Monday, November 18, 2019


Then again - to some a little more cynical - pure blatant hypocrisy?

During the "nine years of neglect" so enamoured by the current coalition of losers and their part-time prime minister, it was often shouted from rooftops that "The Cabinet Club and "other cash for access" functions run by the then National Government of John Key were corrupt and very embarrassing for the nation.

Now in these times of creating a Venezuela of the South Pacific, lo and behold one can have time with the MP for central Wellington, for a fee, and nothing to do with him being the Finance Minister contemporaneously, (cough cough)!

Then on a higher "opportunity knocks" scale such access is being touted for a "Lunch" with the Prime Minister at a delightful little soiree, again for a fee.

What next, one wonders? Perhaps 'coffee and a date scone" opportunity for the disadvantaged business owners of Lower Albert street where they could freely donate to the re-election war chest of Phil the Destroyer in Te Atatu.

The mind boggles?


Many people who spend their time in cities with occasional trips to popular places for relief, often  have little idea how much of NZ landscape is bereft of communications as they have evolved in the closing second decade of century 21.

We store our mobile home around five Kms from the northern end of CHC main runway. A site we used as a "Town House " during our time in Akaroa. It has zero access to the Spark network and is marginal for Vodafone.

We also have a site at a small camp just south of the two bridges that cross the Rakaia where it emerges from its gorge. That site has even more precarious phone links and our site has a luvly old Cabbage Tree,  'ti kouka',  that completely blocks the line-of-site to Optus. We regard that beautiful place a bit like those Indians with where-with-all who avoided the oppressive heat of crowded city life by moving into the foothills near the Himalayas. Abundant bird song overcomes most of the road noise and the ever changing river patterns make for a peace never revealed to the masses.

Much of Banks Peninsula - where ever-increasing numbers of Christchurch head to to find such peace  and/or recreation - has very patchy cellphone coverage, both along the inshore bays and across large tracts of the land.

These instances are a very small glimpse of a growing problem exacerbated by the continued decline of landline connections and an increasing move to replace ship-to-shore radio with cell phones.

Having home base in an area recently revealed as having amongst the highest uptake of fiber connection only reinforces the evolving problems in emergency response alerts at sea and on roads and lakes as a result of the increasing off-road activity provided by the great outdoors of this nation.

With having an "app" for everything that confronts society, is it time the 'telcos' responded with some serious efforts to increase the coverage as a societal response to what some might view as a necessary corporate obligation? Even to the point where a response to Climate evolvement has become a defining mantra as a key move for woke corporates, surely such moves to safety enhancement could be seen as a more productive endeavour.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


I'm not Jewish but I make no secret of my support for the Jewish State nor my extreme distaste for antisemitism in all its forms.   The August edition of North &; South has an interesting article by Juliet Moses on 'Being Jewish in New Zealand'.

I was particularly attracted to her comments where she discusses antisemitism in New Zealand.   To quote ....

Antisemitism is a light sleeper' and It mutates over time.   Today, we face it, not only from the extreme right, such as the Holocoust denial that social media is awash in, or the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in October of last year where 11 Jews were murdered, or more recently the Poway, Californian synagogue attack, leaving another Jew murdered.   We face it from Islamists who have targeted and murdered Jews in France.

But also from the extreme left.   This new form of antisemitism takes cover in the demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel.   To be sure, criticism of of Israeli policies and actions is not antisemitic.   Israel should be subject to the same scrutiny and standards as every other country.   However, it is not mere criticism to erase Jewish people-hood and history in Israel or to accuse Jews of dual loyalty, or to apply the same dehumanising tropes and conspiracy theories to the Jewish state or to Zionists that were once applied to Jews - so that the Jewish state and its supporters, rather than individual Jews, are treated as being an uniquely evil controlling force, the source of all ills, whose elimination is necessary to save humanity ... end quote.

Pretty much sums up where I'm at.

Ho Ho Ho

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, schiff, trump, impeachment, makeup


it appears that Labour has disregarded my quite inspired and well meaning advice that if  'they' want to see Winston First back in parliament then they should have Kevin Davis go List only giving the Jones boy a clear run at the Te Tai Tokerau seat which he would win at a canter ... the prodigal son returning and all of that.

But no, I can report that Labour's well respected Willow Jean Prime has been told she's going to have to take one for the team and confine her campaigning to anywhere but Northland ... Chatham Islands perhaps.

I can also report the formation of a new ginger group 'Rooineks for National' up here in Northland as a counter to the 'Couch Potatoes for Cuzzie Bro Shane' grouping for the Mafia Don look and act alike.

Actually I think Rooineks for National could take off around the country ... an insult coming back to bite with a vengeance.   Mark Patterson will be tearing his hair out. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

"You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means" - UPDATE


Rasmussen polling reports Nov 15, 2019
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

After three days of breathtaking Impeachment testimony? I mean to say, "Impeachment" means you're guilty right? Especially if it's the Democrats and the entire US Left raising a pointed finger at you? Surely the accusations of such sainted people as Schiff-face count for something?

