Lyndon and Hamish - boys

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Twelve reasons not to vote for the Greens

Part four of a series of indeterminate length

1. Their platforms of a fair society and sustainable prosperity might be easier to stand if they weren't such hippies.

2. You had a traumatic childhood experience involving sustainable energy.

3. Now that a vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-Progressive-Greens coalition, it doesn't sound so wicked cool anymore.

4. Have you seen those old cartoons of the communist octopus reaching out to control the entire world? Have you seen Nandor with his hair down?

5. They haven't been the same since Kermit died.

6. Someone working for Sue Kedgley once fell for the Campaign to ban Di-Hydrogen-Monoxide.

7. Because Greens are something a bad kid is meant to have just three more mouthfuls of before he can leave the table and go back to his room to eat gobstoppers and look at stick books. Little snot.

8. Hoardings fetishist Aaron Bhatnawazzit has decried the Greens hoardings as terrible. "Too many words," cries Bhatnasomething. You'd do well to listen when a hoardings afficionado speaks.

9. Peter Dunne said that if Labour went into coalition with the Greens, then "pseudo methamphetamine" would be downgraded as a serious drug and Nandor would be Attorney-General. You believe everything that Peter Dunne says.

10. United Future finance spokesperson Gordon Copeland told the Business New Zealand Conference that he knew people who would leave the country if a Labour-Greens government was elected. You think we should keep any friends Gordon Copeland has where we can see them.

11. United Future have indicated they may be unwilling to work in a coalition agreement with the Greens. You're torn between moral rectitude on the one hand and an irrepresible desire to get high on the other.

12. Allowing the country to be turned into a toxic wasteland is vital to our future prosperity.

Lyndon Hood - Hard Worker, Lower Hutt

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

ACT appears to be having a going out of business sale.

Funny. I wonder what happened to all their funding?

Update (7:22): Funny angle I missed - the headline auction item is a trip to Fiji. A place which holds many happy fraudulent-investment related holiday memories for at least on ACT stalwart.

Hamish McKenzie - student, London, Ontario

Son of something else

Brash's promise to remove references to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi from 39 laws and further promises to dismantle a number of Maori institutions is atavism. Such moves would almost completely undo the carefully evolved processes and progresses of governments (National ones included) over the past decades.

Brash's ideas would take us back to the '50s; the 1850s. 150 years ago a similar rash of Brashites pressured a newly-formed settler government (and wielded influence from within it) to trample on Maori rights and the freshly-minted Treaty of Waitangi in order to grab more land for settlements. Maori were getting in the way of "progress" even then, it seems, and so the government set about dividing their lands, fighting wars, and enacting confiscations to appease the majority white settlers.

Didn't it work out well?

Brash is a fully-blown treaty denier. His ideas completely ignore the nuances of New Zealand's history. They are an insult to those who consider themselves intelligent New Zealanders. But what can we expect from someone who has admitted to not having read Michael King's History of New Zealand, Claudia Orange's Treaty of Waitangi, or even James Belich's The New Zealand Wars? The truth is, this man, like the many who share his views on such issues, has no idea what he is talking about.

If this guy somehow does make it to Prime Minister, I hope he can find some money in the budget to pay for some history lessons.

Lyndon Hood - Gawker, Lower Hutt

Monday, August 29, 2005

Earlier this evening I heard the sound of a new National policy screwup hitting the fan, as I it happened. It wasn't quite the four-car pile-up we've come to expect, but the climax of Don Brash's interview on Newstalk ZB the afternoon went, very approximately, like this:
Don: Well if Gerry Brownlee says abolishing the maori seats isn't a bottom line, then he's wrong.
That's Gerry Brownlee his Maori Affairs Spokesperson, that Don's talking about just there. The person his party keeps as an expert on what their policy is.

And then there's somebody decided it was a good plan to leak a bunch of documents not inconsistent with the idea that the Business Roundtable bought the leadership of the National Party.

It's as if the far-right hand doesn't know what the centre-right hand is doing.

And it brings me to...

My First Theory

The Kookiest One

So, y'know how Labour's got all lefty - spending money on people and cozying up to the Greens and so on?

D'you think maybe that might have been a gambit to draw National into the centre, thus highlighting their internal divisions and causing them to explode through infighting?

Cos it seems to be working.

