch it, I will tell you the key parts.

From the woman’s tone to the images it is so intense, so designed to provoke fear and anger.

Imagine something less helpful than showing this to a fearful person or a deranged person who also owned a gun.

I learned a tiny bit about the woman in the ad and I don’t want to ever think about her again.

I do want to examine the use of the words “us” and “them” in the ad.

Sometimes I felt frustrated by the attempt to over-explain Trump’s popularity as just racism because I felt that like while racism was absolutely in the mix, that wasn’t a big enough word.  What I really heard was something like “themism.”

Themism

It was obvious to anyone I talked to at Trump’s rally or the RNC that I was a “them” even though I felt like we were and could be and should be an “us.”

Who is them and who is us?

In the first twenty seconds of this ad, you hear about how “they use”:

  • “their media”
  • “their schools”
  • “their movies stars
  • their singers
  • their comedy shows
  • their awards shows”

(with lots of exterior shots of LA, by the way, including Disney Hall)

  • “their ex-president”

As a media-working school-liking person who works on a comedy show in LA who loves and gave money to my ex-president, I am obviously a them.

What the hell?  I want to be an us!

I am an us!

Who is the us, according to the ad?

Well, against the them is:

  • “the law-abiding”

Me, definitely, I love the law, some of the people closest to me are professional law enforcers.

  • “the police”

Same, I love one police in my own life and like the police in general.

So, I am also an us.

Right?

Can I be an us and a them?

What kind of wicked, nasty person would try and drive us apart like that?  What sinister agenda would be behind that?

Anyone trying to divide us is wicked.

Which is better:  united or divided?

Uniter or divider?

Everyone knows the answer to that.  This is the United States.

If you are trying to divide, if you are sowing division, you doing wickedness.  This is simple.

This ad is some kind of vicious dog-whistle designed make some loose category of people who feel angry and put upon and threatened feel more angry, put upon, and threatened.  This ad uses the language of violence to suggest channeling those feelings into violence.

In this world you will see so much wickedness that you can’t possibly handle it all but somehow this one got to me.

Part of what makes me made is that a club for people who like shooting guns could be so positive.  Lots of people in this country have guns because they like hunting or because guns are exciting.  What if they were in a club that made them feel proud and noble instead of vicious and afraid?

The language about the “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment is so important. Adding those words was not an accident.  The Founders didn’t want every gun-haver running around on his own kick deciding who to blast away.  Read

or

A militia was a community.  It brought people together.  And it was a responsibility.  To call this NRA video irresponsible is a wild understatement.

I suspect I have no more than two Helytimes readers who are in the NRA.  There has to be a faction of the NRA that can see how wrong this ad is, how destructive.  I could be wrong but my guess is this strategy of marketing for the NRA will not be successful.

My purpose in writing this was just to bore down and clarify mostly for myself what is so wrong and wicked about this ad and what larger principle that leads us to.

Also to shine a light on why the message is not just wicked but un-American.

A Smaller Thing That Made Me Mad From This Ad

:16

“make them march, make them protest”

let’s pause here and remember you can say whatever the hell you want about movie stars and comedy shows but marching and protesting in American history is maybe not all the time but by an overwhelming margin a pretty darn heroic and positive thing in American history.

A Leonard Freed Magnum photo from the 1963 March on Washington. Am I allowed to use this? Maybe not technically but is it ok because I direct you to the source? Hmm am I as law-abiding as I thought?

the ad is ignorant as well as wicked, the two often go hand in hand.

 


Jeremy Corbyn

Pretty compelled by British politics, where a 68 year old socialist inspires mobs of young people with poetry while a former banker and political operator whose political arrogance blew up in her face clings to her job as Prime Minister.

Reader Laura M. calls our attention to another verse from that Shelley poem:

“…Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Lord Eldon, an ermined gown ;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.
And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.”

 

Lord Eldon. source.

The opening of the poem, The Masque of Anarchy:

“Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.
And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there;
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew;
What they like, that let them do.
With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay,
Till their rage has died away:
Then they will return with shame,
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek:
Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!

Written in response to the Peterloo massacre:

This blog post is not an endorsement of the band Run The Jewels.