The Impeachment situation has developed not necessarily to our advantage

The president’s overall approval has been tracking up since Wednesday, the first day of the House impeachment hearings. It was at 46% on Wednesday morning, then rose to 48% yesterday and is now at 50%. Two of the three nights in today’s survey follow the highly-publicized hearings.

Tracking up? But..... But.... But.... that's not supposed to be what happens when you're a Democrat telling everybody how awful Orange Man is.

And when we look at history...

Holy dog shit Texas!

But wait... there's more...
Trump's approval rating on Wednesday was 44.3 percent, according to a Real Clear Politics average of more than a half-dozen major polls. That is higher than Obama's average approval rating of 43.9 percent on September 18, 2011, by the same measure.
You mean to say that Trump's Approval/Disapproval ratings are ahead of where Barack Obambi was on the same poll at the same stage of his Presidency in 2012?

After weeks of this Impeachment-Trump-Is-Dead shit? After three years of 90%+ negative coverage from the MSM? Compared to the overwhelming MSM fellating of Obambi circa 2008-2011. Well - aside from Fox News of course: but who cares about them, right?

It's okay. The Democrats have lots of Star Witnesses to call as they desperately trudge forward on the Great Inquisition of 2019. They hope that somewhere - somewhere, surely - an impeachable offense will be found hiding among Trump’s communications relating to Ukraine.

Oh - and Trump released the transcript of the April 21st call he made with the new President of the Ukraine.

Sounds like a really guilty guy!

My God. My God. What will the country say?

It should be noted that people were walking out of the House chamber long before Impreachement proceedings were done the other day.

Sounds like a winner.

And of course; Dems Switched From “Quid Pro Quo” To “Bribery” Because A Focus Group Told Them It Was Better.


Maybe the Democrats can win this by telling every Trump voter how ashamed of themselves they should be! That'll work?

UPDATE: One of the quotes supplied by a commentator on this thread contained the following lines...
Guilty, guilty.
Guilty, guilty, guilty...
Yes, that's actually a quote from a supposedly "sober" magazine called Esquire, and it reminded me of the following scene from possibly the greatest ever Pixar movie, The Incredibles:

Jesus! That teacher even looks like Schiff!


In the PM's office when she confronted the press secretary who was outed telling Newstalk ZB Christchurch that the PM was cancelling her monthly segment with Chris Lynch because .... she already does too many interviews and that the Canterbury audience was not worth her time.     Simply mind-boggling.

Compounded by this from Lynch ... 'Her press secretary recently told our producer Nellie that the PM won't come on the show unless there is 'something like another March 15th - I kid you not. Nellie was so shocked she repeated his words back to him'.

Have to say I don't think Jacinda Ardern is stupid enough to say that.     She certainly decided to give the flick to her coming on the show but I suspect it was the press secretary who, for whatever reason, decided to go off the reservation with those comments.    Maybe there is bad blood between him and 'Nellie' and/or Lynch but that is no excuse.   The comments are beyond the pail and simply unforgivable.

One suspects there is a Press Secretary out there looking for a new job but it's too late for Jacinda ... the damage is done.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Die MSM, Die 2.5 - New Zealand edition

And now - The News!
It's been heading this way for twenty years...
The fate of RNZ and TVNZ may soon be in the hands of Cabinet ministers, with a proposal to disestablish both broadcasters and create an entirely new public media entity.
Another NEW public entity! Be still my beating heart!!

Kim Hill in full warpath mode

No longer will Kim Hill's worshippers have to pleasure themselves only to her dulcet tones: under this new arrangement they'll be able to look at her face while they do so.
It was you that enchanted the mortals,
Child of Aphrodite,
You the best of stars
And whiter than milk…

So what's the proposal then?
The advisory group concluded the status quo was “unsustainable” and “collectively recommended the government agree to disestablish TVNZ and RNZ and to establish a new public media entity”. 
There are guidelines for how it would operate, including having a “clearly defined public media mandate and purpose, with the core functions of a globally recognised public media entity".  
It would provide public media services across a variety of platforms, “some of which may be advertising free”. TVNZ earns revenue from advertising but RNZ is commercial free.
In other words it's just more of the "mixed funding model' bullshit that's already failed. What this means is that private sector outfits like TV3 would continue to try and compete for advertising dollars against a government-backed TV-Radio network. That's part of the reason TV3 is in the shit now, although all the old broadcasters worldwide are under the same pressures from the likes of Facebook and Google.

Less of this...

If the entity has even part of its model funded by advertising it's going to act commercially: it has to.

And that means less Panorama (BBC), NOVA or Frontline (the latter two being US PBS) ....

And more of this...

... and more "Trans-Wives of Remuera".

