Barack Obama

Rodney Hide on the travesty of MMP

Come September we could be watching the most popular political leader in the Western world, and the most popular party sitting on the sidelines as a coalition of the losers forms a government because of MMP.

Rodney Hide examines this with his column at NBR.

John Key is the most popular prime minister since polling began. It’s an extraordinary achievement. More remarkably, he’s the Western world’s most popular elected leader.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama must look on Mr Key’s numbers with envious eyes and considerable wonder.

His popularity drives support for his party. National consistently polls a third higher than Labour. And so Mr Key’s a shoe-in this election, right? No. It’s looking like a very close thing. That’s because we persist with a mongrel electoral system.

It’s not the party with the most votes that wins with MMP but the one that cobbles the support needed to govern. Mr Key and National could easily find themselves out in the cold.

I owe my entire parliamentary career to MMP, so I suppose I should be thankful. But I was never a fan of the system. My first serious political involvement was in opposing it. It was the first of my many political losses. Read more »

Headline of the Week

From the Courier Mail in Queensland.

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The story itself is hilarious:

FORMER foreign minister Bob Carr was last night labeled “arrogant” and “foolish” for risking diplomatic ties after leaked extracts of his new diaries revealed him complaining about taxpayer-funded first and business class travel and questioning whether top US leaders had plastic surgery.  Read more »

A good blogger who is also a journalist

I’ve had death threats, I am currently having to argue in court over the protection of my sources, but I have never had to run from the government, or been imprisoned because I spoke out. Being targeted for assassination is a whole lot different than death threats from random cowards, or being sued by people afraid the world will find out the truth about them.

It takes real courage to carry on in the face of intimidation.

The most famous investigative reporter in Tunisia is a 32-year-old blogger named Olfa Riahi. She broke the country’s biggest post-revolutionary news story—known as Sheratongate –and  helped to save the country’s liberal revolution from the Islamists. When Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa met with President Barack Obama on Friday he was promised $500 million in loan guarantees and heard America’s enduring commitment to Tunisia’s democratic transition. But without Riahi, that transition might have come to a dead end.

Her story, named after the hotel where the financial and sexual scandal took place, appeared on December 26, 2012. Almost two years earlier, the first uprising of the Arab Spring had swept Tunisia’s long-time dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, out of power. But the new government, dominated by the Islamist Ennahda party, was trying to impose Islamic law on Tunisia. Sheratongate exposed the  hypocrisy of the new rulers,  bringing down Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafik Abdessalem, the son-in-law of the Ennahda party chief Rachid Ghannouchi.

The Sheratongate affair, along with massive public reaction to two assassinations of liberal leaders and growing revulsion against Ennahda’s heavy-handed grab for power, eventually brought down the entire government, which has been replaced by the technocratic administration of Prime Minister Jomaa and a new Tunisian constitution, hailed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and others as a “model” for “the world.”

In exchange for her service to the country, Olfa Riahi was targeted for assassination by Tunisia’s Salafist extremists. She was blocked from leaving Tunisia for eight months and dragged into court on charges that could put her in prison for 100 years. A self-employed blogger who breaks her stories on her own French-language website, to be good again, Riahi has become a media star in Tunisia, attracting congratulations and journalistic tips wherever she goes.

“I always wear a smile in public,” she says. “I don’t want to let the politicians think they can intimidate me. I’m a democrat. I believe in transparency and good governance. This is the face I want Tunisia to put forward to the world.”  Read more »

The Key to defeat

Luke Malpass at The Spectator has an interesting article on how it is that John Key will be defeated…and ironically John Key’s decision to only provide a lacklustre opposition to MMP may bite him.

John Key is the most popular leader in the western world. Not by a little, but a lot. His net approval rating (approvals minus disapprovals) has consistently been around 50+ per cent. That compares with Tony Abbott at 10+ per cent and Bill Shorten at 8+ per cent. Julia Gillard was somewhere down in the -20 territory. Barack Obama and David Cameron are both around -10 per cent. So why on earth will Mr Key and his government struggle to get re-elected on 20 September? The answer is simple: Mixed Member Proportional.

This electoral system, reconfirmed at the 2011 general election, is a blight on New Zealand politics. In the same way the Hare-Clark system in Tasmania delivered the recent Mickey-mouse, tail-wagging-dog government, so MMP does in New Zealand. It entrenches minority government at the expense of stability and introduces obfuscation where accountability should reside.

