Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Crash and Contempt

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  • Michael Savidge,

    We are five days into a general election campaign -- and if the media isn't actually going to take this seriously, I don't see why anyone else should.

    Now who's all emo?

    And Craig, keep in mind you're very much part of the media these days.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    ...because in dissidence with the current New Zealand regime, I don't (and with all due respect to the troops who defend new zealand) think the casualty rate is near as important as the intended result of the war you're fighting.

    and as a New Zealander, i don't think supporting a regime that imprisons rape victims was quite what the New Zealand public had in mind when our troops were sent:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-afghan-women-jailed-for-being-victims-of-rape-900658.html

    I don't believe fighting in support of the imprisonment of females for failing to acquiesce to arranged marriages was quite what the NZ servicemen signed up for:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0428/p15s01-wosc.html

    perpetuating the imprisonment of women with their children etc etc, the list goes on and on, and as a 'free democracy', I don't see how new zealand is making the world or itself a better place by playing a part in these or other events such as the revival of afghanistan as the world's largest opium producer.

    it's bullshit
    for our country to be formenting that kind of crap in the 21st century
    while you'all hum and hah about palin and barack like you're the
    57th state, 7 weeks out from your own election.

    new zealand foreign policy used to be founded on stronger ideals than these.

    not what would have happened if the lights hadn't been turned out in a parallel universe

    so yes helen, 60 body bags.
    and then some

    and russell i'm sorry for the highjack/troll.
    it's just that weeks out from NZ elections and the PM coming out with
    this kind of shaddupayaface, really makes me worry there's a lack of
    info inside the dome.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Now who's all emo?

    And Craig, keep in mind you're very much part of the media these days.

    Thank you, Mr Savidge - my ego is purring like a kitten at a tickle party. :) But modesty forces me to admit that my little radio pieces don't exactly have the reach or the influence of either Espiner or John Armstrong.

    I've no pretensions towards being a hardcore policy wonk. My mode is more the impressionistic and satirical, but I'd also like to think the only think I share with shock jocks like Michael Laws is an outlet. You'd be surprised how often I've run the (virtual) blue pencil through a joke or punchy one-liner -- or even whole pieces -- because... well, it wasn't accurate. Or (more often than you might think) it's unfair or tasteless.

    I just don't think the truth is an optional extra, however ideologically inconvenient it might be. And around here, bullshitters tend to get sent home crying to Mama rather quickly.

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It's in its last throes, I wouldn't worry too much. Cafferty and the many others who are foreseeing a future of irrelevance for republicans have got it right.

    Well, Giovanni, some of us have been saying for a while that anyone who thinks the current iteration of the GOP is 'conservative' in any sense worthy of the name, is flying in the face of reality.

    Wick Allison puts it beautifully in his coming out as an Obama-con:

    Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.

    Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.

    But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

    With all due respect to people like Cafferty, Giovanni, they might want to avoid the kind of hubris that got the GOP exactly where it is today.

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

  • Paul Williams,

    I like the "democracy of the dead" concept and it's a great piece not only for the writing but for the sentiment. Cheers.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    With all due respect to people like Cafferty, Giovanni, they might want to avoid the kind of hubris that got the GOP exactly where it is today.

    Insofar as they're talking about republicans, not conservatives, I think they have a point. And for the GOP to shift back to being a conservative party would take a massive shifts in policies and approach.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    . . . anyone who thinks the current iteration of the GOP is 'conservative' in any sense worthy of the name, is flying in the face of reality.

    In line with John Stuart Mill's "Not all conservatives are stupid people, but most stupid people are conservatives", the GOP seems pretty conservative to me.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I like the "democracy of the dead" concept and it's a great piece not only for the writing but for the sentiment. Cheers.

    You're welcome, and I think Wick is also right that Obama's temperament and instincts contain more of what British philosopher Michael Oakeshott called a "conservative disposition" than either McCain or Palin.

    Speaking of Oakeshott, his essay 'On Being Conservative' is online here (though there are patches where the transcription could have done with a careful proof-reading). To give fair warning, it's long and quite dense. Oakeshott was a philosopher not a movement polemicist firing off soundbites for the six o'clock news. But his arguments are worth mulling over.