If you want a picture of where the Left really want this to go, have a wee shufti at dear old Chris Trotter's achingly nostalgic view of the NZBC and NZ broadcasting in the 1970's:

To Save Democracy, We Must Make The Media Our Own.

Oh yeah, Chris. Speaking as a Right-Winger I'm sure I'd really feel it was "our" media. Of course Chris knows exactly who he means by "Our": he means his side of the ideological fence, and he says it without even thinking about it. It's just an automatic assumption. Witness Chris unloading yet another sad paen to a part of our destroyed Glorious State Owned Past:
The [1970's], which coincided with the introduction of a second publicly-owned television channel, witnessed an extraordinary flowering of news and current affairs, documentary, drama and music programmes. 
For this very reason, the enemies of public ownership spare no effort in casting the 1970s as the decade that taste forgot – notable only for its flared jeans and disco. Obliterated almost completely from New Zealanders’ collective memory is the amazing collection of creative talent which was all-too-briefly assembled in the purpose-built Avalon television studios situated ten miles north of the capital. If this period is recalled at all it is only for the purposes of laughing at the posh pronunciation and absurd hairstyles of the era’s ridiculously clunky (by contemporary standards) broadcasters.
Really? Did Chris ever actually watch that painful succession of "sit coms" turned out over the years. The only funny one I can recall was Gliding On, and that was lifted from a successful play, using some of NZ's more talented actors. And even it sagged when it tried to get with the times of Rogernomics. Everything else had critics asking why there were no good comedy script-writers in NZ.

More Karyn Hay nostalgia

Now I have to admit that we always got a hell of a laugh out of Karyn Hay turning up stoned on Radio With Pictures. Now that was great TV: glorious punk television.

In Trotter's world you'd end up with basically one newsroom that would combine that of TVNZ and RNZ, which would dominate the NZ media news industry. TV3 would be even more dead than now.

Admittedly, in terms of reporting, this would be little different to our current situation.

Which is to say - and this is where I love hearing once again from Lefties about how it's all down to corporate ownership - that the journalists don't change. The large group of reporters that currently stick it to Right-wing ideas - which occasionally intersect with National Party policy - and mostly cover for the policy failures of Green-Labour, will happily shift to this new structure, where they'll "report" exactly as they do now.

At best you can hope that occasionally they'll attack Labour, but only when they fail on some Left-wing idea, such as when John Campbell attacked Helen Clarke in 2002 based on Hager's anti-GE screed or more recently when #MeToo finally went feral inside Labour.

But aside from those Left deviations it's all good as far as 95% - possibly more - of our "journalists" are concerned. Oh don't tell me: Mike Hosking! As if he's anything more than a reactionary, and he's pretty much all alone on most issues, as Lefties constantly remind us, which rather proves my point.

You don't believe me? You're one of those who goes around screaming about Hoskings and "But Rupert Murdoch"? Well I'll let Trotter speak a truth:
TV3, by some unanticipated quirk of late-capitalist cultural logic displayed more creativity, innovation and independence than the ideologically straightjacketed TVNZ. For the past 30 years, the privately-owned TV3 network has, heroically and paradoxically, filled the vacuum created by the deliberate destruction of public service broadcasting in 1989.
The Paradoxical John Campbell
Except it's a truth he clearly does not understand: hence his gobbledygook about "some unanticipated quirk of late-capitalist cultural logic" - whatever the fuck that means - that paradoxically produced TV3's heroic existence as a corporate-owned entity that pushed Leftist ideas in news and current affairs 24/7.

No really! As hard as it may be to believe, John Campbell,  a journalist who has waxed poetic over Noam Chomsky and John Pilger for decades, really did not take editorial direction from profit-minded owners.

The paradoxical Carol Hirschfeld

Well he did get fired eventually, but again that had nothing to do with his ideological reporting and everything to do with TV3's general toilet swirl on eyeballs and advertising revenue.

And in any case all these inter-connected loveys have already fallen on their feet into the existing world of TVNZ and RNZ. Even Carol's hubby, Finlay MacDonald, whose hoarse flatness now fills the afternoons of RNZ.

These are the people - together with Kim Hill and god knows how many more minions of like-mind - who would actually control any such "public media entity" funded by your taxes.

The paradoxical Finlay MacDonald
Chris and company need to look around the world, because there's a fuck-load of Giant Capitalist Corporations that are stuffed to the gills with Lefty ideas being put into action, starting with the two great predators largely responsible for destroying the MSM as we've known it - Facebook and Google.

Sure, they still retain that classic capitalist idea of making huge amounts of money: that core philosophy remains locked in place and God-forbid anyone who disturbs it, but aside from that they're pushing every Left idea there is.

Having said that, even The Stupid Party in the US are beginning to talk about some Teddy Roosevelt-style Robber Barron busting. The Silicon Valley mega-rich may soon find themselves being disembowelled by both Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren.

