Friday, July 9, 2010

Headline of the day: 'Muslims are people too' Edition

From page A6:


It's Friday, and Garth still hasn't appeared. Dead, or just in hibernation? Answers on the back of a pie wrapper.


Meanwhile, at stately Herald Manor...
Editor: ...Right, next story. What's this one about?

Journalist: Well, it's about pests getting through customs. Apparently snakes aren't the problem at all, but-

(Editor turns and looks out window. Fingertips touch, C. Montgomery Burns-style.)

Editor: Snakes, you say....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

SuperCity Race: Parallel Universe Edition

That is, the parallel universe where John Banks isn't right-wi... sorry, "business-friendly" enough to be mayor. Take it away, Fran O'Sullivan, as usual on her knees (pun most definitely intended) before the Business Roundatable:

Wanted: A new mayoral candidate with plenty of verve, business smarts and charisma to sharpen the leadership contest for the new Auckland Council.

That is the clear message sent by a big swag of Auckland's business power-brokers in the Herald's 2010 CEO survey.

Oh, by the way, I've downloaded this amazing new piece of software to help with my blogging: it's called 'Euphemism-O-Detector', and it automatically bolds any use of euphemism in blog text. I thought I'd see how it went on this article.

"Most Aucklanders were expecting a tough challenge for this role," said Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett. "So far they have been disappointed."

[...] Neither main candidate achieved a particularly high rating from the respondents on whether they had the "vision, drive and execution skills to ensure the Auckland Council succeeds".

[...] "If Auckland isn't efficient then growth aspirations won't be met," commented a the [sic] head of a professional firm.

[...] A law firm head described Banks as a "proven performer" in managing complex change and demonstrating vision and leadership. But others noted that he polarises opinion. "The first mayor needs to be a consensus builder so that the various factions can move towards common ground," said Foodstuff's Tony Carter. "Balancing that, the mayor needs to be a consensus builder as a weak person won't achieve anything."

[...] Another said both Banks and Brown were much more politically interested than policy-oriented, and, questioned whether either would have the pragmatism to deal with critical commercial issues like the Ports of Auckland shareholding.

[...] The new candidate should be "someone with guts, who can take some hits (and has taken some hits), someone who understands business, someone with good relations to Wellington, but not someone who is a career politician," said a finance CEO.

[...] Given the lack of overwhelming confidence in either Banks or Brown, it's perhaps not surprising that more chief executives say the Auckland Council's CEO, rather than the mayor, will be more important to the Super City's success.
Can someone please untangle the logic of that sentence? Given that I don't like any vegetables, it's not surprising that I think I'll satisfy my nutritional requirements by dipping streaky bacon in chocolate.
[...] Setting a clear vision for Auckland was important if the new council - which wraps together the present eight local authorities of Auckland into one structure - is not to become bogged down in factional fighting and local concerns.
[...] Among comments were: "too many of the existing crop have declared their interest in standing"; "the democratic structure does not allow for selection on skill matched to job requirements"; and "even C&R has too many has-beens who never were". A clear majority - 56 per cent - believed there were "too many retreads" at the expense of new blood; 40 per cent were unsure.
Presumably leaving 4% who thought there were "not enough retreads". Sounds like a great survey.
[...] Just one-third of chief executives think the new council-controlled organisations will have sufficient independence to do what's best for Auckland.
Leaving just... everyone else in the region upset that CCOs will be largely unaccountable to elected representatives.

Well, that worked quite nicely, didn't it, valued readers?

Party on, Garth


I haven't written about Garth for a long time now. This is partly because I'm lazy, but also because he's just been boring. I really can't be arsed when he writes - again - about how climate change is made up by an international conspiracy of environmentalists and financiers.

Today's column bugged me though. Not (just) because he's back bagging the availability of abortions. It's the terrible excuses for arguments that he puts into his column, and that are therefore sanctioned, if not endorsed, by the New Zealand Herald. The column is even entitled, "Murder of innocents behind closed doors," as if Garth would prefer them to be filmed in front of a studio audience and put on Youtube.
While the compulsive-obsessive nico-nazis celebrate depriving our jailbirds of their perfectly legal tobacco, a gullible Minister of Corrections, Judith Collins, makes what will turn out to be an unsupportable rod for her own back. Meanwhile, a group of our so-called high-powered citizens get together to push for tougher laws on another perfectly legal product, booze.
Let me explain it, Garth. Whenever you make a law banning something, it's usually on a product that is legal - albeit often something that, like alcohol, is already restricted. If it weren't legal, you wouldn't have to ban it.

Smoking contributes to the deaths of a few thousand people a year; excessive alcohol consumption to a few thousand more.

