VOTE MORE OF THE SAME

The Council of Trade Unions want us to all get out and vote Labour this year. But the CTU is offering the same uninspiring Labour Party that it offered last time round.

YOU HAVE PROBABLY  not noticed that the Council of  Trade Unions (CTU) have launched what it calls a 'Get Out The Vote' campaign for the upcoming election. On the website we read:

Help more people have a say in 2014 by asking them to enrol now and vote in September. Just volunteer a few hours of your time to the campaign, and we’ll connect you together with hundreds of volunteers across the country to make a difference – one conversation at a time.

Although  the CTU have described it as a 'an independent, non-partisan project' it is about as independent and nonpartisan as Mike Hosking or Paul Henry. It really could best be described  as the  'Get Out The  Vote to Vote Labour' campaign.

The CTU's simple  aim is to get as many of the 43 percent of people who didn't vote last time round to vote this time  -  and vote in favour of Labour.

But of course the Labour Party of David Cunliffe is little different from the Labour Party of Phil Goff. The CTU are trying to sell the same damaged goods it tried to flog in 2011. It is a little like being invited to some grand and lavish  party only to turn up on the night to an empty hall with only a glass of warm orange cordial and a shrivelled sausage roll for company.

While  people  may not like the National-led government,  David Cunliffe's  Labour  is  providing  little incentive for  people to go to  the polling booths in 2014. I certainly won't be.

But it is not just David Cunliffe's fault because thirty years of slavish commitment to the ' free market'   have left the Labour Party as the empty neoliberal husk that it is. 

There  has been no attempt by the Labour  leadership to pull the debate  back to the left. Indeed publicly declaring that it is committed to the policies of the market, as the Labour  leadership has done on several occasions, is hardly a rallying call for everyone to meet down on the barricades. 

We might want to listen to the rousing tunes of Les Miserables but,  unfortunately, David Cunliffe is listening  to the twenty greatest hits  of Richard Clayderman.

Despite all this the CTU leadership  is, once again, wheeling in behind the Labour Party. It wasn't particularly inspiring in 2011 and it will be equally uninspiring this year as well. But that's the CTU leadership for you - always ready to take the path of least resistance.

What New Zealand needs is a political party  that will stand up for the majority, what the Occupy movement famously described as the  99 percent. But there's no commitment  to such a party  from either the CTU or much of the so-called New Zealand 'left'.

Instead, when we take away all the window dressing, the CTU wants you to vote Labour because, it says, another  three years  of John Key and co would  be worse.

But the 43 percent who didn't vote last time disagree. They  think there is little difference between National and Labour and voting won't change anything. And, anyway, as the British writer George Monbiot has observed, if people simply vote for something because they fear the alternative, we will never get the government we want.

Organisations like the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite Union - who have now all docilely fallen in behind Labour - should reflect on that. But they probably won't.  The level of debate is merely ankle deep  and organisations like the ISO and the Unite Union  must also take their share of the blame for keeping us all stranded in the paddling pool.

If the left continue to back a Labour Party that not only fails to represent their views, but actively opposes them, there will never be a turning  back of neoliberalism and the beginning of real change in favour of ordinary people.

PEOPLE PLANET PEACE OVER PROFIT

Unlike  Russel Norman and the Green Party who are calling  for a 'green capitalism', the Global Climate Convergence recognises  that the present economic system is only  leading to the Earth's environmental destruction.

GLOBAL CLIMATE CONVERGENCE  is a education and direct action campaign running from  Earth Day to May Day (April 22 - May 1 ).

Unlike our own Green Party and its disastrous promotion of 'market environmentalism',  the Convergence recognises that global capitalism has failed the planet  and that merely tinkering  with the machinery of  our present economic system  will not save us. It is too late for that:

....the movement for democracy and justice is sweeping the globe – from democracy revolutions to occupy protests, movements for the rights of workers, students, immigrants, women and Indigenous peoples; resistance to NSA spying, endless war, prison pipelines, tar sands, fracking, nuclear power, GMOs and more. The accelerating climate disaster – now predicted to dismantle civilization as we know it as soon as 2050 - intensifies all these struggles, and provides new urgency for collaboration and unified action. Clearly there is no time to lose.

