Sunday, July 29, 2007

Overkill Bill

The Electoral Finance Bill makes a dog's breakfast look like fine cuisine. Even dog tucker has more meat in it than this Bill. I can't refer to this Bill as vomit because even puke has a few carrots in it. This Bill is sicker than sick. All this time behind closed doors wrangling a majority with the minors for this? THIS??

The preamble admits that this Bill "significantly amends the Electoral Act 1993 and also amends the Broadcasting Act 1989." Dr Helena Catt, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, pointed out at the Electoral Symposium that there were twice that many Acts affecting electoral funding (buggered if I can remember them all). This Bill is not a holistic makeover of how elections are funded.

The policy objectives in this Bill include "promote participation in parliamentary democracy". This is the nub of it. Parliamentary democracy, not representative democracy. Parliament is supreme, not the people. If you're not in a professional party, then you won't be able to have your say. This is a power play.

I doubted my faculties when I read that third parties have to register with the Chief Electoral Officer, that they must appoint a financial agent to act as martyr. But the one that really whammed home was the part where third parties had to HAND OVER to the Chief Electoral Officer any anonymous donations over $500 for the WHOLE YEAR.

This one hit home. I have an AP of $10 weekly that goes to NORML. According to this Bill, if I didn't disclose my identity to the authorities, my donations would have to be handed over to the government. Lucky for me I don't give a flying mallard whether people know I give money to an organisation that seeks to legalise the prohibited, thereby possibly incurring the wrath of arrest and detainment at any moment by warrantless search under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It's OK, I've desensitised.

The intent of this Bill is clear. Knee-capped by fundraising to pay off last election, Labour, NZ First and Untied Future will knee cap everyone else to even the score for the next one. Better yet, don't give your meagre disposable income to a pressure group, give it to a party. Pity the poor bastard who wants to support an idea not an ideology.

But what really pisses me off is the Greens' support for the Bill. The Green Party started out as a coalescence of pressure groups, fused together in the Alliance and spat out before it went supernova. This Bill will kill any chance of that happening again. In spite of the very essence of the spirit of MMP, to encourage and foster more than two voices in the House, the Greens would throw that all away to be popular with Labour.

The next chink is Mark Burton.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Im in yr Facebook, getting in yr face

That poor bastard, Damian Christie. Besieged, he is, by people treating him like the PM at a press party and wanting to be his friend on Facebook.



As it is, I'm partly responsible for this. I sent Damian just such a request earlier this week. I have met Mr Christie exactly once, at Mighty Mighty some months ago when he drank me under the table. Under usual circumstances, this would not be an occasion to base a friendship on. For good or ill, internet social networking sites use different criteria.

I've run the whole gamut of social networking sites. Back in '95, sitting in the alt.fan.tom.robbins IRC channel; in '98, getting my jollies with a Yorkshire divorcee I met in the MSN chatrooms before they got killed off. Fun as it was, there's a limit when typing is the only means of contact. Adultfinder.com, NZDating, MySpace got nary a wink, certainly no decent nudges. So this email arrives early in the week and invites me to the Republic New Zealand Facebook group. It's raining outside and bollocking cold, there's nothing on the box, I'm all YouTubed out and Arts & Letters Daily is just too damned dense. Why not.

Behold, in a matter of days, Facebook proves I have 6 friends in New Zealand. In real life, Captain Hook could count the number of my real friends with one hand. But lo, the internet shows how much more popular I am! Any day now, I'll correlate my blog page views with Facebook and work exactly how popular I am to five decimal places.

In Facebook, Keith Ng is my friend. My first real contact with Keith was when he fisked me in Salient a couple of years back about my nightmare organising a J Day in Aro Park. For a long time, Keith Ng was nothing more than a lot of unanswered voicemail messages. I have met Keith once, at a Great Blend gig, and found him to be a nice bloke. Buy him a round, but I'd have to upgrade to Facebook Pro to do that. But now Keith is my Friend. We have so much in common. We are both in a Group called People Who Always Have To Spell Their Names For Other People. As it is, Facebook can't even spell my bloody name properly. It's a small d.

If you join Facebook any time soon, be sure to become friends with David Lange. He doesn't post much, but already has 50 friends. Woohoo! I am one eighth as popular as a former PM! David Lange belongs to 21 groups, including Let Us Change Our Facebook Color Scheme. If one ever sees reason to do so, one could always send a tickle to Deborah Hill-Cone, although the hubby might have something to say about things like that.
But slagging Facebook is easy. It has its benefits. For one, people are using their real names as opposed to avatars or sexygirl69, who may or may not be your former woodwork teacher. By and large, the pictures are more or less the people they represent. There are exceptions, such as Jeremy Greenbrook-Held's, which is either as photoshopped as an election billboard of H1 or a SouthPark imitation (Strange but true; the night Damian drank me stupid, I almost threw up on Jeremy in an unrelated incident).