And BTW, the guy who owns Amazon, Jeff Bezos, literally the richest man in the world, also owns the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, effectively owns the New York Times, the paper that's been pushing the whole narrative about the US being founded on slavery starting in 1619, not to mention a ton of stuff that's extolling the wonders of trans-genders, the terrors of Global Warming, and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Funny how that works with "Right-Wing" billionaire owners.

I happen to still love the sort of in-depth documentaries produced by the likes of Panorama in Britain and Frontline in the USA. And certainly the comparison of TVNZ's news and current affairs  to such programmes or the BBC and PBS generally is a source of hideous shame for New Zealand.

But over the years I've realised that the slant of those shows only trends in one direction - to the Left - and I have even less confidence that a New Zealand "public media entity" could achieve even those standards of quality or ideological balance: that it would not be captured by the Left as represented by the Lovies shown here. Chris Trotter pretty much lets the cat out of the bag on that:
The truly radical insight of the Kirk Government was that a genuinely independent public broadcasting system, driven by a desire to serve the public good, and insulated from the tutelage of the advertisers’ almighty dollar, would always end up serving the interests of the citizens it empowered – and hence the interests of the political party most dedicated to their welfare
Perhaps we can call the new entity Radio With Pictures - although it won't be anywhere near as much fun as 1980's Karyn Hay.

Friday's Fulminations

There is mild moderation.  Normal rules of blogger etiquette and courtesy to blog hosts will apply.with serious transgressors being thrown out.

Unfortunately our system does not allow your comments to show up in the blog post itself.  Just in the comments section.

Visitors might consider the wisdom of using moderate language.



Thursday, November 14, 2019


I see a certain Winston Raymond Peters has now accepted that ex Ministers Bennett and Tolley were not the source of the leak regarding his overpayment by MSD and is longer seeking damages from them.

Quit when you're behind.    Quelle surprise.     


David Seymour's Bill providing for voluntary euthanasia has been passed into law.   All eyes now turn to the referendum which will give the voting public a final say in the matter.     I genuinely haven't made up my mind which way I will vote.   I can see the merits on both sides of the argument.

Seymour deserves credit for his perseverance in having the Bill enacted.   Very few MPs have achieved what he has done.   The Act will be his legacy.

I would have preferred if all the parties had agreed this was a conscience issue and allowed their MPs to vote accordingly.    Only National and Labour followed through on that.   Winston First and the Greens bloc voted for the Bill.     If you look at the voting breakdown you will note the high preponderance of Maori MPs in both National and Labour who voted No.   I suspect culture would have featured strongly in their decision making.     The Winston First caucus is over 50% Maori and it beggars belief that none of them would have the same concerns ... or perhaps not.    Be that as it may all MPs should have been allowed a free vote on the issue.

One thing for sure ... we are all destined to die.   The referendum won't change that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A billion dollar slush fund won't save Winston First

The news is rapidly spreading through the farming community that the recently passed Zero Carbon Act had some funny things going on behind the scenes with the negotiations between Labour, Greens, National and NZ First.

And it all focused around methane.

Methane is the main greenhouse gas emission from agriculture, and makes up roughly half of New Zealand’s GHG emissions, mainly from livestock belching - not farting as the jokes have it. The Paris Accord which NZ signed up to, does have a methane component to it, but it's a small factor compared to CO2 and even around that small factor the uncertainties of its potential GHG impact are significant:
The results suggest that revised methane emissions estimates will only have a very modest effect on carbon budgets. The revised emissions lead to a decrease in the allowable carbon budget by around 1 to 2% over the next 20 years, Forster and Smith say.
And that's assessing the world-wide production of methane, which itself is tough to estimate. It's a non-starter GHG on a global scale even before one looks at our portion of it.

We're here to destroy your planet

Everybody else focuses on CO2 resulting from industrial production, while New Zealand is the only nation that's focusing attention on agricultural methane.

Pity really as our traditional non-industrial base, 70% renewable electricity, and other lucky factors that we've inherited would otherwise see us looking pretty good on the CO2 emissions front.

But because New Zealand loves trying to be a World Leader on global issues and because we love looking virtuous in front of the rest of the world - an enduring legacy of our Cultural Cringe - we've decided to go after methane as the "Nuclear Free moment of our generation" - and other such shite.

Daisy's new home - a Herd Home
The target is a 10 per cent reduction on 2017 levels by 2030 and between 24 and 47 per cent reduction by 2050 and this has been vehemently opposed by farmers.

This is of course labelled as wooden-headed opposition to Climate Change theory.

But farmers have good reason to oppose the targets, even aside from the objection to being sacrificed to no purpose.

Apart from anything else, the primary way it might be tackled - genetic engineering of grass and animals - is a non-starter with the Greens, the very party demanding action on reducing GHG's. This is fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Instead there's talk of planting different grasses, methane digestors using the solids dumped on concrete feedpads or herd homes, or crude approaches like simply reducing the size of dairy herds. How "sustainable" any of these would be in terms of income vs. cost for farmers is little debated.