Kelly Pendergrast - wastrel, Wellington

Tales from the Heartland

Intrepid traveler that I am, I took a trip last weekend to small-town New Zealand.
Well, Palmerston North*.
It was a sunny Sunday, so my family and I drove out to nearby Himatangi beach. Himatangi is a mecca for bogans who like driving on the beach, small children on motorbikes, and unleashed dogs.

We lunched at a cafe beside a table of leather-clad bikers and, scanning the menu wildly for a meal that didn't involve bacon or lambs-fry, I saw something I hadn't seen for a long time - COMIC SANS. Now, I know this probably comes as a shock, especially after the widely publicised campaign to BAN COMIC SANS, but arcane and outrageous fonts are alive and well in New Zealand's smaller centers. Not only Comic Sans, but also Curlz MT. Flicking to the beverages page, I was almost overwhelmed by the curlicues extending from every letter adding that fanciful and artistic touch to the page. Is this what separates us urban-dwellers from our provincial cousins? Font usage? Either Himatangi hasn't yet realised that Comic Sans and its ilk are wildly unfashionable, or they just don't care.

Here is a timeline I just wrote regarding Comic Sans usage:

1994 - Vincent Connaire designs Comic Sans for use in those comic style speech bubbles.

1995 - Comic Sans is bundled into Windows 95 as a system font, allowing its dissemination to millions and millions of unsuspecting computer users.

1995 (later that fateful year) - I write my entire form three science fair project using Comic Sans. And no, the experiment was not about the ability of humans to withstand ten pages of Comic Sans text, it was about the comparative amount of aluminium that different cooking pots leak into your food, giving you alzheimer's most probably. It was very good. I got a highly commended.

1996 - Serious designer types have realised by now that Comic Sans is not a good font for anything other than comic book speech bubbles and torturing font-snobs with. Everyone else remains wildly excited, using Comic Sans for power point presentations, billboards, newsletters, weddings, parties, anything.

1999 - Even your average home computer user starts to get a bit sick of Comic Sans.

2003-ish - The official Ban Comic Sans campaign is in full swing, trying to wipe Comic Sans off the face of the earth.

2005 - I go to Himatangi, and realise that Comic Sans is not only still present, but thriving.

And now, good people of the internet, I ask you this:
Isn't it time for a renaissance?

*Palmerston North has, in my opinion, THE best lower-North-Island op-shop. It is called the Hospice Op Shop. It is on Cuba Street (PN). Go there, and marvel at the cheap wonders.

Lyndon Hood - Accordion criminal, Lower Hutt

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I started a post about National's proto-budget. I may finish it yet, but I only have so much weekend left, so in the meantime here are the highlights:

> Will not destroy world in immediate future. Debt is a worry but not a disaster (and the Nats point out that they haven't committed the PreFU money the way Labour has and that they plan to keep putting that rainy-day money in the super fund). Likely inflation is a problem but it's not like Cullen can complain.

> I have seen National's budget press pack, incidentally, and Keith Ng really does deserve a brickbat. He could at least have checked his tenuous Nats-plan-debt-blowout interpretation against their projected debt graph instead of giving people who think their overall plan might not be the best option a bad name.

> So the choice is not between a bad budget and a good budget. It's between less tax (or rather, a smaller decrease) and less spending on services (or rather, a smaller increase). And a bunch of other policies and two wrinkly leaders.

> Does Key have some kind of magic wand that allows him to find and eliminate 'wasteful spending'? Or does that just mean cutting a whole lot of programmes you don't like?

> Nobody seems to know how they're going to support any of their other promises that involve new spending. Such as transport, abolishing parole, work for the dole, bulk funding schools and so on. But given that they seem to be making a highly confused attempt to distance themselves from any policies they might have had, say, a year ago, who knows what might happen?

> National's habit of self-contradicting policy announcements has reached the point where it stops looking like negligence and starts looking like a really odd deliberate campaign style or, the option I favour, really serious infighting.

> There are other policies than finance. Oh, and some other political parties too, apparently.

> I still think Labour will get the most votes.

And now, what I really want to talk about ...

I just bought an old accordion for sixty-five bucks at the Lower Hutt antique fair.

Not one of those poncy Piano-Accordion things. One with buttons. What they used to call a melodeon (not the melodica, reed organ or barrel organ kind), made by the good people at Hohner. Just the job for cajun styles, apparently. Jambalaya, here I come.

I had no idea how to play it, but it turns out it's basically a like a souped-up harmonica, and I'm good for those.

Actually, it could be said that it is to a harmonica what a bagpipe is to a clarinet.

