Archive for September, 2007

Hilarious Kissing Test

September 22nd, 2007 at 5:21 pm by David Farrar

Now this is just mean. I am amazed there were not lawsuits. But very very funny.

Hat Tip: Michael Ellis

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Not a gaffe

September 22nd, 2007 at 8:31 am by David Farrar

I saw the headline which said Bush had made another gaffe and had accidentially stated Nelson Mandela was dead.  Now Bush does make lots of gaffes, and I am not saying he doesn’t.  But in this case, I don’t see how it is a gaffe – it was an analogy which no intelligent person could confuse.

In a speech defending his administration’s Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

“I heard somebody say, Where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,” Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington.

It is very clear he is using the name Mandela as a term for charismatic unifying leaders.

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Amusing

September 22nd, 2007 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

Very amusing to read in Bridget Saunders blog that Aja Rock threw a glass of white wine over Ms Saunders, for reasons unknown.  And then when she said to Rock’s boyfriend:

“Honey, tell your girlfriend it’s not MY problem she’s put on weight!”

He then proceeded to throw a glass of red wine over her.

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Super Debate

September 22nd, 2007 at 6:22 am by David Farrar

Brian Gaynor lambasts Muldoon for throwing out in 1975 the then 37 week old NZ compulsory superannuation scheme, replacing it with state funded national super. He points out the scheme would have been worth an estimated $240 billion today if left alone.

Gaynor supports KiwiSaver and wants National to commit to it. Again, I sort of agree but point out a big difference.  In 1975 it was a choice between universal state super and compulsory savings.  In 2008 we are being asked to fund universal state super, pre-fund future universal state super and also fund a semi-compulsory private savings scheme.  One of them has to fall away at some stage.

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Banks 9% ahead

September 22nd, 2007 at 6:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald has a Digi-Poll which shows John Banks 9% ahead of Dick Hubbard with scores of 44% and 35% respectively.  Alex Swney is in third place at 7%.

What will be interesting is if City Vision is in a similar place to Hubbard.

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NBR on Internet campaigning

September 21st, 2007 at 5:17 pm by David Farrar

A very good article by Thomas and Young in NBR on the Internet and politics.  Blogs get a mention:

In a more mainstream way, for an indication of how Web 2.0 could play out, look no further than the website of Cameron Slater (son of former National party president John) who currently attends council subcommittee meetings that don’t attract any media attention and uploads digital footage (and voicemails left by mayor Dick Hubbard) along with scathing commentary.

New Zealand blogs rarely break stories. However, in contrast to the thesis of The Cult of the Amateur, which decries the dumbing down of the internet, the best bloggers are tireless and passionate.

The police report on Labour’s alleged breaches of the Electoral Act was ignored by newspapers until National Party activist David Farrar produced a comprehensive summary and index to the large file, and reproduced key pages on his well-trafficked site.

Any realistic “power list” produced in this country would include either Farrar or his fellow blogger and opinion leader Russell Brown.

The direct-to-the-public videos by Phil Goff, Mark Burton, John Key, Bill English and friends are carefully considered and delivered and unlikely to make waves.

The real potential they open up is for comments made today to be used against the politicians in the future.

Incidentially I think any and all power lists are crap.  I remember when I made a Telco/IT power list one year – it took me almost an hour to stop laughing.

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Tasered for asking Kerry a question

September 21st, 2007 at 4:48 pm by David Farrar

Look at this video of a US student being tasered by security for persistent questioning to Senator John Kerry. Imagine if that had happened to someone asking Bush a question – half the world would be screaming torture.

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NZPA story on Electoral Finance Bill submissions

September 21st, 2007 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff has been carrying the NZPA story on my submission, and Nicky Hager’s submission. I’ll comment on a few parts of it:

Election reform legislation would not stop the Exclusive Brethren’s “secret seven” spending hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning against the Government, a committee of MPs has been told.

Parliament’s justice and electoral select committee is considering the Government’s Electoral Finance Bill which is designed to stop covert campaigns like that waged at the last election by seven wealthy Exclusive Brethren businessmen.

However its wide definitions of third parties and advertising have been criticised by social agencies, churches, unions and business groups, which say the bill would limit their existing advocacy activities.

Prominent blogger and former National Party staffer David Farrar today told MPs the bill would fail to stop groups like the Exclusive Brethren’s so-called “secret seven” spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a political campaign.

I should point out I wasn’t suggesting making the bill even more draconian by having say an even lower third party limit.  My point was that they are justifying all these terrible restrictions on political speech on the basis it will stop the Brethren, and it actually won’t even do that.

