Kim’s little helpers

February 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Has been fascinating to look at the nexus between certain MPs and Kim Dotcom. We now know some MPs have had multiple meetings with him at his mansion (lesser mortals visit MPs in their offices, but for Dotcom they flock to his mansion), and the same MPs have asked multiple questions about his case in Parliament. And again at least one of those MPs is vowing to fight his extradition – even if the NZ Courts find he should be extradited. And finally, we have learnt that Dotcom will wind up his political party during the election campaign and endorse one or more other parties – no doubt those who have been helping him so much.

So who have been Kim’s little helpers. I’ve searched the parliamentary database and these MPs have asked multiple questions on his behalf or about his case.

  • Trevor Mallard – 132 questions (128 written, 4 oral)
  • Winston Peters – 82 questions (71 written, 11 oral)
  • David Shearer – 36 questions (22 written, 14 oral)
  • Grant Robertson – 17 questions (15 oral, 2 written)
  • Russel Norman – 13 questions (7 written, 6 oral)

We know that Mallard has met with Dotcom, Peters has been to his mansion three times and Norman at least twice. Norman can’t recall whose idea the meetings were.

Audrey Young has written on how Peters is back to his Owen Glenn tricks and refusing to answer questions about his taxpayer funded trips to talk to Dotcom. Many a wag has suggested he should wave the NO sign up when asked if Dotcom has donated to his party or him.

John Armstrong also writes on the issue:

It is bad enough that the Greens are naive enough to sign up to the fan club which accords Kim Dotcom the folk hero status he clearly craves, but scarcely deserves as some modern-day Robin Hood of cyberspace.

Much worse, however, is that it now turns out that party is blithely willing to play politics with New Zealand’s courts, the country’s extradition laws and its extradition treaty with the United States.

Were John Key to allow some right-wing businessman facing extradition to stay in New Zealand in exchange for him abandoning his plans to establish a political party which might drain votes off National, then the Greens would be climbing on their high horses at break-neck speed and leading the charge in slamming the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms. And rightly so.

Indeed.

By appearing to countenance such a massive conflict of interest through political interference in Dotcom’s potential ejection from New Zealand, Norman has instantly disqualified his party from having any ministerial posts in a coalition with Labour which involve responsibility for the extradition process.

In fact, Norman has probably disqualified his party from having any role in the Justice portfolio full stop.

That’s a win for New Zealand!

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The alcohol purchase age breakdowns

August 31st, 2012 at 7:18 am by David Farrar

Here is the party breakdown

18 Split/18 Split/20 20
National 20 10 9 20
Labour 16 6 5 7
Greens 13 1
NZ First 8
Maori 1 1 1
Mana 1
ACT 1
United 1
Total 50 18 15 38

So in total 30 National MPs voted for 18 and 29 for 20. The same ratio as on marriage equality (but different MPs). Labour had 22 for 18 and 12 for 20.

The other breakdowns are (based on final vote only):

All MPs 68 for 18 – 53 for 20
Electorate MPs 38 – 32
List MPs 30 – 21
Female MPs 23 – 16
Male MPs 45 – 37
Asian MPs 3 – 2
European MPs 52 – 37
Maori MPs 11 – 10
Pacific MPs 2 – 4
20s MPs – 2-0
30s MPs 10 – 3
40s MPs 17 – 21
50s MPs 28 – 20
60s MPs 11 – 8
70s MPs 1-0
Auckland MPs 25 – 17
Christchurch MPs 9 – 4
Provincial MPs 8 – 14
Rural MPs 14 – 14
Wellington MPs 12 – 4
North Island MPs 49 – 42
South Island MPs 19 – 11
Cabinet Ministers 11-9
All Ministers 14-12
Gay MPs 4-0
Lesbian MPs 1-2
“Straight” MPs 63 – 51
1970s MPs 0-1
1980s MPs 5-3
1990s MPs 13-7
2002 MPs 4-2
2005 MPs 10 – 14
2008 MPs 21 – 13
2011 MPs 14 – 13

So on the 2nd ballot, 18 was the preferred choice of all demographics except Pacific MPs, MPs in their 40s, provincial MPs, rural MPs (were tied), lesbian MPs and MPs who entered in 2005.

