Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Breaking up the Band

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  • Jan Farr,


    What is with these Labour Men of Yesteryear (John Terris is another one), when they turn into raging neanderthals, full of bitterness and imagined slights.


    They were all wolves in sheep's clothing - 'Chicago' boys, carrying Milton Friedman's 'pure' capitalist message to New Zealand while hiding inside the Labour Party. I suppose we were a little luckier than other countries - such as Chile - which got Friedman's policies through avalanches of terror. I'm reading Naomi Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine' - it sheds much light.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report

  • Jan Farr,

    How come I can't do those quote things - I copied and pasted them and it came out all wrong - Ma.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report

  • Jan Farr,

    Doesn't Lange muse about his father dropping Bassett on his head when he was born?

    In his book, I mean. clearly.

    Yes he does - I was just looking for the book to find the quote - but I've lent it!

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report

  • WS,

    The more the party tells us how ''silly'' or ''stupid'' we are to ever consider supporting McCain, the more we become convinced of how we are not silly or stupid.

    Yes, rather like the people i've seen quoted in the media who tell us they've voted Labour their whole lives but now they're voting National -
    usually working people featured in a story about rising power or fuel prices, they seem to have not heard about 'turkeys voting for an early xmas'

    Christchurch • Since May 2007 • 8 posts Report

  • Stanley Pointen,

    The Lange Douglas civil war certainly involved many more senior staffers than Margaret Pope and Bevan Burgess, who by the way was a talented operator, certainly better than anyone in the Lange camp. The suggestion that Pope was simply a hand maiden to Lange is the re-write of history, not the other way around. Looking back, for all of his great qualities, Lange was not a political strategist, and because of this was easily outflanked by the other side. If I'm not mistaken, the Caucus reinstated Douglas back into the Cabinet after Lange sacked him.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 26 posts Report

  • simon g,

    A bit like calling David Irving a 'historian', when he and Bassett and Wishart are writers of fantasy (not that history is all 'just the facts. m'am'!)

    When 'The Hollow Men' was published, Bassett actually compared Nicky Hager to David Irving (on Radio NZ's 'Panel').

    Hager exposed Bassett's "independent commentary" as a fraud (HM, Chapter 2) and the eminent historian reacted with all the dignity of a spoilt child caught telling porkies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • larryq,

    Have you read the book first Russell. I take it, given Bassett's well known political views, you have just assumed he's talking shite. Pathetic. In spite of what you think of him, Bassett has produced some pretty decent NZ political history (the Fraser book is first class), which makes him the opposite of Wishart. The thing about this book is that Bassett took detailed private notes throughout his time, which makes this book a must read (with a necessary level of skepticism given the fact that he was a participant). The interesting thing will be how many people who worked in the Beehive during the Lange years will be brave enough to back Bassett up on the Pope thesis. People I know who worked there find the suggestion that Pope was a defining influence on Lange as a given, not a thesis. Please attempt to be fair Russell.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I would think that Russell read the long excerpt in yesterday's SST. It would seem enough to make some kind of judgement.
    I wouldn't want to go buy the book. It just encourages them.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Danielle,

    Sean Wilentz, professor of History at Princeton... lays out the case that Obama can't win.

    Sure, the Democrats have alienated themselves from the white working class vote - but the problem has been the way they wrote off entire sections of the country as not worth fighting for or campaigning in. The issue is all that red state/blue state bullshit which has been going on for years, not Obama himself. Forest for the trees, Wilentz.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report

  • James Green,

    I wouldn't want to go buy the book. It just encourages them.

    Like the guy that claims he was a spy involved in the Sutch affair. When it (deservedly soon) ended up in the bargain bin, I was a mite tempted, but with the release of the SIS documents, I'm pleased I didn't. Certainly didn't want to fund his retirement.

    Limerick, Ireland • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Sean Wilentz, professor of History at Princeton... lays out the case that Obama can't win.

    Bob, did you read that before you posted it? The first paragraph contains an authoritative prediction that Clinton is on the verge of becoming the democratic nominee.

    Clinton is now well poised to win the Puerto Rico primary on June 1 - and clinch a majority in this year's popular vote

    I gotta admit I didn't read the rest of the article - it seemed a little dated.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Have you read the book first Russell. I take it, given Bassett's well known political views, you have just assumed he's talking shite. Pathetic.

    As Geoff said, I read the long extract in the SST, and the paper's follow-up story, and commented only on the content of those. Which seemed immensely self-serving to me.

    I also had in mind Bassett's similarly self-serving cameo in The Hollow Men.

    I never met Lange, and I haven't met Margaret Pope, but I had some contact with Margaret Pope when I commissioned her to write something for the Great New Zealand Argument book I edited. She and David also gave me a great letter that helped in the long process of getting the Oxford Union speech audio, when officialdom was not my friend.

    And I'd never be rude enough to compare Bassett to Wishart. No one deserves that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Islander,

    A writer remembers...Bassett & the London flat fiasco-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Alex Coleman,

    For all your US polling needs.

    Here and here are the most interesting bits for predicting November.

    Obama is going to have lot's of money compared to McCain, and is going to be spending it in more States than GWB did vs Kerry. The GOP will be playing defence all over with limited funds.

    Is anyone impresssed with McCains campaign so far? Am Too Not Bush!! Change you can believe in (from an old white guy who has been in Washington since the Savings and Loan debacle)!!