Experience from countries like the US shows that the more restrictions you have,  the more dirty the funding becomes.  Because those absolutely dedicated to spending money will always find a way to do it, but Joe and Jane average are the ones who will be put off participating.  The US has a maximum donation limit of $2,000 yet money plays a far far bigger role in US politics than it does in NZ.

They would be able to do this by each registering as a third party and then spending $60,000 each – amounting to $420,000.

That is based on each of them only spending their own money – something they likely can do as they are generally wealthy business owners.  It would be illegal under the Bill for one person to give money to someone else to spend to avoid the cap, but if each person genuinely has the money themselves and wishes to register so they can spend $60,000 – well the EBs could have 20 members register as third parties and between them they could spend $1.2 million still.   So don’t believe the Government when they say this Bill is necessary as it will stop the EB.

Individuals, if they chose, could also sign up 500 people, register as a political party, then spend up to $1 million even if they did not stand any candidates.

There has been some interesting discussion in previous comments about this, if the Bill does proceed.  One could get 500 people and register a political party called “Oppossed to the Electoral Finance Act Party”.  That party would then appear on every ballot paper, reminding people as they vote about the law.  The party’s only aim could be to urge people to vote against MPs who voted for the Bill, and as a party it would have a $1 million spending cap.

Farrar, who runs the right-leaning Kiwiblog weblog, said there was little evidence that elections could be successfully “bought” and third parties that wanted to campaign would always find loopholes.

He believed the bill should be withdrawn and any changes to the electoral finance laws should begin with wide public consultation to build a consensus before a bill was drafted.

I f the committee decided the bill should proceed, they should recommend enforcement powers be taken away from the police and given to the Electoral Commission, he said.

The police failure to prosecute both Labour and National for Electoral Act breaches in 2005 had been “incompetent”, he said.

Indeed it was incompetent.  I should also point out that while I strongly advocate both parties should have been prosecuted, I certainly do not believe the level of “sin” was equal.   Labour’s action in ignoring three formal warnings from the Chief Electoral Officer (and in actually lying to him) was much more serious.  National for the broadcasting over-commitment should have been fined at least $100,000 to remove any gain from their mistake.  For Labour the maximum fine for corrupt practices is a pathethic $20,000, so I honestly believe jail time was appropriate.  And I think it would have been a very simple case before a Judge.  As previously documented the paper trail is damning.

Author Nicky Hager, whose book The Hollow Men, details many of the links between the Brethren campaign and National’s leadership at the time, said law changes to crack down on third party campaigns were necessary.

“This is the growth area in dodgy election campaigning and everything that can be done to control it would be an investment in not having dodgy electioneering in the future.”

Durign Nicky’s submission, he proved a point I had made in my arguments against extending the regulated speech period to all of election year. I had submitted that if you accept the rationale for all of election year, then at some future stage people will seek to extend this to say 18 months and eventually maybe the entire electoral cycle.

And indeed when asked by NZ First about what to do if National starts spending money say this year, Nicky Hager advocated that the regulated speech period should ideally apply 100% of the time.  Yes, every second of every hour of every day.

So think carefully about whose vision of New Zealand political life you support.

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Subsidised by the French!

September 21st, 2007 at 7:31 am by David Farrar

Very amused to read in the Independent Financial Review (only appeared in the onlien edition) that the French Government helped subsidise the costs of the NZ Parliamentary Rugby Team.  I think it is great the French taxpayer gets to pay!

The IFR also managed to dig up the names fo the full touring party – at 39 it has grown almost faster than the All Black  support crew!  They had former All Black and NZRFU Chairman Richie Guy as coach which is a coup.

Anyway full credit to the team for winning the parliamentary world cup.  I just wish the game was shown on Sky.

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Dunne’s Driving Age Bill introduced with leave

September 21st, 2007 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

Peter Dunne has had the rare honour of Parliament granting leave (any one MP can object to stop this) for his bill on raising the driving age to 16 to be introduced.  This means it will have a first reading when the House resumes in October.

The NZPA story states 87% of people in a recent NZ Herald poll agreed with raising the driving age.   Now I can’t find a recent scientific Herald Digi-Poll poll on this issue, so can only presume they are referring to this survey in March on the Herald website.

Please please do not refer to website surveys as polls, leaving the impression they are scientific random sample polls.

A fascinating piece of wonkery about the bill, is that even though Peter Dunne is promoting the driving age bill in his role as an MP, the mere fact he is a Minister means that under Standing Order 254 it automatically becomes a Government bill.  So a bill which has not been approved by Cabinet is now on the order paper as a Government bill, and it will be in the name of the Minister of Revenue for a transport bill!

