The Dim-Post

July 31, 2011

Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:04 am

I/S (and sundry other left-wing commentators) was astounded by the a finding in the recent Fairfax poll:

National’s yawning lead in the polls is built on an even larger gap in confidence on handling the economy, new polling shows. The Fairfax Media-Research International poll shows 49 per cent of voters think National has the best plan to fix the economy, well ahead of Labour on 17 per cent.

On the face of it this is pretty strange, because National doesn’t have a plan to fix the economy. I think what’s happening here is that the majority of voters pay little attention to economic issues.They’re complicated, a little dull and the so-called all experts disagree with other and they’re always wrong about everything (remember how the reserve bank was definitely going to raise interest rates last week?)

But there’s a general understanding that the economy is important and complex, so for most people the question comes down to trust and competence. For a majority of voters that’s a binary choice between the National party of John Key – who they adore – and the disaster prone, smear obsessed Labour Party. That’s a real easy choice.

The problem for the left is that the current front bench of Labour MPs don’t see any need to convince the public of their fitness for government. That’s because they see politics as a Manichean battle between good and evil, in which they are the good guys (obviously!) and all they have to do to regain power is show the public how cruel and vicious and evil John Key is. So this dynamic is unlikely to change until the line-up of Labour’s front bench changes.

July 30, 2011

National to spot Labour Steven Joyce during election campaign

Filed under: Politics,satire — danylmc @ 10:11 am

Senior government Minister and key National Party campaign strategist Steven Joyce will be spotted to the Labour Party for the election campaign, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The surprise announcement comes after weeks of dire polling for the Labour Party, compounded by a series of public relations fiascos. Joyce is regarded as Key’s closest advisor, and National’s strategic mastermind.

‘This will make the 2011 General Election a fair fight instead of a somewhat undemocratic cake-walk,’ Key said in his Beehive Press Conference. He added that came to the decision after speaking with Joyce, who ‘loves a challenge.’

Joyce will work closely with senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who is currently running Labour’s election campaign. Joyce has insisted that the two men will work together as equals.

‘Trevor’s role will be crucial to our success’ Joyce announced in a joint press conference with Labour leader Phil Goff. ‘In light of recent information security problems, Trevor will safeguard our campaign strategy documents in a tent on the Auckland Islands.’

The Auckland’s are an unpopulated sub-Antarctic island group with no phone or internet access. ‘Everything depends on this,’ Joyce insisted, as Mallard’s tiny orange dinghy sailed out from Invercargill into fearsome three meter swells.

Joyce has lost no time bringing his expertise to bear on Labour’s internal organisation, making sweeping changes to staffing, especially in the public relations area.

‘Previously the role of the media communications team was to communicate their hatred of the media to the rest of the party. We’ve re-tooled that, and the focus is now on communicating party policies to the media. Likewise, Labour’s polling team will now canvas the public on their feelings towards Labour, rather than the other way around,’ Joyce said.

He also dismissed suggestions that Goff was not the best person to lead Labour into the election. ‘I’m supporting Phil because he’s a maverick outsider who came to Wellington to clean up this town,’ Joyce said.’Some know-it-all university academics and faceless grey bureaucrats say Phil is too much of a reckless outsider, too much of a vagabond with a heart of gold who plays by his own rules to run this country. Not me.’

He also supported Labour Deputy Annette King who, he claimed, kept a mysterious box in her office that she would only open if Labour were voted into office. Recent polls indicate that 80% of voters support Labour’s new ‘opening mystery box’ policy.

Although they’ve been critical of his performance as a Minister, senior Labour figures are happy to have Joyce aboard. Up and coming MP Grant Robertson has welcomed him to the Labour team. Appearing in a ten page photo shoot in New Idea magazine, Robertson praised Joyce’s understanding of media strategy and coyly played down recent rumours that the Wellington Central MP had fathered four love children with four different Shortland Street actresses.

Joyce will also make National’s reckless spending on roading infrastructure a central issue during the election. ‘What dirty deals were done to justify borrowing billions of dollars to spend on roads that go nowhere? These are the questions that the National Party will have to explain to the people of New Zealand.’

In the interests of party balance, Labour has traded Joyce for Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, and she’s believed to be behind the Prime Minister’s shock announcement that he will conduct the remainder of his campaign in virtual reality environment Second Life, and prefix every single word he speaks with the letter ‘i’.

The Prime Minister’s fairy-winger avatar commented on the new strategy when he addressed an online press conference of goblins, virtual journalists and the National Party Cosplay Association this afternoon.

‘iI imay ihave imade a ihuge imistake,’ Key said.

