Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Popular Paranoiac Politics

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  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I recall many years ago being stopped by a Scientology recruiter on Queen Street and allowing myself to be subjected to their personality test. The man got increasingly irritated at my insistence on answering the questions in a cheery, confident and optimistic fashion. I became increasingly amused by him.

    I had exactly the same experience about 13-14 years ago. The very determined surveyer (who was writing their survey on blank bits of recycled newsprint) thought it was odd that my response to her question "What do you need to make you happy?" was "Well, nothing."

    For some reason, this inspired her to escort me to a nondescript office building on Queen St, force me to watch interminable Scientology promo videos about volcanoes, take budget lie detector and IQ tests, before spending about 6 or so hours trying to get me to sign away all my worldly possessions and join the Church of Scientology as an employee (who wasn't even guaranteed minimum wage, by the way.)

    I really wish I was exaggerating.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    For some reason, this inspired her to escort me to a nondescript office building on Queen St, force me to watch interminable Scientology promo videos about volcanoes, take budget lie detector and IQ tests, before spending about 6 or so hours trying to get me to sign away all my worldly possessions and join the Church of Scientology as an employee (who wasn’t even guaranteed minimum wage, by the way.)

    I really wish I was exaggerating.

    There wasn't a window to escape out of? Maybe an air duct?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    the return-to-feudalism of the Greens

    Funny, I don't really get that impression of a party that's pushing for investment in high-quality public transport.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    One of the things I miss the most about feudalism are the electric buses.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Paul Webber,

    There’s more to it than making National look good or siphoning off nut cases.

    I wasnt so much talking about making National look good, as providing a third leg, so that Act look more central...

    Can you grow Act back into relevance by creating some loonies further out than them?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Paul Webber,

    Where is that party?

    Well, technically ACT is as close as it gets. New Zealanders don't fight over social issues with the same passion as many other democracies, so social policies tend to be largely fair weather constructions. Hide has deliberately downplayed that aspect of ACT's policies to the point where the perception has become the reality, and ACT no longer believes in its own liberalism.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    the return-to-feudalism of the Greens

    But hey, we’d have the world’s first Feudal Republic.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    There wasn’t a window to escape out of? Maybe an air duct?

    No windows! And the air con wasn’t working so I couldn’t locate the vents. Also the elevator required a swipe card, and we were on the 12th floor.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Paul Webber,

    Whilst I don’t think there’s a place in NZ politics for a home-grown Tea Party (Manuka Party?), surely there is a place for a liberal party. Economically conventional like National but reformist rather than conservative. Greener than National without the return-to-feudalism of the Greens. Not socially conservative like Brash and his brethren. Compassionate for the community without Labour’s reflex ritual of brother-unionist-against-capitalism. Where is that party?

    If you're thinking of a socially liberal centrist party like the British LibDems, there doesn't seem to be one in NZ, even with MMP. Such territory merely seems to be the 'middle ground' fought over by the usual suspects.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    There’s more to it than making National look good or siphoning off nut cases.

    I wasnt so much talking about making National look good, as providing a third leg, so that Act look more central…

    Can you grow Act back into relevance by creating some loonies further out than them?

    Because if you successfully grow Act, then they will have more influence in a future National/Act partnership than the current one.

    (note- this all from the point of view of a right-wing-squillionaire who wouldnt notice the loss of 10% of his tax-cut being used to help a lame-duck party)



    {sorry- interruption during editing has made for a sort of delayed double-post}

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    There wasn't a window to escape out of? Maybe an air duct?

    My cousin had been cornered by the same guy as me. But he said he did about a third of the questions, then just bolted when the guy's back was turned.

    I'd have done the same, but I'd been snared by a falsehood - they claimed they would put the personality test through their amazing computer system, and give me a printout of the report. That piqued my attention, and the form had those circular color-in options which suggested automated processing. So I stuck it out.

    The guy then sat me down and began reading the form. I asked him if he was going to feed it into the computer, and he said he was doing just that. "This computer", he said, tapping his bald pate. I was tempted to give it Benny Hill slaps. "The printout" I asked, wistfully? He waggled his pen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I can't see practically how a splinter group could form in the center. The centrists in the major parties are usually the leadership, so they're not going to splinter from themselves. Which means National and Labour are always adjacent, barring the Peter Dunne oddballs. They could easily form a coalition between themselves - this is the true safety valve against tail-wags-dog situations. If either party splintered badly, or both were eroded by strong minor parties, a grand-coalition would be a centrist option.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    “what they would do if they were New Zealand’s dictator for a year!”