    (Just as a gratuitous sidebar -- Andrew Sullivan wrote his Ph.D. on Oakeshott, and discusses Oakeshott's work as an influence on his concept of conservatism at some length in The Conservative Soul, which I warmly recommend.)

    Just a wee taste that, I hope, will prompt you to read more:

    Of the many entailments of this view of things that might be pointed to, I will notice one, namely, that politics is an activity unsuited to the young, not on account of their vices but on account of what I at least consider to be their virtues.

    Nobody pretends that it is easy to acquire or to sustain the mood of indifference which this manner of politics calls for. To rein-in one's own beliefs and desires, to acknowledge the current shape of things, to feel the balance of things in one's hand, to tolerate what is abominable, to distinguish between crime and sin, to respect formality even when it appears to be leading to error, these are difficult achievements; and they are achievements not to be looked for in the young.

    Everybody's young days are a dream, a delightful insanity, a sweet solipsism. Nothing in them has a fixed shape, nothing a fixed price; everything is a possibility, and we live happily on credit. There are no obligations to be observed; there are no accounts to be kept. Nothing is specified in advance; everything is what can be made of it. The world is a mirror in which we seek the reflection of our own desires. The allure of violent emotions is irresistible. When we are young we are not disposed to make concessions to the world; we never feel the balance of a thing in our hands - unless it be a cricket bat. We are not apt to distinguish between our liking and our esteem; urgency is our criterion of importance; and we do not easily understand that what is humdrum need not be despicable. We are impatient of restraint; and we readily believe, like Shelley, that to have contracted a habit is to have failed. These, in my opinion, are among our virtues when we are young; but how remote they are from the disposition appropriate for participating in the style of government I have been describing. Since life is a dream, we argue (with plausible but erroneous logic) that politics must be an encounter of dreams, in which we hope to impose our own. Some unfortunate people, like Pitt (laughably called "the Younger"), are born old, and are eligible to engage in politics almost in their cradles; others, perhaps more fortunate, belie the saying that one is young only once, they never grow up. But these are exceptions. For most there is what Conrad called the "shadow line" which, when we pass it, discloses a solid world of things, each with its fixed shape, each with its own point of balance, each with its price; a world of fact, not poetic image, in which what we have spent on one thing we cannot spend on another; a world inhabited by others besides ourselves who cannot be reduced to mere reflections of our own emotions. And coming to be at home in this commonplace world qualifies us (as no knowledge of "political science" can ever qualify us), if we are so inclined and have nothing better to think about, to engage in what the man of conservative disposition understands to be political activity.

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

  • Sacha,

    And I wish in our local context that people remembered ACT and their acolytes (including those in other parties) are the radical right, not conservatives.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thanks for that Oakeshott passage, Craig - beautifully written.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    The political studies tutor who introduced me to Oakeshott (and Burke) used to marvel/lament that the best writers on political philosophy as writers were on the conservative side.

    I didn't know her own politics except she was quite a passionate feminist, so its fair to say she wasn't one of life's natural conservatives. But she possessed a breadth of understanding of politics which saw beyond petty ideological categorisation and tribalism. Its all too rare, that sort of thing.

    Coincidentally, I was reading over some Oakeshott earlier in the week. (and, inspired by a recent exchange here about Burke, went and got Conor Cruise O'Brien's book on Burke out of the Welly library).

    Also have a quote from the man himself on the wall of my gallery office: 'I think the need to know the news every day is a nervous disorder.'

    You won't find this in any of his writings. It was a comment to a former top student of his who went down to visit Oakeshott at his home somewhere in the south of England. Oakeshott asked him what he intended to do, now he'd graduated with a very good degree.

    The young chap replied he intended to be a journalist. Oakeshott gazed silently out at the English Channel for a very long time, and finally said 'Oh dear' before making his comment.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    As long as we're talking about conservative philosophers, the granddaddy, Thomas Hobbes, sees an 11 volume set of his collected English works on sale at amazon.com for US$15. Even with the shipping to NZ, that's gotta be worth a 98% discount.

    Not that he can be meaningfully be described as conservative without all kinds of anachronism and simplification, but a good deal is a good deal.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Hmmm...Jake, Hobbes was a tad more authoritarian than that... from memory, you can use his approach, with the necessary changes for 20th century conditions in Russia, to justify a Stalin.

