“This story is a fabrication and has long been discredited. I am amazed it is still making the rounds.” Brian McAllister Linn, historian and author of Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940.
With the usual mix of fascination and incredulity I watched part of the live broadcast of Donald Trump’s address to the Californian Republican Convention on 29 April*.
The presumptive (presumptuous?) Republican candidate displays expressive body language, more impressive than his verbal language. His metronomic right hand makes him appear an expert signer but the hearing disabled would also struggle to find coherent meaning.
Trump repeated to a receptive audience a bloodthirsty anecdote that he had earlier recounted at a Feb. 19, 2016, rally in North Charleston. Set in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War of 1899-1902 it featured United States Army General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing and was an “anti-terrorist” parable from the post war years when the United States sought to exert its authority over the South East Asian archipelago which it had “won” from Spain.
The occupiers faced armed opposition and a three-year war which led to the deaths of more than 4,200 American combatants, more than 20,000 Filipino combatants, and up to 200,000 Filipino civilians.
After the war, Pershing served as military governor of the heavily Muslim Moro Province between 1909 and 1913, years, marked by continuing intransigent insurgencies.
According to an account in the Washington Post of the February rally, Trump referred approvingly to the purported actions of Pershing in handling Muslim dissidents in the Southern Philippines province:
“And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.”
(You can watch the April video version on YouTube. The claimed period of post-porcine peace doubles*).
After Trump told the story in February, critics called it apocryphal, misleading or outright false. The facts and rumour checking site Snopes.com* considered the evidence and called it a “legend.” (Snopes has been tracking Internet-based rumours of this sort since 2001, and a California National Guard facility removed a poster telling the apocryphal Pershing story in 2005).
Under the banner Pershing the Thought Snopes concluded that “U.S. General John J. Pershing did not effectively discourage Muslim terrorists in the Philippines by killing them and burying their bodies along with those of pigs.” *
Pulitzer Prize winner Politifact.com* went further and checked with historians specialising in the period to see what they thought of the story. Overall the eight scholars were highly sceptical that the specific story ever happened. On the flaming pantometer on Politifact Trump’s pants were shown as highly combustible*.
“Even if the tale is true, the pacifying effect that Trump claims is nonsense…,” The region “remained in constant unrest during the period of American rule and into the period of independence, right down to the present.” Michael H. Hunt author of Arc of Empire: America’s Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam
Facts aside, several of the historians argued that Trump’s larger point was wrong anyway. The idea that Pershing’s blood-smeared bullets pacified “terrorists” is actually an even bigger problem with Trump’s parable than its dubious provenance.
More than a century later, on the island of Mindanao, the Moro conflict is ongoing and Muslim rebel groups are still very active.
The pig parable may strike a respondent chord with ill-informed Trump supporters in a dumbed down populist Primary campaign now about to evolve into the presidential race.
To others it seems like an obvious attempt to sell a pig in a poke, but it’s no joke. The smoke and parabolic mirror musings, from someone aspiring to high office lacks all credibility and inspires even less confidence.
Trump is the undoubted star of a political unreality show which could have real and dangerous consequences domestically and internationally.
While the bemused world watches on it is now up to American voters in November to decide whether to hire or fire someone who hasn’t bothered doing his political apprenticeship but expects to vault from hog cabin to the White House.
It will be a real test of the wisdom of crowds and the flawed but essential democratic process.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxkw3M2He2w Donald Trump Speaks at California Republican Convention 29 April 2016
http://www.snopes.com/rumors/pershing.asp Pershing the Thought http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/23/donald-trump/donald-trump-cites-dubious-legend-about-gen-pershi/
http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/stories/7422/numbers-define-donald-trump? 25 Numbers That Define Donald Trump
http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/l/70/Donald-Trump https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aFo_BV-UzI How Donald Trump Answers A Question [or not]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XOocb-DId4 Hillary Clinton’s attack ad on Donald Trump 4 May 2016
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/26/us/politics/transcript-of-the-republican-presidential-debate-in-houston.html?_r=0 Scroll down to the exchange on health between Rubio and Trump!
http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/79676451/andrew-gunn-the-wit-and-wisdom-of-donald-j-trump A Kiwi satirical offering
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Tags: Trump Parable
Now landsmen all, whoever you may be, If you want to rise to the top of the tree, If your soul isn’t fettered to an office stool, Be careful to be guided by this golden rule. Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, And you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navee! HMS Pinafore Gilbert and Sullivan
“May our mountains ever be Freedom’s ramparts on the sea…” Because our newest patrol boats won’t be. They haven’t made it to sea in years, HMNZS Pukaki since the end of 2012 and Taupo since 2013.*
The in-shore patrol vessels entered into service in 2009 as part of the late Labour Government’s $500 million naval protection project, but recent Defence Force statistics show that they’ve been tied up and the project also jettisoned.