Now, I've only managed to free up two out of the four stops from the rust, and a few of the reeds aren't working properly, but at least it can now - theoretically - play a tune.

Still - sixty-five bucks.

I happen to think it has quite a nice tone.

And if you don't all vote left of centre, then I'll play it in public.

New Hood: Financial Briefs...

National Tax Cut Visible From Space
Size Not Everything: Cullen
Matron Wants to Know Which Party John Key is Leader of
Brash Wows Voters With Hotel-Room Anecdotes

Read it all at Scoop

Hamish McKenzie - conduit, New York City

Friday, August 26, 2005

Meros reloaded

Richard Meros had difficulty with Scoop last time he tried to submit a press release about his ground-breaking book to that site. Apparently the release breached Scoop's good taste standards. (Click here to see the original release.) So this time he's by-passed that august organ and sent his release directly to this rather smaller - but perfectly formed - organ. It may still pop up on Scoop in days to come, but we've got it first. How lucky we are.

And here it is:

PM’s young suitor at it again

It's been lauded by the Guardian as "not for the squeamish," heralded by the Sunday Star-Times as an "unforgettable novella," and completely ignored by the New Zealand Listener – and now it's back to unsettle the election-jangled nerves of New Zealand's highest power.

On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover is now out in a fully-edited, post-scripted second edition.

Wellington author Richard Meros wrestles with desire, the difficulties of courting a major political figure, and "physiological considerations for young lovers" in a book that will raise the pulse of any self-respecting Head of State.

Positing himself as the Prime Minister's ideal toy-boy, Meros openly fantasizes about attracting Ms Clark with his taut nipples and squinted – yet unfocussed – eyes. He muses aloud: "This young lover will embody the veracity and lust so often attributed to youth, re-invigorating Helen. She will be like a vampire who has stumbled into a nursery."

On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover is available for sale in Wellington from Aro Arts, Graphic, The Freedom Shoppe, Real Groovy, and Unity Books. It is also on sale at the University Book Shop, Dunedin.

Mail orders will be accepted by Aro Arts, 91 Aro St, Wellington. $10 plus $1 postage and handling within NZ. Make cheques out to “Aro Arts Trust”.

Or you can contact the author directly: richardmeros@hotmail.com

Other praise for OTCAPOHCTMAHYL:

“Apparently, Piggy Muldoon never inspired similar sentiments.” – The Age, Melbourne

On The Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me As Her Young Lover even has an index” – National Business Review

“Appalling! Scandalous! Fantastic!” – Fighting Talk

Disclosure: Richard Meros is my friend

Lyndon Hood - Nobody's Patsy, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Unaphillyated. With a P-H.

Idiot/Savant, posting about Span's list of bloggers' political affiliations, has recognised the Fighting Talk as a "major" "blog" "on the left". Though for some reason we slipped his mind when he wrote this comment.

I would tend to include the young turks at keepleft, if only to further blur the line between a weblog and an ordinary website that gets updated a lot. I'm in favour of keepleft, though explaining why, in a way that the rest of the blogosphere would understand, requires more time than I have right now. For the purposes of this discussion, while they clearly are quite pro-Labour, that's only because they're utterly anti-National.

But is anyone other IndyLeftNZBlog actually enthusiastic about covering the election?

Anyhow, seeing as how we cast such a huge shadow on the independent e-lefty scene, I'll get our unaffiliations out in the open.

I have never been a attached to any political party, not even the yogic flying one. Hamish likes a good party, and Kelly nearly has the same name as the Mayor of Wellington.

And then there's our proud history ...

Matt Nippert claimed he once joined the National Party to destroy it from within. I recall he also did PR for the Greens as holiday work, but Matt does not live here any more and therefore does not count towards our score. Nor does Michael Appleton who, in an eerie coincidence, went on to become a Greens Press Secretary.

For all I know, Max Johns may currently be jobbing as an election hoarding.

Of course, Fightingbloggers have displayed an alarming tendency to be involved in the media, so we might best be considered an extension of Rupert Murdoch's famous left-wing conspiracy.

For example, another lapsed fTalker, Patrick Crewdson, had once, in his pre-blog days, written an editorial in a student magazine that said invading Iraq might not be a very good idea.

I myself was the designer of said magazine and will have laid out that editorial using Gill Sans for the headers. I like to think I was ahead of my time in that: Gill Sans is the new Helvetica. That said, the fact that it is National's campaign font will not be affecting my vote in any way.