But what about the more than 17,500 potential New Zealanders who were vacuumed into oblivion in abortion clinics round the country in the 2009 calendar year, most of them illegally under the provisions of the law supposedly administered by the Abortion Supervisory Committee?

Ok, neither the time nor place to get into a debate about whether the foetus is a person, or can meaningfully be described as 'a potential New Zealander' - but at least I'm willing to point to a debate. And don't worry, Garth: a lot of those women were probably immigrants.
Once again, all but a handful (2 per cent) of the 17,550 abortions performed last year were on the grounds of serious danger to the mental health of the mother - a ratio that has been constant since 1977 - which means there must be a hell of a lot of mentally unstable women in our land.
Well can you blame them? Look at the state of newspaper columnists.
In the United States, increasing use of ultrascan has led to big reductions in the number of abortions as women who seek counselling see the perfectly formed little human being moving in their wombs.
Yes, and it's been a massive, politically-motivated battle led by religious groups which is being fought out in the courts. In everyday parlance, we call it a 'guilt trip'. To be consistent, I'd like everyone who wants to eat bacon and eggs to have to watch someone slaughter their pig, and then grab the eggs from the battery cage.

Nevertheless, some of last year's abortion statistics are more chilling than others. For instance, last year nearly 6500 women had repeat abortions: 19 had their seventh (or more), 63 their sixth, 136 their fifth, 441 their fourth, 1364 their third and 4423 their second. What does that tell us about the effectiveness of "counselling"?

Depressingly, 3952 teenagers, and children as young as 11, had induced abortions last year. Of them, 592 had had a previous abortion and 67 girls were on to their third or more. What does that tell us about the effectiveness of "sex education"?

Nothing, Garth. It tells us nothing. That's just how statistics works. Now, what do rising teen pregnancy rates in conservative US states during the Bush Administration tell us about abstinence teaching?

But the most sinister aspect of all this is that the Abortion Supervisory Committee, which is supposed to administer the abortion law as passed by Parliament, continues to act illegally.

In a High Court judicial review of the committee in 2008, sought by Right to Life, Justice Forrest Miller said in his judgment: "In my opinion, the statistics and the committee's comments over the years ... do give rise to powerful misgivings about the lawfulness of many abortions. They tend to confirm [the] view that New Zealand essentially has abortion on request."

Yet nothing has changed. The alleged threat to the mental health of the mother remains the grounds for nearly all the abortions granted.

I'll help you out with this too, Garth. The reason that the government isn't doing anything about it is that it is working as intended. The only reason that women have to go through the ridiculous charade of applying for consideration under the mental duress condition is that it is a sop to grumpy old people like you. For better or worse there's not many of you left, and your cigarette, alcohol and pie-binging ways aren't helping matters. Well, not for you.

You can rail at the alleged illegality if you like, but, like it or not, the day that some court rules that these abortions are illegal is the day Parliament introduces legislation legalising abortion properly. This is because most people in New Zealand like the fact that abortions are available. I'm sorry but that's just how democracy (usually) works. Here's a list of countries you may be interested in moving to:
  • North Korea
  • China
  • Pakistan
  • Vatican City
  • United States of America

The members [of the Abortion Supervisory Committee] up for reappointment are Professor Dame Linda Holloway, of Dunedin, as chairwoman, Dr Rosemary Fenwicke, of Wellington, and the Rev Patricia Allen, of Christchurch.

There is growing pressure being put on Mr Power, by Right to Life and others, not to reappoint Dr Fenwicke on the grounds of conflict of interest. One of the duties of the committee is to supervise abortion certifying consultants, who are empowered to authorise the disposal of unborn children, yet Dr Fenwicke is herself a certifying consultant.

Oh, a conflict of interest. Sure, perhaps. Or, then again, maybe (and I really have no idea here) Dr Fenwicke is actually an expert on abortion and, given that it's not going to be banned before Judgement Day, she might have some valuable knowledge about best practice in providing them.

How about instead considering the conflict of interest of Rev Allen, whose title is a bit of a giveaway as to where her sympathies lie. I thought not. Frankly, I suspect Garth's main problem with the committee is that they're all women.

It is only to be hoped that Mr Power will have the guts and the nous to use this as an opportunity to clean up the whole illegal, closed-shop abortion industry.

God, you're right! Maybe I was wrong about you! Let's clean it up! Let's make sure that women don't have to be made to feel ashamed about their choice, let's make sure they're not literally told you are crazy, or at risk of it as a condition of getting an abortion.

Otherwise, the annual slaughter of the innocents will remain our most dreadful and heartbreaking tragedy and disgrace.

Oh. Sorry, my bad.