The United-States based campaign is backed by a wide range of  political and community groups including the US Green Party, Occupy Wall Street and System Change not Climate Change.

You can check out the website here.

JESUS THE REVOLUTIONARY



IN HIS  best-selling book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Reza Aslan argues that the historical Jesus - the Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the Roman Empire - has been instead misrepresented as a detached supernatural being.

Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promote an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary.

Abby Martin interviews Reza Aslan for Breaking The Set. The interview was first broadcast on April 19 Breaking The Set can be seen in New Zealand on RT (Sky 92) Tues-Sat.

CHEERING ON THE KILLING MACHINES

 

'Go the drones!' declares talkback host Mike Yardley, describing an extrajudicial killing as 'nice work'.

MIKE YARDLEY is a sometime talkback host on Newstalk ZB  and a columnist for The Press.

Here he is on Facebook enthusiastically endorsing the extrajudicial  killing  of another New Zealander by the United States government in November last year.

The New Zealander , known as Muslim Bin John, was 'believed' to have 'links' with al Qaeda. This, at least , is what the Obama administration are claiming  - and which the Key Government has uncritically accepted. And Yardley believes it too - let's not worry about such things as due legal process.

The drone killings are based largely on what the CIA has described as  'intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behaviour.' This is enough justification, apparently, to launch lethal attacks in countries like Yemen and Pakistan.

'Go the drones!' declares Mike Yardley, cheering on the killing machines that have also murdered many innocent people, including children. None of this seems to matter to the gung-ho talkback host.

HAPPY

Daily Blog editor Martyn Bradbury  is well known for his cutting analysis and incisive comment but he has really excelled himself with his latest splendid observation. According to the man with all the facts, socialists are all unhappy people. The Labour Party are extremely fortunate to have such an educated supporter.

POLITICAL MERCENARY  Martyn Bradbury, last seen angling for a job with the Internet Party for no less than $8000 a month, has  been displaying  his extensive knowledge of socialist  history.

Blogging from the Mana Party AGM he commented that socialists were opposed to any deal with mega-capitalist  Kim Dotcom because we're just a bunch of miserable sods. Wrote the erudite Bradbury:

'The Socialists aren’t happy, but when was the last time in history they were happy right? '

At this point I want to hand this column over to Rosa Luxemburg.

In 1917 after  three years as an unjustly jailed political prisoner Rosa wrote from Breslau Prison to Sophie Liebknecht. Her  husband Karl Liebknecht  was also a political prisoner.  Luxemburg and Liebknecht were founders of the German Communist Party and were murdered on the instructions of the German Social Democratic Party in 1919.

Here is an extract  from Rosa's beautiful and moving letter:

“This is my third Christmas under lock and key, but you needn’t take it to heart. I am as tranquil and cheerful as ever. —– Last night my thoughts ran this-wise: ‘How strange it is that I am always in a sort of joyful intoxication, though without sufficient cause. Here I am lying in a dark cell upon a mattress hard as stone; the building has its usual churchyard quiet, so that one might as well be already entombed; through the window there falls across the bed a glint of light from the lamp which burns all night in front of the prison. —– I lie here alone and in silence, enveloped in the manifold black wrappings of darkness, tedium, unfreedom, and winter – and yet my heart beats with an immeasurable and incomprehensible inner joy, just as if I were moving in the brilliant sunshine across a flowery mead. And in the darkness I smile at life, as if I were the possessor of charm which would enable me to transform all that is evil and tragical into serenity and happiness. But when I search my mind for the cause of this joy, I find there is no cause, and can only laugh at myself.’


The letter concluded: “Never mind, my Sonyusha; you must be calm and happy all the same. Such is life, and we have to take it as it is, valiantly, heads erect, smiling ever – despite all.”