I hope that makes things clear.

Lyndon Hood - Alive Blogger, Lower Hutt

Friday, August 19, 2005

So anyway: egghead that I am, I listened to the Labour and National's opening addresses on the radio. RNZ staff had the consideration not to be on strike at the time.

And it was embarrassing to hear Helen Clark's final spiel on what image of New Zealand she projected to the world - they could have done without that last bit.

On the other hand, if I'm not mistaken Don Brash went 'Aeh' twice in the first sentence. And if he's that concerned about not wasting money, he could probably have saved it on that Jib Jab ripoff they're running the rest of the time (I've said it was like Terry Gilliam, and it is, but it's more like Jib Jab's stuff now I've seen it, and people still seem to need telling that it's hardly like South Park at all).

Anyhow, what I'm thinking is that, in an odd way, with Brash it's a bit like what some felt about John Kerry: sure, lots of people don't like Helen - but can you really imagine them all voting for Don?

Not that I would be voting for National anyway.

My cousin, and it must be said he's not the only one, is projecting a blithe (and as far as I can tell, not hugely supported) confidence that the government will change.

I won't offer a bottle of whiskey in favour of Helen just yet, but I'm calling it for her right this minute.

See what happens on Monday when Brash announces his tax cuts, keep an eye on the usually reliable Centrebet (Hide pays $1001!), and I'll get back to you.

Genuinely New Hood: Politicians attempt the sub-four-minute u-turn

Lyndon Hood - As-yet-unbribed, Lower Hutt

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Not Overly New, but Still Timely Hood: I'm trying to come up with a credible fiancee policy

It struck me after this was posted that the girl's nickname should have been "'Zild" rather than "Enzed". Have to save that revision until such time as Oxford University Press publishes my collected works, I guess.

Kelly Pendergrast - wastin' your time, Wellington

Walken 4 Prez!

In my fantasy world, this isn't a hoax. Unfortunately, people on the internet (and we all know the internet never lies) assure me that it probably is.

We can all dream, though...

Kelly Pendergrast - reticent blogger

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Yr head is a cock

It took me a minute to understand this subtle piece of graffiti which is currently showing midway down Cuba Street, but, well…

I guess simplified drawings of male genitalia are pretty much an international language, n’est pas?

Also: I am now officially allowed into America. As a student. For two years. As long as I don’t work too much. So it’s provisional entrance, but hell, I’m in.

My visit to the consulate was yesterday, and I was only there for twenty minutes. It was a bit of a breeze actually, at least as far as overly-officious-and-unhelpful bureaucratic processes can be a breeze. The building was easy to find, what with it being the only office building flying an American flag in, oh, about 8000 kilometers. There was an armed guy (who was, in fact, a New Zealander) and there was fingerprinting and a total lack of informative signage, but I think I’d built myself up for some multi-hour cavity-searching interrogative nightmare where the reality was just faceless and frustrating.

The only proper conversation I had in my time there (one which wasn’t composed entirely of me being given orders or asked questions) was with the uniformed New Zealander (Uncle Sam!) outside the main doors who took my bag, searched it, put it in a pile with other bags, and put me through the metal detector before I was allowed into the sanctified inner chamber of the consulate.

Like most of the consulate guys (and they were all guys) he wasn’t exactly verbose, but nevertheless this exchange took place:

Him: Have you got any knives, weapons, or cigarette lighters in here?
Me: No.
(he rifles through my bag for a while)
Me: How long do you think the wait will be? Can I take something in there with me to do?
Him: Like what?
Me: Well, I’ve got some crochet in my bag…
Him: (thinks for a second) No. No crochet needles.
Me: Um, it’s not really a needle. It’s called a hook. And it’s not sharp at all.
Him: No. No crochet.
Me: Okaaaaaay… why? What do you think I’m going to do? Poke out someone’s eye with it?
Him: Essentially, yes.
(He actually said “essentially, yes”. It was so great.)

So there you have it. They train ‘em staunch, and they train ‘em stupid. I tell you, there’s no point arguing with someone so obtuse. Which is why the system works so perfectly, and why I had absolutely no opportunity to stab someone in the eye with a crochet hook.

Hamish McKenzie - film critic, Boston, USA

Pull the other one

Oh paradox, how beautiful you are. Just when I thought the USA was so irrevocably entangled in a mess of moral fervour, you raise your pretty, pretty head to remind me that, really, it's not as simple as that. Thank you, paradox, for bestowing upon us The Aristocrats, a film that reveals the complexity of America and some of the many layers of humanity. And all despicably filthy layers at that.