The Defence Minister has blamed the previous Government for buying the two vessels, calling them “unsuitable” for the rough New Zealand seas. Another opinion is that the two boats don’t have the trained crew needed to run them.
Either way it’s a very thrifty situation which will help balance the budget. First ships without crews, next hospitals without patients and schools without students. The sky’s the limit in terms of economising on labour and Labour costs, though it may not extend to a parliament without MPs.
All grist to the mill of the Labour Party’s Future of Work Commission.
A less than saline solution is to avoid sea water entirely, in order to reduce the rust ratio and also to avoid nasty rough seas, by having each boat patrol the lakes after which they were named.
Each boat would first need to be converted to an aquatic drone guided by a combination of automatic sensors, smart robots and dry land-based Navy desk jockeys, G&S style.
A new policy of inland naval deterrence would deter jet boat and jet ski speeding on both lakes while flushing out freedom campers on the shoreline. Unused cabin space could be pressed into service in the Peak Chinese Tourist Season.
This would be a world class triple bottom line outcome without any fishhooks.
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“A new survey has revealed that 74 per cent of New Zealanders now approve of the use of medical marijuana to numb the effects of enduring chronic flag-referendum analysis.”
Andrew Gunn 1/4/16 *
More Histagram than Instagram, the January 1954 Press photo in the weblink below*, has an image of me, front row, sixth from the soldier on the left, waving a Union Jack at the new Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh who were visiting Westport as part of the post-Coronation Royal tour of New Zealand.
62 years later would I have still waved a flag and if so which one?
For several decades there has been debate about changing the flag. It’s not news that an expensive and clumsy two-stage binding referendum on the matter has just been completed. The current flag was favoured by 56.6% of the 2,135,622 total valid vote over the contender flag which received 43.2%.*
Us versus them
Flags, the pieces of colourful cloth usually attached at one edge to a staff or cord, evolved as a visual tool for rudimentary signalling and identification of us versus them, especially in environments where communication was challenging, such as a battlefield or a maritime environment.
With strong military antecedents national flags are potent patriotic symbols-think of the Star Spangled Banner, the Union Jack, the Nazi swastika or the black flag of Isis. Sporting competitions between national representatives, a benign continuation of war by other means, are a great place for patriotism and flag spotting. It is no coincidence that celebrity sports people were drafted in droves to give a late push to the failed flag putsch.
New Zealand’s first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, was adopted in 1834, six years before New Zealand became a British colony. The need for a flag was pressing because New Zealand-built ships were being impounded in Sydney for not flying a national flag.
As vexillologists have it, the now re-endorsed flag of New Zealand is “a defaced Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right”. The starry pattern represents the constellation of Crux, the Southern Cross.
Derived from a British Naval Ensign the ensign had had legal status at sea since 1869 and it was adapted and adopted on land in 1902 after the ratification of the New Zealand Ensign Act 1901.
The question the Prime Minister raised soon after the last election (a cunning diversion said some, since the Labour Party not National had flag change in its 2014 election manifesto) could be framed thus: is this relic of a bygone imperial era appropriate in this day and age for a country who saw the apron strings cut by Mother England almost half a century ago in favour of a European economic liaison?
Few people outside both countries (and not all that many within) know the difference between the official New Zealand and Australian flags. You will know the answers, but here are some questions to ask others:
How many stars on the Australian flag? 6. How many on the New Zealand flag? 4 (so much for our national anthem’s plea to the deity to guard “Pacific’s triple star”) What colour are New Zealand’s stars? Red, with a white outline. Australia’s? All white, as was its long-standing immigration policy. How many points on each? New Zealand 5, Australia 7.
You get the point. Kiwis hate being confused with Ockers. The points of difference are pretty small given the overall similar colour scheme and the predominance of the Union Jack.
