Friday, 10 October 2008

incompetence and obsession

a few things to talk about today. first of all, i'm really surprised that no-one is making much of john key telling the reserve bank to drop interest rates yesterday. this is a big deal. there is the issue of political interference with the reserve bank, an institution which is supposed to make decisions independently of political parties.

but leaving that aside, it's just a stupid thing to do in a week when the dollar is having a massive fall. dropping interest rates by a whole percentage point would put the dollar into a real tailspin, and do absolutely nothing for economic stability in this country. mr key is a money-trader, that's where his commercial experience lies. surely he, more than anyone else, should know that. for him to make such a statement is reckless and had he been prime minister, would have had a significant negative impact.

there can only have been one reason for his statement. it was a populist attempt to get attention by being a champion for struggling homeowners with heavy mortgages. but it surely wouldn't help those struggling homeowners to drastically push up the costs of imports in a very short time-frame, thereby raising inflation and reducing their standard of living. it speaks to a level of economic ignorance on his part that is quite scary.

i picked up this story at the bottom of this post by queen of thorns (thanx for raising it). it's about an incident in america, where:

"a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers."

this wasn't just a random incident. it occurred in the context of an islamophobic video distributed, of which 28 million copies were distributed in 14 swing states. the video, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West", contains information that is apparently extremely one-sided and inflammatory. given that it includes comments from the likes of daniel pipes (who, if i remember correctly, is part of a group that wants islam to be made illegal in america) and Walid Shoebat, who once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees “many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam" and “Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil.” (information from CAIR ).

the dvd was put out by the clarion group, who are currently refusing to say who their funding is coming from. but it turns out that there appear to be some links with an organisation call Aish HaTorah:

And we still don't know how closely Clarion is tied to Aish HaTorah, an international Jewish educational organization with offices in New York. Clarion's incorporation papers share the same address; the PR firm says that's no longer the case.

But public filings list four directors of Clarion since its inception, and all four have ties to Aish HaTorah.

it's appalling that an attack on a presidential candidate in an election campaign is going to such lengths as to tarnish a whole community. and for those who think that hate speech is better out in the open than hidden, well it's easy to say when it's not your places of worship being gassed. the fact that the attack is not being covered by the wider media, and is apparently not even being seen as a hate crime by police makes it even worse.

once again i thank God i'm living in nz. for more information about the video, see here.

finally, i attended a political meeting this morning organised by a mental health group in hamilton. the panel of speakers were david bennett, sue bradford, doug woollerton and sue moroney. i don't think i've seen such an appalling effort as that of mr bennett. he came unprepared to the meeting, without any speech notes whatsoever. he made an initial excuse that all candidates couldn't be experts in all fields, and mental health was not his field.

but his party uses parliamentary funds to pay for the national party research unit (yes, labour does pay for it's own research unit this way as well). he could easily have given them a call a couple of weeks ago, given that he would have known the event was coming up, and asked them for some background information. he has electorate agents who could have assisted. and failing all that, his party has a health spokesperson and a couple of associate health spokespeople who should have easily been able to come to his aid, in order for him to at least have some idea about the topic.

it was clear that he just didn't bother, and that's not good enough. the national party have no policy in this area, which didn't help. moreover, he gave the impression that social services might not be receiving so much funding given the current economic crisis. if that's the case, why aren't national being open about this? it's something voters deserve to know well before election day. it's appalling that they should pick on the most vulnerable in society to bear the brunt of the recession - people who need greater support in bad times, not less.

in comparison, the other three looked like they had done their homework. i was impressed with both sue bradford and sue moroney, who clearly had some background knowledge of the area, and knew what the key issues were. even doug woollerton did reasonably well, and his clear statement that nz first would never agree to funding cuts in the area of mental health made me wonder again why he's with that party. i got to hear a bit of him in the last campaign, given that he's the candidate for hamilton east, and he strikes me as more of a labour person than a centrist. and i really don't know how he puts up with all that immigrant-bashing from his party. but there you go.

i've got a very busy weekend planned, with fiji day, the labour party campaign launch, the muslim soccer festival, the radio nz debate (in hamilton this week) as well as pamphlets to deliver into letter boxes. so don't expect to hear from me for a couple of days!

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