Until today I thought Bob Saget should have been buried prematurely beneath many tons of soil. After watching The Aristocrats, however, I think he should be embalmed and glass-entombed to be displayed like Mao as an object of worship. Saget manages to undo all the grisly mistakes of Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos in just a few minutes of Penn and Teller's grainy documentary about an unfunny in-joke.

The story of the unfunny in-joke, told by a great wad of comedic talent, is bloody hilarious. It's a joke that always starts and ends the same: a man visits a talent agent and says "I've got this new act...". He goes on to describe the act, which usually involves incest, golden showers, rimming, child masturbation, beastiality and anything else the dirtiest minds can imagine. The joke ends with the talent agent asking, "So, what's the act called?" The actor responds, "The Aristocrats". The most lurid versions of the joke -- until now only really spoken of backstage and between friends -- are truly hilarious, if only for their utter ridiculousness. The comedians put their personal stamps on the joke as they riff on the filthy themes to create truly memorable, regrettably vivid scenes of unforgivable depravity.

And, I'm pleased to announce, Bob Saget has perhaps the most depraved mind of any of the comedians featured in the film. Worse than Drew Carey; worse than George Carlin; worse than the South Park boys; worse than, ah, Paul Reiser (from the popular sitcom with Helen Hunt, Mad About You); and, yes, even worse than Robin Williams. And by "worse," of course, I mean "better".

The film, which I guess is on the film festival circuit in NZ by now, is a great counterpoint to the FCC-inspired moral righteousness that permeates much of America's entertainment industry at the moment. And I was delighted to observe that most people remained in the cinema for the entire course of the movie. One man left after ten minutes, by which stage comedians were talking of children getting fisted; and the only other casualty at least waited until he had finished his popcorn. The rest of the crowd laughed their way in disbelief through the rest of the show.

Everyone's been raving about Gilbert Gottfried's performance of the joke just three weeks after September 11. It was a great moment -- it had Rob Schneider falling off his seat with laughter -- but not the best. The best was when the joke was told in complete silence by a mime. You can imagine how such circumstances might be acted out.

Hamish and Lyndon - title sharers

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Part three of a seven-part series...

12 Reasons Not to Vote for the Maori Party

1. Well, you could start by looking at their policies. Oh, no, wait...

2. You are a wishy-washy, PC liberal and everything, but there's a limit.

3. Their name sounds too similar to the ill-fated Murray Party of 1963, which ran on a platform of social justice for unfortunately-named southern white males.

4. They refused to vote against the Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe because "It is difficult to know the full extent of the situation in Zimbabwe given our reliance on media commentary for an accurate portrayal of the events as they unfold". Apparently the combined might of the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Amnesty International, and the Otago Daily Times doesn't carry enough credibility.

5. There's no way you're going to let a bunch of cheeky darkies tell you what to do.

6. As an avid follower of MMP, you understand that the fewer electorate votes the party gets, the greater the overhang from the electorate seats they'll win, and the more extra bonus support for whichever the hell party you imagine they'll be supporting.

7. Because them Maoris have had it easy for too long, with their poor health outcomes, marginalisation, poverty, early death and so on.

8. We can learn from National's billboards that iwi are Maori and are fully encompassed by the word "Kiwi," which means "New Zealander," which means you should vote for National, the party for all New Zealanders, or else Labour will have its way and them Murrys will fence off all the beaches.

9. Maori believe in communal living, which is basically just code for communism, which is why the party representing Maori should be expunged from our decent free-market-fearing property ownership society.

10. Let's face it, most of the population don't have a clue whether it's Tariana Turia, Turiana Taria, or some other inventive permutation of those letters, like Anita Airruta.

11. It will upset the pervasive Pakeha hegemony so pertinent to perpetuating our freedoms and democracy. In other words, they should quit complaining and go back to their own country.

12. Since they have consistently voted with National, who plan to abolish the Maori seat and threatened to reinforce the foreshore legislation, the Maori Party will be the perfect coaltion support party for a hell-bound snowball.

Hamish McKenzie - reiner-inner, London, Ontario

Friday, August 12, 2005

It's not over until Parekura Horomia sings

Wooo back Keith. It's too early to decide that "Labour is going to win this election".