The $26 Million Question
Was “our” flag, the British Naval Ensign with a Southern Cross emblem tacked on, foisted on us at the turn of the 20th century, appropriate in this day and age? It wasn’t until 1907 that the colony of New Zealand ceased to exist and it became a dominion within the British Empire, itself long since dead.
Many have thought for a long time that the flag was long overdue for a change. It’s a view I’ve shared since 1966 when Gord Miller, my then Canadian flatmate, enthused me with the then new Canadian maple flag in 1966. (Today Gord counsels about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater and forgetting the British heritage deriving from Magna Carta and common law, and I concur).
Both proponents and opponents of flag change criticised the design and sequence of the recent two-step flag consideration/referendum process, which cost around $26 million, much of it a subsidy of New Zealand Post via the two postal ballots.
Public meetings attracted more official apologists than participants. The debate was almost exclusively carried out via the media, old and new. If ever there was an opportunity to try out electronic voting, this was it.
Lack of design input
It was appropriate to engage the public, stimulate discussion and generate a range of visual concepts, but professional design input was lacking. The selected contender Flag A was too obviously a hybrid which could have been enhanced designwise to be more acceptable.
(While not wedded to it, I thought that the late off course substitute Red Peak design* had promise but I didn’t like the fact that it mirrored an American corporate logo. A white peak-perhaps diffused with a touch of pink to mark the rising sun and our place on the global time line-would have referenced the Southern Alps, Sir Edmund Hillary and reaching the summit aspirations. These and other elements in the Red Peak also had references to Maori and British culture via the colours and shapes).
A possible move to a new official flag was not just about promoting our sporting identity. It was about our identity as New Zealanders, old and new, from throughout the Pacific, Europe and mainland Asia. It was about New Zealand’s place in the world: how we see ourselves and how others see us.
We are a small country often left off world maps. We have missed this opportunity to put ourselves on the map with a clear identity, which looks back as well as forward, embracing our bicultural heritage and our multicultural future.
Countdown to 2040?
As a back drop to the referenda we didn’t have the potential national secession issues Canada had in the 1960s with French Québec. The lack of specific motivation for change, the lack of an agreed cross-party approach and a bungled process still resulted in a bigger turnout of voters that might have been expected and an inconclusive outcome, given the closeness of the vote.
It’s now too much of a political football for any future leader to play with for some time, even if the recently retired All Black captain helped lead the forward charge for change this time around, after a nudge from the top.
The decade before the Treaty of Waitangi bicentenary in 2040 will see the issue revived, in the context of a push by some for a republic. This will be a more substantial constitutional debate, unless the recent flags waving skirmishes have inoculated people against the real thing.
Hopefully the lessons learned this time around will be applied.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/west-coast/73003250/royals-heading-to-westport-town-planning-for-rain http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/2016_flag_referendum2/ 30 March 2016 http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/the-flag-debate/74894268/a-short-history-of-new-zealands-26-million-flag-debate 24/3/16 Includes flag options http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nz-politics-daily-20-best-analyses-flag-referendum- 30/3/16 Dr Bryce Edwards
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/the-flag-debate/78415587/andrew-gunn-sweet-relief-from-flag-debate 2/4/16 Some light relief
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“$1.45 million has been spent on airfreighting 900 pregnant ewes, from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia for a pilot research breeding programme in a demonstration farm…”*
Ex-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon was the instigator of the infamous Stock Retention Scheme when Minister of Finance in Keith Holyoake’s 1969-1972 National Government. Soon to be PM Norman Kirk labelled the SRS “a family benefit for sheep” and John Clark aka Fred Dagg mirthfully and mercilessly parodied it on TV.*
Now, almost 50 years later, we learn that New Zealand’s sheep numbers, rather than being retained (or indeed retented, to distinguish the paper stocktake from the actual physical numbers, which for tax incentive reasons was at the heart of the Muldoon scheme) are down to a record low of fewer than 30 million, around the 1943 numbers. Sheep have been pushed back to the hill country by the burgeoning dairy cow herd, now more than 6.5 million.
At the same time we read that the government has accelerated the steep sheep downward trend with a high flying DeRetention Scheme, launched by the McCully Giddy Ewes SerIOUs Party, or MGESP.
