The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Don't forget, the start of a new month is almost upon us, which means it's time to email me with your blog stats. If you can't remember, or have no idea, what I am on about, check out last month's stats.
- your blog url
- your total number of posts and comments for July
- your pick for your best post of the month if you are so inclined.
Deadline is 6pm Wednesday, but really we all know I won't be able to get them up until Thursday morning so knock yourselves out.
Thank ye kindly.
Last week I posted about David Benson Pope, Madeliene Setchell and conflicts of interest. I've now had the unique experience of having Kiwiblog commenters praise me for my principled approach* and being castigated in my own comments section by some people I respect (yes, including you Craig R) for not being principled about DBP, not being a feminist unionist about Setchell, and generally not supporting the political neutrality of the public service.
All of this has given me pause. I've already added my additional thoughts about DBP to the comment thread on my original post, but suffice to say the revelations of the last week have reinforced my opinion that he had to go, and I'm very relieved he has.
My thinking about Setchell's employment has evolved a bit since I posted last week. I've been pondering whether there would have been a perceived or actual conflict of interest if the employment issues had been the other way around; if Setchell already had the MfE job and Taylor was applying to be John Key's chief presser. Resoundingly the answer has to be no, but I'm not sure it's entirely because of gender. It would be to National's advantage to have a press sec with a connection high up in the MfE and so they wouldn't want to veto Taylor's appointment from that point of view. If the MfE had concerns about Setchell at that point it would be interesting to see how they would raise them in a legally appropriate way. All of this is of course totally hypothetical.
But something Craig wrote struck a particular nerve within me. I had commented that I was often judged on the political activity of my partner, and that I had hated it, and Craig thought this made my view of the Setchell Affair even worse. This has got me thinking - how has that judgement I sometimes face manifested, and does it make Setchell a fellow traveller to me?
I've been political since long before I met my partner - we were in different parties when we met and we've managed to negotiate the collapse of the coalition between our two parties in 2002 without much stress between us. We share things and we trust each other, and although there have been times each of us could have used something shared between us to the political advantage of our own party that hasn't happened once. Perhaps the example of own parents has stood us in good sted - in both cases our fathers are right-wing and our mothers from longtime Labour families, and yet both marriages are still strong after over twenty-five years together.
The main problems for me have been that people assume I am in the same party as my partner, and that I hold the same views as them (oddly by "them" I mean the person doing the assuming usually, not necessarily my partner). This is mainly an irritant because it means that people ring Nickname Pending up to ask about various things and when he's not here they are disappointed (and occassionally angry) that I a) don't know the answer and b) am not instantly enthusiastic about whatever they want to talk about.
The times that the assumption goes above the level of irritation are mainly to do with blogging. Accusations that I am writing something here for spin purposes, or because my partner told me to, or that I am arguing with someone else on another blog for those same reasons, rather than thinking (and writing) for myself drive me batty. Even when I was on the Alliance National Council and wrote about Alliance things here it was never been at the behest of someone else or to put out the party line. When my partner had a blog** I did comment on it, but not to be sycophantic - at times I disagreed with him. I did stand up to bullying I saw happening on his blog, as I have on Jordan's, and Tony's, and the blogs of others. I do this because I don't like bullying (aka trolling), and I find it at times amusing to take the piss out of those who bully, not because I am particularly passionately wounded on the target's behalf but more because I like to think I can be witty from time to time.
But I do tend to hide my partner's name and political affiliation under a bushel when it comes to my work, and this is where Setchell and I may have more in common than I had first imagined.
My colleagues all know Nickname Pending, but I won't be sharing his political activities with the union members I represent anytime soon. Not because I think it will get me in trouble with them, I hasten to add. I don't tell them about my affiliations either, and although my real identity is reasonably widely known amongst blogging circles I use a pseudonym here and I've stopped writing letters to the editor, because I would hate to think that a member felt they couldn't seek help because they found my political views, or that of my partner, distasteful.