The left wing is an assortment of average to failing parties of little support, but group them together and the most popular government and PM in modern history may well lose…beaten by a coalition of losers.

In theory, according to its advocates, MMP is great. As it is extremely difficult to get a majority of the primary vote (1950 was the last time it happened) there can be no ‘elective dictatorships’. Because you vote for an electorate and a party, you can split your vote and elect a local candidate you like, without necessarily voting for their party. Party lists allow highly competent people with little political appeal to be elected. Parties have to constructively get along, and no government can get too far ahead of the people.   Read more »

40,000 Russian troops massed on borders of Ukraine

Ukraine’s future continues to hang in the balance as Russia continues to mass troops on Ukraine’s border and their annexation of the Crimea continues.

United States officials have reported that there are currently up to 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s east border and that Russia could still invade Ukraine.

Though there is no consensus on the exact number of troops on the border, on March 27th, Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) said there were 80,000 troops on the border, and other sources told FOX News that more than 50,000 troops arrived in the last few days.  Read more »

The left wing obsession with private people spending their own money

We have seen this in New Zealand with political donations. The Labour party in particular have taken it upon themselves to obsess over political donations.

This of course famously blew up in David Cunliffe’s face when it was discovered that he was taking secret donations from the top end of town via secret trusts. We won’t hear too much more from Labour any more about trusts and donations.

The Democrats in the US have a similar affliction, despite Barack Obama outspending the Republican by a massive amount and the unions big money being deeply involved in funding the Democratic party.

They too are focused on private citizens like the Koch brothers.

A Quinnipiac University poll in January ranked, in order, the three issues voters cared about the most: the economy, the federal budget deficit, and health care. Not included on the list? Charles and David Koch.

And therein lies the dilemma for Democrats, who of late have turned the full fury and might of their political operation against the billionaire brothers from Kansas. Can they persuade voters to care about two private citizens whom regular people have barely heard of—especially when the country’s still-underwhelming job market has many of those same people more worried about just getting by?

It’s not as if the Koch brothers are peripheral to the 2014 midterm elections. Their most visible political group, Americans for Prosperity, has spent roughly $30 million pummeling Democrats, mostly senators up for reelection, for their support of Obamacare. With good reason, Democrats worry that money has fundamentally shifted the 2014 map in the GOP’s favor, especially in Southern battlegrounds such as Louisiana and North Carolina.  Read more »

Maybe they should have used a few more rounds…just to make sure

Apparently it is bad that SEAL team members shot Osama bin Laden more than 100 times.

I should have thought he should have been shot at least 2,977 times as a minimum.

Special operations sources have claimed that the terror leader was shot more than one hundred times in the fatal 2011 raid.

A new report from a website known within the intelligence and armed services community claims that the sheer number of times that Osama bin Laden was shot is the reason why the government has never released photos of his dead body.

Citing two confidential sources, The Special Operations Forces Situation Report tells how ‘operator after operator took turns dumping magazines-worth of ammunition into Bin Laden’s body’.

The site goes on to argue that while the Navy SEALs may have felt it was ‘morally, legally, and ethically appropriate to shoot the body a few times to ensure that he is really dead and no longer a threat,’ that does not justify the extent of this damage.

‘What happened on the Bin Laden raid is beyond excessive.  The level of excess shown was not about making sure that Bin Laden was no longer a threat.  The excess was pure self-indulgence,’ author Jack Murphy writes.  Read more »

R-S-P-E-C-T….really Obama?

If George W. Bush couldn’t spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T would we have heard the end of it? … or Mitt Romney?

It’s all about narrative media want. I doubt you will see this on a left wing blog, or in Sideswipe or any other mainstream news outlet.

Read more »

Obama is still the world’s best gun salesman

Obama and Piers Morgan are perhaps the world’s best gun salesmen.

Strum Ruger has released their latest annual report and profits are soaring.

Sturm, Ruger & Company released the company’s annual report for 2013.  Not surprisingly, sales and profits were up.  For the entire year, Ruger saw a $196.5 million increase in sales to $688.3 million.

While the very end of 2012 through mid-2013 saw a huge increase in sales across the industry, many people were reporting a return to “normal” sales in late 2013.  During the fourth quarter of 2013, Ruger sales continued to be very strong:  $181.9 million, up more than $40 million for the same period in 2012.  Read more »

Key couldn’t get away with this