The strongest support for 18 came from female MPs, European MPs, MPs under 40, MPs in Wellington and Christchurch, MPs from the South Island, gay MPs and MPs who entered in 2008 or 1990.

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Specials

December 9th, 2011 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Cabinet minister Paula Bennett is on the verge of losing her Waitakere electorate seat.

Sources report that Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni is ahead by fewer than 10 votes after the counting of special votes.

Paula will be gutted to lose, if the speculation is correct, as she does love to be the MP for Waitakere. However that is the nature of politics.

If Carmel does win the seat, that will be a morale boost for Labour. She remains in the caucus and they lose either Raymond Huo or Rajan Prasad. Losing Huo will hurt them a bit as he is a major source of revenue for them. I can’t think of any downside to them losing Prasad.

Such a close result would almost inevitably result in a judicial recount, which could take until Christmas.

A judicial recount is absolutely sensible when so close. I doubt it would take until Christmas. They are not like electoral petitions.

A recount is also likely to be sought in Christchurch Central, where Labour’s Brendon Burns and National’s Nicky Wagner were in a dead heat on election night and are understood to be within 100 votes of each other after the coutnting of 3717 special votes.

It was not known last night who was leading.

May also go to a recount. It will be a huge morale blow to Labour to lose Christchurch Central, if they do. Labour have held this seat continuously since 1946. To have National hold both Auckland Central and Christchurch Central would be remarkable.

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President Barack Hussein Obama

January 21st, 2009 at 8:31 am by David Farrar

obamapres

Today was a special day in the history of the world. Regardless of whether or not one supported or preferred the Republican or the Democrat candidate, the fact is Barack Obama won a very healthy victory in the election to be the 44th President of the United States.

As AP reported yesterday:

When Barack Obama was born in 1961, the marriage of his black father and white mother would have been illegal in half the United States, and blacks across the South were virtually barred from voting.

The United States is a great country, and it is great not because it is perfect, but because in just a few decades it can go from the stains of segregation (and slavery before that) to electing an African-American to the most powerful job in the country, and the world.

And the stench of slavery is not ancient history, but only a few generations away:

In 1989, Douglas Wilder, the grandson of a slave, became the first African-American to win an election for governor. The Democrat did it in Virginia, a former slave-owning state. Wilder ran for president in 1992, but quickly bowed out.

There will be plenty of days to disagree with the policies of President Obama, to complain about the media hype. But for me today is not one of them. Today is a day to celebrate a peaceful transition of office in the most powerful country on Earth, and to celebrate Obama’s achievement in becoming the first African-American President.

His inauguration speech is here.

In a few days the celebrations will end, and I have no doubt the mettle of Obama will be tested both in domestic and foreign policy. It will be interesting to observe how he responds to the many challenges of the job.

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Obama now officially President-Elect

January 9th, 2009 at 8:22 am by David Farrar

Around half an hour ago, Barack Obama was officially declared President-Elect, with the completion of the final stage of the election. They were:

  1. November – general election to elect state delegates to Electoral College
  2. December – Electoral College delegates meet in every state capital and cast votes
  3. January – House and Senate meet in joint session to certify and count the votes, presided over by the Vice-President

No electoral college members changed their vote from the ticket they were elected on (it is not uncommon for one or two to do this) so the final count was as expected 365 for Obama and Biden and 173 for McCain and Palin.

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Final US election results

November 6th, 2008 at 12:24 pm by David Farrar

The final electoral college counts looks to be 364 for Obama and 174 for McCain. North Carolina and Missouri are not final but look to go to Obama and McCain respectively. That is around the scale of Clinton in 1996 who won by 379 to 159.

