“The misuse of power is the very essence of tyranny.”
– Frost/Nixon [Universal Studios]
Is ‘D’ for Democracy?
Ever since New Zealand’s prime minister John Key drew his ‘silver fern’ flag on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ show in 2010, as a way to initiate the South Pacific tax haven’s Flag Change Campaign, he has steadily morphed into Nu Zillun’s premiere Matador.
The primary purpose of the Flag Change Campaign was to function as a mechanism of distraction to deceive the Kiwi Tax Flock that the government is sincere about democracy, while simultaneously it railroads the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty to ratification.
Indeed, the timing of New Zealand’s 2nd flag change referendum was more than fishy.
The majority of voting-age citizens did not know that while their attention was drawn to the 2nd Flag Referendum, a month-long window for ‘public submissions’ on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty quietly passed. The 2nd flag change referendum was held between March 3 and March 24, with 1.2 million people voting to keep the current flag and 915,000 voting for the proposed white ‘silverfern’ flag.
The 2nd flag referendum’s pre-publicity cranked up straight after the symbolic signing of the 12 ‘country’ Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), that occurred on February 4. The symbolic signing, which took place in Auckland’s Sky City casino complex, was marked by protests that shut down the CBD streets.
The New Zealand government cannot claim it has sufficient consent to proceed with railroading the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Treaty toward ratification because the Kiwi Tax Flock were deliberately distracted by the second Flag Change referendum, a political deception led by John ‘The Matador’ Key.
Here I will outline how the Key Ministry has used the proposed flag change as a fraudulent device, trick, and stratagem by highlighting how the deception worked in its climax phase. The intent was to deceive the citizenry by amply funding the flag change referendum while under-resourcing and under-publicizing the TPP Treaty submissions process.
This is a breach of the Crimes Act. It is also a deal-breaker for New Zealand.
The New Zealand government and particularly Prime Minister John Key, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Trade Minister Todd McClay failed on three separate but related occasions to announce that the TPP Treaty public submissions process was taking place. These three occasions were: (1) the day of the symbolic signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty in Auckland on February 4; (2) when nurse Josie Butler threw a sex toy at the Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce on Waitangi Day, February 6; (3) and when comedian John Oliver made a scathing video of the sex toy story in response to Joyce tweeting, “Someone send the gif over to John Oliver so we can get it over with”.
If the Key Ministry were actually genuine about upholding a healthily functioning democracy with open debate – as Key himself claimed when the majority of the Kiwi Tax Flock opted to keep the current flag – the 4th of February TPP signing day was the perfect opportunity to announce that the stingy one-month long TPP Treaty ‘public submissions’ process would commence on 10 February.
February 4 was also the day the public sent a strong peaceful objection about the poor disclosure by the New Zealand government regarding the implications of the TPP Treaty, including the transference of power to transnational corporations. As such, Prime Minister John Key and the rest of his ministry failed in their duty at that moment to seek sufficient consent when the country’s attention was captured by the 15,000 strong anti-TPP protest.
It was only because of the 15,000 strong anti-TPP protest and the accompanying intersection blockades that shut down the city’s CBD streets in the middle of a business day, that everyone in New Zealand finally paid fleeting attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty. At this time, none of the Kiwi Tax Flock knew when the submissions process would start because the government didn’t say.
The second occasion that the New Zealand government’s ministers were negligent in their duty to notify the Kiwi Tax Flock of the TPP submissions process was on Waitangi Day, just two days later when nurse Josie Butler famously threw a rubber dick at Steven Joyce at Waitangi, with the words, “That’s for raping our sovereignty”. Butler’s claim was not sufficiently rebutted or addressed with, say, a live televised debate featuring TPPA campaigners Jane Kelsey, Lori Wallach and Barry Coates, and also Josie Butler, versus John Key, Steven Joyce, Todd McClay and lead negotiator David Walker. Therefore, the ‘rape of New Zealanders’ sovereignty’ still stands as a valid lawful claim against the New Zealand Crown’s anti-democratic, pro-oligarchic behaviour.
The third occasion that the Key ministry failed to tell New Zealand’s Kiwi Tax Flock of the fast-closing public submissions window was when John Oliver lampooned the Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. Oliver’s video, which included filmmaker Peter Jackson waving a mocked up New Zealand flag with the dildo impact moment, went viral in mid February 2016 (as had the original footage of Josie Butler’s excellently executed throw at Joyce’s face.