July 29, 2011

Riddle me this

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 8:49 pm

So the richest people in the country increased their wealth by 20% over the past year, to $45.2 billion, an amazing 35% of New Zealand’s yearly GDP owned by 150 people. But we didn’t have 20% economic growth in 2010. We didn’t even have 2% growth. So where did all their extra wealth come from? ‘Prudent overseas investments?’

Are we learning yet?

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 11:48 am

Via the Herald:

The fortunes of the country’s 150 richest people have grown by almost 20 per cent in one year but they are still calling for the easing of constrictions around wealth creation.

The National Business Review yesterday published its annual Rich List, showing that the combined wealth of New Zealand’s richest has ballooned from $38.2 billion to $45.2 billion – the highest total ever.

“What emerged again and again was the need for a regulatory and operational environment that’s conducive to wealth creation,” Ms Read said.

“Eliminating excessive regulation, easing constrictions and freeing up the entrepreneurial spirit were regarded as essential to enabling wealth creation.”

Jeweller Sir Michael Hill, worth $245 million, told NBR: “Could not the Government give us a little freedom to be able to make common sense decisions for ourselves?”

John McVicar, managing director of a forestry group that puts his family’s worth at $70 million, said economic policy should be based on reducing costs for business and increasing productivity and revenue.

That’s fine. If you ask any selected cohort of people what the government’s policy settings for driving economic growth should be, most of them will (a) have no idea, so (b) answer that the most important thing to do is to have policies that advantage the members of that cohort.

The problem is when people mistakenly think that Sir Michael Hill’s expertise in setting up jewellery franchises means he knows anything whatsoever about macroeconomics, and that he isn’t just advocating deregulation out of pure self-interest in the hope that various suckers will be gullible enough to endorse or even implement his ‘advice’ and make him even richer.

Because we know from incredibly bitter experience that deregulation is not a driver of economic growth. We carried out massive deregulation for twenty years, and we’re routinely celebrated as the most deregulated, freest, best country in the world in which to do business – but instead of sustained economic growth, this reform led to catastrophic market failures like the ’87 share market collapse, leaky homes and the finance company debacle, all of which destroyed far more wealth than the deregulation created. And at the same time, robustly regulated economies like Australia and the Northern European welfare democracies left us for dead.

Of course, it left a tiny handful of individuals much, much richer so they’re all in favor of more of the same, but anyone still listening to these people is an idiot.

July 27, 2011


Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 8:10 pm

I’ve been meaning to blog about the Sounds Symposium for a few weeks now, and here it is in an NZPA story:

The Norwegian man accused of killing at least 76 people, Anders Behring Breivik, based part of his 1500-page manifesto on a speech an Australian historian gave in New Zealand.

“Breivik quotes several statements I made in a paper to a conference in New Zealand in February 2006, titled The Adversary Culture: The Perverse Anti-Westernism of the Cultural Elite,” Quadrant magazine editor Keith Windschuttle told The Australian newspaper.

The speech was delivered at the Summer Sounds Symposium, at Punga Cove in the Marlborough Sounds, on February 11, 2006.

The Sound Symposium is a right-wing gab-fest held in the Marlborough Sounds. They seem to be defunct, which is a shame because their programs sound fascinating. Here are excerpts from 2007, 2008 and 2010:

SATURDAY March 20, 2010
9. 00 am Professor James Allan – The Decline of Democracy
Dr Andy Pratt – Transparency and the Manager’s New Clothes
Transparency is widely used as a feel-good term by politicians, managers and the
like. Often there is a darker side to their ministrations which involves the conscious
or unconscious shackling of creativity within a quicksand of administrivia. This will
be a brief effort to try to shed light on this murky underworld and its implications.
Chaired by Greg O’Connor

3. 45 pm Hal Colebatch – Is the Survival of the West Actually Guaranteed?
Bill Muehlenberg – The Threat of Secular Humanism
Chaired by Dr Neville Bennett

9. 30 am Dr Hal G.P Colebatch – A fragile Flame?
The uniqueness of, and the present attack upon, scientific and technological civilisation
Chaired by Dr Don Brash

11.00 am Peter Westmore – Organ harvesting in China: an olympian horror
Chaired by Nevil Gibson

3.45pm – Keith Windschuttle: The Adversary Culture: the perverse anti-Westernism of the culturally elite.
Chaired by Matthew Hooton
Symposium Bar Open

A friend of mine went in – I believe – 2008 and found himself standing around a bonfire singing ‘God Defend New Zealand’ while holding hands with Muriel Newman and Kerre Woodham. I’d give almost anything to go to one of these things.