For a start, this is not an election that Labour will 'win'. It's an election that will be decided by blocs: centre-left-left (Labour/Greens); centre-left-centre (Labour/NZ First/UF); centre-left-all-over-the-place (Labour/United Future/Greens/Progressives/Maori Party); centre-right-centre (National/NZ First/UF); or, less likely, centre-right-right (National/ACT).

You tell us, Keith, that "The overwhelming mood of the [leaders debate] crowd was positive, and this does not bode well for the opposition. It's that simple".

Well, sorry, but it's not.

The election is still more than a month away. It's not going to be decided by a televised debate with a dodgy worm graphic and poor ratings (I'm guessing at the ratings bit).* It's not even going to be decided by what voters think are the major issues now, or what the mood of the country is now. It's going to be decided by what the mood of the country is on September 17, and which parties have the ascendancy then. Certainly, to a large extent it could be decided by National's proposed tax-cuts. That tax-cut policy could well be the disappointment it's now being built up to be; but it could also be National's ace-in-the-hole.

It's a truism that people don't have very long attention spans or memories. Whatever's fresh in the mind will have a large role in determining which party voters favour. While such a debate may catalyse support growth for minor parties, it's probably not going to have much of an impact on who will 'win' the election. That's because people will forget it. Simple as that.

And anyway, Keith, I distinctly recall you putting a lazy tenner on John Kerry winning the 2004 Presidential election. How can I ever trust your predictions?

* I still contend, however, that such debates are vital to the smaller parties' prospects. Will be interesting to see how UF does in the polls after Dunne's strong performance -- or, more tellingly, other media reports on his strong performance.

Hamish McKenzie - on the ball, the other side of the world

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Courts force democracy upon us

I'm conflicted. I'm pleased that TV3's decision to omit Peter Dunne from the leaders debate has been revealed as arbitrary and unfair. But I don't like the idea of a court exerting its authority over a news organisation so hurriedly.

What precedent is being set here? Will politicians be able to take news organisations to court in the future because they don't feel their opinions have had adequate air-time?

I still think TV3 was wrong in excluding Peter Dunne (it's much easier to justify Jim Anderton, whose party was barely registering on the polls), but it should remain as the master of its devices. I would have much preferred to see TV3 back down after a public outcry -- or to have viewers abandon such a skewed debate -- than to have this forced upon them from on high.

And surely this case is too nuanced to be decided within a matter of days. Where's TV3's recourse to appeal?

Then again, I don't feel terribly sorry for TV3. After trying, unfairly, to have only six leaders on, they've been landed with eight. Would have been much cleaner for them with seven.

Lyndon and Hamish - player haters

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Part two of a multi-part series...

Twelve Reasons Not to Vote for ACT

1 Because they stole that nice Mr Dunne's place in the TV3 debate.

2 Because of the unconscionable way they treated Donna Awatere-Huata.

3 Deborah Coddington has gone back into journalism — you intend to vote for the Herald on Sunday.

4 The image of hundreds of eligible voters working together to bring Rodney over his threshold is a bit far-fetched.

Put it another way: you know what they say about ACT voters and sinking ships.

5 Let's face facts: nobody likes Muriel Newman.

6 Rodney Hide maintains a regular weblog. Geek. Geeking it up on taxpayer time, too, I'll wager.

7 Because Aaron Bhatnagar has gone haring off to National, and Aaron is like a god to you.

8 Association of Cocksuckers and Taxpayers. Ah ha ha ha ha!

9 If you really want to keep the main parties honest, it would be simplest just to shoot them.

10 Boo hoo hoo, look at me, I'm Richard Prebble, boo hoo hoo.

11 On their website they refer to themselves as "The Party With Backbone," but as these billboards clearly indicate, their leader has no neck.

12 Sometimes, in the dead of night, you suspect that maybe poor people might have worth after all.

Kelly Pendergrast - on the internet, Wellington

And that’s why they call it Bureaucrazy

I'm feeling pretty bitter right now...

Excitingly, but perhaps illogically, I’m leaving good-ol’-nuclear-free NZ soon to go hang out in the “Land of the Free” for a couple of years. As a reasonably benign grad student from a reasonably benign country with no WMDs (in fact, without much of a military to speak of), I thought it would be pretty straightforward.

I was wrong.

After filling out official forms and reading fine print till my eyes bled, I was recently informed that I have to fly to the other end of the country (well, Auckland) just attend a twenty minute interview at the American consulate, where I will be fingerprinted by dudes with guns. People don't really have guns in New Zealand. But hey, the consulate is officially American soil so I guess they can have guns and pledge allegiance and watch reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond to their hearts' content.