But, if the Minister’s of New Zealand Government (or ‘the Crown’) had have emphasized the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty’s public submissions stingy time window, it would have required Key to come out of the closet as ‘The Matador’. If he had, then Radio New Zealand writer/cartoonist Toby Morris would not have been left confused, like so many, about why the Flag Change Campaign had occurred when he wrote:
“Without a reason for change, the process was aimless and directionless from the start. There was no movement, no impetus. We weren’t reacting to any identity-shattering or identity-defining event. We were choosing the curtains for a house we hadn’t built yet. Why? No one really knew.”
Yet, Toby Morris was on the right track when he made this hilarious Scooby Doo graphic featuring a crooked Flagman masked by the proposed ‘beach towel’ flag. The Meddling Kids just didn’t understand why Flagman wanted a new flag face. Funnily enough, Morris astutely captured the flag distraction in a cartoon on his Pencilsword website a year earlier.
To recap, the Flag Change Campaign occurred because it was designed to be a mechanism of distraction. The real intent had to remain hidden for the plot to succeed. All the discourse over the merits or their lack in various designs, the ‘flawed’ process and seeming lack of purpose, the ‘We need a new one to differentiate ours from Australia’s Flag’ and the ‘Our Maturity as a Nation‘ wanky rhetoric, worked successfully to consume most of the Kiwi Tax Flock’s attention time from many important issues, the whammy of them all – the Trans-Pacific Mega-Cartel Treaty.
This Flag Distraction had been noticed by other political cartoonists such as Rod Emmerson, Sharon Murdoch, Body, Malcolm Evans, Hubbard, Moreu and Trace Hodgson, along with thinky-film-maker Bryan Bruce, and blogger Bomber Bradbury. A friend and I lament that these cartoons weren’t on the front pages of newspapers, where they couldn’t be missed – even by the media at-large.
‘The Matador’s flag distraction is the latest sorry chapter in a continuum to maintain power accumulated by deception upon deception. As a mechanism of distraction, the Flag Change Campaign was a power crime.
In the next section, I present a continuum of power crimes within a broader historical context that demonstrate the construction of ‘copies of reality’, wherein ‘the optics’ of a criminogenic environment are routinely managed by elite criminals, as Monash University international law lecturer, Eric Wilson, has identified more generally in “Crimes against reality”. My perspective draws upon Conspiracy Law Theory, which developed out of the recognition that groups of people can inflict harm upon society when they act collectively, as opposed to a person acting alone, as Neal Kumar Katyal observed in his thinky-white paper, Conspiracy Theory, published in The Yale Law Journal.
STD’s Detected while the Tax Farm is Re-Fenced
It is as though New Zealand has become a place where having thinky conversations involving big-picture context is now considered ‘Scary Stuff’ and is Classified. In helping to pull off this magic ‘flag trick’, the Invertebrate Corporate-Biased Media (ICBM) missionaries fail to do the journalistic equivalent of the legal fraternity’s ‘due diligence’, by avoiding getting themselves into a position to check under the TPP text-hood for STD’s – Standard Tactical Deceptions.
Standard Tactical Deceptions are about what is omitted from an official treaty document (or the signing copy), such as the 6,000 page door-stopper TPP text, as the native people of New Zealand – he tangata Māori – well know.
Indeed, omissions of key evidence are the crucial trick of propaganda, as viewers of the thinky-film, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Mass Media will attest. In societies with formal democracy, a propagandist system of communication is required because the state cannot openly intimidate and suppress ‘free’ populations without losing the legitimacy to rule, as Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky argue compellingly in their thinky-book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.
Not surprisingly, given New Zealand’s Invertebrate Corporate-Biased Media (ICBM) outlets – MediaWorks, Fairfax Media, APN/NZME, Sky TV, and TVNZ – the Flag of Tricks had worked remarkably well for Nu Zillun’s premiere Matador – to a point.
However, the blockades of intersections provoked some in the Kiwi population to ask: What aren’t we being told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Global policy-planners intend to reassert the United States of America as the dominant ‘pivot state’ upon which the permanent global war economy turns. Through three mega cartel treaties: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP), and its Atlantic Ocean fraternal sibling, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, (or TIPP) and the all-encompassing stealthy sibling, Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), the formation of massive economic blocs is planned.
The transformations in the global economy, such as these huge economic protective trade-blocs promoted under the slogan of ‘free trade’, are really about creating a slickly-marketed, hi-tech totalitarian superstructure, worldwide. American journalist Chris Hedges has reported a corporate totalitarian core thrives inside a fictitious democratic shell.
Governments around the world are giving away a dangerous level of sovereign power to a transnational capitalist class. This strategy is known as ‘new constitutionalism’, as law scholar Stephen Gill identified in 1989.