$1.45 million has been spent just on airfreighting 900 pregnant ewes, (lambs patently dressed up as mutton), from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia for a pilot research breeding programme in a “demonstration farm” – even though the profits from the future progeny of those ewes will be trousered by Saudi Arabia’s largest livestock trading company, the Al Khalaf Group.* This group appears to have been at both ends as well as in the middle of a deal worth about NZ$11 million and ought to receive an award for both trade and enterprise.
New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) has rather sheepishly refused to confirm that no more New Zealand taxpayer money will be invested into the demonstration farm set up to accommodate the livestock.
It is rumoured that the launch function of the MGESP featured, among other modern farming practices, demonstrations of wool being pulled over farmers eyes, sponsored by a consortium of three major banks keen to build interest in new loan swap instruments for increasingly debt laden farmers.
Flying sheep? What’s next? Flying cows? How about flying pigs?
What about the upside? Perhaps with declining sheep numbers trans-Tasman sheep jokes diminish? But all this is no joke. It is actually an economic challenge to us Kiwis to take a more sophisticated cultural route to diversify our export markets and add real value.
Why bother with the Venice Biennale when we could pilot some artistic export mobile sheep installations to Saudi Arabia, based on the pioneering artistry of irrepressible Parnassus sheep farmer Mike Bowler. Hard hit by drought he has had to feed out thousands of dollars of feed each day for his stock. As you may have seen, he scatters the feed into a different pattern, manipulating his sheep into a giant roadside picture frame depicting various symbols and words.*
While Mike is waiting for rain and photosynthesis he may have unwittingly sown the seeds for a synthesis of culture, farming and export focused trade to improve on our present poor primary produce prices.
Many happy returns
Starting with his sheep, we could air freight stock spray painted black, with a nice white fern roundel, to contrast with the destination desert scape in Saudi Arabia (which the late Alan Bond would have painted green, if he’d had half a chance.)
Their new owners could be trained to arrange them into useful anti-ISIS slogans to keep up the morale of the local population. Looking ahead, there is great potential for aerial billboards for football fans flying over Saudi Arabia to land in neighbouring Qatar for the World Football Soccer Cup after next, supposing nothing changes for the latter post-Blatter.
In the meantime, TV One could produce Another Country’s Country Calendar, featuring our very own kiwi sheep emblazoned with our very own new flag. All they need to do is to locate a suitable currently unemployed current affairs front man who could do the job. It should be easy getting a government grant to help fly this person out of the country on a one way ticket.
What next is in store in this unfolding of an exciting narrative of trade and enterprise? We could set about really thinking bigger still and export prefabricated green grassed islands to China to save them from fiddling around and building their own*.
As both Confucius and Mao said “A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single sheep”.
The carrier Nada Wburnitzke has begun loading 50,000 sheep and 3000 cattle at the Port of Timaru destined for Mexico for breeding purposes*. We are obviously not putting all our sheep in one basket case. At least they’re not flying business class.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGillicuddy_Serious_Party The original McGillicuddy Serious Party
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF_gTaRM9UU The Dagg Sea Scrolls
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“…What mighty contests rise from trivial things…?” Alexander Pope
An Auckland café popular with the PM is hardly Hampton Court and it’s Amanda not Arabella, but perhaps not since the mock heroic couplets of The Rape of the Lock satirized the silliness of the dispute which arose between the Petre and Fermor families, after Lord Petre cut off a lock of hair dangling tantalizingly from the head of the beautiful Arabella Fermor, has there been such a field day for hair-splitting hyperbole.
John Key’s penchant for pony-tail pulling has made international headlines and caused journalists to search high and low in the video files for earlier examples of the PM’s hirsute handiness.
In the eyes of more than a few it’s much hair-do about nothing not a Popish plot. But when you’re a politician in the public eye there’s just a hair’s breadth between being a man of the people and putting your foot in it with both hands.
A belated hair-shirt apology and two bottles of JK 2012 PM’s Pinot Noir may not cut it in the apology stakes nor calm the apoplectic. A porcine epithet might be on the cards now for the still popular PM, though “Pigtaily Key” does not have quite the ring of “Piggy Muldoon”.
Bond to the rescue?
Perhaps New Zealand First will swing into action again, this time from the deep South not the far North. Invercargill list candidate Ria Bond has just become the newest member of Parliament after party leader Winston Peters won by more than 4000 votes in March the electorate seat of Northland left vacant by the unexplained resignation of National’s Mike Sabin.