On the popular vote Obama has 63,687,862 to 56,283,891 for McCain – 53% to 46%. Obama got around 1,600,000 more votes that Bush did in 2004.

The states Obama picked up from Bush are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

In the Senate the Democrats did quite well but well back on their target of. They started with 51 seats (including two Independents) and now have 56 – picking up North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Colorado. Sadly they did not defeat Ted Stevens in Alaska.

In the House they picked up 19 seats and the balance is now 254 to 174 with 7 undecided.

The exit poll results are quite interesting also:

  • Obama vs McCain was 49% to 48% amongst men and 56% to 43% amongst women
  • White men went McCain 57% to 41% and white women 53% to 46%
  • Blacks went 95% for Obama
  • Latinos around 67% for Obama
  • McCain won over 65s 53% to 45% while Obama won under 30s by 66% to 32%
  • Obama won amongst the 6%  earning over $200K by 52% to 46%
  • 14% of white Democrats voted for McCain while 8% of white Republicans voted for Obama
  • 20% of Conservatives voted Obama
  • 11% were first time voters and they went Obama 69% to 30%

And then there were state ballots:

  • Arizona voted to bay gay marriage and hiring illegal immigrants
  • Arkansas banned gay couples adopting children
  • California also voted to ban gay marriage but against for parental notification of teenage abortions
  • Colorado voted to end against ending affirmative action and not to ban abortion by defining human life as beginning at conception
  • Florida voted to ban gay marriage
  • Maryland voted to allow a video lottery
  • Massachusetts voted not to repeal state income tax
  • Michigan voted to allow medical marijuana and stem cell research
  • Nebraska voted to end affirmative action
  • South Dakota voted not to ban abortion except for mother’s health, incest or rape
  • Washington voted to allow doctor-assisted suicide

Many of the state polls will be found to be unconstitutional and never put into effect incidentally.

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Obama is to be the 44th President

November 5th, 2008 at 5:03 pm by David Farrar

Dead on 5 pm, when the eastern polls close, the TV networks have called the race for Obama, with 287 electoral votes in the bag – 17 more than needed. He is the President-Elect of the United States and on the 20th of January 2009 will become the 44th President of the United States.

I predict he will get over 300 easily.

5.25 pm: McCain is doing his concession speech.

5.33 pm: Obama now has 333 votes to 155 for McCain. He has picked up Florida (27), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Ohio (20), Iowa (7), Colorado (9) and New Mexico (5). He also leads by 3% on the national vote or by 3,000,000 votes.

6.15 pm – and a great acceptance speech by Obama.

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US election thread

November 5th, 2008 at 1:05 pm by David Farrar

5.00 – the western states push Obama to over 270 and victory. A historic day.

4.34 – not looking likely that Democrats can get to 60 for the Senate. 58 is possible though. Electoral count now 207 to 135.

4.16 – Exit poll shows McCain getting 31% of Latino vote compared to Bush who got 40%. Electoral count now 207 to 95. Obama has won New Mexico, Iowa and Ohio

3.31 – It is Obama 200 and McCain 90. Ohio has gone to Obama and in Florida Obama leas 51% to 48% with 55% of precincts in. I think it is safe to now conclude Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States.

3.07 – in the Senate, Dems have picked up North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire. I think New Mexico also. That makes them 55. Will they make 60?

2.55 – the Democrats have picked up the Governorship of Missouri. For the US election no state has changed hands yet from 2004 – Florida and North Carolina plus Ohio should be the first to go if Obama is to win. With 43% of precincts reporting in Florida Obama ahead 52% to 48%,

2.52 – Obama 103 electoral votes to 69 for McCain. 270 needeed for a win. McCain ahead on popular vote just – by 13,000 votes. Dems now picked up three Senate seats so with their two Independents up to 54 seats.

1.40 – Obama leading in Florida by 13% but early days

1.12 – Democrats win one Senate seat – Virginia. Up to 52. They want 60.

For updates and discussion of the US election results.