The final indignity, however, was the fact that I had to pay $3.49 a minute just to call the consulate and make my appointment. $3.49 a minute! I know America is all user pays and stuff, but hell, I can get phone sex for cheaper than that.

Lyndon Hood - on the ball, Lower Hutt

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lyndon Hood - oathbreaker, Lower Hutt

Saturday, August 06, 2005

So I take it this means National won't waste any money at all, then?

I know I implied I wouldn't be talking about specific issues, but screw that.

My basic reaction to the Taxathon pamphlet (and associated press release): I'm sure people who will be voting National anyway will just love it. To me, it seems kind of childish. As in, it might have been more persuasive with a more serious tone.

But then, I'm not representative of the general population.

Also, I wonder if this way it doesn't make the whole idea of over-taxing and wasteful spending look, well, kind of cute.

And (suprise suprise) I believe it is genuinely debatable whether New Zealand is overtaxed, and whether the quality of spending is all that bad, by world standards.

Oh, and one observation out of several: I know they don't actually explicitly say the money in the right-hand column is all waste, but that $239,000,000 is the entire annual spend on Te Wananga O Aotearoa, isn't it? Does that mean you do want to axe it, Mr English?

The pamplet is, however, somewhat resistant to parody. That is to say, point-by-point quibbling of the whole thing would make me feel like a lot more of as hack than I am.

And what with its done-in-my-office aesthetic, and what with the cuteness thing noted above, it's kind of already parodying itself.

Still, with Aaron so determined to supply the bits, it would be churlish not to a least have a nibble ...

Update (12:35AM, 7/8): Original contained appalling arithmetic. 2 billion divided by 4 million is not one half. This is, I hope fixed now.

Click for large version

Hamish McKenzie - responder, London, Ontario

Thursday, August 04, 2005

This will be brief...

'Cos I don't want to dwell on it. But Aaron said he looked forward to my comments, so here they are.

Yes, TV3 is a private company, and yes, it is their prerogative to decide what goes on the show. But that doesn't mean they can shirk their responsibilities of fairness and balance in their election coverage.

TV3's poll had a sample of 1,000. 14 people chose ACT as their top party; 12 chose United Future. Based on this poll, excluding one of those parties in favour of another does not make fair and balanced coverage.

Furthermore, Aaron suggests it would be foolish for TV3 to consider other polling data in their decision when they invest so much to produce their own. Well, I would say that relying on the polls for this decision was a foolish idea in the first place. This far out from the election (still 42 sleeps!), the polls really don't mean much for the minor parties. The polls will mean something more for them once the leaders debate has been televised. That's when they finally get some time in the spotlight. At the moment they're very much confined to the sidelines while National and Labour throw mud at each other.

Also, Craig Ranapia sent me an email to say Dunne's comparison of TV3 to Mugabe "says more about his own self-important pomposity than the quality of TV3's editorial judgement." What do I have to say to that? Well, yeah, pretty much. Dunne was being hyperbolical, and he knows it. But he's desperate for attention, and without the TV3 leaders debate, perhaps he feels he has to go to desperate measures to get media attention. He would have wanted his comments to make front page news, to stir the hornet's nest. Comparing TV3 to Mugabe (a fashionable villain at the moment) might just have done the trick. Still, I agree that he's a dick for going that far.

Craig goes on to say "If the whole election hinges on one (commercial TV) hour of high-tech bear-baiting, our democracy is in very deep shit indeed."

Okay, it's not true that the whole election hinges on this leaders debate -- but it will affect United Future's, er, future. And it may well affect the make-up of the next government.

Lyndon Hood - welfarist, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Any policy yet? You know who I'm talking about. No?

Of course, there's stuff from Labour to come too. Word is, we can expect tears before final historical Treaty grievance deadline.

Still no policy? Okay then, lets generalise.

It seems Don Brash isn't actually having that much influence over National policy, which will probably annoy all those former ACT voters no end if he actually gets to be PM. But I still get the idea that the general stance is more radical - at the very least more like the last National government - than they're trying to make out.

Cards on the table. I was born in the mid-70s and a lot of my political opinions were formed over the late 80s and the 90s. I'm inclined to accept that some kind of Rogeresque reforms were necessary; I'm entirely happy they stopped where they did and I think they could probably do with a touch more rolling back.