When it's a matter of politics at work then my official view, to members and others, will be that of my employer, not mine. I've walked that fine line before, when I was on the AUSA Exec and opposed the lowering of the drinking age - it was AUSA policy to support it***, and it was my portfolio which had to do the talking, and I did it, no problem at all. I guess ultimately I prefer the delegate model, rather than the trustee approach, to political representation.
So was it unreasonable, given my personal experience, to think Setchell shouldn't have got the MfE job in the first place? I'm less decided than I was. When I reflect on how my partner and I manage to share political gossip and information without too many problems I can't help thinking that it isn't so hard because we are broadly on the same side. In 2002, when our shared computer was full of emails with strategy information from one party, and I was on the Campaign Committee of the other, I was pressured, once, to provide some inside info to my party. I demurred and that was respected.
But that was over a short period of time, and neither of us was employed by our opposing organisations. Could we do that, could anyone do that - balance along that tight-rope, particularly if they were political people, for months or years, and potentially act against the interests of their employer by not sharing what they knew? I hope so, for the sake of our public service and for the sake of those many people who have a political partner, whether they are political themselves or not. In the Setchell case the jobs are particularly sensitive - chief press sec for the Opposition Leader and communications officer for a key Ministry.****
Where have I meandered to with all this? On the one hand I still think it is politically naive to not see that there is a genuine potential for conflict of interest in the Setchell case*****. The perception is almost as bad as the reality, from my point of view - I don't think I would even apply for a job that would mean muttering behind hands everytime I walked past, or workmates withholding information from me for fear of who I might share it with.
On the other hand I do think our public service should be neutral, and thus the political affiliations of public servants, or their families, should be irrelevant to most appointments. And I certainly know what it is like to have your partner's politics thrust in your face, and unfair assumptions made. I also know that it is something women are more likely to face than men - to the best of my knowledge Nickname Pending has never had anyone even consider that my political affiliations or activities would have any bearing on him. Each man is an island, it seems.
On balance I think I may have changed my mind. Ultimately I know it is possible to operate a relationship across political lines, albeit difficult at times. Sadly the fact that many other people don't know that seems to be the main barrier to success.
*Assumedly only on DBP, as I disagreed with DPF on the issue of Setchell's conflict of interest.
** Which he started well after Spanblather began, but that didn't stop many people from assuming that my blog's purpose was to back him up. Little woman indeed.
*** I now support the current age too, by the way.
**** In the past MfE wouldn't have been all that important really, but with the competition over policy on climate change that is no longer the case.
***** I didn't get a chance to read all of Matt McCarten's column on this in the HoS, but the fact that he thinks Setchell shouldn't have got the job has made me wonder what McCarten really thought when I was on the Alliance Council and Executive, let alone the Campaign Committee.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Sometimes, on the inter tubes, you find something that you just don't think can possible be serious. For example, Josh at Brain Stab alerted me to this discussion about whether
women "girls" can/should play rugby at NZ Conservative. It depressed me, because sadly I know that many of the participants are serious about their views of women (and men) and how limited we supposedly all are in our neat little gender boxes.**
For the record I wanted to play rugger as a girl - in primary school I did play briefly, although it was a sanitised little kids version. I never thought it odd that we had mixed teams for our mock World Cup, at least until I got to intermediate where the only winter sports options were netball or hockey. I wasn't the only girl in my age group to express an interest in playing rugby, but we knew it was hopeless to try. I understand that very same girls' school does offer it now, which is great. Anything that encourages them to think outside the concept that Netball Is All is a good thing.
It's also worth pondering this - the NZ Women's rugby team, known as the Black Ferns, have won the last three World Cups. Unlike certain other national NZ rugby teams I could name...
And here's another site inspiring disbelief, in a much more cheering manner. Pantalaine supplies (or supplied, or perhaps pretends to supply) some rather odd clothing such as this fetching top:
Don't say I never bring you anything weird from the interwab.
* As in "you cannot be serious!" After writing this post yesterday, but not posting it, I had a dream last night where I was going to be in a doubles team with McEnroe. Sadly we never ended up actually playing cos I had to go off and do other important dream things, but I'm sure we would have kicked arse.
