The Dim-Post

October 31, 2009

Applauding the vacuum

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:00 am

This morning’s New Zealand Herald falls to it’s knees and frantically bobs it’s head up and down to praise the government on it’s one year anniversary – because after all, lavishing praise on politicians is what good journalism is all about, right? It’s ironic that it was the Herald that lead the campaign against Labour’s EFA on the grounds that it would have a chilling effect on free speech: now it reads like an edition of the People’s Daily under Mao. Check out this column by John Armstrong. It’s only a matter of time before Armstrong is reporting that Key’s blessing ends droughts and increases crop yields.

And here’s Jon Johannsson:

To Key’s leadership performance then. I believe we are watching an unusual prime ministership take shape. Key’s skillset is vastly different from what we’ve seen before. We’d possibly have to go all the way back to the entrepreneurial Julius Vogel in the 1870s to find an apt comparison. Vogel put in vital and much-needed infrastructure to connect New Zealanders with each other and then with the rest of the world.

The thing is, Key hasn’t actually done anything! That’s why he’s popular – he’s spent the year accumulating political capital but with the arguable exception of cancelling the tax cuts he promised in the election he hasn’t actually achieved anything significant. The most profound decisions made by this government so far have been:

  • Roll back the ETS
  • Cancel contributions to the Cullen fund

Emissions and superannuation are both really hard areas of government that need tough, unpopular decisions to be made. And Key and English have been reasonably upfront in saying that they are not the people who will make them – they’ve kicked for touch, left it up for some other government further down the line to solve. In terms of political and media strategy I guess that’s that’s very clever and everything, but it’s not transformational and it’s not changing New Zealand politics. Clark was also wildly popular at this stage in her first term, before she banned smoking in bars and legalised civil unions – like Key she had no effective opposition to worry about and the media adored her; I suspect the media honeymoon is lasting longer with Key because journalists aren’t afraid of him, while with Clark there was always a degree of intellectual intimidation so it’s a huge relief to spend the post-cab press conference confronting cuddly John Key.

Key might turn out to be a great New Zealand politician – he had the political coverage to introduce pretty much anything he wanted at the start of the year and could have used the recession as an excuse to relaunch the revolution. He didn’t and that indicates a degree of responsibility and good faith that New Zealander’s haven’t seen from right-wing politicians for a long time. But he might just drift along for another six years, avoiding the tough calls because he doesn’t want to drop in the polls, tinkering with various areas of the state sector and fiscal policy before drifting off into a happy and comfortable retirement while the next government raises taxes and slashes spending to solve all of the problems that he didn’t feel like fixing.

October 30, 2009

More Unicorn Art

Filed under: art — danylmc @ 7:41 am

obama-painting7Plenty more featuring Obama (and Michelle, and Rush!) here. Get your unicorn tatoos here.

Deeper into English

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:35 am

Lew at Kiwipolitico breaks down Bill English’s propaganda spot on TVNZ:

the factor which makes this more a political advertisement than anything else, is that Bill English is the connection between the two narratives: if you accept the narrative line, he is the key to turning the dream into reality. This is essentially an overarching ‘hope’ narrative, a most powerful sort in troubled times, as Barack Obama realised

The Standard gets an invite to the show’s breakfast launch. Up until now I’ve felt that TVNZs marketing department were using English to promote their show the same way they’d use any celebrity and that they genuinely were too stupid to understand concepts like balance of views and objectivity in political programming. So I was a bit surprised to see that their political editor – who is very smart and understands these issues very well – is fronting the debate.

More Glibertarianism

Filed under: general idiocy,Politics — danylmc @ 6:07 am

Hide flying his girlfriend around the world on the taxpayer dollar. I also note that ACT voted in favor of the bill that allows police to take unconsented DNA samples from anyone they intend to charge with an imprisonable offense.

ACT’s corporate donors are certainly getting their moneys worth but the grassroots supporters of the party must really feel like suckers.

Also,

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws says giving the “underclass” money to be sterilised will address our child abuse problem.

Critics last night labelled the suggestion “totalitarian”, “draconian” and “reprehensible”, and questioned his appropriateness as a city leader.

Mr Laws said the children of beneficiaries, drug addicts and criminals had little chance in life.

Didn’t our current Prime Minister grow up in a state house? I seem to remember hearing that biographical detail several thousand times during the election campaign.

October 29, 2009

Poetry o’ the day, printemps edition

Filed under: books — danylmc @ 9:06 pm

Yes–the springtimes needed you. Often a star was waiting for you to notice it.
A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past,

or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing.
All this was mission. But could you accomplish it?
Weren’t you always distracted by expectation, as if every event announced a beloved?
(Where can you find a place to keep her, with all the huge strange thoughts inside you
going and coming and often staying all night.)

