It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Master Bullshit Artist #2

Well, unless something particularly revealing happens I am going to give this topic a rest for a while. One of the reasons is I am starting to feel sorry for him, in much the same way I felt sorry for Saddam Hussein just before he was hung.

Follow the Money

Art used to imitate life, but in today's society, life imitates art. Journalists throughout New Zealand are stumbling all over each other to get to the bottom of the Winston Peters affair. It is easy to find out... just follow the money.

Questions: Why is it that The Spencer Trust comes up blank in a search through the Trusts and Societies database? Does it exist? Is it offshore?

This is part of the script from 'All the President's Men'. The scene begins with Bob Woodward in an underground parking garage with Deep Throat.

Bob Woodward: The story is dry. All we've got are pieces. We can't seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like. John Mitchell resigns as the head of CREEP, and says that he wants to spend more time with his family. I mean, it sounds like bullshit, we don't exactly believe that...
Deep Throat: No, heh, but it's touching. Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.
Bob Woodward: Hunt's come in from the cold. Supposedly he's got a lawyer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.
Deep Throat: Follow the money.
Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?
Deep Throat: Oh, I can't tell you that.
Bob Woodward: But you could tell me that.
Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Master Bullshit Artist at work

A Cornered Rat

That Winston Peters is a charming, handsome character, there is no doubt. He is famous for verbal rope-a-dope, which has opponents throwing jabs and haymakers at him while he bobs, weaves, and filibusters through round after round. Past opponents are left open-mouthed with hands hanging by their sides. (Click on title: A Cornered Rat for an example.) It harkens back to a time when the measure of a 'kiwi bloke' was a brawler with a wit. This, along with his identity as an apprentice of past master, Robert Muldoon, seems explanation enough for most New Zealanders, especially the 'Grey Power' block of voters who keep him in office. He is forgiven his zenophobic views about all immigrants - especially asians, despite representing New Zealand on the world stage as Foreign Minister. Ethically, and morally, the PM should have sacked him for that alone. In private, Mr. Peters will tell you that asian immigration is good for New Zealand, but afterall, he must cater to the fears of his core constituents to do the greater good. He is also the champion of anti-corruption in politics; necessary to have around to keep everyone else honest. But the duplicitous nature of his immigration private/public views seems to extend to all facets of the man's character given the current raruraru over his handling and declaration of party funds. Will he finally be outed? It remains to be seen, however a groundswell of fourth and fifth estaters appear to have finally had enough. That the PM lacks the moral fibre to clean house will only tarnish the Labour Party on the eave of the election. Someone should remind her that when you lay down with dogs, you will get fleas.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Bad Storm

There is a howling storm outside my home this morning and the Volunteer Fire Service has been called out three times since 5am. Winds are gusting to 130kph and hail is pelting off the metal roof of my home. It is on days like this that I marvel at the commitment and bravery of the people working for the Fire and Ambulance Services. They do not get paid but a sign outside the firehall bears evidence they have been called out 250 or so times this year. It is on days like this, when the power is sure to go off, and serious flooding possible, that I worry about having enough firewood, water and food. What would I do if the roof blew off. It is Saturday, and my wife is supposed to be at a meeting and my grandson is supposed to stay with his mother. Being separated in a disaster would be the hardest of all things to bear. Oops. There go the lights.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Watershed Moment