** Any colour you like, as long as they are pink OR blue as determined by the absence of possession of a Y in your chromosomnal makeup.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Standard intro - Linky Love is basically a cobbling together of posts I've noticed around the traps that have set off little tiny sparkles inside my head, and which I would possibly write about or comment on if I didn't need to sleep, eat, work, that kind of stuff. I usually put Linky Love volumes up weekly. I hope you like it.
As always if you have a post of your own, or some else's, that you'd like to highlight, please feel free to add it in comments, or to discuss the above posts, or indeed most anything else.
Feministe - Liberated - Jill has a very interesting graph and post on the US Government's attitude to Iraqis seeking to resettle in the Land of the Free.
Feministing - Bush's EEOC nominee "undermined" employment rights - Ann brings us another I Can't Believe This Is Happening Moment, courtesy of the Bush Administration.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I'm of the opinion these days that David Benson-Pope should go. Too many scandals, and too much taint, fair or unfair. He's a distraction and a liability, and even though he could be doing a good job as a Cabinet member he is doing a bad job as part of the public face of this Government, and by extension of the Centre-Left.
Sometimes in politics you have to step back from a fight even though you haven't done anything wrong. I'm not saying that is necessarily the case for DBP, but I suspect he feels he hasn't offended. However the public perception is against him, and if he wants his team to win then he may have to accept a place on the reserve bench, or even in the stand watching.
He hasn't handled the Madeliene Setchell affair well, even though I kind of agree that she probably shouldn't have got the job. Conflicts of interest are also about perception, and from what I understand about the sensitivity of the job Setchell was employed for it seems she would have been at considerable risk of people assuming that she was passing information on to her National party staffer partner (or that she was in turn including ideas National would have liked in her advice). Ministry and Parliamentary jobs of this nature require a high level of trust - this is so integral that a breakdown of trust and relationship is considered a legitimate reason for terminating employment (with a three month pay out period I think?).
It's sad that Setchell couldn't have done this job without raising eyebrows. I write this as someone with a particular interest in not being judged on the politics or position of their partner, who is in a different party from me. The fact that our public service has become more politicised in the last twenty years is undeniable though. Nicky Hager had some interesting things to say about this in his lecture on The Hollow Men earlier this year. He points to the Fourth Labour Government, and the National Government of the '90s that followed, as the drivers of change in this regard. Hager believes that there has been a great purging of those holding opinions against deregulation, privatisation and the like. Certainly that might explain why even our current Labour-led Government seems to be unable to think outside many of the systems set up under governments ostensibly further to the right. It also explains why the service has changed so much that alarum bells were set off by Setchell's appointment.
The outcome of all this hasn't been fair to Setchell and it may not be fair to DBP either. But that's politics sometimes. It's isn't always right, but there it is.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
And so once again we have an All Black "Great" called to defend the character of a man charged with a serious crime, as if an All Black's ability to judge the criminality or otherwise of someone was better than the average bear.
Last time it was Steve McDowell attempting to back-up his dear friend Clint Rickards*, now it's Sean Fitzpatrick defending his mate Richard Kroon who is accused of kidnapping a business associate. I have no opinion on the guilt or otherwise of Mr Kroon**, as I know nothing about the case, but I don't see how putting an All Black on the stand, and of course therefore on the front page of the Herald, should be anymore important than having your neighbour Mrs Scroggs there to say she's always found you to be a bang-up solid chap.
What is it with us Kiwis and our First XV mentality, that we some how think that because someone is good at rugger they are therefore a higher class of being? Many of us will have experienced this phenomenon at high school - where the First XV were often above laws and rules and able to revel in their perceived social and moral superiority with impunity. Let me cite Sitiveni Sivivatu's discharge without conviction for domestic violence as a recent grown-up example of this ridiculousness.
Don't get me wrong; I actually like rugby. Those who know me in real life will generally be aware of my passion for Harbour,*** my odd affection for low profile past players like Terry Wright, Matt Cardy and Frano Botica (before he went to league), and my inability to actually watch a test anymore because I get too uptight about the outcome.