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Marc Ellis finally streaks himself

September 21st, 2007 at 6:54 am by David Farrar

After years of promoting streaking on his TV shows, Marc Ellis did the deed himself over on the West Coast. I await Cactus Kate to provide analysis of how the size of his genitalia compare to the average.

The video is not embedded as they have disabled this feature.

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Labour adopts National climate change policy

September 21st, 2007 at 6:47 am by David Farrar

It is no surprise that National has endorsed Labour’s emissions trading scheme.  It is closer to National’s  policy than to previous Labour policy.

  • It is a carbon emissions trading system rather than a carbon tax
  • Forest owners will get a portion of the carbon credits for their trees (something the Government has been refusing to do for years)

Incidentally I think the uncertainty over the price of carbon might mean that a tax is a better option at this stage, especially if one tied the tax to the actual level of warming.

No Right Turn has knowledgable analysis.  He points out that while Labour is setting targets for various sectors to be carbon neutral (such as electricity by 2025), the exemption for agriculture means that being “carbon neutral by 2040 in everything but agriculture” is actually less of a commitment than National’s proposed goal of 50% by 2050.

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Auckland City Council flayed by Parliament

September 21st, 2007 at 6:32 am by David Farrar

The Auckland City Council has been savaged in a report by Parliament’s Environment an Local Government Select Committee. Some extracts:

We consider Auckland City Council’s description of the price rises for Metrowater customers as “modest” and “small” in the Statement of Proposal to have been misleading and to have led to the anxiety and concerns behind the petition.

We consider that the scale of the charitable payments engineered by the city council from Metrowater undermined the intent of the constitution of Metrowater when it was established by the council. The council should have revised the constitution rather than abusing the provisions providing for charitable payments.

We consider that the council could have kept the public better informed about the charitable payments, the rise in water rates, and the decision made to direct the payment from Metrowater into upgrading Auckland’s stormwater system. In future the council should ensure that the public is better informed and that its decisionmaking process is transparent.

We consider that the use of charitable payments in this way, and to this extent, is not best practice, and emphasise our concern that it should not be adopted by other local authorities.

We strongly advise Auckland City Council to reconsider its requirement for
charitable payments from Metrowater in the years 2007 to 2017.

Now be aware this report was unanimous on a select committee with National, Labour and Green MPs. So for Dick Hubbard to claim it was politically motivated is self serving spin.

The Herald reports that the only person on the City Council left supporting the policy, after this report, is Dick Hubbard. Can one imagine another three years of such leadership? Brian Rudman labels the Mayor’s position as suicidal.

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Oral Submission on the Electoral Finance Bill

September 20th, 2007 at 12:25 pm by David Farrar

Well I’m just back from making my oral submission on the Electoral Finance Bill.  Can’t complain at all about the treatment – all the questions were useful ones, and we went significantly over my allocated 15 minutes (mainly as I got long winded explaining how the bill wouldn’t even stop the Exclusive Brethren).

Anyway my oral submission is below.  I was on one after Nicky Hager and got to very briefly meet him afterwards. I imagine his submissions will be the main part of any reports.

Oral Submission of David Farrar on the Electoral Finance Bill

I’d like to make just three points, and then move on to questions.

Firstly I think it would be incredibly unfortunate for this bill to pass into law without there having been a public policy process and debate, especially on the third party provisions.  I am astonished that a law which seeks to restrict political speech of non parliamentarians can emerge from the Government without even a single public policy document on which is it based.

Minor areas of law such as digital copyright often have three or four rounds of public consultation, before a bill based on agreed policy emerges.  And here we are not talking a minor area of law, but arguably our most vital constitutional Act.  Where are the policy papers, the options papers, the forums, the consultation, the attempt at consensus?  These are all meant to happen before, not after, a bill is introduced into Parliament.

To proceed without this process, greatly risks angering the public, which the April 2007 Colmar Brunton poll found to be against greater third party restrictions and in favour of banning anonymous and trust donations – the exact opposite of this Bill.

Secondly I wish to briefly talk about the Exclusive Brethren.  Their activities are often cited as the rationale for this Bill.  Well I have some bad news.  While this Bill will make participation in the political process near impossible for most New Zealanders, it will still allow the Exclusive Brethren to spend $500,000 urging people to vote against the parties they don’t like.  This Bill is so badly drafted it doesn’t even achieve its primary goal.  I’ll be happy to answer questions in a minute on how this works.