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President Obama

November 5th, 2008 at 9:49 am by David Farrar

Despite my disagreement with some of his policies, I find the highly likely election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States a thrilling event. Never has an election been so symbolic of change, but also carrying such huge expectations for the future.

In one’s lifetime, you witness a handful of seminal events. For me they have been the day the Berlin Wall came down and September 11. The election of an African-American to the United States Presidency may join that league.

It is not only the fact that the US once had slavery that makes his election remarkable. Those days were many generations ago. But just a few decades ago the US had wide-spread segregation. It shows the remarkable ability of some cultures and societies to change that within a lifetime you can go from a country where blacks are segregated as second class citizens to having a black man elected President.

The United States is far from perfect, but if you have to choose one country in the world to be the super-power, I am damn glad it is the United States. There are many great things about the country – the constitution, the bill of rights, term limits, massive inwards immigration, the ability of poor immigrants to rise to the top etc etc.

This doesn’t stop relentless America bashing as if it was the most evil country on the planet. People would have you think it was a white Christian fundamentalist country that causes poverty in Africa, demonises Muslims and is controlled by a military industrial cabal that keeps Bush and Cheney in power forever. The fact that the Republicans are about to get trounced should silence the conspiracy fanatics for a while about Bush and Diebold stealing elections.

The symbolism of Obama’s election is massive. This half Kenyan American managed to beat both the Clinton machine and the Republican machine to win the most powerful job in the world.

Obama is not Muslim, but his father was and he attended a Muslim school for a couple of years growing up in Asia. His middle name is Hussein. That should make it a lot harder for the forces of jihad to gain supporters in their war against the United States and western civilisation more generally. Unless they call him an apostate, he is a much harder figure to demonise.

The election of Obama will be a profund display to the world, that for all its faults, the United States is a country that can put race and prejudice to one side – maybe not everyone – but most of them. If I had to use a local comparison I would cite the election of Georgina Beyer as MP for Wairarapa in 1999. Again, I may not have supported Beyer’s politics, but I thought it was a great tribute to NZers that they would elect who they saw as the best person to be an MP, even though they were a transexual who went from being a man to a woman. Having said that, I don’t think Obama is a Beyer – he has shown himself to be a truly accomplished politician and gifted orator. I recall blogging before the 2004 election that I thought he would be President one day.

So Obama has a great opportunity ahead of him. He will have an extended honeymoon from the media, from his public and from much of the world. He may be able to do more to defeat anti-Americanism than any otehr person or event.

But with great opportunity comes great risk. Many of his supporters, both domestically and internationally, see him as above politics. And he is not. He will, as President, have to make decision that will not sit well with some people. And the greater the expectation the greater the disappointment. Will people understand when he still has troops in Iraq in 18 months time? Will they understand when the US still does not sign the Kyoto Treaty?

And most of all, what will happen when he may have to pull the trigger, as Bill English put it. Countries like Iran may seek to test Obama. Will he allow them to develop nuclear weapons? What will he do when North Korea reneges on its agreement to cease nuclear testing? Foreign Policy is often a case of choosing the least worst alternative.

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Senator McCain

November 5th, 2008 at 9:05 am by David Farrar

Later today I expect McCain to be beaten by Obama in the Presidential election. I thought it would be worthwhile to reflect on what may have been.

If McCain had been elected, he would have been one of the most independent Presidents in history. His legislative history as a Senator speaks for itself. His independence from some of the religious lobby groups would be especially useful – abortion and civil unions should not be the number one issue for a country.

America would have had its most ardent pro free trade President in history – McCain supportes free trade agreements with every country, except those they have security issues with.

On fiscal issues, Bush has left a disaster of a deficit, and McCain would probably have been pretty effective in reducing the deficit. Bush in fact has massively expanded the federal budget.

On Iraq, he was the main proponent of the surge strategy, that basically suceeded. The challenge would have been to then reduce numbers in Iraq over time so that the Iraqi Government can govern without the need of foreign troops. A McCain presidency would be given more time by am impatient public to withdraw. Obama may find it very difficult to reconcile the expectations of his supporters and the obligations to the Iraqi Government not to pull out too quickly.