There's some real political philosophy I want to get to one day. You'll often find my responses to particular issues on Scoop. And then there's this:

I don't like the tone of National, or at least of some of the supporting comment I've seen. Tax rebates are reward for work. In the circumstances, this translates to "you get what you grab". Similarly incentives for beneficiaries amounts to being stopping being nice, or in some cases being actively nasty, to beneficiaries.

Faced with that kind of attitude, I have this thought, inspired I suppose by John A Lee, via Mervyn Thompson:

What about the children of the poor?

It's not my only argument, or even my first choice. It's certainly not a blanket justification for everything the Labour-Progessive government has done. But it's a goodie.

What about the children of the poor?

The position they are in is self-evidently not their fault. They need to live. And if you deny them what little nourishment, care, health, society and culture went can get them, that is simply a waste.

If you find the idea of wasted human potential too flaky, think of it as a waste of economic productivity.

Opinions on how to deal with this, naturally, differ.

Speaking as a white guy with at least indirect access to a good income that's already paid its loan, the declared National policies that I object to will only actually harm me indirectly. For example, by screwing up society.

If you ask, National probably say the poor will be better off their way. Well, actually, Brash, who seems to sometimes become honest when cornered, doesn't think he has has much control over child poverty.

Thing is, I don't get the feeling they actually care.

New-ish Hood: Clark Announces Election - Hundreds Flee To Australia

Hamish McKenzie - student, London, Ontario

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but...

I agree with Peter Dunne.

There is a problem with that report, though -- and it's major. The difference between ACT and United Future in the last TV3/TNS opinion poll was just 0.2 percent, not 2 percent.

Mark Jennings' claim that the decision to exclude United Future was fair is a steaming pile of crap. Even if you could justify excluding one party from the debate on the basis of polling, the meagre 0.2 percent difference is so insignificant as to be entirely negligible. The margin of error for the poll was 3.1 percent. That renders the difference irrelevant. Statistically, it means nothing. Nothing.

All that aside, deciding who gets to participate on the basis of a poll (yes, just one poll) was stupid in the first place. These leaders debates can make or break a minor party. They might not register on the public radar before the televised debates, but as Peter Dunne can testify, they sure can after them.

Most kiwis aren't as obsessed about politics as we in the blogosphere. Most will be picking up the odd scrap of information from the newspapers or the TV news. There's a damn good chance that parties like United Future, unpopular with the media, would have slipped under the radar. The televised debate, then, is crucial to such parties' chances of winning new support. It's a rare and important opportunity to speak directly to the public.

By denying that chance, TV3 is corrupting the democratic process. TV3 is effectively deciding who is or is not relevant in this election. I hope viewers stay away from their debate in droves.

Lyndon and Hamish - political webloggers

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Fighting Talk initiative...

With the election looming, we at Fighting Talk feel it incumbent upon us to offer election coverage to rival Keith Ng's. Thus, today we launch the first in a series of "12 reasons not to vote for...". United Future is the lucky first.

12 Reasons Not to Vote for United Future

1. Their success in the last election can be traced back to an elongated soft-bodied invertebrate animal. No, that's not Peter Dunne.

2. They believe in "common sense," not realising that the New Zealand electorate is actually made up of raving loonies.

3. They have described themselves as "Centre-Left". Until they can get that one right, they shouldn't be allowed in Parliament.

4. "It depends on the numbers game, I wouldn't rule out a formal coalition but it might be after a period," Dunne told NZPA in response to a question about a potential coalition with National, clearly indicating that he finds Helen Clark difficult to work with at a certain stage of her menstrual cycle.

5. They believe in "family values". If Peter Dunne was Prime Minister, we would all be forced to breed. Is that the kind of New Zealand you want?

6. They say they'll work with whichever party gets the most votes, but they also claim to have a bottom line with respect to supporting the Families Comission. Not that this is likely to cause any problems, but surely it is somehow risible.

7. They're working with Outdoor Recreation. A foolish move. Clearly, New Zealanders prefer indoor inertia.

8. They're moral conservatives and free marketeers. Gross. Unless, of course, you're into that that shit. In which case you should probably side with ACT and waste your vote properly.

9. Wellington Central candidate Fiona McKenzie isn't updating her blog "on a regular basis" like she said she would. Broken promises!

10. They don't have the temerity to stand behind their Power Point presentations.

11. Ohariu-Belmont is a hole.

12. They have a woman as their eighth highest-ranked MP. As a National voter, that kind of politically-correct favouritism makes you uncomfortable.