First Elegie. Rainer Maria Rilke

Then Lancelot, Galahad and I Jump OUT of the rabbit . . .

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 10:51 am

The must read article of the day is this column by Brian Fallow in the Herald about the Brash 2025 task force and the challenge of ‘catching up’ with Australia.

I won’t quote a bunch of excerpts – you really should read the whole thing – but the take home message is that we’re falling behind because of serious underperformance in areas like education, business leadership, investment in research and capital markets.

It’s all pretty grim reading and it gets even worse at the end when we see that Business New Zealand’s solutions to our poor performance in the above areas are:

the repeal of Working for Families, “simplifying” labour law as it relates to dismissal and collective bargaining, allowing the private sector into accident compensation, and including property rights in the Bill of Rights Act.

Analogy time! I still think that asking Brash to advise us on how to lift productivity is like asking a compulsive arsonist for interior decorating tips. (‘You want me to take out all the smoke alarms and replace them with rags soaked in petrol? Intriguing.’) And if your house was actually on fire and you went to Business New Zealand for help I think their response would be something along the lines of ‘Quick, go to an ATM machine, withdraw all of your cash from your bank account and give it to us before it goes up in smoke! Run!’

Nevertheless, I will be morbidly curious to see what Brash comes up with at the end of November.

Superstition

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 8:07 am

The Herald has a story about Destiny Church:

The leader of Destiny Church, Brian Tamaki, who not long ago anointed himself bishop of the church he founded, has now proclaimed himself the church’s “spiritual father” and designated the male members of the church as “spiritual sons”.

The story was written by Garth George, who also has an opinion column on the subject. He writes:

how 700 Kiwi men could accept this nonsense and swear lifetime fealty to a mere fallible mortal is quite beyond me.

It’s amusing and a bit absurd that members of Tamaki’s church see him as a ‘spiritual father’, but George is a  Roman Catholic who presumably believes that when he takes communion he is eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a murdered God born of a virgin, which is also pretty fucking daft. H L Mencken said it best:

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

October 28, 2009

Quote o’ the day, why New Zealand television is the way it is edition.

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 12:02 pm

Children will always be afraid of the dark, and men with minds sensitive to hereditary impulse will always tremble at the thought of the hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars, or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the mad can glimpse.

H P Lovecraft. Supernatural Horror in Literature.

Labour is crying foul over a TVNZ promotional advertisement in which Finance Minister Bill English appears as the poster boy for a series of programmes on the economy.

A TVNZ spokeswoman, Andi Brotherston, said it was not considering pulling the advertisement, which is due to run until November 21.

She said the creative unit at TVNZ chose Mr English partly because of the pun on his name in the series’ title “Plain English”.

Questions over poster-boy English’s free air time. New Zealand Herald, 28th October 2009

‘Plain English’. Boy, that’s quite an Algonquin Round Table they’re operating over there at the TVNZ ‘creative unit’. Apparently Labour don’t accept this excuse but I find it utterly, horribly plausible.

October 27, 2009

Haunting youtube clip o’ the day

Filed under: movies — danylmc @ 3:24 pm

Anne Frank house has posted footage of the famous author up on Youtube:

July 22 1941. The girl next door is getting married. Anne Frank is leaning out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom. It is the only time Anne Frank has ever been captured on film. At the time of her wedding, the bride lived on the second floor at Merwedeplein 39. The Frank family lived at number 37, also on the second floor.

Icetralia!

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 9:19 am

Bloomberg reports Iceland’s economy is so comprehensively doomed that McDonalds is closing all it’s stores there:

McDonald’s in Iceland, which imports most of the ingredients it uses in its meals, will shut after costs doubled over the past year, Lyst said in an e-mailed statement today. The franchise holder said it doesn’t expect the situation to change in the short term.

“We would have to raise our prices by 20 percent to get the margin needed on our products,” Magnus Ogmundsson, Lyst chief executive officer, said in a phone interview. “That would have sent a Big Mac to 780 kronur” ($6.36), compared with the 650 kronur it costs today, he said.

The island’s currency collapsed last year following the failure of Iceland’s biggest banks. Offshore, the krona slumped as much as 80 percent against the euro, while capital restrictions this year have failed to prevent an 8.1 percent decline, making the krona the second-worst performer of the 26 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

Noted partly for interests sake, but partly because whenever people like Don Brash, Sir Roger Douglas or John Whitehead talk about their plans for catching up with Australia their proposals are generally to introduce monetary and fiscal policies totally unlike Australia’s but weirdly identical to pre-bankruptcy Iceland. Do they want us to be McDonaldsless? Maybe I’ve underestimated the Greens and Sue Kedgely is secretly pulling the Treasury Secretary’s strings? We’re through the looking glass here.

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