The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Obama making friends, and non-majorities spreading around

Monday 20 October 2008 at 6:23 am
  • I find it a little surprising to see Colin Powell endorse Barack Obama — although not that surprising, because the man demonstrated long ago that he has sense. For that reason I think I’d have preferred to see him run as a candidate …
  • Less seriously, I sometimes wish McCain would lay off appending “my friend” to everything! And let’s not start about “Joe the Plumber”.
  • I’ve spent the weekend learning a bit of the history behind this political system in Boston — and hanging out in the grounds of Harvard, which really don’t belie that it’s the richest university in the world. The flight over was scenic! (small recompense after this mob put me through the worst check-in I’ve ever experienced)
  • Meanwhile, it’s good to see the WA Government promising to review mental health services — this is a long way short of the change that’s needed, but maybe just maybe it’ll lead to something worthwhile.
  • And if the hung parliament and minority government in WA seemed overly odd, it shouldn’t; the ACT has one of their own now!
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A little catch-up post

Wednesday 15 October 2008 at 11:38 pm
  • Blog, woe! I honestly didn’t mean so much neglect, although in my defence the Real World has been throwing me a fair few curve-balls lately.
  • As a result of said curve-balls, I have a chance to travel! Thus I’m in Washington DC and just left the neighbourhood bar where I was watching the last presidential debate (oh, and pretending to be an American). This was particularly entertaining for the jeers that spread through the room when the candidates spoke about the school system here! Both candidates did a decent job, although Obama didn’t really address the terribly unbalanced federal budget and McCain struck me as more than a tad hypocritical. My favourite quote from the locals: “I don’t care about the parties, I’m voting for DC statehood!”
  • A few weeks ago, I jumped on the tram to Santa Clara for the PHP developers’ event ZendCon, which was awesome! I scored a book because no one else knew about JAWS (tsk, tsk), and spent too much time at Yahoo’s party writing a solver for their Sudoku puzzle with Shaddy of! (Here’s a few thousand solutions). My favourite sessions were Jay Pipes on databases (“never assume anything about the MySQL optimiser“) and Terry Chay’s uncon session with its gratuitous excrement references :-)
  • The economic crisis that started in America and suddenly gripped the world had me quite startled! I mean, it was obvious that it was coming, but I’d have never predicted when or how bad (and the red arrows on my meagre NYSE portfolio demonstrate as much!). I am surprised by the measures that have been taken by governments (particularly the Americans!) in the hope of prompting a recovery — and yet John McCain still speaks of small-government conservatism! So much for laissez-faire.
  • Last week, Victoria formally decriminalised abortion! This is pretty cool.
  • And finally, the Western Australian government has held together, hooray! although I’m yet to see them actually do anything, other than make threats like cutting the budget a la John Howard’s first term.
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Premier Barnett!

Sunday 14 September 2008 at 3:18 am

It’s … not a surprise, but it also is a surprise, in that it really wasn’t long ago that Colin Barnett was retiring and the Liberals were screwed. Although I must say that “we’d have to rely on the Greens in the upper house” sounds like an awfully flimsy excuse, unless, y’know, the Nationals plan to push through legislation that sucks.

At least the opposition this time around won’t be so bad. But, given how much the last opposition sucked, and that they are now a minority government, I’m reserving judgement as to what we’ll see. (For instance: “government that has a social conscience”? Yeah, right.)

There’s definitely nothing that makes me hold my breath for anything spectacular out of this government — but then again, it still can’t be as bad as NSW! So I look forward to seeing hundreds of millions of dollars each year be poured into towns of a few hundred people, hospital waiting lists disappear, teachers to suddenly become superbly paid, crime rates to fall through the floor, and stamp duty to be cut.

(Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll be amazed if they pull off any one of those.)

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National Party, centrestage

Thursday 11 September 2008 at 1:50 am

Brendon Grylls must be relishing his time as the most important person in Western Australian politics at the moment. The most impressive part is that none of what he’s on about is new; the pre-election profile that aired on Stateline before the election seems amazingly prescient now!

And with John Bowler on his side, he commands five Legislative Assembly votes — enough for minority government with the Libs, or a majority with an apparently fragile Labor. So much for the old predictions that one-vote-one-value would destroy the Nationals and cement the big parties!

Also, what’s up with all the criticism of the WAEC from pollies? They’re taking just as long to finalise the vote count as they’ve done for every previous election I’ve seen, but just because Labor couldn’t win government this time means there needs to be an inquiry?!

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Perhaps the most awesome of all possible results

Sunday 7 September 2008 at 2:46 am

So, on the one hand, it’s never much fun to see a race without a winner.

But given that I am a political nerd, I think a hung parliament is awesome. Given that the campaign was short, mediocre, and predominantly negative … this outcome is great.

I guess having the Olympics to draw people’s attention while Barnett figured out what to do was a good thing, and naturally I concede I completely underestimated the level of disenchantment people had with healthcare, Burke scandals, Carpenter himself, and so forth. I’m particularly impressed that most of the new seats from the one-vote one-value redistribution went to the Libs.

Yet the result seems to say “we really don’t like you, but nor do we trust that other mob”. I think it delicious to imagine the prospect of Alan Carpenter forming a minority government with the Nationals, and being forced to compromise and consult on every decision he takes. This, to me, would be a best-of-both-worlds that tones down his brusqueness while also keeping the only competent team for government that we have. (It is, of course, more likely that the Liberals and Nationals settle their squabble and form government with the independents; most of them are right-leaning, so that’d be more of a business-as-usual story.)

And at least things in Perth aren’t as bad as they are in NSW; competence is apparently harder to come by than I’d have guessed!

P.S. I’m amused that, even though I thought the ballot paper was awfully short when I voted a fortnight ago, I was among the record numbers of people giving first preference to the Greens (a.k.a. the only party in WA to have its act together).


“Close”? Really?

Sunday 31 August 2008 at 5:06 pm

Even though life has consumed me this last fortnight, there’s barely been anything in Western Australian politics to report! (This despite it being a bloomin’ election campaign!)

I was repeatedly hearing claims of media critics apparently becoming disillusioned at Alan Carpenter for being arrogant (because, y’know, John Howard or Richard Court weren’t?) and quoting polls to suggest people would go vote for the Liberals.

Oh, right, the Liberals. Their absence of policy is not as dire as it was a fortnight ago — they are headed in a vaguely positive direction with their education policy, and they’ve made reasonable commitments to the bigger towns (notably Kalgoorlie and Bunbury). But beyond that, their policies consist of … er … some mumblings about tougher punishment (have they budgeted more prison funding?) and a piffling $150 bribe to seniors.

Colin Barnett has squandered the three weeks he’s had to show he’s not the same guy we soundly rejected four years ago, and yet the Premier has said he thinks the election will be close!

srsly, wtf?