By exploiting new constitutionalism as a strategy, unseen oligarchs (or super-rich people) and their submissive elite professionals seek to expand markets by locking in the changes within supranational jurisdictions, thereby closing off democratic participation of citizens fixed by place and indigenous peoples marginalized in their own ancestral lands.
In other words, the ‘New Constitutionalism’ strategy that seeks to permanently lock-in a new technocratic regime and replace democracy, is embedded into the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
By seeking to lock in the property rights of a transnational capitalist class with a status that amounts to ‘commercialized sovereignty’, as the world’s leading scholars on tax havenry, Ronen Palan, Richard Murphy, and Christian Chavagneux have argued more generally in their thinky-book, Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works, global policy planners are, in effect, working on a Global Neo-Colonial Project, or the construction of a universal empire.
Is C for Consent?
No referendum for the TPP, even though it’s has been in the pipeline for 8 years.
The subtext inherent to this dismissal to a quiet as a newsroom-mouse parliamentary panel – boringly called the International Treaty Examination on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – is this: “Everything is fine, stupid”.
But the Kiwi Tax Flock has been paid a ‘lip-service’ exercise with the rubber-stamp’ variety of ‘consultation’ in the form of a ‘roadshow’ on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty. Indeed, concerned Tax Kiwis have found the choice of MC for the TPP Treaty Powerpoint Presentation – former journalist Sean Plunket – to be rather telling. Plunket not only interrupted them repeatedly while stating his preference to hear ‘business people’ who had travelled from afar.
Plunket had also embarrassed himself in early 2015 when he called novelist Eleanor Catton an “ungrateful hua” and a “traitor” for criticizing the New Zealand government while at a speaking engagement overseas. Catton had said to an audience at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India that New Zealand’s National Party-led government were:
“neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.”
Plunket may have actually meant “hooa”, which was in the 18th Century polite British slang for “whore”, but he claimed – inadvertently in a Humpty Dumpty-way – that he meant it to mean Catton was unappreciative of her tax-payer funded job and education. In Māori, a ‘hua’ can refer to a fruit of a tree. The words ‘hooa’ and ‘hua’ can sound the same, especially because the Kiwi Tax Flock of Nu Zillun mush their vowels and consonants like peas in mashed potatoes.
Following Plunket’s attack of the Booker Prize-winning novelist, Catton’s father Dr Phillip Catton told Plunket on his radio show that he had “derailed” debate in New Zealand about the government and the importance of the arts.
So it is fascinating to note, as the rubber dick-throwing Josie Butler observed, that the grumpy Plunket boy was dismissive of two women with pesky opinions at the Christchurch TPP Treaty Powerpoint Presentation masquerading as a ‘roadshow’ (which was protected by 30 police and 40 New Zealand Defence Force personnel). One elderly woman even said to Plunket:
“it is a very scary thing to stand up here and ask my question in front of a large group of people, and I’d like to think you’d show me some respect”.
Indeed, Josie Butler says she was so disgusted with the way Sean Plunket was dismissive of questioners who challenged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) propaganda, she queued up at the mic to present David Walker, MFAT’s lead TPP negotiator, with New Zealand’s very first Dick of the Year Award. From her jacket, Butler whipped out her “pink friend”. Sean Plunket interrupted, but Butler deliberately called him ‘Shane’ to “show him a slither of the disrespect that he had shown the good people of Christchurch”. Butler said:
“you were a very close second for this award ‘Shane’ with the way you were carrying on today”.
It turns out that Sean Plunket shared in common with John Key a keenness to see the New Zealand flag get replaced with the one final alternative, a beach towel-like design.
Human beings everywhere need to strategize, organize and mobilize grassroots radical actions to pursue mass land reform (or redistribution), community-controlled cooperative enterprises, and resilient permaculture communities. Concurrent to these positive solution-oriented projects, the damaging institutional constructs need to be dismantled. Corporate cartels (including debt-based banking and financial conglomerates) have to be broken up. Tax havenry needs to be confronted head-on. The Shock Doctrine of economic, financial and military warfare engineered by key insiders of Western banks and other major corporations, governments and think-tanks also needs to be challenged.
“To see the cage is to psychologically leave it”.
Otherwise, we the Kiwi Tax Flock will be led into new permanent enclosures by D’s and C’s with STD’s.
By day, Snoopman toils undercover as a Tax Slave editing TV news in the South Pacific Tax Farm of New Zealand (known locally as Nu Zillun Inc.). By night, he transforms into the New Zealand Tax Farm’s first media superhero, whose superpower is seeing through propaganda.