Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Balls to 2007

It's that time of year when there's no news happening. Even more so this year. People aren't drowning or getting themselves killed in cars as much as usual. People not dying is news. Could have something to do with the weather, blah. And the fact you'd be a bloody idiot to have a head-on collision in 5 km/hr gridlock. Some kid gets shot by a good friend. Getting shot by a good friend or relative is a rite of passage for many Kiwis. He might die. People dying is news.

Inevitably, the media starts creating its own news. Regard the NZ Herald's Summer Poll series (read Silly Season Crap):
"More than two-thirds of people think juries should be told if a person on trial
has previous criminal convictions and about 40 per cent support abolishing the
right to silence."

This crap reminds me of an entry in The Book of Heroic Failures (pg.30):
"In 1897 the General Assembly of Indiana passed a Bill ruling that the value of
Pi was four. This ensured that all mathematical and engineering calculations in
the State would be wrong. It would, for example, mean that a pendulum clock
would gain about fifteen minutes every hour."

Media, like politicians, can spout whatever crosses their six column inch minds, but for Dagg's sake don't expect me to take it seriously. Put your polls in the Entertainment section, next to the Horoscope. Saying it doesn't make it so.

Which was a point well taken after joyfully getting a cable modem installed in the weekend and watching Richard Dawkins' Root of All Evil. The Channel Four series mimics pretty much exactly what my objections to religion were not so long ago, right down to the Old Testament blood and guts as well as Bertrand Russell's thoughts. Pardon if my post seemed plagiarised from the series, but my thoughts at the time were my own. I was somewhat shocked to find how many of Dawkins' and my points intersected.

At least the media are releasing more honest opinion pieces, notably the 2007 political predictions. Matt McCarten lays a few bets, as does the DomPost. I'll see their bets and raise 'em a few. Matt McC first:

1. Mike Lee - yes, his star is rising. His portents are good.

2. Dick Hubbard - if not Dick, then who? Stephen Tindall?

3. Barry Curtis - yes, the ARC Council is a NZ equivalent to getting kicked upstairs to the House of Lords. See Number 10 for another example. Wouldn't know Len Brown from a Lion Red.

4. George Wood - Wood is eminently suited to the torpid North Shore.

5. Bob Harvey - Goneburger. Tamihere would be amusing but I reckon West Auckland deserves Ewen Gilmour as Mayor.

6. Georgina Beyer - Beyer has a better chance of getting pregnant than getting the Wellington mayoralty.

7. National and Labour - Labour had better watch out for a rebranded Nat opposition attacking en masse. A new leader with no strong visible policy position on anything can also re-write policy on any front. John Key will consolidate and settle in, hinting here and there as he stretches the canvas wider, to be laid out in detail by this time next year so it has time to sink in with the punters and rainmakers. Expect some grunty fiscal policy backbone from Bill English. Whichever way you slice it, personal tax cuts of some sort will have to happen for the 2008 election, even if they are promised on the never-never like the chewing gum that never got here. Get some lubricant to ease the friction between Clark and Cullen over this, or they've lost the only Finance Minister they've got. KiwiSaver will slip in around the same time. That'll do.

8. Maori Party - New Year's resolution: apply for a job working with Dr Pita Sharples.

9. Greens - Might spike at 10 percent, depending on how many gaffes Labour have this year. Polls, schmolls til 208. As always, these guys have potential but need to get out of the glasshouse a bit more. How does global warming affect Health, Education, Welfare?

10. NZ First - I have it on reasonably good authority that this is Winston's last term, and that his present position is helping him find a nice Embassy to retire to somewhere in the Pacific. NZ First without Peters is a dead duck, especially since Ron Mark killed whatever credibility he had by pulling that bird in the House. Good riddance. Expect some rats to defect to the Nats.

11. Act - Rodney Hide remains infected with Rod Donald Syndrome and does a Coddington. Retires to Waiheke Island to grow grapes. Heather Roy becomes leader of Act.

And now, the DomPost fisk:

1. By-election in Mangere - This will coincide with the by-election in Rakaia. Nah, both will be swept under the carpet til 208.

2. Mallard as Finance Minister - Mallard is in no condition to try and wrestle this off Cullen after he was shot down at the waterfront stadium. He will be lucky to hold his own.

3. No Nat leadership speculation for the first time since 1999 - agreed. Everyone should be too busy to argue.

4. BAT corporate box politician-free zone/ no cigars - maybe, but Peter Dunne will get into a minor scuffle at a wine tasting. In fact, no. Pollies will continue to puff cigars at sporting venues as is their right. As is the right of every tobacco-wielding Kiwi at a moment of passion. Civil disobedience of the Smokefree Laws continues to rise.

5. Cross-party support for campaign funding reform - Helen Clark will push this bugger through come hell or high water. State funding of political parties will be broadened using the current TV broadcasting allocation model which favours the two main parties. Nats say hell yes.

6. Rodney Hide gets funding, no votes - Act was the Richard Prebble party after all. Who would have thought?

7. Jeanette Fitzsimons stays as co-leader for 208 election - She has no choice now. Until her co-leader has his maiden speech in the House, she is the only face that counts. No bushfires for you this year I hope.

8, 9 10. See above.

11. Maori Party extra seat - if so, yes

12. National will stay with its Labour-lite if it know what is good for them. Just make sure that nothing they say contradicts what is launched during the election.

13. United Future remains the Peter Dunne party - Yup, he got a kiss of the spiderwoman.

14. Progressives will hold an annual conference, if for no other reason than to have Chairman Jim sell business tax cuts to his unquestioning and increasingly exclusive group of party faithful. Jeremy Wells attends.

15. Brian Connell will endure hateful silence with the rest of his caucus until he finally gets booted out for a more likable candidate, a rubber chicken.

16. Senior cabinet minister retires - a king will lose his kingdom. Blah de blah. I hope it's Pope.

17. Clark reshuffles - agree with DPF. Tim Barnett has excellent leverage with the ChCh mayoralty gig. Helen Clark needs talent. Will Tim become a minister?

18. Cunliffe ascendent - you bet

19. Minor parties collaborate more - The minors got a taste of their potential for havoc. Yes, and about bloody time.

20. Things will continue, as always, to fall apart. That's not a guess, that's the Second Law of Thermodynamics.