My view is that it will simply do what Big Government always does - aid Big Business.

Most of these approaches will squeeze out small farms (meaning anything less than 250 cows), which will be bought up by corporate farms, large trusts and partnerships - or Landcorp.

Clean and Green Farming
Farms of 1000 plus cows using the "cut-and-carry" model; cutting and carrying stock food to cows housed in sheds 365 days of the year, combined with wage and salary workers to operate it all like a factory. Such units can easily carry the capital investment of herd homes costing $300k to house 250 cows or any of the other Capex involved. And remember that all this sunk cost will contribute not one bit to increase income or reduce costs, aside from avoiding the artificial cost of an artificial tax. For large units that's a shrug of the shoulders: for small farms it's death.

Dirty Farming

So much for our traditional image of cows grazing on green paddocks of family-owned farms, or  sharemilkers and contract milkers making their way up the ladder. That model is dead, and it turns out that the image compared to the US/Northern Euro factory barn approach is worth nothing in terms of branding or marketing. Apparently the Northern Hemisphere model is the one that's cleaner and greener - at least when it comes to GHG's.

The political factor has always been easy to see. Labour and the Greens have an easier ride of it because they only have to worry about their urban voters: for all the talk of EV's and the like, Labour in particular is never going to impose the costs of eliminating fossil fuels in the only way that works, which is straight-out elimination via regulations and/or massive increases in the prices of petrol, natural gas, and so forth. For all the city talk of being concerned about Climate Change, there's only so much cost those voters will wear. Even though it's a Climate Crisis.

By contrast, farmers are rich pricks who can easily carry almost any cost, are vastly fewer in number, traditionally vote National, and easily demonised. They're the perfect target because it doesn't cost Labour-Greens anything.

That's the real reason for the focus on methane.

And all it required was the weaponising of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which the Clarke government put in place in 2008 as it was going out the door, and which National left alone as it played both sides of the issue.

Having said that, these sorts of concerns did lead the National Party to push for the methane reduction target to be removed from the Zero Carbon Bill, which it eventually voted to support anyway. That's not much of a surprise as they continue to try and split the difference between their rural and urban voters.

But what is a surprise is that none other than the Climate Change Minister himself - Green Party co-leader James Shaw - considered doing exactly that, instead allowing it to be set by a commission.

But here's the kicker - NZ First would not support such a move.

I was a bit surprised by this news at first but then I realised what was going on.

Winston was sticking it to the National Party.

So filled with hatred for them is he, that he would not allow them anything that looked like a win. Had National not been part of these conversations Winston may well have stuffed the methane targets, since that would have given him a very solid talking point as he trawls for provincial votes with the globulous fraud, Shane Jones.

But not now. Winston just burned off any farming votes he might have expected, and given the dependency of provincial towns and cities on farmer's economic success, he may well have burned off other provincial votes as well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Traces of the Wall

Sometimes I forget that I'm an author at this blog, so put things into comments that rightly deserve a post of their own.

Thus this post that basically just links to a site dedicated to information about The Berlin Wall, which has a wealth of detail that you should check out.

For me the best section is the one that lists all the traces of the Berlin Wall in their original location.

The photo above is of a section of the Inner security wall on Bornholmer Straße.

On the left - a former watch tower on Erna-Berger-Strasse.

The link says even it's been moved a few metres and is a "model BT-11", which is a pretty sad commentary by itself.

Me: "So you're a retired German architect. What did you design?"

Architect: "I designed different watch tower models for the Berlin Wall. Fascinating work, let me tell you about it......"

The photo below looks like a pretty well-preserved section: Remains of the inner wall at Rudower Höhe

And of course there is the famous East Side Gallery, shown below:

"The East Side Gallery artists were able to prevent their works from demolition, further decay and destruction. The city of Berlin added the East Side Gallery to its monument register in November 1991. 
It was the most visible outcome of the opening of the Wall, but now, with almost the entire Berlin Wall gone, it is one of the few remaining relics of the border fortifications at its original location, serving as a reminder that the city was divided for 28 years."

Finally I did have to laugh - black humour of course - at the following description of one site, the Border through the Spree River:

"...the border was secured by especially wide border strips with additional barriers, patrol boats, and nail-encrusted “underwater mats” of steel. "

Right. Because the river itself was not enough of a deterrent to escape the insanity of Communism. Wankers.

There's also this Wikipedia list of segments of Berlin Wall that have been sent all over the world.

Notably I see no mention of New Zealand.
Wonder if that means something?

Monday, November 11, 2019


The Sustainable New Zealand Party formally launched itself last weekend.   They're marketing themselves as a centrist environmentalist Party that can deal with governments of both the left and the right as opposed to the Greens who have tied themselves at the hip to Labour ... end of story.    Sustainable New Zealand present as an alternative to voters unable to stomach the hard left radicalism of the Green Party and their propensity to champion any and all 'woke' issues of the day over what's best for the country.