Although I am safe enough here in New Zealand, I feel a vertigo over happenings throughout the world. It is easy to criticize America for the war, neo-conservatism, and their refusal to combat climate change, but the truth is that all of our freedoms worldwide are dependent on a strong, secure, and just America.
America's refusal to heed global warming is not because they don't believe the scientists, it is simply because there is no political will or profit in it. And yet Congress and Senate voted a $300 billion Housing Bill to stop the erosion of the middle-class. A further $300, or so billion was recently allocated to subsidize farmers. The ripples of the current economic crisis will touch everyone. A fiscal meltdown seems all but inevitable; as living costs skyrocket and the value of US currency plummets.
Material wealth is important, but I'm more concerned about the erosion of a legal system that made individual rights and freedoms the cornerstone of what America represented. In the face of institutions like Abu Ghraib and legislation like the Patriot Act a great society seems to have lost its moral compass. Future historians may look back at the Supreme Court's decision to give the presidential election to George Bush, 8 years ago, as a defining moment in America's fall. In truth George Bush should never have gotten that close to begin with. Clinton had just quarterbacked an economic miracle where americans had a balanced budget and zero deficit within their grasp. That should have been the legacy that Al Gore campaigned on. But when Clinton chose to have relations with 'that woman', he took himself out as an effective campaigner in 2000 and put enough of a blemish on Al Gore's campaign to have made the difference. Indeed, his residue probably cost Hilary her shot at the presidency.
Obama may have the star power to pull America back from the abyss, but I don't think it matters anymore whether Barak Obama or John McCain are elected on the second Tuesday this November. It seems the only path left for a cornered America is to expand militarization to some kind of end-game. Hitler used war to get out from under the weight of the Versailles Treaty. Saddam Hussein chose to invade Kuwait, rather than pay them back for financing the Iran/Iraq conflict. I fear that today's America will pay any price to keep what they have. The United States of America stands at a watershed today, and I pray she finds the strength to weather the coming storm.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Maybe You Can Go Home Again

At 66 to 1 odds, who would have figured Greg Norman to lead the British Open after 3 rounds. He hasn't won a tournament for 10 years and the last time he was in the headlines was when Bill Clinton got pissed at Norman's house and broke his leg. No doubt, his marriage to tennis star Chris Evert has a lot to do with it. Given his classic collapses under pressure in majors I expect the odds on his winning haven't improved very much with one round to go; but you never know.
But before golfers everywhere start ditching their marriages for one last grab at the ring, perhaps they should wait for the finish. Knowing Norman's penchant for turning anything into money, I am going to wait for the inevitable testimonial for the 'little blue pill', ginseng, antler fur or bear bile. It is a much safer bet that it will be some extract from a Great White Shark.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Looking at Omar

Omar Khadr is exactly where he should be. Perhaps I'm becoming more conservative but when the kid chose to take up arms against forces that included serving Canadian soldiers then he got what he deserved. If he had not been wounded and taken prisoner he would have gone on the celebrity circuit back in Canada and become a jihadist poster-boy at the mosque in Mississauga. No doubt that while the men folk are off on their overseas adventure, the Canadian taxpayer is supporting mom and the girls back in Canada, knitting kafalas. He made the choice between snowboarding or waterboarding. And as for Robin Long... he didn't go to Canada to avoid the draft; he volunteered, for goodness sake. Desertion in the face of the enemy used to buy you a firing squad - which I am against. But he too will have to face up to his choice - 'to encourage the others'. During Vietnam, a significant number of Americans who hid out in Canada found comfortable livings as teachers in public schools. Their gift to Canada was a generation of white-wine-socialists, only too eager to tummyhug the barrel and lift their skirts, whining 'choose me'. I won't even mention how it affected the women. After all, look what Gary Bettman did to hockey in Canada.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You can never go home again.

Omar Khadr (image left) was born in Toronto, but left for Afghanistan and joined up with Al Queda. He killed a U.S. medic with a grenade before he was wounded, but was treated by the mates of the dead serviceman and taken prisoner. He sits in Guantanamo Bay, the last western-born person to be held there. Now he wants to come home - to Canada. American, Robin Long (image right) joined the U.S. military. Outraged over the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo, he deserted and came to Canada. He doesn't want to go home to the U.S. , however, immigration officials in Canada are sending him back to 'the land of the free and home of the brave'. As a Canadian in exile, I can relate to both fellas wanting to somehow turn the clock back, pop open a Molson and catch Hockey Night in Canada. Well, life just 'aint that way. We three made our decisions and now we have to live with them. Isn't life full of irony?