MANA . DOT . COM

Mega-capitalist Kim Dotcom is attending  the Mana Party AGM this weekend. Any electoral deal with him will spell the end of Mana as a party with left wing aspirations.

THIS WEEK WE have seen the unedifying spectacle of the opposition parties jostling for position as they seek some sort of uneasy electoral pact. The Green Party's approach to the Labour for a formal arrangement has been rebuffed by the Labour top brass. Such is the conservatism of the Labour leadership that even the blue green politics of Russel Norman and co is apparently still 'too  left'  for David 'socialism is not a word I use'  Cunliffe.

And  the ongoing game of footsy between the Mana  Party and Kim Dotcom's Internet Party will be uncovered at the  Mana Party AGM.

While the Mana leadership want to seal a deal,  many members  are hostile to mega-capitalist  Kim Dotcom crashing their party. Actvists  like Sue Bradford continue to warn  of the dangers associated with Dotcom but Mana - under Hone Harawira -  continues to drift rightwards. That an opportunistic deal with Dotcom can even be considered demonstrates  just how far Mana has degenerated.

Any deal with Dotcom will spell  the end of Mana as a party  with left wing aspirations.

Meanwhile there is talk in some quarters of the possible role that Winston Peter's New Zealand First will play in the  unofficial electoral coalition. Apparently  Winston's anti-working class views  (not to mention his xenophobia) are not a problem.

Indeed it is this line-up that political mercenary  Martyn Bradbury has declared is a  'government in waiting'.  and that  “Cunliffe’s best shot at being PM is to unify the opposition”  Bradbury is an idiot.

I would of thought of Cunliffe's 'best shot at being PM' is to articulate a clear political  and economic alternative to neoliberalism and to stop treating the shibboleths of capitalism as if they were sacrosanct.

Instead of proposing a way out of the neoliberal straitjacket, the very best such an Labour-led  government is offering is that it  might loosen the straps just a bit. And I'm being charitable here because I think Cunliffe - if  he ever did become Prime Minister - would do nothing without asking business interests first.

The only consistent  message on offer is that   'We're not John Key and the National Party'. But that message only leads to the dubious and unacceptable  politics  of Winston Peters  and Kim Dotcom.

CHAINED TO THE MACHINERY OF DESTRUCTION

The National - led government continues to show a  casual disregard for pressing  environment issues and the very real threat of ecological collapse. But the Green Party's promotion of a 'smarter green capitalism' is a woefully inadequate response and would simply continue to chain us to the very economic system that is destroying the planet.

LAST WEEK SAW  the release of another authoritative report on the stark environmental  dangers  confronting the planet. The report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  warns that climate change will have a myriad of disastrous consequences for life on the planet from sea level rise, to extensive drought, to extreme weather  to food supply disruptions and to conflict.

This is  the sixth report from the IPCC since 1990 and the most strongly worded report yet.

What is also depressingly familiar is the way the warnings will go unheeded by corporate interests and their allies in government.

Exxon Mobil are a case in point.

In a shareholders report that was also released  last  week, Exxon states that is will not be planning for 'aggressive carbon emissions cuts before 2040', because governments are unlikely to impose such expensive regulations.

Exxon states that 'prioritising the need to meet the world’s growing energy demands through its oil and gas products, rather than addressing climate change.'

The New Zealand government's own response to the report has been equally lamentable.

The report says that the level of warming was likely to raise the oceans around New Zealand's coast by at least half a metre before the end of the century, threatening low-lying communities and ecosystems. But the response  of Climate Change Minister Tim Groser has been to emptily declare that the report shows the importance of 'adapting' to a warmer world.

If we are to believe Groser, we must  merely sit tight and 'adapt' as a climate change catastrophe rushes towards us. It is as we are transfixed  by the lights of the speeding train as it descends upon us

But, of course,  Groser and his  government are entirely hypocritical.  They are more than  happy to help big energy put the accelerator down in its search for more fossil fuels. The government  has just announced new areas that can be explored by the fossil fuel corporations.

