I stumbled upon this Guardian video clip a short while ago, showing excerpts from speeches at the UN General Assembly by Donald Trump and Jacinda Ardern. It contrasts Trump’s America first with Ardern’s global cooperation and kindness. I think it neatly sums up the difference between the American and New Zealand styles of leadership:
I just read a Washington Post article on Trump’s visit to France, and his foul mood with almost everyone. One of the comments on the article came from someone identifying themself as “Just me 2015”. They referred to a sentence within the article:
Trump told aides he thought he looked “terrible” and blamed his chief of staff’s office, and Fuentes in particular, for not counseling him that skipping the cemetery visit would be a public-relations nightmare.
To which Just me 2015 commented:
Wait a minute… President TV-Ratings-Genius didn’t realize that skipping out on the ceremony he’d come to attend, the ceremony honoring fallen soldiers from WWI, and blaming it on rain grounding a military-grade helicopter, was going to look bad? I’m shocked! /s
That comment neatly summarises Trumps abilities, not only in public relations, but in practically every endeavor he undertakes.
Trump in UN speech regarding aid:
We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart.
Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.
In other words, the US will give aid only when it furthers their own interests. The welfare of the recipients is of no significance. How very “Christian”!
The UN has begun the process of selecting a new Secretary-General. Among the candidates is Helen Clark, a Former Prime Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand. I’m not biased, but of course she’s the best candidate for the post.
During the past week candidates have been given the opportunity to give an “Informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General”. By all accounts our Helen gave a good account of herself. If you’d like to watch her presentation I have provided two links below.
Opening remarks only (10 minutes)
Opening remarks and Q&A session (2 hours 15 minutes)
Why did the President General Assembly addressing Helen as Mrs Helen Clark, when, if she’s being addressed formally she prefers Ms Helen Clark? UN Protocol or ignorance?
I’ve been asked before why I show disrespect for some public figures by using their given name only. In case anyone hasn’t seen my explanation, here it is: In typical Kiwi fashion, we refer to public figures we admire or respect by their given name only, and we often address them this way to (depending on the circumstances). Those we dislike are usually given their full name, without title, or if we really dislike them, just their family name.
Thank goodness not all Americans think Trump is the next Messiah. Apparently, after the news that Trump had secured big wins from the Super Tuesday rounds, enquiries overwhelmed a Canadian Government immigration Website causing it to crash. If Trump does win the presidential race, will Canada be far enough away? Come to think of it, will Aotearoa New Zealand be far enough away? Antarctica, may find itself with its first permanent immigrants.
And Google reported a large spike in “move to Canada” searches. Of course his supporters are likely to blame both events of the success of Hillary Clinton in the Democrat primaries, but that’s the kind of nonsense they will fool themselves into believing.
Meanwhile the rest of the world wonders how so many Americans have fallen for Trump, hook, line and sinker. To gather in the conservative, and Christian fundamentalists, he now claims he’s a Christian – just like them. But is he? I guess it depends on what qualities one considers are necessary to justify the claim.
From my perspective, he lacks even the barest minimum qualities. Fellow Kiwi Bill Peddie is asking this question in his post Is Donald Trump a Christian? It’s worth a read irrespective of whether your are a believer or a non-believer.
How authoritarian is the US? How despairing are its voters, to be shilled by this man?
Over on Amusing Nonsense, Sirius Bizinus has written what I feel is a balanced and reasoned article regarding the appointment of a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court. His is one of the few that has neither expressed vindictive pleasure at the passing of Scalia, nor expressed outrage that Obama might have the opportunity to appoint a “liberal” to the position.
I find it fascinating that appointments to what should be non-political positions turn into party political circuses. Mind you, it does bring an element of entertainment from a distance that I find lacking in our own system here in NZ.
I don’t recall any judicial appointments here causing controversy, and I believe there are two reasons for this. The first is that by convention, judicial appointments are isolated from politics, and second, unlike in the US, the courts do not have the final say on matters constitutional.
Constitutionally, judicial appointments are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General. For those not familiar with the constitution of the Realm of New Zealand, think of the Governor-General as the de facto head of state. The Attorney-General is a member of the Cabinet and as such must be an elected member of Parliament. By convention, the roles of Prime Minister and Attorney-General are not held by the same person, although the constitution does not prohibit it.
By convention, the Attorney-General accepts advice from the Chief Justice and the Solicitor-General for appointments to the higher courts and from the Chief District Court Judge and the Secretary for Justice with regards to District Courts.
They in turn accept advice from the Judicial Appointments Liaison Office (JALO), which is required to consult widely. JALO has no legal or constitutional standing, and like so much of our system is based on continuously evolving conventions.
To avoid possible political influence, the convention is for the Attorney-General to mention judicial appointments to Cabinet, but for the appointment not to be discussed.
One difference between NZ and the US is that here there is a mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges.
Unlike the US, we don’t have a binding constitution. In fact our constitution is made up of multiple acts of Parliament, and ultimately parliament has supreme sovereignty. Therefore any bill passed into law cannot be unconstitutional.
It may seem strange to Americans that the majority of Kiwis prefer our existing constitutional arrangements and don’t want a binding constitution interpreted by the courts. While we perhaps don’t have the guarantees of freedom enshrined in the US constitution, in practice we have always had, and continue to enjoy greater levels of freedom than the good citizens of the USA do.
Because by doing so, and not commenting when similar losses of life occur in Syria, I would be placing more value on the lives of Parisians over the lives of Syrians. What happened in Paris on one day happens in Syria every day.