    Can we all have a turn? Maybe its a new game, the whole nation could play.
    Me I'd just try to resurrect a form of Saturnalia suitable to these modern times.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    Would require a hell of a lot of eroding before National and Labour got sufficiently close to make a grand coalition a possibility. For all the little bits they agree on, they also disagree fairly loudly on some quite fundamental issues. If we use Key and Clark as the benchmarks (because Goff still has quite the odour of the Rogernome) for centrist on each side, getting them to see eye-to-eye on taxation and welfare, to pick but two major issues, would be quite a struggle. It's possible that the loss of radical aspects from each side would moderate the discussion enough to give peace a chance, but I just don't see it.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It's possible that the loss of radical aspects from each side would moderate the discussion enough to give peace a chance, but I just don't see it.

    I never thought I'd see Labour in bed with NZ First, or post-Orewa National with the Maori Party. Funny old game.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I had exactly the same experience about 13-14 years ago. The very determined surveyer (who was writing their survey on blank bits of recycled newsprint) thought it was odd that my response to her question "What do you need to make you happy?" was "Well, nothing."

    And no less creepy was this guy in Dixon St one Sunday evening, who simply reached out to shake my hand and say hello out of the blue, then proceeding to pontificate about a certain deity. I fobbed him off in a very polite way, but not without him handing me one of those tacitly patronising pamphlets.

    On closer inspection, the pamphlet had Web addresses for a global Pentecostal denomination, which is basically self-explanatory. (And no, it wasn't the Destiny Church.)

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    "New Zealand's Next Dictator" will start in the new TV season as soon as the current dictator, Gerry Brownlee, has finished his term. Jason Gunn and Paul Henry will be your hosts as the nation looks for the next Kiwi to be granted extraordinary powers.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    I suspect Hell would freeze over before we saw a Grand Coalition between the Nats and Labour (barring something major like a war or pandemic). Their egos wouldn't allow it.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Would require a hell of a lot of eroding before National and Labour got sufficiently close to make a grand coalition a possibility. For all the little bits they agree on, they also disagree fairly loudly on some quite fundamental issues.

    I'd say the opposite was true - they broadly agree on 95% of all political issues, and the points where they disagree are greatly exaggerated, not because of the strength of their convictions but as exercises in marketing and fundraising.
    The real enmity between National and Labour, and the thing that makes a grand coalition impossible is the personal ambition of the politicians in each party. All of them want to be in government and run the country but you can't have two PMs, two Finance Ministers, two Justice Ministers etc. Almost all the inter-party enmity between Labour and National stems from this dynamic.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to HORansome,

    “New Zealand’s Next Dictator” will start in the new TV season . . .

    At last a chance for all those who were considered for Dancing With the Stars, but were rejected because they couldn’t dance.

    According to Paul Goldsmith’s hagiography, Brash cut a pretty mean rug in his younger days. Somehow, though, he doesn't seem a natural goose-stepper.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Jason Gunn and Paul Henry will be your hosts as the nation looks for the next Kiwi to be granted extraordinary powers.

    If other reality TV is anything to go on, the contestants should all be wash-ups who absolutely hate each other, and all they will actually win is a "six figure contract" with a major party. The runner ups get a leadership role in a minor party.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    Jason Gunn and Paul Henry will be your hosts as the nation looks for the next Kiwi to be granted extraordinary powers.

    I thought Murray McCully was next in line, with the extraordinary RWC liquor licensing powers granted to him.

    But being dictator would be nice. I'd like a bigger house, and to be able to put the neighbours to the sword when they have noisy parties.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    The real enmity between National and Labour, and the thing that makes a grand coalition impossible is the personal ambition of the politicians in each party. All of them want to be in government and run the country but you can't have two PMs, two Finance Ministers, two Justice Ministers etc

    I don't agree. Yes they hype up the differences and certainly there's consensus on a number of issues however, there remain real differences in social policy and there's increasing divergence in economic policy too. To simply declare that all of politics is self-aggrandisement is a bit superficial.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Brash returning to the house, I would think he would be better off trying out as the lead singer of Bananarama, and perhaps just maybe he and Winston could form an old boyz band or a tag wrestling team.

    What is it, can’t they find anything else to do, are they talentless or just plain unemployable??

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Paul Webber,

    Under MMP you need a coalition partner because no party gets more than 50% of the party vote

    Not neccesarily.

    National got 58/122 MPs at the last election and ACT 5. If ACT had disbanded and all their voters switched to National (as one might expect), then National would have got 63 MPs and had an overall majority of one.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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