But loving the game doesn't mean I have to put my brain in reverse and devolve back to a time when people took the words of the monarch or the priest as Truth just cos they came from his hallowed lips. Surely?
* Maia put it well in regard to that police rape case: "I just hope the jury is smart enough to see through these nonsensical theatrics and understand that even friends of ex-All Blacks can rape people."
** As opposed to my rather strident views about the guilt of Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum.
** Current holders of the Ranfurly Shield. Gotta get that in while I still can.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
- the gossip - when industrial action initially seemed likely, Spotless begins its lockout, and Finsec lends its support
- Capitalism Bad - Maia has written heaps of good stuff, including embedding footage of the pickets. Earliest to latest, her posts are here, here, here, here, this fantabulous post on why the lockout matters, and her most recent update here.
- No Right Turn - analysis of the situation as an example of the shortcomings of contracting out, commentary on Mark Gosche turning up to a picket, and details on the Pledgebank I/S has set up
- Anarchia - the feature Asher has written for Indymedia
- And binary heart has produced the fab badge on the sidebar, also adopted by Tony Milne, Terence, Idiot/Savant, Maia
- Join up with Idiot/Savant's Pledgebank here
- Put binary heart's badge up on your blog, code here
- Make a donation to the locked out workers by calling 0900 LOCKOUT ($10 per call), or making an electronic transfer directly to 02-0264-0294110-000 (BNZ Newmarket, use the reference LOCK OUT).
- Keep up to date with progress on the SFWU's website and post your message of support there.
These workers are staunch and it is great to see their strength. Long may it last.
Monday, July 16, 2007
In honour of the release of the fifth film (Order of the Phoenix), and of course the impending arrival of the seventh book (The Deathly Hallows), here is an open thread for us all to dispute and discourse.
- Webweaver on her plans to avoid finding out the final ending for Harry Potter and his friends prematurely.
- Reviews/comments on HP and the Order of the Phoenix (film) from Maia, Make Tea Not War, and Phantom Scribbler.
- Ghet tangentially mentions both the movie and the procuring of costumes for the Deathly Hallows launch this weekend.
- Apathy Jack riffs on books and clears up my own misunderstanding about what I assumed was his dislike of the Potter books, but is in fact a dislike of adults pretending they aren't children's books to justify reading them once past the age of 14.
- The last HP and the Open Thread that I did, way back in July 2005 after the release of Messr Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
BrownWatson* (Hermione) outs herself as a feminist.
Maia has given some predictions in her review post about how the story will end. Mine are:
- Harry dies but is not a horcrux.
- Snape isn't evil and Dumbledore was pleading with him to kill him, and stop Draco from doing it. (Here I agree with Maia.)
- Draco will ultimately wimp out of doing something really bad and be redeemed.
- Sirius somehow comes back, but in some not fully alive way.
- All the little relationships amongst the kids that are being lined up hopefully don't get tied up at the end. It's just not realistic for everyone to find their life partner at high school!
Ok folks, what do you reckon?
* Ooopsie, thanks Cathi for the correction
|Congratulations, you hoopy frood! The world is your pan galactic gargle blaster. Even when you think the Man is getting you down, you can rest assured that it is only the prelude to another favorable adventure.|
|Link: The Hitchhiker's Guide Personality Test written by donquixotic on Ok Cupid|
Big Ups to Phantom Scribbler for the tip off.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Capitalism Bad - Review: Rosita - Maia contributes an interesting run-down on an intriguing film about an 8 (eight) year old trying to get an abortion in Latin America.
Ethical Martini - Three cheers for Hone Harawira - Marty adds his views to the debate about Hone calling Howard a racist over his treatment of aboriginal communities.
Feministe - Morans - I just really like the pic that accompanies this brief post by Jill.
House of Ghetsuhm - Once upon a time... - Ghet wrote a great post a while back about Labyrinth, which I totally heart (the post and the film) but have only just got around to linky loving.
LeftAlign - The Vocabulary of Protest - LA writes about the way protests are reported in the media and how this can skew perception.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
An appeal to readers - what are your tricks for waking up when really tired?