It would be fascinating to know what would have happened if McCain had won against Bush in 2000 and then been elected againgst Gore. I suspect he would have been a far more sucessful President than Bush.

But his presidency will be the realm of “what if” writers as 2008 is not his year. It is a credit to McCain that he is still so close to Obama in the polls, when you consider only 10% of Americans say the country is heading in the right direction and 88% say the wrong direction. The candidate for the party of the incumbent should be miles behind. He won’t lose by miles but I don’t think it will be close either.

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All over in the US

October 20th, 2008 at 9:04 am by David Farrar

Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama, and even before that happened Obama has a commanding lead not just nationally, but in the state polls.

There were 18 states in 2004 that had a margin of victory of less than 10%. Every single marginal state, except Arkansas, has Obama in the lead in state polls.

Obama needs 269 electoral votes to win. At present he has 286 locked in and 364 likely. It would need something massive to happen to stop him.

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The Palin-Biden debate

October 4th, 2008 at 10:27 am by David Farrar

42% more people watched the Vice-Presidental debate than the Presidential debate. How weird is that?

Consensus seems to be Biden did best, but Palin exceeded expectations and held up okay.

However Obama now has a commanding leads in the polls – almost 6% nationally and almost 2:1 in the electoral college.

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The week at iPredict

September 29th, 2008 at 7:39 am by David Farrar

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PM.National sold at just under 74c most of last weekend. At 6 pm when TVNZ announced they had a exclusive story on John Key’s undisclosed Tranzrail shares, PM.National dropped to 71c by 6.30 pm.

The release of the Privileges Committee report into Winston Peters saw a recovery, followed a dip again the next day when he got mauled during question time, resting at 72c.

It stayed at 72c on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday’s favourable poll results in the NZ Herald pushed PM.National up to a healthy 76c again.

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Peters.Resign share price has plummeted as it became apparent that not even a finding that he had filed false returns by the Privileges Committee and a parliamentary censure would cause Helen Clark to sack Peters. Peters.resign was over 50 c during the weekend and peaked at 65c as rumours of the Privileges Committee findings surfaced. But then PM Clark was reported as saying she was unlikely to act as the process had been tainted and the stock fell to 33c by 6.30 pm Monday night.

The Privileges Committee report was so damning that the prices rose again 57c, but then over the next few days has just declined constantly, reaching a low of 18c reflecting the market consensus that Clark will never sack him.

MP.Peters has also been in decline. The stock rose to 44c, but the Privileges Committee report saw it drop from Monday evening onwards, hitting a low of 32c on Thursday.

The new Benson.Pope stock (on whether he will stand as a non Labour candidate) was floated on Monday at 80c, and this ha proven to be a good float price, as the price has only ranged between 77c and 83c since then.

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Also launched this week were the US.Obama and US.McCain stocks. US.Obama was snapped up at 50c quickly hitting 64c before falling back to 56c where it spent most of the week. As the financial situation gets worse in the US, Obama’s chances have increased and his stock has climbed further to 60c.

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Obama “wins” first debate

September 28th, 2008 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

Overnight polls give the first debate to Obama.

McCain faces problems on three fronts:

  1. Being the party of the incumbent, especially in light of the financial crisis
  2. Palin does not appear to be coming up to speed quickly enough
  3. A sub-standard debate performance

I purchased some Obama stock at 58c last week. It is still only 59c and I think under-priced. To some degree I think the election is now Obama’s to lose.

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Three new stocks at iPredict

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:57 pm by David Farrar

iPredict has launched three new stocks:

  1. Benson.Pope – will pay out $1 if David Benson-Pope stands as a non Labour candidate in the 2008 general election. Has launched at 80c.
  2. US.Obama08 – will pay out of $1 if Obama is elected President. Launched at 49.5c
  3. US.McCain08 – will pay out of $1 if McCain is elected President. Launched at 49.5c

I’d say Benson.Pope gives a pretty good opportunity to make some money.