Finally though can I address the most important issue for the Electoral Act – that of enforcement – and the area where sadly the Bill doesn’t make any significant change.  If you do proceed with the Bill, then please please remove the Police as the enforcement agency for the Electoral Act.

There were massive breaches of the Electoral Act in 2005, and the Police investigation into them can only be described as abysmally incompetent.  They got the most basic details wrong and made blunder under blunder. And the final result was a terrible undermining of the unsung heroes of elections – our specialist electoral agencies.

National effectively pleaded guilty to the $100,000 over commitment of broadcasting funds.  They wrote to the Electoral Commission saying “We accept responsibility”.  The Electoral Commission wrote to the Police saying Please prosecute them, and there is no doubt National should have been prosecuted.  But the Police didn’t.

And even worse was Labour’s over spending.  The Chief Electoral Officer three times warned Labour prior to the election about the pledge card being considered an electoral advertisement. His advice was ignored, and he asked the Police to prosecute.  And they failed to even take the case to court.  I can’t think of an action which more undermines the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer, than having his explicit warnings disregarded and no action occurring.

So please consider this.  If the Police were not up to the job of even being able to decide if a pledge card “Encourages or persuades or appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for a party, how on Earth do we think they would cope with this new Act, where they have to decide whether a particular proposition is associated with a political party or not. 

The Police do an excellent job in many areas.  But electoral enforcement is not one of them, and again if you proceed please transfer the power of enforcement to the Electoral Commission.  It will at least ensure cases get to be heard by a Judge.

Very happy to now take questions.

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Divorced already

September 20th, 2007 at 8:49 am by David Farrar

I thought God didn’t approve of divorce, yet the speed of the marriage and divorce between Future NZ and Destiny NZ can only be compared to a Vegas wedding.  We won’t even inquire iinto whether it was consumated.

NZPA reports:

Independent MP Gordon Copeland says he cannot work with Richard Lewis from the former Destiny party, just two days after it was announced the two could co-lead a new pan-Christian political party.

Mr Copeland said he still planned to set up a new Christian party and while Mr Lewis could still be involved, the two could not be co-leaders as they were not on the “same page politically”.

Mr Copeland said he been consulting others who had advised him not to go ahead with the pairing of Mr Lewis and Destiny.

There had been a “breakdown of trust, not just with myself but for all the others involved in this process”.

He had been told that he “had no choice” but to cut ties “since Bishop Brian Tamaki and Richard did not adhere to the plan”.

I think we can now safely predict no religious party will be making 5% come the next election.

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Great Quote

September 20th, 2007 at 6:56 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil has this quote from Bill English in Parliament:

Hon Bill English: Can we now sum up the Minister’s and Labour’s position on tax cuts in the following way: he said he could not and he would not, then he said he cannot and he shall not, then he said he could and he would, and now he might when it is right, and why does he not listen to those New Zealanders who are telling him he is wrong and he is gone, and his Labour colleagues who are saying that he is tired and should be fired?

Put that on a pledge card!

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Cheap and Nasty

September 20th, 2007 at 6:20 am by David Farrar

Garth George opines:

In its third term this Labour-led Government will surely be remembered for style over substance or, to put it more bluntly, bullshit over benefit.

The latest and most outstanding example is the vaunted SuperGold card for us over-65s. Despite all the promises and publicity, it is not worth the plastic it is printed on.

It is less than a joke; what it offers is so pathetic as to be contemptible.

Where are the discounts on things essential to the elderly on strictly limited incomes? Like public transport, air fares, petrol and diesel, doctors’ visits, rates, electricity and gas, telephones, spectacles, false teeth, hearing aids and so on?

How come there are no discounts for services provided at a price by the Government itself? Why is it that businesses have to carry the cost?

Because, as usual, the Government wants someone else to pay for what has transpired to be nothing more than a cheap political publicity stunt.

Indeed what was meant to be a huge political success has become a laughing stock.

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$4,000 a person consultation

September 20th, 2007 at 6:15 am by David Farrar

A meeting in Wanganui on aquaculture cost $20,000 – and five people turned up.  How do you spend $20,000 on a meeting with five people?

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33 weeks of mileage claims

September 20th, 2007 at 5:55 am by David Farrar

Astonishing – a Canterbury Regional Councillor has claimed $66,203 in mileage for 94,577 kms. Would be cheaper for the Council to lease him a Council car, than keep paying such mileage.

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Destiny’s Child

September 19th, 2007 at 9:04 pm by David Farrar

Best quip of the week goes to Colin Espiner who has labelled the new religious party, Destiny’s Child.

Colin is fairly scathing of the whole fiasco to date.