Their decision not to bind themselves in any ideological straitjacket that would prevent them using the full resources of science as an aid to improving environmental outcomes will likely be applauded by many.  Not for them the blanket ban on GM long an article of faith with the Greens.

Can they crack the 5% MMP threshold?   History would suggest not.    Should National then consider an 'Epsom' in say Coromandel or Nelson to ensure their votes don't become wasted votes ... big big call but one that I think, on balance, deserves serious consideration.     

Certainly New Zealand deserves better than the Red Greens as advocates for environmental change   ... change where people count too.  

Nov. 9, 1989 - "Das Volk Siegt"

"The People Win"

That was a headline in the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, on Nov 9, 1989, as it pronounced the breaching of the Berlin Wall, also shown in the clip below, which is about two minutes of TV coverage of that incredible evening.

It caught everybody by surprise, despite months of building events across the Communist nations of Eastern Europe. But given that the breaching of the Wall was a surprise to the people who controlled it - basically a stupid mistake by them, an accident - perhaps we should not judge the surprise of ourselves and other people too harshly.

Earlier that year had seen the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in Communist China. Those protesters had picked up on the new policies of Glasnost ("openness") and Peristroika ("restructuring") being pushed by Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR since 1985/86 as he tried to salvage that failing system. But they'd also been encouraged by his visit and the relaxation of Chinese state media coverage that showed the student protests in China, as well as seeming support from Central Committee members like the reform-minded Hu Yaobang. And all of this amidst China's economic reforms that had sparked the economy - but also Chinese dreams of other freedoms.

Man vs. Tank near Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989

When all that got crushed beneath Chinese tanks in June the Western reaction was a mix of horror, disappointment, and shrugged shoulders at dashed expectations. This was how Communist regimes had always dealt with their enemies and this was why they survived.

Why would Eastern Europe and the USSR be any different? I can't think of a single person I knew or read in the 1980's who did not simply assume that these Communist nations would be with us for the rest of our lives.

As it happened there had been one man who had not thought that and luckily he was the most important one: US President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Years earlier, almost alone amidst the PhD's of geopolitical, military and economic experts who talked of "realism", if not the dead policy of detente, Reagan laid out his straight-forward philosophy of dealing with the USSR and its Eastern European minions during a 1981 discussion with his National Security Advisor, Richard Allen:
US President Ronald Reagan
“I’d like to tell you of my theory of the Cold War. Some people think that I am simplistic, but there is a fundamental difference between being simplistic and having simple answers to complex questions. So here's my strategy on the Cold War: 
we win, they lose."

Given the tensions of the day Reagan never said that in public. But it was an absolutely necessary idea in order to shake up an establishment that had, like the rest of us, grown used to the idea that Communist nations were forever.

Reagan could not have done it on his own. Despite their criticisms of him he had bi-partisan Democrat Party backing for massive military spending increases, plus sanctions and other pressures applied to the USSR and its allies. He had the quieter, practical support of many weighty Western European leaders. He had an even more hard line, anti-communist leader in Europe as his most important NATO ally, Margaret Thatcher.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Karol Józef Wojtyła - aka Pope John Paul II 

He also had Pope John Paul, who had arrived with almost perfect timing into the office of Pope in 1978 from Poland, one of the key nations in the USSR's Eastern Bloc. He provided a huge moral counterweight to the usual propaganda efforts that tried to reduce the Cold War foes down to equal moral standing and the accompanying "who cares who wins?" attitude.

USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev
And ultimately Reagan got Mikhail Gorbachev as the leader of the USSR.

There's a push-pull aspect to this; without a Reagan a Gorbachev might never have become General Secretary, with his arguments to the Politburo that they had to change in order to survive against an increasingly powerful USA.

An unstated argument was that after decades of doddering old fools the Politburo also needed someone who could take on Reagan with a charm offensive.

The last certainly worked for a while. The Western MSM went gaga over this new Soviet leader: young, energetic, articulate, smart - and his glamorous wife Raisa, who was pulled into the media glare as a direct contrast to the Soviet past where leader's wives were hidden Babushkas. All this was contrasted endlessly by the MSM with Reagan's age and "stupidity". The scoffing comparisons were long and loud.

Reagan did not take this lying down however, and on June 12, 1987, in a famous speech given in front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, he pushed for something that would be a true mark of Soviet reform:

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. 
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Many of Reagan's advisors fought tooth and nail against including that phrase, fearing it would just increase tensions - and for no good reason since it was such obvious nonsense. But Reagan himself insisted it be there. Once spoken, outside critics were harsher still, with more scoffing: typical political theatre they sniffed.

The irony is that without a Gorbachev, Reagan's strategy would have failed. Had there still been men who thought like Stalin and Lenin, willing to use any and all force to suppress and destroy their internal enemies, the USSR would likely still be with us today. Communist China did have such ruthless, brutal men and likely still does.