    I think Popper lumped him in with a line of bossy-boots running from Plato through to Marx...

    Mind you, we do have it on reasonably good authority that he was fond of his dram.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Russell, Daniel Pipes has pre-empted your snide remarks thusly:

    Calling this a falsehood is in itself a falsehood.

    So there, take that...and that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    @Rob
    Those are all cricketers

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    And I wish in our local context that people remembered ACT and their acolytes (including those in other parties) are the radical right, not conservatives.

    Extreme fiscal conservatives, social liberals (except when it comes to individual rights for furriners). That's Act, anyway. National are purportedly social and fiscal conservatives, though it seems to be pretty nebulous.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    happy womens' suffrage day!

    Third of women still believe they don't have equal rights
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4697514a19716.htm

    Kiwis emigrating to Australia hit a 19-year high in the past 12 months
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4698646a13.html
    sincerely urged to stay there,

    XVI.9: Confucius said, "Those who are born with the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn, and so readily get possession of knowledge, are the next. Those who are dull and stupid, and yet compass the learning are another class next to these. As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn--they are the lowest of the people."

    and for you craig on this special day:

    XIV.25: The Master said, "In ancient times, men learned with a view to their own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of others."

    and for john key

    IX.13: "When a country is well governed, poverty and mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is poorly governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of."

    IX.13: "When a country is well governed, poverty and mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is poorly governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of."

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    itz onlee e ɹǝʇʇɐɯ of time before until the powz ʇɐɥʇ ǝq dsɐɹƃ that an idit buttin would 璧 befenicial 2 ɐɥʇ site

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    itz onlee e ɹǝʇʇɐɯ of time before until the powz ʇɐɥʇ ǝq dsɐɹƃ that an idit buttin would 璧 befenicial 2 ɐɥʇ site

    Woah, that's messed up. Backwards and upside down!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    itz onlee e ɹǝʇʇɐɯ of time before until the powz ʇɐɥʇ ǝq dsɐɹƃ that an idit buttin would 璧 befenicial 2 ɐɥʇ site

    Woah, that's messed up. Backwards and upside down!

    Iτ'ς αλλ GΓεεκ το με...

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    An Old Fable

    OLD VERSION:

    The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his
    house and laying up supplies for the winter.

    The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays
    the summer away.

    Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

    The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

    MORAL OF THE STORY:


    Be responsible for yourself!

    A new version

    The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his
    house and laying up supplies for the winter.

    The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays
    the summer away.

    The Grasshopper has a trust account stuffed with funds
    the funds came from his Grandfather who sold arms and fuel to both sides in the last great Red Ant Black Ant War.

    The Grasshopper goes to the big City and deals in ant eggs.
    As we know, there are good eggs and bad eggs.
    The Grasshopper mixes the good eggs with the bad eggs to sell as consolidated egg obligations at a large markup.
    The bad eggs infect the good eggs and aquarium owners feed the eggs to their fish.
    The fish die.

    The Grasshopper returns home to find the Ants are still busy making eggs because they were told that was the thing to do by the Queen Ant, because he could sell them to the Grasshopper and support the worker Ants
    The Grasshopper no longer wants the eggs, the Queen Ant is ruined and is bankrupted.
    The Grasshopper picks up the Ant colony for a pittance as it is no longer profitable.

    The Ants, now homeless, seek help from the Grasshopper who offers them their own homes on a lease to buy option.
    The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, paying for his own
    house and laying up supplies for the winter.

    The Grasshopper offers to securitise the ants supplies telling the ant that that was the thing to do
    The Grasshopper takes all the Ant's supplies and sells them to Locusts in exchange for a Hedge.

    The ants no longer have a Queen to lay the eggs and can't afford to continue the lease to buy option.

    The ant works hard in the freezing cold all winter long, building his
    house and eating old eggs.

    The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays around of Golf.

    The Moral
    Never trust a Grasshopper.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Rob, that was a most efficient philosophy refresher.

    Steve, I've always wanted a useful rejoinder when smug twits cite that fable.

    Thank you both on this fine day.

    (and who needs Edit when you have Preview - I takes my chances)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    i'd guess the people who pay for the extra bandwidth of doubled up posts and whatnot.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    You mean the chinese charge by the word? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

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