    And he's borrowed Obama's colour scheme. Sheesh.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report

  • Matty Smith,

    He's basically a Chicago-school neoliberal and as truly 'left-wing' as Michael Bassett is these days. I really can't understand why self-identifying 'progressive' Americans are getting so excited about him. They seem to view the fact that he's been able to raise so much money and has got Rupert Murdoch's support as a good thing, rather than a giant, flashing warning sign of where his real interests and sympathies lie.

    It really is amazing that more people aren't noting this. It makes me cringe, the number of Kiwis who are calling Obama a 'Left-wing candidate'. It's all a bit disorientating. Nevertheless, looking at the competition I suppose it's easy to see Obama's appeal, McCain believes that Roe vs Wade should be overturned and that the USA's constitution somehow enshrined the country as a 'Christian Nation'.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2007 • 13 posts Report

  • Stephen Judd,

    "borrowed Obama's colour scheme"

    Actually, the thing that tickles me most about John McCain's website is that even now, the major headings are:


    Golf gear. Heh.

    Remind me which one is the "elitist?"

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report

  • Bob Munro,

    Sean Wilentz, professor of History at Princeton... lays out the case that Obama can't win.

    Thanks Danyl

    The thrust of the argument in the article is that if Obama is the nominee (not confirmed at time of writing ) he doesn’t stand much chance of winning without the white working class vote which is explained in some depth both historically and it’s continued importance to the present election.

    This is typical of the argument.

    While recent studies purport to show that the white working class has, indeed, shrunk over the past fifty years, as a political matter its significance remains salient, especially in the battleground and swing states--states like Ohio and West Virginia where Obama currently trails Senator John McCain in the polls. One of the studies that affirms the diminishing proportion of blue collar whites in the electorate, written for the Brookings Institution by Ruy Teixeira and Alan Abamowitz,concludes nevertheless, that "the voting proclivities of the white working class will make a huge difference and could well determine who the next president will be.

    I see Obama has already visited Virginia since securing the nomination so maybe his organisation had taken more on board than Wilentz gives them credit for?

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report

  • Steve Withers,

    Michael Bassett has been an arrogant purveyor of one-eyed, self-serving twaddle for many years and wouldn't his new book to be any different from all that went before it. I'm glad Bassett was outed a few years ago for boosting Don Brash in his DomPost column while also being involved behind the scenes in helping Brash get the Nat leadership. At least I didn't have to put up with his propaganda in the DomPost any more after that.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report

  • Angus Robertson,

    So you'd vote for the anti-reproductive rights Republican over the NARAL-endorsed Democrat because your goddamn feelings are hurt?

    None of the pro-life groups endorsed McCain in the GOP primaries - all of them went for Thompson or Romney.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report

  • Steve Withers,

    As for Hillary-loving "feminists" claiming they will vote for McCain rather than Obama, such sillyness makes me wonder specifically about the truly extent of mad cow disease in the US and broadly about whether or not there is intelligent life on Earth.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    __He's basically a Chicago-school neoliberal and as truly 'left-wing' as Michael Bassett is these days.__

    It really is amazing that more people aren't noting this. It makes me cringe, the number of Kiwis who are calling Obama a 'Left-wing candidate'.

    All the wingnut commentators noisily insisting that he's a Marxist probably cloud the issue a bit.

    But it's just not true to say he's a "Chicago-school neoliberal" either. His rhetoric on trade has been explicitly protectionist; more so than I'm comfortable with.

    And his record as a community organiser seems genuine to me. If he balances budgets and doesn't wage unnecessary wars that's good too. I was probably actually most moved by the Lawrence Lessig endorsement. A President who gets the digital commons seems like a fine thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Angus Robertson,

    And isn't "NARAL-endorsed Democrat" same as EPMU endorsed Labour Party?

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report

  • Terence W,

    Obama's health policy was worse than Clinton's and he seems to have brought the conservative line on social security but he's not a Chicago Style neo-liberal. His economic adviser is from U-Chicago but sure ain't Becker or Friedman.

    It's true that his economic policies won't be particularly left but, with the exception of health, they'll still be comparable to Clinton's and well on the sane side of McCain. I think most Nation-reading liberals (myself included) are aware his limitations but, after the last 8 years, are still happy to settle for someone mildly progressive who won't invade Iran at the first jerk of Anne Coulter's knee...

    Interesting article on Obama's economic tendencies: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21491

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    <quote>Bevan Burgess. God I wish there was footage of that guy on youtube; the Monty Python 'Upper class twit of the year' skit doesn't even come close.<quote>

    I thought Bevan more Magnus Pike than upper class twit. Actions spoke louder than words.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It surely takes something special to make a biography about another person as rampantly self-serving as Michael Bassett's new book about David Lange seems to be.

    Don't read many political memoirs then, Russell? :) Seriously, you really have to wonder how Bush and Blair managed to get away with a damn thing over the last decade considering how many people with six-figure book advances to earn out opposed these Princes of Darkness root and branch. (Just not to the extent of actually opening their mouth and saying anything, or handing in their resignations and saying why in public.)

    As for the wingnut Clintonistas -- OK, they stay home and fume with the Ann-droid/Dittohead theo-cons and the more or less sane more or less adults get to vote. And while I've got my problems with both Obama and McCain, can we all breath a sigh of relief that we're not facing the degrading prospect of Romney or Huckabee vs. Clinton? A better argument for unenlightented despotism is hard to imagine.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

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