Quote of the day

Filed under: too fucking crazy to count as politics — danylmc @ 4:35 pm

If a child commits suicide, let us consider not celebrating their lives on our marae; perhaps bury them at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be condemned by the people

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell in a column in the Rotorua Daily Post

Put me in mind of this quote from Richard Russo’s Empire Falls:

I think a lot of what is going on with kids who get pushed too far and attempt either murder or suicide is that they are trying to deal with their own non-existence for the people who are supposed to care most for them.


Ontology for idiots

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 4:09 pm

Peter Creswell asks:

Why is it that it is apparently okay for folk to yell “Godwin’s Law!” at people who compare them to Nazis, but those same folk have no problem leaping into print loudly and nastily comparing other people to the Norwegian mass murderer.

Here’s how it works. If someone is advocating the extermination of another race (or some other subset) of people then you get to call them a Nazi, or compare them to Hitler. I’m totally fine with that. But if someone inconveniences you in some trivial way – like, say, by demanding they you obey the laws around election advertising – and you play the Nazi card, then that’s not appropriate. The Nazi’s aren’t an historic synonym for evil because they went around mildly inconveniencing people.

Comparisons to the Norwegian mass murderer work the same way. If (for whatever reason) some company or government department requires you to fill in a form and you respond by clawing at your eyes and screaming, ‘This is just like that mass murder in Norway’ (I use this hypothetical example because Peter is highly likely to act this out in real life, if he hasn’t already) then that’s not acceptable, because making someone fill in a form is not really like a terrorist atrocity. But if someone makes statements about race or Islam or immigrants that are identical to those made by the Norwegian mass murderer then it’s okay to make an observation to that effect.

I guess what this boils down to is that in rhetorical terms it’s okay to say one thing is similar to another if they are, and it’s not if they aren’t. I hope this clears things up for PC.

What is to be done?

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 2:27 pm

The latest Fairfax poll has Labour on 28%, cementing the expectation that the main opposition party is heading for a bloodbath in November.

Labour’s MPs – especially those list MPs contemplating a sudden and unwanted year end career change  – will be convincing themselves that the polls will tighten once they enter the formal election campaign. After all, that’s what happened back in ’08.

The trouble with that theory is that Helen Clark was a very formidable, very experienced campaigner, and Phil Goff is . . . not. Goff’s leadership qualities (or lack thereof) are more likely to cost the party additional support during the campaign. Consider his latest escapade in which he transformed the story about alleged Israeli spies(?) into a debate about Goff’s own integrity and ‘what he knew when’. Does Labour really want similar vignettes playing out every week of the election campaign? For six weeks?

My point is that there’s no downside to replacing Goff as leader, even at this late stage. The voters are adamant: they don’t like him. A leadership change is a signal that Labour are actually listening to what the voters are telling them. I’d also argue that there’s no political downside to an individual taking over a party that’s headed for certain defeat: all the new leader has to do is return an election result in the mid-30s and they’ll be safe. If none of Labour’s prospective leaders think they can do that then why should they ever be in charge of the party?

And the timing is actually pretty good. A coup in the next few weeks means you get a sudden flurry of publicity, then a six week break during the Rugby World Cup to put a new leadership team in place and plan a campaign strategy.

July 24, 2011

Sounds familiar

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 10:24 pm

The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.

– Umberto Eco. Foucault’s Pendulum

It’s a cheap shot to smear political movements by the actions of their extremists – but watching the video posted by right-wing anti-Islamic zealot and self-identified Knight Templar Anders Behring Breivik before he carried out his terrorist attacks, I can’t help but feel unnerved by the fact that I’ve seen the exact same images and cartoons on various right-wing blogs in New Zealand.

The fantasy that the left are secret Marxists in league with Islamic fundamentalists to destroy western civilisation enjoys a surprising amount of support for a doctrine that makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Ian Wishart and former ACT Party Vice-President Trevor Louden are probably its most prominent champions – although I believe they are amusing rather than dangerous.

Breivik’s plan seems to have been the destruction of the political left in Norway, by blowing up the current generation of left-wing politicians with a car-bomb in central Oslo and then murdering their next generation at their youth camp. The second phase of his plan was more successful, but I’m not sure it will have the impact on Norway’s domestic politics that Breivik intended. I think political parties function similarly to revolutionary movements – other capable people will step forward and replace those he killed.

Deep question

Filed under: media,polls — danylmc @ 8:12 am

Why does the SST keep running stories based on Horizon polls? Is it because the staff there don’t know anything about polls? Or is it because they think that their readers don’t know anything about polls and the staff don’t really care if the stories they publish are nonsense?

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