I'm struggling to get out of bed in the mornings lately, and feel like I may have to resort to keeping my eyelids open with toothpicks.
Help me avoid that icky eventuality, please!
I've been unable to blog until today, which has been a pain because I've had to sit and watch the hate unfolding, again, at Maia. I strongly recommend that readers check out Maia's post on the completely unacceptable hateful comments made at Clint Heine's blog towards her, including a threat of rape from a commenter called James. Recent venom at Kiwiblog is less violent, but still shows an attitude that Maia is less than human and thus deserves all she gets, for her tendency to speak out against capitalism and for women. I'm not going to link to or post the details - you can get them from Maia - I just find them too disturbing to perpetuate.
What's with this hate? Why is it that some people become so vile, when faced with a forum where they can say whatever they like anonymously, pseudo-nymously and/or without having to confront the person they are attacking? And why do others host their comments, encourage them, or support them?
I've encountered this kind of hate throughout my involvement in politics, but it's rarely worse in person than online. It's not new - nearly a decade ago I was threatened with rape for posting the lyrics of a song about the holocaust on a forum about education campaigning which was being attacked by a small group of right wing student political types. I'm sure many who challenge the dominant discourse would have similar stories to tell. And I'm also sure that this kind of behaviour puts many people off engaging in political activity, particularly those who don't conform to the norm.
Fortunately the comments section at Capitalism Bad isa much needed reminder that there are plenty of people, men included, who agree that spewing sexist (or indeed racist) hate is not ok in our blogosphere. Maia's also garnered a lot of support from overseas feminist bloggers, including Pandagon, Mandolin, and Ampersand. Idiot/Savant has blogged his condemation and NZ Conservative have removed Heine's blog from their blogroll* as a result of all this.
Maia is a strong person, and I know Clint and James won't get her down. But actually she shouldn't have to be strong or brave or whatever to be able to participate in our political blogosphere. Wouldn't it be great if anyone could blog, and/or be politically active, without the possibility of being hated or attacked. Disagreed with, sure, that's life - but intimidation shouldn't be part of our political interaction.
Comments on this post will be moderated. I refuse to host hate.
* Previous hatefulness of this kind is exactly why I haven't linked to him on my blogroll (or in this post).
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Better late than never?!
As with last month, those who have nominated a best post have it linked from their blog name, and are denoted by an asterisk. Thanks to everyone who sent their stats in, despite my slackness.
Fly (1 post)
(no one yet)
Bantam(2 - 9 posts)
Born on State Highway One - 3 posts, 3 comments
Take Back The News* - 5 posts, 2 comments
Joe Hendren* - 6 posts, 16 comments
Anarchia* - 6 posts, 27 comments
Spanblather - 6 posts, 41 comments
Feather (10 - 19 posts)
Brainstab* - 11 posts, 43 comments
All-Embracing But Underwhelming* - 12 posts, 22 comments
The Strategist* - 14 posts, 63 comments
eggs benedict and two flat whites - 14 posts, 74 comments
Long Ago and Not True Anyway* - 15 posts, 1 comment
Put 'em all on an island* - 17 posts, 16 comments
Light (20 - 29 posts)
From the Morgue - 21 posts, 106 comments
Just Left - 21 posts, 332 comments
The Optimus Prime Experiment* - 22 posts
Welter (30 - 49 posts)
The Fundy Post *- 33 posts, 155 comments
Red Confectionery - 36 posts, 82 comments
Middle (50 - 74 posts) and Cruiser (75 - 99 posts)
(no one yet)
Heavy (100 - 199 posts)
Something should go here, maybe later - 105 posts, 165 comments
No Right Turn* - 109 posts
Not PC* - 110 posts, 369 comments
Whaleoil - 151 posts, 165 comments
Super Heavy (200+)
Kiwiblog - 226 posts, 6229 comments
If you're not listed then I suggest you add them in comments below, as I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to add you into the main post. Thanks for your patience everyone!
- February 2007
- March 2007
- April 2007
- May 2007
Updated 12th July 2007 1.40pm to include Morgue, eggs benny and Joe.