Dave at Big News also thinks Copeland should get out.

As I have said, I think Copeland is a decent guy. But if Brian Tamaki is going to be running this party by proxy, he needs to be very careful about what involvement may do to him.

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Commenting on Rickards

September 19th, 2007 at 8:25 pm by David Farrar

In one of those rare moments, I actually partially agree with Helen Clark in her criticism of John Key for his comments on the Rickards case.

The Leader of the Opposition does have more latitude than say the PM in terms of commenting on individual disciplinary case, but nevertheless it is a somewhat dangerous habit to develop. Comments made can influence the outcome of a case, and one may find it hard as PM not to comment, if you have commented on similiar things as Opposition Leader.

The substance of what Key said, may well be absolutely correct.  It may be cheaper to negotiate a settlement than to keep paying him his full salary and package while it drags out over months and years. But that is a process best negotiated in private, not public.

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It’s about the blocs

September 19th, 2007 at 8:03 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn has a insightful post about what levels of support National and Labour need in order to be able to form a Government, taking into account wasted vote and likely partners.

NRT estimates that if National gets 46% or more, then it should be able to clearly form a centre right Government with support from ACT and United Future.  That is about right. Incidentially in the four polls so far this month average support is 48.5% so not a huge comfort margin – definitely no room for complacency.

Labour gets into a position where they could form a Labour-Green-Maori Government if they are at 40% or so.  Their current average is 36.5% – again not a long way off.

Of course the Maori Party might not go with Labour, and also NZ First may make 5%, but one would not want to rely on either of those two things.

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A great premiere

September 19th, 2007 at 7:55 pm by David Farrar

I really enjoyed the premiere of When Night Falls last night. I had a couple of complementary tickets, but wouldn’t even hesitate a second at paying to see it.

A pleasure to run into Rodney there also, who rates it a must see.

The lead actor, Tania Nolan, is great and brings the plot to life.  Not a long movie at just under 90 minutes.  It does take a wee while to warm up, but once it really gets going the time flies by. And I just love the ending which was Soprano like.

Can’t believe they shot it on a $50,000 budget.   A great example of Kiwi can do at work.

So if you like a good thriller, and want to support a good local movie, check here for sessions. Thursday is the last day in Wellington, but it will be in Auckland and a dozen other centres also.

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Skyhawks for Sale

September 19th, 2007 at 10:25 am by David Farrar

As The Government has proved incapable of selling our fleet of Skyhawks, despite seven years of trying, a helpful New Zealander is assisting by listing them on Trade Me.

As always the Q&A are amusing.

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Bomber on the Electoral Finance Bill

September 19th, 2007 at 8:07 am by David Farrar

Not often I find myself quoting Bomber Bradbury, but he has taken a respite from his 2,457th Bush is Evil post :-) to comment on the Electoral Finance Bill:

Now I’m all in favour of curbing the excesses of money influence in democracy, a plutocracy is a real fear and is a direct outcome from unrestricted electoral financing rules, however Labour seem to have lost the plot on this. In the real areas they should work on, like anonymous donations, Labour have folded and seem hell bent on putting together a bunch of election rules that will give such a biased and vested advantage to the incumbent that anyone concerned with basic standards of democracy should be deeply worried about.

If National was trying to pull this crap people would be rioting in the streets, Labour have to be told they can’t run with this type of legislation especially if the rumours that they will force it through urgency are true.

As Bomber says, there would be riots from the left if National introduced such a bill.  What will be amusing is if Labour passes the EFB, but still loses the 2008 election.  I suspect they’ll be the first ones up asking for it to be repealed once they are not the Government.

I mean just imagine – National could introduce bulk funding in 2011, and the PPTA couldn’t spend more than $60,000 fighting against it.  Even better also get rid of zoning the same year, and the PPTA having already spent $60,000 fighting bulk funding, will then not be able to spend even a single cent fighting zoning abolishment.

I have absolutely no desire to work in a future Government (I enjoy self employment far too much), but you know if the Electoral Finance Bill is passed, and National does gain office in 2008, I might seek a position just for 2011 as being in charge of introducing laws which will piss off Labour, yet leave them and their allies unable to campaign against them.  Think of the fun one could have in such a role.  One could do laws to:

  • Rename Labour Day, National Day
  • Privatise the entire prison service
  • Bulk fund all schools
  • Buy an aircraft carrier
  • Remove union monopoly on collective contracts
  • Make donations to the Business Round Table tax deductible

And Labour and its allies will be banned from effectively being able to campaign against any of them!!

And for the record I am only serious about three of the six above.  And no I won’t say which thre!

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