Facebook is an improvement on prior networking, in that people are more honest now than previously. All we have to do now is work out out what to do with it. From what I gather, social networking sites are great for teenagers to discuss angst, trade Vogon poetry and news of the latest Glassons sale. For the rest of us, it's a tool without purpose.

My primary aim with Facebook is simple. It is the same as all other social networking sites I've subscribed to; pick up chicks and get laid. Thing is, all my Friends on Facebook are blokes. Unless they have available sisters, this is not going to work. Ah well, no harm. I could always start a group called, I dunno, Wellington blokes talk shit and pick up chicks.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Nice weather for the alcoholics

It's raining cats and dogs outside. It's raining monkeys and elephants, muppets and tigers, antelopes and zebras. Those who can find funds or reasons are buggering off overseas for a break. Those without the cash are hibernating and sedating themselves any way they can. The speedsters are stocking up on BZPs, the lushes with booze and DUI convictions.

Parliament's having a break and they've let the young ones loose in parliament. While BZPs are high on their mind, there's not much support for lowering the voting age. Advice to the Greens: Forget the sweet sixteen suffrage and concentrate your energies on Met Turei's Medpot Bill and the upcoming select committee on the BZP ban. You'll gain a crapload more votes by doing so.

John Key continues to bewilder. Wanting to revisit the Standing Orders a mere week after the party votes them in begs that immortal question. Is he real or isn't he? Whether it is the election campaign later or someone bloods him sooner, time will tell, eh. At the moment, he's still a hologram.

Oh how I wish Rodney Hide were a hologram; some mis-programmed facsimile on show while the real one is gathering evidence to play Devil's Advocate once again. Alas, the Rodney of yore is no more. We are stuck with Lovable Hugable Rodney forever, or at least 2008. I can sympathise with how the former perkbuster rose to grace. The consensus on the Beltway grapevine after Rod Donald's death was Rodney was more likely to cark it than organic Donald. So much for the balance of probabilities, eh.

Yet it is a shame to see such skills go to pasture and five laps of the pool. Chris Trotter tried to snap him out of it, pointing to the vast reasonable-sized field on the far right John Key has opened up for Act. Colin Espiner has made a similar point. It seems, however, that Rodney has confused reason for purpose. Little wonder Act has evaporated off the polls.

At least Rodney did plug the Regulatory Responsibility Bill on Agenda, which is an important piece of legislation. Unlike most of the bad law that Labour V keep passing, this is a classical piece of law. Drawn up by a genius called Dr Bryce Wilkinson, the RRB is a piece of constitutional beauty. Its importance is up there with Geoff Palmer's Bill of Rights and Ruth's Fiscal Responsibility Bill. NZ would be better off for it.

Farewell, Lisa Owen. Je t'aime.

It is still not too late for Helen Clark to pull a big fluffy bunny out for the election and win 2008. It is increasingly likely that the bunny will be accompanied with a ministerial re-shuffle. Here's hoping Hodgson loses Health to someone more competent. Shane Jones is ambitious enough, and Health would certainly keep him busy. I recant my support for TM4FM and put money on Phil Goff as Finance Minister by year's end. If Labour don't have personal tax cuts in next year's budget, they deserve to lose.

There's still no sign of the legislation on party funding, which is supposedly coming into effect at the end of the year. Judging from the absence of policy, as well as increased public funding going down like a cup of cold sick, there is no clear marker on what's/not going to be in it. The Coalition for Open Government and the Vic Uni symposium were the only opportunities for the parties to get a thermometer on the issue. I fear they got the wrong temperature. While the numbers game may be being played behind the scenes, the longer the support parties leave to put it on the table, the more damage they'll receive in 2008. I'll maybe blog more on the subject later this week, depending on how hard it rains.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Bastards I have known

Well, well... Neil Foord is dead. I was one of the schmucks down on my luck back in 1995 who signed on to Real Kiwis for 150 bucks. No doubt he was a dodgy bastard, offering jobs which paid nothing, "because you have to build your reputation up first". Not long afterwards, he was done for rape. It seems fitting that he should die friendless in Christchurch. The Great Leveller strikes again.

Impeach the Chimp

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann unleashes a savage and articulate special comment on Bush's decision to pardon Scooter Libby from jail.