Bond is a hairdresser who has served as president of the New Zealand Association of Registered Hairdressers for six years and she also had a business background and experience as a mediator and spokesperson. In the interest of politically positioning New Zealand First, attending to the tempting coiffure in question would surely be a snip for her though the unkindest cut of all for the feisty Amanda.
Meantime let the poet have the last word:
…Hear and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some secret truths, from learned pride conceal’d,
To Maids alone and Children are reveal’d
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67975327/ponytailpulling-prime-Ponytail-pull world news
http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nz-politics-daily-ongoing-ponytailgate-scandal 24/4/15 http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67960823/nz-first-announces-ria-bond-as-new-list-mp
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“While, unlike the proposed Leaning Tower of Rongotai. the default setting of the new 64m Megatower of Molesworth will be set to exactly vertical, the new seat of government may not remain upright for very long. Base isolation technology will allow it to automatically lean to the left or the right in accordance with which way the psephological cyclone is blowing.”
Today’s online Dominion item on the Leaning Tower of Rongotai appears timed to be in the printed version of the Dom tomorrow, 1 April. Have the exigencies of working to a 24 hour digital news cycle, punctuated daily by the daily print run, resulted in premature exhortation in the story’s Comments section on Stuff?
Will more locals be hissing into the wind tomorrow as they turn over their calendars to the strains of A Fool Such as I?*.
“…Airways New Zealand has lodged a resource consent application with Wellington City Council for a 32-metre-high airport control tower, designed to lean into the prevailing northerly wind at an angle of 12.5 degrees.
That would be considerably more than Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, which leans by about 4 degrees…The nine-storey Rongotai tower … would give Wellington Airport’s 20 air traffic controllers 360-degree views from the lookout area on the top floor.
Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb described the tower, which would cost $18 million, as being in keeping with the local environment. “…We wanted something which is a little bit quirky, which reflects Wellington’s progressive image…”
Architect Evzen Novak, of Studio Pacific Architecture, said plans involved solid base isolation foundation features, which would ensure the building was secure in an earthquake and a southerly.
If the resource consent process went smoothly, Lamb expected construction to begin in November, and it could be operational by December next year…”*
The untold story
The untold story, still under GCSB clear plastic wraps, is that Novak and colleagues are also designing a variably inclined building to replace the present Beehive in time for the next general election. (This may be some time away, given the groundswell of public opinion behind Minister Nick Smith’s efforts to apply at a national level the same democratic principles that apply to regional government in Canterbury.)
In the wake of the recent Northland by-bye election SPA has been asked to step up work on a Beehive replacement incorporating the kind of lateral thinking used in the Rongotai rendition, as well as state of the art MMP Lurchometer technology which senses seismic shifts in the political landscape and displays them architecturally in real time.
While, unlike the proposed Leaning Tower of Rongotai. the default setting of the new 64m Megatower of Molesworth will be set to exactly vertical, the new seat of government may not remain upright for very long. Base isolation technology will allow it to automatically lean to the left or the right in accordance with which way the psephological cyclone is blowing.
Corporate sponsorship provided in kind by Pisa Hut and the TAB will ease the fiscal burden, though MPs will lose the right to purchase fish and chips during sitting hours or all bets are off.
State Services officials would not be drawn on whether the same seismically attuned technology will be used in the construction of new buildings for public sector workers in Christchurch’s new central city.
According to Prime Minister John Key “It’s all a matter of degrees. We’ve certainly got both the inclination and the time, but Bill’s not sure about the money. I’m not ducking the issue, but we have to first get our quakes in a row in Wellington.”
New NZ First electorate MP Winston Peters commented that he never made comments on poll results prior to elections. He referred all further enquiries to his answering service. Rather than the usual voice message, this plays a recording of him having the last laugh last Saturday.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/67556860/proposed-wellington-air-control-tower-to-lean-into-wind Dominion 31 March 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg6XXAzg36w Elvis Presley – A Fool Such As I (1961)
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Tags: Leaning Tower
In this North Korea career limiting move, as Jong-Un’s PR machine cranks up creekily in a strangely childfree orphanage, someone stuffed up- or was very brave- and either way would have been in the serious Winnie the Pooh.
Photograph 3* is the naughty denouement-but look at the assiduous note taking in Photo 1. Not the Press Gallery as we know it. As you make your bed, so you must lie on it…
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