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SNL on Palin

September 22nd, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Saturday Night Live did a very funny sketch of Sarah Palin with Hillary Clinton. Tina Fey looks and sound remarkably like Palin and is hilarious. The Clinton actress isn’t anywhere near as close a look, but is also bloody funny. Only five minutes and worth watching.

Oh and if you watch it and wonder what a FLURGE is, check here.

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Encouraging enrolling and voting

September 17th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports on how the Electoral Enrolment Centre is encouraging the 250,000 people not enrolled to do so, so they can vote. 16,396 votes were disqualified in 2005 as people were not enrolled.

I am a big fan of everyone eligible to vote, doing so. But maybe we can look at how best to promote enrolment and voting. Below are the official advertisements in NZ for enrolling:

All very worthy. But now check out this US advertisement promoting enrolment and voting:

I don’t think one needs to do a poll, to work out which one will be most effective at getting the attention of young people (who are the largest segment of non voters). I’m sure some NZ celebrities would be willing to help out for a good cause!

Hat Tip for Alba ad: The Standard

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Bipartisan behaviour

September 16th, 2008 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

As both US presidential candidates try to position themselves as an agent of change in Washington, the Washington Times looks at the legislative records of McCain and Obama to see who has been the best at working across the aisle with Senators from the other party:

Mr. McCain has been more likely to team up with Democrats than with members of his own party. Democrats made up 55 percent of his political partners over the last two Congresses, including on the tough issues of campaign finance and global warming. For Mr. Obama, Republicans were only 13 percent of his co-sponsors during his time in the Senate, and he had his biggest bipartisan successes on noncontroversial measures, such as issuing a postage stamp in honor of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

So McCain has been able to team up with Democrats consistently and on bis issues such as campaign finance and globalwarming. Obama’s record is almost never working with Republicans except on non controversial issues such as postage stamps.

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Obama’s Electoral Map

September 12th, 2008 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

Very funny, and apt. Hat Tip: Gman

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Lipstick on a pig

September 11th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Barack Obama has been under fire for referring to the McCain/Palin ticket with the quote “You can put lipstick on a paig, but it is still a pig”.

As one can imagine, there has been a firestorm, and the Washington Post has a good analysis of it.

Now the saying is a very old saying, and many politicians have used it – including McCain. Obama has used it previously also.

But it should have been predictable to the Obama team, that you can’t use it in reference to McCain/Palin, as exactly what has happened would occur. It was at best a stupidity on their part.

The problem for Obama is that there has already been a stampede of white woman from supporting him to supporting McCain, and this won’t help win them back.

The next fortnight will be interesting. Palin is giving ABC News two days of access to her, where they can interview her on any topic at all. How she comes out at the end of that, will help set the public perception of her.

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Ralston and Woodham on Palin

September 7th, 2008 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

Bill Ralston is not a fan of Sarah Palin. However he may be judging her off incorrect media reports:

She’s an aggressively pro-war, gun-loving fundamentalist Christian, a creationist who is strongly anti-abortion and so vigorously opposed to contraception that she preaches abstinence to teenagers like her pregnant 17-year-old daughter.

I’ve never seen her use the term fundamentalist to describe herself. She has stated she is not opposed to contraception. From Anchorage Daily News:

Palin said last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child. She is pro-contraception and said she’s a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life.

Also her comments on creationism are often quoted out of context. From WIkipedia:

While running for Governor of Alaska and asked about the teaching of creationism along with evolution in public school science classes, Palin answered: “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both”; she further clarified that open debate between the two ideas should not be prohibited if it came up in discussion, but that creationism did not specifically need to be part of the curriculum.

So she specifically said she was not pushing for creationism to be part of the curriculum, just that you should allow discussion on the issue if students bring it up.