For all the talk of his reforms, the key point about Gorbachev, when it mattered in 1989, was that he was simply not willing to shoot down hundreds or thousands of East Europeans to allow the Soviet systems to survive, nor would he allow or enable Communist leaders like East Germany's Erich Honecker to do so, despite a huge presence of the Red Army in the Soviet satellite nations. It's a mirror-image of Reagan's simple strategy: for all the talk of Geo-political structural and material reasons, the ultimate factor was a simple unwillingness to continue a history of mass murder.

Ukranian peasants dying from Stalin's enforced starvation, Kharkiv, 1933: the Holodomor
The strange thing about the emotional letdown of the Tiananmen Square massacre, was that it was almost exactly then that change was seen in Eastern Europe. Important things had been happening since late 1988, but the first real signs that people were rising up against their Communist governments were not seen until mid-1989. Intimidated not one bit, they sensed that their rulers were exhausted by age, internal failures and the relentless pressure of a Western-led USA, involving more than just the military aspects of NATO. Many of the leaders were very old and had been there for decades - which made Gorbachev look even better. And of course he'd made it clear that if they had problems with the people, they'd have to solve it without suppression. They might even have to talk to the Deplorables.

The pressure had been on in Poland since late 1988 when a revived Solidarity movement had first pushed for elections and then won them. As an example of the hardened arteries of the Communist governments, they foolishly had a law that allowed people to cross out names on the single party lists: people crossed out the names of 33 of 35 major Communist officials on the ballot, including the Prime Minister, so that even though Solidarity was allowed only 35% of the parliament (Sejm), it could form a new government. The election results came out on June 4 - the same day as Tiananmen.

Hungarian troops pull down the fence at the Austrian border
But it was actually Hungary that turned out to be the pivot for the collapse of East Euro Communism. In late 1988, its Communist government - clapped-out like all the others - actually began to convert from being a Communist Party to a Social Democratic one, and yielded some powers to an opposition eager for elections. Just as in Poland the government thought they could bully their way through an election: they failed - especially after a Communist Party leader told a crowd outside the parliament building:
“We continue to regard the undisturbed and balanced development of our relationship with our great neighbor, the Soviet Union, as being in our national interest.”  
The crowd booed the crap out of him. It was over.

More important was what the new Hungarian government did next.  In April 1989 they switched off the electricity on their border fence with Austria. In May they began pulling down sections of it.

It was at this point that Western TV began to notice what was going on. I remember watching this in disbelief. Naturally Hungarians began to pour across to buy stuff, but that wasn't the point. Hungarian reformer Imre Pozsgay said later:
“We were pretty sure that if hundreds of thousands of East Germans went to the West, the East German regime would fall, and in that case Czechoslovakia was also out.”
It was a strategy that looked outside Hungary; that understood defeating Communism permanently in Hungary meant destroying it across Eastern Europe, and that this was the way to do it.  It worked brilliantly. They did not tell the governments of East Germany or the USSR: the first they knew of it was when Austrian and then West German TV broadcast the news.

An East German Hungarian holiday - to Austria

Suddenly, thousands of East Germans decided they needed a summer holiday - and Hungary was the place to go.

The East German government was furious but the tide was now too great. TV showed extraordinary scenes of people rushing across the Austro-Hungarian border, many holing up in various Western embassies. These scenes sent a message like nothing else to date.

Protests grew larger in East Germany as everybody - government and people alike - became aware of the situation developing across all of Eastern Europe, with ever more fantastic TV images that held us enthralled. Could this really be happening? Honecker quit after almost twenty years as leader and handed over the reins of power to a chosen successor - another dull bureaucratic product of Communism who had no better idea how to cope in this new world. A gigantic protest of between 1/2 and 1 million people in East Berlin on November 4 forced the government's hand. On November 9 the East German Politburo decided to lift all travel bans - but quietly.

Yet the rot of Communist bureaucratic thinking had seeped in so deeply that they could not even do this competently. At the end of a routine daily press briefing at 7 pm, a Politburo spokesman, Günter Schabowski, made a low-key announcement of a change to written law, which would open only a small loophole to allow "disgruntled" people to leave. But Schabowski did not read it before the press conference:
“private trips abroad can be applied for.... and permits will be granted promptly. . . Permanent emigration is henceforth allowed across all border crossing points between East Germany and West Germany and West Berlin.... As I understand it, it goes into effect immediately, without delay”


Hundreds of thousands of people in both East and West Berlin saw that press conference, and it was rapidly re-broadcast from the West Berlin TV stations. Word spread even faster.

All border crossings had to mean the Wall as well. Thousands of Germans - from both sides of the Berlin divide - descended on the Wall that night. As West Berlin reporters covered it live they reported bewildered guards who had no idea what to do and who had no instructions. 