This announcement was made against the backdrop of a fossil fuel industry that spent nearly $700 billion in 2013 looking  for new deposits of coal, oil and gas.

As writer and activist Chris Williams has  noted:

The inexorable logic of capitalist market relations and the fixation on short-term profitability trump common sense or the physical constraints of the universe, as reported by the world's preeminent scientific experts.


And as he said in a presentation at the EcoSocialist conference in Los Angeles in September last year:

 It is increasingly clear to a growing number of people that the ecological crisis is a direct outgrowth of the operation of our economic system; namely, capitalism. The crisis has many facets: environmental racism, energy production, pollution, gender oppression, biodiversity loss, agribusiness and climate change to name only a few. But they can all be traced back to a singular cause: the relentless pursuit of profit and the accumulation of capital.

While Russel Norman and the Green Party might bag Simon Bridges for his government's destructive environmental policies, their promotion  of a 'smarter green capitalism' is wildly misdirected.

An economy  in which investors demand short-term profits simply can’t carry through the implementation of the radical changes that are now urgently demanded.

In this century of environmental crisis, the common ruin of all - the destruction of civilization - is a very real possibility

In 2010 the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, was  held in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The final statement of the conference remains  true today:

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.

Over a century ago, Karl Marx predicted that unless capitalism was eliminated the great productive forces it unleashed would turn into destructive forces. Who can say he was wrong?

THE QUEEN IS DEAD

While New Zealand  families struggle  in poverty, the government throws a one million dollar holiday for a couple of royal scroungers. It's good for tourism you know....

THOSE TWO  well-know state beneficiaries Willie and Kate Windsor  have  left old Blighty  to holiday in New Zealand, courtesy of the New Zealand taxpayer. 

The two  young  bludgers - baby in tow -are visiting New Zealand at a  time when their lavish spending is causing a bit of a stink back home  It has been revealed  that they have screwed the good people of Britain for another million pounds on top of the  million pounds they have already  spent on refurbishing their five bedroom Kensington home.

 Katie  decided to redecorate  because she was 'unhappy with the colour scheme'.

Katie is largely unacquainted with working for living. The only proper job she’s ever had was working part-time in a London clothes shop.  But she gave it up four years ago, saying she needed 'some time to herself'.

Our media, of course, are asking all the important questions - like, what is  Katie wearing today? And what does baby George have for breakfast? Has he booked a place at Eton yet?

Enough already.

Here is  'The Queen is Dead' from The Smiths.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

The Unite Union's Mike Treen wants you to vote for a Labour government that is still committed to neoliberal policies. But he can't offer any substantial reasons why you should vote for such a government. 

DESPITE  BEING  supposedly opposed to neoliberalism and professing to socialist beliefs, the national director  of the Unite Union  has called for the election of a Labour led government, with the Green's, Mana and maybe (who knows?) the Internet Party tagging along behind.

None of this comes as any surprise. Mike Treen has already indicated his support for such a conglomeration before and, as a senior member of the Mana Party, he'll be supporting the Mana leadership in its desire to go to the electorate  with this  lacklustre line-up. And no doubt his old mate, Matt McCarten, has had a quiet word in his ear.

Mike Treen is linked to  Socialist Aotearoa  but some of its members don't share all of  his Labour friendly views.  On its blog Joe Carolan, who also works for the Unite Union,  writes:

A radical left wing party that is captured in a coalition with Social democracy signs its own suicide note. Social democratic parties profess reforms, but they are committed to managing the capitalist system, not replacing it.  You cannot do both.  Mana will be more effective as an independent, left wing force outside government, pushing Labour and the Greens leftward where successful, organising resistance against any cutbacks and attacks where necessary.  It should not sacrifice this Tino for the sake of being a 2 or 3 MP strong mudguard.  We should be in the vanguard instead.