This woman is Dick Cheney in drag, although rumours of extra-marital sexual adventures in the hitherto surprisingly accurate tabloid National Inquirer might make her a cross-dressing Bill Clinton.

Rumours that appear to be false yet made mainstream media within hours. While the true rumours about John Edwards were not covered by mainstreammedia for months and months. Someone quipped that the best way Palin could have kept her daughter’s pregnancy out of the media, was to have John Edwards as the father!

Kerre Wodham is more favourably inclined:

Whatever you feel about Republican vee-pee nominee Sarah Palin and her politics, surely you can’t help but feel some sympathy for her as the bloggers and rumourmongers pick through her life and the life of anyone who’s been remotely associated with her, looking for dirt.

She’s had some experience of the muckraking associated with the job, having taken on the Alaskan old boy network when heading the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. …

But if she’s a pin-up girl for conservative Americans then surely her husband, the First Dude, is the prototype for the 21st-century man.

Not only is he an alpha male who hunts, shoots, fishes and is the four time champion of the Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmobile race, but he’s a stay-at-home dad and man enough to be happy about his wife’s lofty political ambitions.

Every girl needs a First Dude. Todd Palin could prove a trump card for the Republicans. Only in the US could an illegitimate child of mixed race parentage be considered elitist and a moose-hunting, snowmobile-racing oil worker in Alaska the ultimate sensitive new age guy.

Almost everyone I know is saying the US election is far more interesting than the NZ one!

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The Palin Speech

September 5th, 2008 at 7:10 am by David Farrar

Off to the US Embassy again today – this time for the McCain speech. But it may be a fizzer compared to the speech of his running mate – Sarah Palin. Look at what the pundits said:

It wasn’t just a home run, said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the St Paul, Minnesota, convention – it may have been a grand slam.

“A very auspicious debut,” said NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

It was a “perfect populist pitch”, said Jeff Greenfield of CBS.

“Terrific,” said Mort Kondracke on Fox News Channel.

“A star is born,” said Chris Wallace on Fox, a view echoed by Blitzer and by Anderson Cooper on CNN.

The full speech is here. Also a video of it. Some of my favourite parts:

Todd is a story all by himself.

He’s a lifelong commercial fisherman … a production operator in the oil fields of Alaska’s North Slope … a proud member of the United Steel Workers’ Union … and world champion snow machine racer.

Throw in his Yup’ik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for quite a package.

The Republicans have a working class candidate, or at least candidate’s husband.

Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown.

And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves.

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.

Now that’s a bitch slap, pardon the term.

And there is much to like and admire about our opponent.

But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform – not even in the state senate.

That is a great line – authored two memoirs but no major law.

In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers.

And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.

Nice.

Her candidacy is still a risky one. At some stage she will be quizzed on national and international issues and will need to be conversant with the issues. But the pundits all agree it was a great speech.

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The Palin rumour cleared up

September 2nd, 2008 at 8:28 am by David Farrar

I caused some consternation on Facebook yesterday when I mused whether the allegations on Daily Kos might be correct, that Sarah Palin’s 5th child was in fact her grandchild.

The photos of Sarah Palin looking very slim at seven months pregnant and her daughter not so slim, did make me wonder. I almost could qualifty for NZ First membership, as I wondered if it was possible.

But no it is not a plot stolen from Desperate Housewives. Daily Kos got it half right. Reuters reports 17 year old Bristol Palin is pregnant – with her own baby though, not her brother Trig.

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Sarah Palin

August 31st, 2008 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin certainly has suceeded in catching the headlines. It has dominated the cable news netwroks for two days now. Before I blog in more depth on her, a quick reference back to the Obama speech.

Factcheck.org fisks Obama’s speech and finds seven inaccuracies, half-truths, exaggerations etc. Now to be fair, I am sure when McCain does his speech, they wll find a similiar number. But I think it is a wonderful resource to have a neutral well funded site that checks facts and claims from both sides. We badly need one of those in New Zealand. That would be a project worth getting a few million donated towards!