East German Guards holding back the tide.
At several border crossing points, East Berliners began shouting at the armed guards, demanding they open the gates and shove aside barbed wire obstacles, telling them that they could check with the bosses: the order had come from a Politburo member.

After brief and non-violent struggles the guards relented and the crowds poured across, to be met by TV reporters and West Berliners, relatives in many cases.

Again, these were TV scenes that were simply beyond belief to those of us who had grown up with the endless, brutal reality of these Communist societies.

As more hours passed, people with picks and hammers began to turn up, climbing on top of the wall and starting to destroy it throughout the day of November 10 and the days beyond. The guards looked on hopelessly: no instructions again. Shooting escapees was one thing - but this? As a final example of the stupidity of the East German Communist government, their Foreign Minister later wrote:
"We did not suspect that the opening of the Wall was the beginning of the end of the Republic."
They hung on for a while longer but were powerless as their own citizens ignored them and members of the military, police and even Stasi simply quit and went home to look for other work. Negotiations on reunification of the two Germany's began.

In Bulgaria the Communist rulers went quietly the day after the Wall came down. Prime Minister Todor Zhikov, a living Stalinist who had been in the office since 1954, quit. The Bulgarian Communist Party shut itself down soon after.

Czechoslovakia followed a week after the Wall opened and Vaclav Havel, who at the beginning of the year had been in jail for his human rights activism, was elected as the new president in December.

In Romania, the Ceausescu's lasted another month, before an organised TV appearance to boost morale had to be shut down in seconds as the crowd began booing and whistling. The stunned look on Ceausescu's dull, aged face said it all. He and his wife were shot on Christmas Day.

US President George H W Bush
President George Bush acquitted himself better than I expected, especially considering that it caught him and the US government - especially the CIA and other intelligence services - as completely by surprise as it had the rest of us.

Both he and Reagan played it all very low-key, very subdued. There was no need to rub Gorbachev's nose in it. They knew they had won and they had to avoid inflaming the situation while hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops were still stationed in all those Eastern European countries. Slow and steady de-escalation and removal of them was needed and Bush handled that very well.

They were the last Presidents following on from Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and even Carter, who had pushed back against Communism, with a host of millions who supported the struggle. Reagan and Bush also knew better than most that while cracking the Berlin Wall open in 1989 had been bloodless, the Cold War had not. While World War III never went hot along the main battle lines in Europe, the battles on the fringes in places like Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Greece, Angola, Afghanistan and dozens of other nations were expensive, wearying and filled with the deaths of military and civilian alike.

Yet despite the risk and strain, America had not quit and walked away - or at least the majority of Americans didn't. The Western Europeans and others did their part: but without the USA's leadership over decades it would have been a losing effort.

The palpable joy of November 9 overwhelmed even the jailers and their propagandists, and stunned into silence their usually vocal Marxist sympathizers in the West. The deep unpopularity of the Communist regimes revealed by the peoples of Eastern Europe in 1989 was an embarrassment to moderate Left-Wingers and valueless social scientists in the West who had treated, even feted, these nations as stable and legitimate forms of governance with solid economies and healthy societies. They had regularly preached the moral equivalency of the U.S. and the USSR. And of course at times they had simply dropped the pretense and fingered the U.S. as the "fascist state" and global oppressor; the jailer, the warmonger, the threat to world peace.

November 9, 1989 revealed the Big Lie. The steady revelations of economic, political, military, moral, economic and ecological failure were shocking. For the hard line Western Marxists who had sympathized with and excused these regimes, it was a faith-shaking crisis. The pictures and TV coverage of ordinary people could not be spun or denied. They didn't even have the heart to claim it was all a CIA plot. For the most part all these groups shut up - for once.

The failure was total - but the Far Left would slowly recover even from such an identity crisis. Before twenty years had passed one could hear again the old attacks on the West, on democracy and free enterprise, and the USA as a "Capital-Fascist" state - but now driven by theories of Post-Modernism and Post-Colonialism that preserved some elements of Marxist analysis. Not too much though: the revealed scars of Marxist stupidity still showed too fresh. People would laugh!

New Years Eve, December 31, 1989 - Berlin Wall
A mate of mine went to the New Year's Eve celebrations at the Berlin Wall on December 31st, 1989. He said he had to be there and I know many other Kiwis who felt the same. He still describes it as the greatest party he's ever been to.

It would take another two years for the USSR to suffer the same fate as Eastern Europe. The difference was that now we knew it was coming. It's a sad fact that Gorbachev is held in contempt today by his fellow Russians for letting an empire collapse and a superpower be humiliated. History will be kinder to him.

Nov. 9, 1989, was a great victory for liberty and freedom, one of the greatest such days in history. But it would not have been possible without America and American perseverance. America carried the burden of leadership. America's active defense kept hope alive for decades - the hope that empowered Eastern Europe's oppressed to finally rise up against their oppressors and overthrow them.