But even  this view is  entirely misplaced as it promotes illusions about 'pushing' Labour and the Green's to the left. When are people going to wake up and realise  that ANY strategy involving Labour is doomed to failure? It should be abundantly clear by now  that the issues facing left wing  politics in this country have got nothing to do with the Labour Party.

Treen wants people  to vote for a Labour government that has said on more than one occasion that it has no intention  of breaking with the neoliberal policies that have dominated this country for over three decades. But Treen wants people to accept that it'll be 'business as usual'. What an inspiring vision of the future and it highlights all that is wrong about the terribly pessimistic and limited  politics that Treen promotes.

Is this really all that the so-called 'left' in this country can come up with?

Of course Treen is not an idiot and he well  knows this will be a difficult  proposition to sell. This is a bit of problem for  people like him because they somehow need to convince the 800,000 people  who didn't  vote last  time  to deliver their votes to Labour this time round.

The huge  problem for Treen  is that  he hasn't got much to offer. The cupboard is mostly bare.

Without an  alternative to market - led policies  and politics and a new vision of how society could be organised, Treen is left desperately  looking for anything that might convince an angry and  disillusioned  ex-voter  that David 'socialism is not a word I use' Cunliffe is their friend.

His main selling point - if you want to call it that -  is that Labour would  increase  the minimum wage to $15 hour.

But with  the National Government having raised the minimum wage to $14.25 , a raise of 75 cents is small change indeed, especially since real  wages continue to decline.

Frankly I think many people will be telling Treen to go sell crazy elsewhere.

It certainly won't propel people to the polling booths. The tragedy is that none of the obvious real work - to build a genuine left wing party in this country - has been done in favour of supporting a Labour Party that is well past its use-by date.

MIKE HOSKING SAYS BASH A BENEFICIARY A DAY !

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett  lashes out at beneficiaries again. And guess who's there to put the boot in once Bennett has finished?  Yes, its none other than Sky City employee, Mike Hosking.

IN ANOTHER  nasty and orchestrated exercise in beneficiary bashing, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has crowed about suspending the benefits of  21,000 people for travelling overseas since July last year. And she has been joined in her celebrations by New Zealand's answer to Alan Partridge  - but less intelligient - National party cheerleader  Mike Hosking.

Of this 21,000 people penalised,  nearly 5000 people had their  benefits  cancelled   because they failed to get in contact with Work and Income within two months of  their departure from New Zealand.

It is safe to say  that this  'missing 5000' have simply abandoned  New Zealand permanently, having given up  hope of finding a decent job in this country and with little to look forward to but more harassment from WINZ.

But what makes Bennett's attack even more contemptible is that she has  used the figures to deny  that the lack of real  jobs combined with welfare cuts  have contributed to widespread poverty in this country.

Her press release reads :  'These figures are the number of people who chose to travel knowing their benefit would be suspended.  Every day we hear stories of how people cannot live on the benefit.  Today you’re hearing that literally thousands can not only live on it but can afford to travel overseas as well,”

But as Alastair Russell of Auckland Action Against Poverty has said: "Auckland Action Against Poverty knows the reality Ms Bennett continues to deny. Life on a benefit is brutally hard. Children go hungry. Choices are made about what bill goes unpaid. Go into Work and Income and leave your dignity at the door. This is the real world and not the fantasy that Ms Bennett wants us to buy into. We continue to wait for the day when Ms Bennett announces a scheme involving 20,000 real jobs with real wages.'

It wasn't hard to make Mike Hosking buy into Paula Bennett's sordid fantasy. In yet another diatribe from his Seven Sharp pulpit last night,  he declared that thousands of beneficiaries were sunning themselves on beaches overseas - all at the expense of the taxpayer.

But, of course, he again provided zero evidence for this claim.  And, again, we ask  how long  - in an election year especially - is TVNZ going to be allow him to openly support the National government  and its policies? Indeed, what does the presence of Hosking on Seven Sharp say about the current ideological climate within TVNZ?

This entire episode reads like a repeat of another rotten  round of 'bash a beneficiary',  again starring Paula Bennett and Mike Hosking.