Now back to Sarah Palin. Power Line looks at how much of an outsider she is:

So Palin was an upstart in every possible way when she challenged Frank Murkowski, the former Senator and entrenched Republican Governor who, among other things, appointed his daughter Lisa to succeed him in the Senate. Palin was opposed by the entire Republican establishment in Alaska, including Senator Ted Stevens–after whom the Anchorage airport is named–and Congressman Don Young. Notwithstanding the hostility of her party’s elder statesmen, Palin defeated Murkowski in the primary. She then faced the popular former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the general election. In what would have been considered an extraordinary upset just a few months earlier, Palin trounced Knowles, despite reported efforts by her own party’s leaders to defeat her. As Governor, she has enjoyed approval ratings in the 80s.

So it is hard to imagine a more complete outsider, in terms of national politics, than Sarah Palin. She ran and was elected as a reformer, has governed successfully as such, and owes nothing whatever to anyone in Washington. Personally, I’m not as anti-Washington as many conservatives, but it would be just about unAmerican not to root for a rebel and outsider like Palin.

This is what I like about Palin. She is the genuine deal, as much as anyone can be in politics.

But criticism of her experience is valid, if overly dramatised.

Could I say she is ready to become President on January the 21st 2009 should John McCain drop dead on the day of his inauguration? Not really. She does not have the experience in national politics. However she is standing for VP, not President, and people do overplay the McCain age issue. It is worth remembering that John McCain’s mother is still alive!! Given time, Palin as Vice-President will gain the experience so she could step up if necessary. So there is a risk should something happen very early in a McCain presidency, and that will be a factor in voting – not a huge factor though I suspect.

Some people have claimed Palin is more experienced than Obama to be President, as she has had two years of executive experience as Chief Executive of Alaska. It is true that Obama has no executive experience, and limited federal legislative experience. But 18 months on the campaign trail has exposed him to almost every issue domestic and foreign and Palin has not had that. Of course Obama is standing for President, not VP.

Palin is somewhat of a risk. If she does a massive blunder, or a series of minor ones, in her early days, she will be painted as a Dan Quayle (who was in fact somewhat unfairly treated) lightweight. But if she does not stuff up, she could develop a lot of popular support. Both Palin and McCain are genuinely independent of their party machines, and may appeal to those independents.

I still think Obama is favourite to win, as his get out the vote organisation will be so massive, that he will win on turnout. But there is still a long way to go.

I’ll finish with some quotes on Palin from the Palin for VP blog, which had been quietly pushing her for many months:

I have been working to draft Gov. Palin as Vice President since February of 2007, and I can recount first hand how she has united divergent views among Republicans and is now even gaining Democratic support. The key is that she offers a combination of qualities that make her a hero to many, many different groups. For instance, two of our strongest bases of support have been social conservatives and libertarian republicans, who are normally at each other’s throats.

However, she offered both groups something that they desperately wanted without compromising any appeal to the other. The SoCons loved her pro-life, pro-family, and pro-gun positions, while the libertarians and fiscal conservatives cheered her on as she vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of wasteful government spending. Getting those two groups to sing kum-ba-ya was enough of an accomplishment, but now it appears that a third group has found what it wants in Gov. Palin: McCainocrats.

If anyone can unite those bases, she does it to a reasonable degree.

By upending Alaska’s corrupt political class, Palin has actually produced the type of change that Barack Obama can only talk about; and her collar is far bluer than Joe Biden’s ever was. Furthermore, she is arguably the only candidate who has the necessary expertise to address the single most pressing issue in this election: gas prices. As Governor of Alaska, Chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (America’s largest interstate organization), and a former Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Sarah Palin can run rings around almost anyone when it comes to oil.

That’s a good point. She may be inexperienced on some issues, but if they position her as a VP who will lead the Administration’s energy policy, that could appeal.

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History either way

August 30th, 2008 at 10:45 am by David Farrar

History will be made either way in November. Either the United States will have its first black President or it will have its first female Vice-President.

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