In 2012 Hosking  loudly backed Paula Bennett's  claim  that  many beneficiaries  weren't ready for paid employment because they were on drugs - and not because there were few jobs available for beneficiaries.

'This to my mind is a fundamental breach of the agreement you have with the Government and therefore needs fixing. The fixing will come in the form of your benefit being cut,' he thundered.

According to Hosking the  government  was confronting  an 'alarming number' ' of beneficiaries who had  admitted that they would not pass  a drug test.

Again, he provided no evidence for this claim.

But he was exposed as the lying government toady that he really is earlier this year.  The NZ  Herald obtained figures that revealed that out of over 8000 beneficiaries who applied for jobs that required drug testing, only 22 tested positive for drug use or refused to take the test.

This, then, was Hosking's 'alarming' number of beneficiaries who were on drugs. 22. Or 0.27% of all beneficiaries tested.

No apology was forthcoming from Hosking to beneficiaries for smearing them with his dirty little lies.

And now Hosking  is parading his bigotry  on nationwide television. This time though, beneficiaries aren't all on drugs - they're all  drinking exotic  cocktails on  beaches in faraway lands.

PENNY RED

SHE'S BEEN  threatening to do it for a while, but English journalist Laurie Penny has  finally launched her own website which will be home to all her writings and other stuff besides. 

Penny is a contributing editor for the New Statesman and her material has featured in The Guardian, The Nation and on websites like Salon and Vice.

She is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism and Penny Red: Notes From The Age of Dissent.

Described as a 'socialist fuckwit' by her charming right wing opponents, Penny says 'it's time to get organised, and it’s time to get angry.'




YES, MIKE HOSKING IS A MORON

New Zealand's answer to Alan Partridge has directed his 'razor sharp intellect' to the issue of climate change with the usual farcical and brainless  results.

IT SEEMS that TVNZ thinks  its just peachy to allow National Party cheerleader Mike Hosking to vomit his right wing views all over the place every weeknight at 7pm.

On Tuesday night's Seven Sharp  stupid Mike Hosking made this incredibly ridiculous  statement:

Bad news. I’m afraid the IPCC – the International Panel on Climate Change – has issued its latest report. It’s 2,600 pages long and spans 32 volumes. But I can sum it up for you. Ah, we’re stuffed. The seas are rising, the storms are coming, the locusts are close, we are going to climatic hell in a handcart. That’s of course, if you believe them. Which, as it turns out, I don’t.  Twenty years ago they said we had 20 years to turn things around. We haven’t. The Kyoto Protocol was a last-ditch attempt to save us all. No-one adhered to it. The lesson they have not learned is that freaking people out doesn’t get buy-in. I mean if the met service struggles with the accuracy of a five-day forecast, I’m thinking the accuracy of a long-range prediction that takes in 86 years might be a bit dodgy. So my advice: don’t let it ruin your night.

The world's leading climate  scientists have issued a comprehensive and exhaustive  report on the environmental dangers that the world is now confronting and Hosking's only response is to shrug his shoulders and say 'I don't believe them'.  He then goes on to advise viewers  not to let a  pesky report 'ruin your night'. Hosking toddles off to pickle his brain in some more red wine. Everything  is sorted. What a guy.

Hosking is  like every gormless climate change denier who refuses to address this issue responsibly and effectively. Fortunately climate change deniers are in a rapidly  declining minority but, unfortunately, TVNZ has allowed one such moron loose on national television. What a disgrace.

It doesn't seem to matter to TVNZ that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are due to human activities.

Mike Hosking  is the same idiot who says on the Newstalk ZB website  that, although he is 'not a marcher' (gosh, that is a surprise) he is now 'tempted to hit the streets'  because 'we' are  not doing enough to help the big fossil-fuel corporates to wreck the environment in the search for more oil, coal and gas.

And guess who's to blame? It's 'greenies and environmentalists who bring little if any logic to the table.'

This from a man who equates major and adverse environmental change with the reliability of  weather forecasts....

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